Creating without judgement by dying fabrics and making a patchwork cushion
Creative Life,  Pattern Love

When Inspiration Strikes

I had actually planned to write about a completely different topic this week. Surface pattern design and making patterns was supposed to be this week’s topic. But then the week turned out to be different than expected. Inspiration struck, I won a creative challenge and was motivated for completely new creative projects. Finding inspiration to create new things is a wonderful process. So I decided to write about this instead.

Make it in Design Summer School

Last month I decided rather spontaneously to sign up for this year’s Summer School by Make it in Design.

I already wrote about my endeavor to explore surface pattern design further in my post on the #100dayproject. After finishing Bonnie Christine‘s Immersion course, I had signed up for another course from Make it in Design. So I was on their email list and kept getting these emails about the upcoming Summer School. But I ignored all of them as well as all early bird offers, thinking that I already had enough other projects to work. Very true! Nevertheless, I decided to give it a go and explore it. So, I signed up for it rather last minute to find inspiration for surface pattern designs!

What is the Summer School

The Summer School is not a course teaching surface pattern design, but a creative design challenge for pattern designers. Make it in Design organizes it twice a year – in summer and winter (then it is called Winter School of course). There are three tracks to choose from – beginner, intermediate, and advanced. In order to not having to decide if I am a beginner, intermediate or advanced pattern designer, I signed up for all three of them.

During four weeks you receive two design briefs to design surface patterns as well as two creative challenges. When submitting your work you can win nice prices such as a spot on the winter school. And it is a platform to exchange with other aspiring surface pattern designers, of course.

No Motivation to Get Started

Preparation for creative challenge

I received my first briefs and did not feel like working on them at all. Mostly because I was too busy doing other things. I was setting up this blog at the same time and was also busy preparing my first newsletter.

The second week opened with the first round of creative challenges. As they have a shorter period to submit, I decided to start working on the creative challenges instead. 

Let Inspiration Strike…

These creative challenges are supposed to inspire you and get you going to explore different techniques. You just make marks and create motifs in a more free, artistic, and rather intuitive way. Being the perfectionist that I am, I always have a bit of a problem to let loose and just start drawing or painting without judging myself. But these exercises really helped me to overcome this. I really have to explore such techniques more in future when I need to find inspiration or motivation to start anything at all!

But the tie-dye creative challenge did not really get me going. I was not sure if I should submit for it at all, to be honest. I did not know what to dye and then what to do with my dyed piece. So I was kind of delaying the whole thing until I found a few fabric scrubs that had not been planned for any project yet. 

But as I was cooking something with red onions and a few blueberries were at the edge of being off, I just gave it a go. I prepared my dyes from onion skins and blueberries on Friday around lunchtime. I tied my fabric scraps with some thread and just put them in the dye until late afternoon. Then I took them out and let them dry overnight. Almost forgetting about it!

… To Get Motivated

The next morning, I washed them out and put them into the dryer on high temperature before ironing them to take a photo for submission. I had done some courses in tied-dying fabrics and natural dyes before. So was no newbie to both techniques. But nevertheless, I was super surprised how nice the fabrics came out. I loved the patterns!

And then, in a spark of inspiration, I had the idea to make a patchwork pillow from them. In retrospect, I wonder why I did not have this idea from the beginning! 🙂

So it was Saturday morning and I started cutting up my pieces and reassembled them randomly. In the evening I had enough stripes to make a front and a back piece for a quilted cushion. I took photos on all the steps along the process and thought, maybe I should just submit this as a work-in-progress project and focus on the design briefs instead.

When it Happens and you just Keep Going

But for some reason, I could not let go of it. The process inspired me and all the work on the cushion happened rather intuitively than planned. Whenever I finished one step the next one followed naturally.

When I had pieced my fabrics and started preparing for quilting. Then I was done quilting and it was only logical to also assemble the cushion. Sunday evening I was done with everything. The deadline was Monday and I still had not submitted anything yet. It was too dark for taking a good photo, but I did not feel any pressure. I was happy with the results and had so many new ideas that I wanted to try out.

I can truly say that I did it for the process like Emily Jeffords emphasizes in her podcast. And did not care about the submission so much. It was all more about finding inspiration for new projects.

The Highlight of my Week

So, Monday morning I convinced my husband to take photos of my cushion outside in the sunlight. We even took a short boomerang for social media. Then I submitted my naturally dyed quilted patchwork cushion for the creative challenge.

And you won’t believe it! I won the creative challenge! 🙂

I can’t tell you how motivational this was for me during this week and still is. As I had some time off, I could dive deep into all kinds of creative ideas and projects sparking from there.

Despite staying at home during this holiday (due to the current traveling restrictions) I really feel relaxed after it. I did not think about work and I did not feel the urge to check my emails. All I did, was focusing on creativity to just let go. 

What Did I Take from Winning this Challenge?

There are a bunch of things I take from winning this creative challenge:

  1. Do it for the process: Whatever you do, don’t judge yourself and let go more often. Don’t only do it for the outcome, but also for the process.
  2. Sign up for the Make it in Design Winter School: I will definitely participate in the Winter School and not only because I won one track already with this challenge. But also because of the creative challenges and for finding inspiration and motivation for other projects.
  3. Dye more fabrics: I already got more fruits and vegetables to dye more fabric scrubs to try out different shades and effects. Can’t wait to see where this leads to. 🙂
  4. Write a patchwork pattern: To create the cushion pattern was rather intuitively. It turned out really nice and I will try to write it down with instructions. It would be nice to recreate it with different fabrics! The pattern will be available for download in the Me + My Craftroom Shop.
  5. Work on the Design Briefs: I already started researching for the design briefs, but rather than rushing through them I will take my time. If I do not submit anything, it does not matter. After all, I am doing it for the process! 🙂

And you? Let me know when you feel inspired and how you find your inspiration? What motivates you to be creative?

Avocado and pomegranate

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