Finding your Inspiration: An ATC Swap Guest Post

Welcome to a weekly series of guest blog posts written by Very Berry Artist Trading Card swappers for Very Berry Artist Trading Card swappers. First up is Susan (an ATC swap newbie, but an experienced swapper, as you will gather) who has written a fabulous introduction to how to find (and organize!) your inspiration. Here she is to introduce herself..

Hi, I’m Susan and have been sewing/quilting since 2009. My mom always had some sort of needlecraft in her hands growing up and I dabbled in crosstitch, embroidery, and knitting so it was just a matter of time until I got my hands on a sewing machine and now, there’s no looking back.

By now we all have our ATC Swap partner assignments and the ideas are swimming around in our heads or maybe we’re drawing a blank? Ack – that’s the worst! How do you figure out what to make with the awesome theme of Winter Comforts?  Everyone wants to make something that your partner will love but you also want to stay true to yourself.

When I am starting a project I often follow this path – STORM, SNOOP, SKETCH, STASH, then STITCH.

STORM or BRAINSTORM, to be more specific, as a way to generate ideas or wrangle the ideas already overwhelming your brain. For me, the best way to make any sense and organize my thoughts is to put them down on paper (or in the computer – whatever your preference). My goal isn’t to edit at this point. I just want to get the ideas out of my head. Right now, every idea is a viable idea. I’ll spend 5 or 10 minutes jotting down everything that comes to mind. Remember no editing!

dubbio e certezza
What comes to mind when I think of Winter Comforts? I did this exercise twice on a couple different ways. Once on paper:

Guest ATC post Susan 2

and another right here:
Winter Comforts: Fireplace, then cocoa comes to mind, marshmallows, socks, laundry, sweater, scarf, mittens, holding hands, kissing, romance, date night, hubba hubba, cuddle, quilts, lots of quilts, crinkle, noses, pets noses, eskimo kisses, snow, sledding, skiing, hot toddies, Christmas tree, ornaments, stockings, mantle, gifts, ribbon, red, gold, green, wreaths, holidays, family, cuddles, cookies, cocoa, soup, baking, roasting, warmth, orange, red, gold, sunset, sky, snow, tree, leaves, crunchy leaves, pinecones, pine needles, evergreen, sunrise, shimmer, frosty, icicle, Christmas lights, comfort, family, friends, food, fireplace, quilts, fabric, batting, fluffy, soft, crinkly, grandma, reindeer, Santa, Rudolf, red nose, cold nose, scarf, hat, mittens, time’s up!

Each time I spent about 5-10 minutes. I kept jotting things down until the ideas seem to repeat a lot or slow way down like when you’re popping popcorn in the microwave. Then I’ll look over the words/ideas on the paper and see what I am drawn to.

Next, I channel my inner detective and SNOOP my partner’s Facebook page and Instagram accounts. I might be extra sneaky and check to see if she has a Pinterest or Flickr account. I’ll see where they live,  look at their profile info – favorite movies, music, books? I’ll look at the things they’ve made for themselves and for other people. Are they drawn to a particular color palette?  Maybe they post a lot of pics of their pet(s)? Are they a foodie? Do they travel or are they a homebody? Are they married, have children? Just try to gather as much information on their likes and dislikes as possible.Guest ATC post Susan 3For example, my imaginary partner may live in a place that snows with her husband and two young boys. She loves to read the classics, has a horse named Dewdrop, a cat named Stitch, visits pubs and snaps photos of her favorite beer. When she creates for herself she uses deep saturated colors or very pale colors. She’s kind of all over the place when she creates for other probably because she’s working with their color preferences.

Guest ATC post Susan 4

She’s signed up for a Rainbow Mini Quilt Swap and Star Wars Stitch Swap and also knits. She works at a hospital but I can’t tell in what capacity. She’s listening to Adele and watches The Voice. She liked the new Star Wars Movie Trailer (I’m going to go out on a limb and say my imaginary partner likes Star Wars) and posted a Ryan Gosling meme.
Guest ATC post Susan 5

Next I’ll review my ideas and match it with my partner inspiration. Does my partner like literal / realistic designs or more abstract? What fits with my aesthetic? More traditional or modern? Are they cheeky and like a little humor? What would I like to make that also will make my partner smile? I then SKETCH a handful of ideas to see if I can execute it in the ATC size which is fairly small (2.5″x3.5″). I tell myself KISS  – Keep It Simple Susan. I tend to overdesign but I am a work in progress…

Guest ATC post Susan 6

I’ll then go to my STASH to see what I have on hand to execute my ideas and if need be, place an order for the ideal supplies or visit my local shop to stock up! Now it’s time to STITCH and make your detective work come to life!

Thanks so much to Susan for a great introduction to this series! Hope you enjoyed reading. How are you all getting along ATC swappers? Started yet or leaving it until after Christmas? 

17 thoughts on “Finding your Inspiration: An ATC Swap Guest Post

  1. I really like your creative path Susan and the names you use for each stage. Very organised. Your “KISS” made me smile, I should remember this, it is very useful. Thank yo for the great post Susan! I have started working on my card but not sure if I find any time to finish it before Christmas.

  2. I’m on a mini break in London and just sat down in the for coffee in St James Park to work on my design when I found Susan’s post. Really enjoyed reading it. I never thought of “snoop” I shall give that a go!
    Many thanks
    Carole x

  3. What a great post! I’m a newbie when it comes to atcs so I loved reading Susan very organised approach. Perhaps some day I’ll be this together!

  4. I think this is a great thing to do. My first idea was so cliche and obvious that I had to keep thinking. Brainstorming is a great way to get all those cliches out before you get to something more meaningful. Thanks!

  5. Aaa … at last a glimmer of hope … and inspiration. thank you Susan. And just quietly, I don’t really need any incentive to go to Pintrest, but I think this will help immensely.

  6. I’m afraid I’m a bit last minute. I mull over various possibilities and have found (up to now), I wake up one morning and know exactly what I’m going to do. This usually happens about 2 weeks before the posting deadline. Great to see how a very organised swapper goes about things.

  7. Some great ideas for planning and designing – trouble is, despite all my good intentions, the design won’t come until the deadline is looming!

  8. Wow that’s methodical! It was nice to read such an organised method. I’ve chosen my subject but I’m not nearly as organised 😛 I’ll be starting mine later in the week or maybe next week. 🙂

  9. Some great ideas here – especially the brainstorming. I normally snoop like mad on a partner. The difficulty always arises if the partner in questions appears to not be active at all on any social media.

    1. I know Jan, it does make it harder. But I like to keep the swap open to all…. And the main thing to remember is that people are always appreciative of anything that you have put time and effort into.

  10. Fun to read about such an organised approach to ATC making – I’m looking forward to seeing the result! So thoughtful of your partner’s likes too – lucky partner:-)

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