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Creative Inspiration with Paula Storm: From Inspiration to Creation

Creative inspiration is everywhere. No matter where I go I’m constantly seeing things that inspire my creative side. Today I thought I’d share with you how I take that original inspiration and turn it into a project.

To say my sister and I are obsessed with craft is a bit of an understatement. While I’ve been lucky enough to work fulltime on my quilting for the last 10 years, my sister has been working as a travel agent and it’s only after hours that she’s been able to work away at her crafty obsession, crochet.

Just over 12 months ago we decided to team up and create a business called Crafty Adventures. Our first trip was to the amazing Hainan, an island to the south of mainland China. It’s an incredible place that is relatively untouched by western tourists and is full of amazing culture.

I was inspired to create the second we got on the plane; there were gorgeous repeating patterns everywhere. It was on the curtains, the chairs and even the carpet. I took out my phone and started snapping pictures straight away.


As soon as I saw the pattern I thought it would create a fantastic Honey Bun or Jelly Roll quilt. Made in neutral colours, it would make a great background for an appliqué quilt, or made with big-print modern fabrics, it would be a lovely geometric quilt. I had a play on my computer and came up with this design. I’d love to stitch it out one day.

I saw the most incredible tiles in the foyer of a restaurant. I spent at least five minutes taking pictures — I had to get just the right angle.

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I like to design on my computer so when I got home I immediately loaded the tile picture onto my computer and started on the design. I’m so excited about how these blocks are looking. They will be a combination of appliqué and hand embroidery.

While the inspiration tiles were a mosaic and there was a lot of detail, I chose to leave out the little squares. I think sometimes what you leave out of a design is as important as what you put in.

When I first saw the tiles it immediately made me think of the Drunkards Path block. As I looked closer I could see the centre was very similar to the Hawaiian style of appliqué. There was so much detail that if I’d made an exact replica of the tiles, the details would have been too confusing. When I make these blocks I want to use interesting fabrics, so leaving out those small details will mean the prints can make their own statement.

If you have your own inspiration picture and would like to have a go at turning it into a pattern, all you need to do is get your picture printed. Place a piece of tracing paper on top of your picture and trace out all the main details. If you need to resize it you could just enlarge or reduce it on a photocopier.

The other thing I keep in mind when I’m creating a block from an inspiration image is to make sure the block is a manageable size. I designed my block to be 6in finished. If a block is an odd size it can be tricky to add borders and sashing, so I try to stick with whole numbers.

The next inspiring location I found was a wall at our resort. It was an incredible 3D wall made of wood. The ‘spikes’ on the wall stuck out and when you looked at it from different angles and the design changed. When I looked at it straight on I could see it was a ‘wonky’ half square rectangle block. As the light changed I realised that the way I liked it best was when the top triangle was a light tone, the middle triangles were medium tones and the bottom was the darkest.

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I just love how the fabric and light, medium and dark colour placement makes the points jump out, appearing to be 3D, just like the original wall.

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I chose to make my quilt using Kaffe Fassett fabrics. I wanted the 3D element to be the main focus of this quilt, so using Kaffe’s fabrics was perfect. He has so many prints available and getting the right tones was a piece of cake.

The original wall that gave me my inspiration was huge. The points stuck out at least 30cm from the wall and I really wanted to capture that scale in my quilt. The way to do that was to also make my blocks quite large. I chose to make them 10in x 61/2in and I laid them out in an offset design. I’m so pleased with the finished piece; it really captures the imposing design of that wall.

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The other thing I chose to do with this quilt was to not add a regular binding. I wanted the blocks to be the focus, so I chose to bind it using a facing. That way the binding doesn’t take the eye away from those points.

So whether you are travelling on craft or textile tours abroad, or you just take a walk around your neighbourhood, remember to take your camera and keep your eyes peeled for your creative inspiration.

Until next time, happy stitching!

Hugs, Paula
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