October 14, 2020


The theme of today's post is:
"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." -Maya Angelou

I have found this to be true in so many ways. Here are some of the times when I find ideas popping into my brain. I encourage you to try one of them that is new to you if you are feeling stuck. 

  • When I'm exploring nature. God created nature for us, for our enjoyment, learning, and inspiration. 
  • When I'm cooking or baking something. New colors and smells are inspiring!
  • When I'm in a new place, particularly with new cultures. This one is tricky during pandemic times, but even driving 30 minutes away from home can give fresh perspective.
  • When I'm reading a book or magazine. 
  • When I'm exercising. Blood to the brain helps in so many ways! Not to mention happy endorphins.
  • When I'm making one quilt, and the scraps inspire me to make another....
This last one is particularly true. I can think of many times when not having enough of the fabric I intended to use, or having some really cute little cutoffs, or diving into a particular color scheme, inspired me to make something else- often something that I liked better than the original project!

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A few examples:

Several years ago, I decided to make an autumn wall quilt with the Swoon pattern (original 24" size). 

I really liked it. I always love Swoons! But even better than that, I love this 12" block that I made with the cutoffs from the Swoon. Those little triangles were too adorable to throw away, and with just a little more effort, I sewed them together, added 8 extra, and played around with them until I came up with this arrangement. There's something so satisfying about using something that very well could have been trash, and making something beautiful and original out of it. 

One way I like to encourage myself to work creatively is to start small. Make something tiny and fast, like these key fobs. Careful, many people have told me these are addicting! Or, choose the project that is closest to being done and would take the least amount of time to finish. This principle works in many different areas of life. The sense of accomplishment in a finish will boost your enthusiasm and motivation to work on something else. 

Another time, I made this Baby Basket quilt (free pattern here) and had cutoff scraps from the edges.

Though the cutoffs were strangely shaped, there were quite a few 2.5" square in there to be salvaged. I unpicked a few of the strip sets and pressed and trimmed them up. Many of them I left attached to their white counterparts. After some rearranging to fit the width of the quilt top, and the addition of two low volume strips from the fabric roll that I had omitted from the front of the quilt, I was able to discover this lovely little strip to put in the middle of the backing. 

Maybe you haven't allowed yourself to explore creatively like this before, so you're thinking- I can't do that! Well, I don't believe in 'I can't do that'. You can do anything, you just haven't tried yet! I encourage you to play around, think outside the box, try to use up what you have, and I think you'll surprise yourself! Like anything, it takes practice and trial and error sometimes. 

One of my favorite examples was when I was making this Mod Triangles Quilt (pattern by Pen and Paper Patterns). The pattern has a really cool technique that starts with 4" segments. I tend to not follow directions exactly and just start cutting like crazy from all the fabrics that seem to fit the project, so I had a lot of leftovers. I removed the prints that were overtly Christmas themed, and had a lot of yellow, pink and aqua left over. 

Around that time the My California Home quilt pattern came out, and I thought it would be just perfect for these colors. Once again I used my creative license to change it up to fit my preferences. I changed the square size to match the pieces I already had, moved the heart to where my city is located, altered the coastline a little bit, and added a pink Nevada :)

I loved this California project so much that it leapfrogged the first quilt, and I finished it very quickly. If I can, and time and deadlines allow, I like to try to follow the creative flow of what I feel most motivated to work on. If you aren't feeling inspired, the fun in creativity can get extinguished. 

Maybe you feel like you aren't naturally creative. I understand that. I'm not naturally inclined that do anything that has to do with large motor skills very well. Flexibility, coordination, and strength are all a real struggle for me. But if I practice every day, and keep trying, there's no way I won't get better! Every human has a spark of creativity inside of them that can be fed and grown. Very few people start out good at something. If I had pictures of my first quilts, I'd show them to you today. There was absolutely nothing remarkable about them. My color choices, piecing techniques, and finished products were by every standard mediocre at best. But my love for the process and desire for beautiful results kept me practicing, practicing, practicing. 

Another way to boost your creativity is to give yourself a challenge. Give yourself some new parameters to work within and see what you can come up with. I did this with my Shiny Brights quilt. My challenge to myself was- use all solids, AND don't think about the color combinations. Just pick a bunch of colors that seemed appealing in the moment, not thinking if they would "go", and see how I can work them in together. A lot of new-to-me things happened! Dark purple, pickle green, all mixed in with my "normal" colors. We all have colors that we'd pick over and over again. Challenge yourself to try something new! I submitted this one to a magazine and they ended up styling it as a Christmas quilt and calling it "Shiny Brights" like the vintage ornaments. Brilliant! I'd have never thought of that. Collaborating creativity has exponentially wonderful results!

The last way that I would encourage you to foster creativity is to play with fabric without commitment. Fabric pulls are a great way to practice combining colors and prints. Don't pressure yourself into thinking it has to be a quilt. It can very easily be placed back on the shelf! This is something that I've practiced so much, I feel really confident in the skills I've developed. If you look at the hashtag #wwfabricpulls you'll see that this is something I've done many many times, and only a small percentage of them became actual quilts. And guess what? I'm starting to create a video class all about colors, scale, and pattern combinations! Yay! It will be a while yet, but I'll let you know how that develops. 

Finally, it would only be fair to point out that we all have periods in our life that are lacking in creativity. These may be times of stress, loss, or other troubles. For me, during first trimester of pregnancy, I'm exhausted and depressed, and even thinking about sewing is out of the question. Remember when I quit my own sew along that I was hosting for Folk Stitches? Yep, first trimester. Sometimes kickstarting ourselves to do something creative may help us out of a funk, and other times not even trying at all is ok too. There are times and seasons to life. Right now unexpectedly homeschooling my older kids while trying to keep the younger ones occupied leaves me with very little time for sewing, and that's ok. I get to use my creativity to find ways to make homeschool work, make dinner, grow my garden, even pick my outfits each day. More than anything, be nice to yourself! Don't set unrealistic standards. You are doing the best you can. 

I hope some of this has helped you today. Remember to use what you have, start small, give yourself a challenge, and remember to play! I really love to encourage others to be creative in any way they can. I believe God intended us to create, as He is the ultimate Creator. 

"Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty." -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

How will you be creative this next week? I'm going to start planning Christmas presents! One of my sons put on his Christmas list that he wants "finished melty beads", which means completed Perler bead projects. What!? He's such a funny boy. He's jealous of the projects his older brothers complete, and wants some finished projects of his own to enjoy, so he wants Santa to procure them for him, haha! I've got some melty bead creating to do :) We have this kit, and the kids just love it. Don't ask me what these creatures are, Pikachu or something, ha!

See you next time!


  1. You are the epitome of creativity, Allison. 🙂 What varied and sweet projects. Your colors are just what I like. I love your Swoon block in the the fall colors. I makes me think of a big sunflower. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. that strip in the backing for the baby quilt is absolutely beautiful. It makes the back just as beautiful as the front!

  3. Thank you for moving somewhat from social media to email and your blog.I loved reading this blog post! You gave me some great ideas -- plus some compassion for myself during this stressful season.

  4. Yes to all the above - It's fun to read about your many lovely projects! Thanks for sharing!

  5. It is very important to gain knowledge and learn something. Books also inspire me. But as a student it is difficult to find time to read. It’s good that I found research proposal writing services and ordered my dissertation there. Thanks to the writers, I was able to complete this complex and voluminous task.