She kept coming by the dining room table to finger the project. She would pick it up, feel the laminated fabric, flip it over, and then look at me.
"Seriously, who gave you this idea?"
Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mom.
My Mom is awesome. She is always happy to come and help us when I am overwhelmed with too much stuff (she is an expert purger), when I travel to teach she arrives here to watch the kids and clean my fridge, and when producing A Month of Sundays she came and kept us together during the photoshoot. She cleaned my house and watched the kids and fed us in the most Mommiest of ways, as Kate described it.
My Mom, however, has not had the chance to live a creative life. She delivers babies and helps new moms. She is the woman who taught me to sew and I do vividly remember her sewing us clothes and herself a gorgeous winter coat. There may have also been some macrame lessons in there. But that was all a long time ago. So when she looked at this particular project she couldn't imagine how I could have imagined it.
She's not alone. I get that question quite frequently. Just where do you get your ideas?
There is no easy answer, no one spot to look when I need a project. It just isn't that simple.
The project my mom was talking about was the Floral Wrap from A Month of Sundays. Made from laminated cotton (or oilcloth, if you prefer) it is for all your floral needs when out shopping. The idea for it came to me as I loaded groceries one day. There I had all my reusable shopping bags filled with Market goods. Then I placed my paper and plastic wrapped flowers on top. One of these things is not like the other...
I immediately went home, sketched a bit, then drafted a pattern.
There in lies the first spot I get my ideas: NEED.
Identifying a need or a gap in the creative register is sometimes the spark. When looking for an answer to a frustration or struggle the solution may be found in your sewing room instead of a product that may or may not exist.
On the day of the photoshoot for the Floral Wrap I took my wrap into the florist and picked out the flowers. When I handed the Floral Wrap the florist she had the same reaction as my Mom. This may be my one moment of genius in life, I better run with it!
Other moments of inspiration come from shop windows, like the colours in Hugs and Kisses or the design of Sherbet. Sometimes it is from a need to just take something traditional and do something different, like in Pinwheel. It isn't always a visual that inspires either. I've been inspired by words, stories, or even concepts.
You won't always know the moment the idea hits. But if you leave yourself open to it and have a means to capture it - with a sketchbook, a camera, a scrap of paper, a cell phone - then you can hold on to it. In fact, there is even a section of A Month of Sundays that talks about capturing your inspiration.
So when it comes to getting ideas, I think the best advice I've got, and my answer when people ask me just where I got that idea, is that I was simply open to the inspiration. And you do this by embracing creativity and opportunity. It is so easy to get caught up in the minutia of daily life, of motherhood, and even of quilting. Take the time to play, to try something new, to slow down, and the ideas will flow.
What will you do today to open up for inspiration?