Inspiration, Insight, and Advice

a lightbulb, with e bulb being crumpled paper, lit up.

People often ask about inspiration. When does it strike? How do I get inspiration? The answer is, well, sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t. A major part of being an artist is recognizing when one needs a break. Much like a writer getting writer’s block, sometimes it’s best to come back to a piece with fresh eyes, rather than keep pushing.

How Do I Get Inspired?

My major source of inspiration is actually the fabric that I pull out, seeing patterns or elements in a variety of pieces that somehow feel like they belong together, or with patterns that suggest something. I seldom actually begin with a specific idea; I just open my mind to what is in front of me. 

Back when we had our weekly Open Guild Room with my art guild (the first fabric artist to join!) I would come in with a cloth bag filled with fabric pieces, which I called limiting my palette, and lay them out. Almost invariably, the fabrics themselves would bring ideas on how to use them. 

When these meetings ended with the onset of COVID, I kept sewing, but my making of art pieces went way down, partly because I transitioned almost exclusively to making masks when they were needed. Eventually, we began doing the Open Art sessions via Zoom for two hours every other week (now weekly!) which got me back into creating artwork. Our sessions ranged from three to six people, all working from home – one person occasionally from France, where she has a second home that she visits periodically!

What About My Materials?

Another question many artists get is what their favorite or top choices are. As I said, my inspiration comes from my fabric, but even still, I can’t recommend any source for the “best” fabrics. Most people can’t get to the discount fabric store where I work a day or two each week! Most people who sew generate their own stash of favorite fabrics, and for myself, I kept all but the smaller pieces, which eventually became my source for the artwork. 

How Do I Keep The Art Going?

I have sometimes explained my art as a means to keep sewing when we had absolutely no need for making more clothing; why make another shirt, regardless of how much I love a piece of fabric, when I need a crowbar to insert another one into my closet? 

I tried making doll clothing when my three nieces were small, with scraps that their other grandmother (not my mother) had used to make clothing for them – a great hit, but I didn’t really like working that small, and it didn’t even use up that much fabric, since you need to use small patterns for that scale.

Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t feel inspired or “productive” enough. COVID hit everyone hard, and many people are still trying to find their spark. Take it one day at a time!

If you feel inclined, try my methods to see if they work- pick a funky piece of fabric that calls to you, try repurposing materials you have, or see if there are any art groups in your area (or virtually!) that you would want to join. Find what works for you and brings you joy. I have been making art for years, and I do it because I love it. For more tips, visit my blog! To view some of my knitted items, or my collages, browse my website. If you have any questions about a piece, please email me at