Where do design ideas come from?

Last week I gave a talk to a quilt group called Heather Quilters in Camberley, Surrey; it was a trunk show focusing on design and I gave it the title ‘Where do design ideas come from?’ As I was preparing the talk, it was interesting to see that the design ideas for quilts came from a variety of sources. It was an hour-long talk with a Powerpoint presentation and there were three very large bags of quilts to share, so clearly it can’t be repeated here, but below you can see one quilt for each of the sources I identified.

Inspired by memories

This is one of the first quilts I made, called ‘Those were the days when my daughters wore dresses’. Much of it was hand-pieced and hand-quilted, with embroidered letters around the border. The sentiments were of nostalgia for the time when they were little girls in printed cotton frocks!

Inspired by an event

This quilt ‘India’ was at the Festival of Quilts 2017. 2017 marked 70 years of India’s independence and the quilt has 70 squares. The fabrics were purchased in India whilst visiting the country with my husband who was attending a conference in Chennai. It is hand-quilted and there are sparkling beads to mark each of the major cities.

Inspired by a place

This is my ‘Blue Mountains’ quilt. The design was prompted by a visit to the Blue Mountains in Australia, where the vapour from the eucalyptus trees make the air blue. It was executed with fabrics from Australia. It has large stitch quilting and buttons for quilting with a hand-stencilled border.

Inspired by an object

Not a quilt, but some appliqué cushion covers, which were based on some tiny wooden birds from another, different, trip to India. The little ornaments were just half an inch high but I drew and painted them and then adapted them to form the basis of the ‘Quirky Birds’ cushion covers. (The pattern is here.)

Inspired by a drawing

Several of my quilts began with images produced in life-drawing sessions, including ‘Fleur’. This began as a drawing in charcoal and then was re-drawn as a batik piece on silk. Free-machine embroidery and hand embroidery were added before the quilt was layered up and both quilted and free-machine quilted.

Inspired by materials

I just love the beauty of vintage hand-embroidered textiles for the home. I made a collection and then made two quilts from them. The quilt is called ‘Forget-me-not’ (the pattern is here).

Inspired by an idea

In 2021 the WI linked up with Chelsea Art College to do an Art project. The idea was to choose a theme from current WI campaigns. I chose ‘end plastic soup’ about micro-plastics in the sea. This is one of the pieces I made, which went to the FOQ in 2022. It is called ‘Now you see her now you don’t’ . Baby whales are ingesting micro-particles of plastic through  their mothers’ milk and failing to make it to adulthood. The whale is meant to be difficult to see.

Inspired by a challenge

This was an Instagram challenge #100daychallenge. I chose to make a block from Tula Pink’s book 100 City Blocks. I don’t often use purple so that was a challenge and using Instagram every day was a challenge too!

Heather Quilters is an active group and I am happy to be able to share with you news of their forthcoming Exhibition, which takes place in Woking in May 2023 (full details below)

Published by Amanda Jane Textiles

I am an artist, designer and maker living in Ramsgate, UK

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