Getting Inspired


We recently purchased a king-sized mattress set to replace our queen-sized bed so that left us without a quilt for our new bed.  During some random shopping trips I couldn’t find anything that I really liked so a few weeks ago I figured I’d just go ahead and make a king-sized quilt.

Every time I take on a project it feels like I learn new things about what does and doesn’t work for me.  So even though I’m already a few weeks into this quilt I thought I’d share my approach with you in case it helps you with your next quilt or project.

I tend to create my own patterns so my first step here was to find an inspiration for my design.  I had some rough ideas in the back of my mind but I needed a little more help to really bring this vision into focus.  So here are some sources of inspiration I have at my fingertips:

Quilt Block Books

Years ago I collected the following 2 books by Maggie Malone and Jinny Beyer for my quilt library. They both contain literally thousands of quilt blocks.  These books organize quilt blocks into categories such as 4 patch, 5 patch, hexagon, curved, etc.  This makes it really easy for me to browse through blocks in one of those categories.  So if I’m looking to tackle more complex designs I can look at blocks drafted on a 10 x 10 grid or if I want to try curved piecing I can see all of those blocks in one area.

Quilt Block Books

Out of the 2 books I have to admit that I’m more drawn to Maggie Malone’s 5,500 Quilt Block Designs because it has a wide variety of blocks with solid coloring schemes that really showcase the elements of the block.  Jinny Beyer’s book also has an assortment of blocks but she uses her fabrics to illustrate the elements of the block instead of solid colors.  This makes it more difficult for me to evaluate the block without being influenced by the fabric choices.  Despite that it’s still another good resource to get block ideas.

I recommend having some kind of quilt block book in your library. It’s a great starting point to open up your mind to all kinds of possibilities, learn the names of blocks you like or inspire you to draft your own block. (You can see I’ve even marked Maggie’s book with a bunch of blue post-its to tag the pages with blocks I like!)



Over the years I’ve maintained subscriptions to several different quilting magazines.  When my stack of magazines piles up too high I leaf through them and tear out the pages that inspire me.  I can be inspired by a quilt block, color combination, layout, quilting, etc.  If there is a pattern for the whole project I make sure to tear out all of the pages and staple them together.  I then store all of these pages in a hanging file folder.  I also do this for sewing room ideas, tools, techniques, etc.  But here’s a sample of some pages I just pulled out of my folder for quilts:Magazine Clippings

I like to purge my magazines this way so that I’m only keeping the things that interest me. It makes it really easy to glance through a folder of ideas that’s only a fraction of the size of the various magazines. This really helps me manage clutter because I usually only tear out a few things from any magazine.


I have to say that I really love Pinterest!  Technically I get inspiration from various places on the Internet: blogs, social media sites, Pinterest and even emails I happen to receive from various quilty sources.  But I love using Pinterest boards to manage all the various things I find.  I’m a visual person so I love that Pinterest allows you to “pin” (or save) some content to a board you create and manage. Once I pin something to one of my boards I’m able to easily see an image and my own brief description or comments about the content. I try to organize my boards so that it almost serves as a virtual file system for me. It’s a great way for me to manage all of the many different ideas and tutorials that interest me.

I’ve actually been using the Swatch Buddies Pinterest boards to manage a lot of the personal content I care about.  (It was too much trouble to keep switching between my personal account and the Swatch Buddies account.)  So you can see that I’ve created various “inspirational” Swatch Buddies boards.  Here’s a sample of our Inspiring Quilts board.  You can click on the image to go to the board.  I love this board! It’s really easy for me to browse this board to get some quick ideas when I’m working on a quilt.

Pinterest Inspiring Board Screenshot

I also have an Inspiring Quilt Blocks board.  It doesn’t have as many pins yet, but you can check out that board here.

You’ve probably seen many pictures on the Internet with the “pin it” button, but did you know that you can also install a Pinterest button on your browser?  This makes it even easier to pin things to your boards when you don’t see a pin it button.  Here’s a sample of what the button looks like on your browser below.  Click here to install the Pinterest button on your browser. If that link doesn’t work for you, just google how to install the Pinterest button on your particular browser (e.g. Chrome, Internet Explorer, etc.)

pinterest button screenshot

Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list of finding inspiration, but just a few ways to show how to have inspiration at your fingertips.  Lastly, I’ll close with sharing the 2 big reasons I like having my own inspiration library.

  1. Saving my inspirations helps me tell if something stands the test of time with me.  I think it’s fairly easy to get excited about something new and fresh I haven’t seen before.  But when I look at it again after some time has passed it may not be quite as inspiring to me.  Sometimes it’s even difficult for me to understand why I saved something!  Or it could just simply be that my tastes have changed a bit.  Handy tip: I’ve started trying to be a little more diligent in writing some brief notes about what inspired me. It could be just a word or two (color, sashing, quilting, etc.)
  2. It can really jump-start the creativity process.  Within minutes of having an idea to create a king sized quilt project I was able to look at my Pinterest boards to get ideas.  Since I already had some rough ideas in mind, that was all I needed to take me to the next design step. I found it to be a great resource to help me start drafting out a pattern.

This post was a little longer than I thought it would be, but I guess I got a bit excited about starting my new project.  Stay tuned for more updates on my progress!

Happy Swatching!

Swatch Missy 300 px-Missy

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