From Photo to Quilt: Inspiration in Your Pocket!

My little camera goes with me everywhere.

Today’s post will be short on words and long on photos  as I’m packing up to head off with good friends Alex Anderson and Joen Wolfrom for our annual quilting getaway. Without a doubt, my camera will be along for the ride.

Aren’t these little cameras amazing? They’re capable of taking terrific photos that you can view instantly, and they’re tiny enough to tuck into a pocket or purse. I carry mine everywhere. I never know when I’ll spot inspiration for my next fabric adventure.

Sometimes a photo will yield an idea for a block, border, or overall design.

Interesting possibilities lurk in the brickwork and windows of this campus building at San Jose State University.
I stumbled upon this amazing piece of “yard art” in Mendocino, CA. Lots of cool shapes. Inspiration for a contemporary crazy quilt, perhaps?
We hold our See How We Sew brainstorming meetings at a local cafe, where this upholstery dresses the booth benches. Can’t you see this dimensional pattern as a quilt?
Another upholstery pattern from our gathering place

Often I’ll experiment with a photo-inspired design on a small scale–perhaps one of my 3″ x 5″ little quilts–before moving on to something larger. It’s a great way to work out the kinks before jumping into a major project.

Little Circles, 3″ x 5″, by Darra Williamson…can you see the connection?

My photo adventures often open my eyes to new ways of seeing; for example, an unexpected perspective, an instructive play of value, an interesting composition.

I’m inspired by images that give you the sense that you are observing something while remaining unobserved…a secret treasure.
Through the Barn Door: Pierce Point Farmhouse, 3″ x 5″, by Darra Williamson
A lesson in perspective: Napa County, CA, in spring; the rows of grapevines appear to narrow as they march into the distance.
Siverado Spring, 3″ x 5″, by Darra Williamson
The Blue Ridge of North Carolina; the more distant the mountains, the fainter and more misty they appear.
Homesick for the Blue Ridge, 3″ x 5″, by Darra Williamson
I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m drawn to serene, vertical compositions.
Winter Sentinels, 3″ x 5″, by Darra Williamson
Looking Up, 3″ x 5″, by Darra Williamson
I like the simple “four-patch” arrangement of this print that I snapped recently in a hotel room.
The Four Seasons, 12″ x 16″, by Darra Williamson. Now halfway through my self-declared “year of creativity,” I’m starting to bump my experiments to a larger size.

I’ve always that felt my greatest weakness as a quilter is figuring out how to quilt my finished quilt top. Since I’ve been carrying my camera, I’ve been finding inspiration everywhere.

A decorative exterior wall in Calistoga, CA: Glorious inspiration for quilting AND applique!
Interesting carved pattern frames this stonework Buddha.
Simple, attractive architectural detail: I can imagine adapting the above-window trim of this charming Mendocino, CA, cottage to quilt sashing or setting triangles.

I can’t take credit for the next three photos, but I couldn’t resist, as they are sooooo very rich in quilting inspiration. They were taken by my dear friend and co-author Chris Porter on a recent teaching trip to Kuwait.

Kuwait 2012; photo by Chris Porter
Doorway in Kuwait; photo by Chris Porter
Doorway in Kuwait (detail); photo by Chris Porter

For those of you looking for the follow-up to my baby-quilt post, I’m waiting for the quilt to come back from the quilter. Meantime, I’m making a little “bonus” project using the same basic pattern. I hope to be ready by my next (July 27) post.

That’s it for now. ‘Til next time, happy (snapping and) stitching!

PS:  Don’t forget!


5 thoughts on “From Photo to Quilt: Inspiration in Your Pocket!

  1. Lots of wonderful pieces and inspiration. I want to do more small pieces and practice my art quilting skills. I received Sue’s book today and wanted to thank you again, can’t wait to read it and try some of her techniques.



  2. AMEN!! SOOOOO Beautiful! You soo Inspired me! If I lived in CA I would take that trip! ♥ I hope you all are doing well! Happy Quilting! ♥

    Hosanna in the Highest!!!
    For His Love and Glory,
    ♥ Linda M


  3. I always carry my camera with me. You never know when inspiration will pop into view. Have a great time on your quilting retreat!!!


  4. it’s great to see how you take inspiration to the quilt level. i have lots of photos that were quilt inspired–they are still photos! your small art quilts are a good reminder that big isn’t always necessary.


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