Turning on your design radar


Do you ever need design inspiration but don’t know where to look?  There may be many designs on buildings in the towns you visit that would be perfect for quilting ideas.  When I was doing some research on copyright for my own understanding, I came across the freedom of panorama guidelines. It’s a good place to start if you’re thinking of using an idea you’ve come across on the outside of a building.

Anything can inspire a quilt design. I saw a wonderful design on the DVD for a movie about that famous boy wizard and made a design that doesn’t resemble the inspiration whatsoever.  One of my students was inspired by an old Japanese hearse in the middle of an outdoor car museum in a paddock in Queensland, Australia! It had beautiful gold ornate designs inside.

Other things I’ve been inspired by are:

  • biscuit wrappers (using ancient designs)
  • tissue boxes and gift wrap
  • clothing and shoes
  • cutlery and jewellery
  • headstones
  • buildings

The list goes on but you get the idea.  Of course, many designs are copyright, even older ones so inspiration is fine but develop the idea enough so it doesn’t bear a resemblance.  If you can track down the designer, you may be able to get permission to use the design.  The best source of designs are in the Dover Publications royalty free clip art books which are becoming popular with quilters. These designs come from all sorts of buildings, craft, fashion, eras and cultures.

Here are some photos of designs I’ve taken that would suit many areas of a quilt: borders, circles, triangles and squares. Some of these date back to the mid 1800’s.


Adelaide, Australia.



Sydney, Australia.



Adelaide, Australia.


Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide, Australia. Sometimes less is more.  Perfect for trapunto!


Launceston, Australia. Buildings are a great resource for triangular designs. They are usually lingering around the tops of doors or arched windows.

Launceston, Australia. Buildings are a great resource for triangular designs which are found lingering around the tops of doors or arched windows.


Launceston in Tasmania has a fantastic variety of designs. Tasmania is one of the earliest settled places in Australia and many of the buildings are 200 years old. There are many lions on the buildings as it’s Tasmania’s symbol.  There are also many Art Deco buildings too.

Once you’ve turned on your design radar, you won’t be able to turn it off.  It’ll lead to holding up family outings and family members taking photos of designs for you.  Store your photos and sketches either in a photo album or in files on your computer and you’ll always have a wonderful group of ideas for your next quilt on hand.

Happy quilting,


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