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Design process 1 - How it starts

Hi peeps, well that was a pretty resounding yes from you all… so, welcome to week one of how the scribbly things in my head turn into quilts. 

Essentially in the real beginning of how these things go, is the keeping of sketchbooks, and folders on my computer and in my phone. The folders are full of photos and screenshots - some I took, some I saw somewhere, on a website or on social media, and they caught my eye. They could be of anything - sometimes its a pattern in tile, sometimes a flower, or a leaf I like the shape of. Sometimes (very often), its colour combinations, from a book cover or a cushion or something in nature. I look at furniture and architecture and knitting patterns, and pictures of birds and modern art and shoes. 

What they very very rarely are of, is quilts. Unless they’re antique quilts. I don’t save photos of other people’s new quilts into my inspiration files, because I don’t want to be influenced by them. Embroidery, tapestry, knitting - no problem, but I don’t want to find someone else’s quilt idea hanging out accidentally in mine. For me that is a BIG designer no no, and its something I deal with myself a lot in the other direction. I do not like my designs being copied, and I won’t copy anyone else’s under any circumstance. All the pics mentioned above are inspirations and beginnings of ideas, not direct copies.

All these photos go into folders, and sometimes I don’t look at them again for ages. And then when I need inspiration for a piece of applique, or for a colour palette, I open the computer or my phone and do some doom scrolling… I can sometimes lose hours just rolling through an thinking, although sometimes something just pops out at me too. I don’t ever worry about “wasting time” doing this - its all part of getting the end product together, and sometimes the percolating of the idea is the best bit. 

The sketchbooks are not fancy. I don’t make sketchbooks like you sometimes see on Instagram in an artist’s feed. They’re not something I usually show anyone, because really they’re just scribbles and random ideas and little biro sketches of shapes or sparks of ideas. A typical page might look something like this:

Most of the time when I’m at the scrolling stage, I haven’t even picked up a pen yet, let alone a piece of fabric. I’m just thinking of things, and turning them over in my head. Once I have more of an idea of what it is I’m going for, I get out the graph paper and start planning. Once I’m at the graph paper stage, things usually come along pretty quickly. I’m very decisive and I commit to ideas, but I’m also not afraid to throw the whole thing out and start again if I feel it’s not right. Sometimes I sketch the whole quilt out - usually thats only if its for a Block of the Month though, because I know that I have to come back and make the colouring page for those after the design is finished. Most often I just start sewing, and playing and making little fabric piles. Even when I do plan most of a quilt out, it usually looks like this:

And then I see what happens from there. This is the sketch for my Tiny Town quilt....

.....which ended up looking like this:

Next week I’m going to talk a bit more about the graph paper and show you some of the BOM sketches and how they evolved. Let me know if you have any questions, and see you then! :)


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