Everyday objects, extraordinary quilts (video + giveaway!)

New-release day: Graphic Quilts from Everyday Images


Ever notice something seemingly ordinary—a chain-link fence, a pile of leaves, a string of beads, a tile floor—and thought, “That would make a great quilt!”? If you have, you’ll find a kindred spirit in designer Heather Scrimsher. Her passion? Creating extraordinary modern quilt patterns from the ordinary things she sees everyday.

Fall Leaves quilt
“Fall Leaves”



In her new book Graphic Quilts from Everyday Images, Heather shares the inspiration behind 15 one-of-a-kind quilt designs. Once you understand how she creates her quilts, you’ll see the details of your world through fresh eyes. And you’ll want to capture those details in your own unique quilts.

Propeller quilt
“Propeller”



Today we’re excited to have Heather as a guest blogger to share more about her book, as well as a new video that shines a light on her creative process. Welcome, Heather!


Heather ScrimsherWhen I create designs for quilts, I start with a tangible moment. A memory. And I often snap photos to remember details. This has become so much easier with the accessibility of cell-phone cameras. Now, with a swipe of your finger, you can capture whatever fascinates and inspires you.

While I share the stories behind each of my quilts in Graphic Quilts from Everyday Images, I want to go further in depth for a few of my favorites, explaining how my designs go from photo to finished quilt.


Interlinked quilt
“Interlinked.” My husband and I were stopped in construction traffic. I was staring out my window at a chain-link fence. In my head, I was trying to trace the path of the wire that creates the fence links. I went home and sketched a rough drawing of the linking metal. Then I started adding to the drawing, and the second link was created within the first. I moved from a sketch to graph paper and began to color in sections of my vision. Graph paper is a perfect medium because creating a quilt is easy once you’ve drawn the design onto grids.


Masonry quilt
“Masonry.” My daughter and I were on a historical tour. I noticed that on nearly all the edges of the buildings, light corners popped against dark bricks, as in the photo above. That light-and-dark play inspired my own quilted version of a building from the tour.


Thorny quilt
“Thorny.” I love roses. But they only exist for a fleeting time. And what is left? The poor rose bush. I thought the poor thorns left after all the blooms had wilted needed to be recognized. And so “Thorny”—made up of four 32″-square blocks—was born.

I walk through my design process for “Thorny” in this video:


Reading this in email? See the “Design your own quilt: from inspiration to design” video at the Stitch This! blog or watch it on YouTube.


Graphic Quilts from Everyday ImagesThanks for sharing your behind-the-scenes design process with us, Heather!

What everyday situation is most likely to inspire your next quilt: a walk outdoors, a tour of architecture, or a stroll around your own home? Tell us in the comments and you could win a copy of the Graphic Quilts from Everyday Images eBook! We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win.

Pick up your copy of Graphic Quilts from Everyday Images at your friendly neighborhood quilt shop or at ShopMartingale.com.

Print book: $24.99 (with free eBook)
eBook: $16.99

Comments are closed for this post.

Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The winner is Nancy, who says:

“I have taken photos of material used in restaurant chairs/booths planning to use in a quilt one day. I also study floor tiles when I am in a high end waiting room!

Nancy, we’ll email you about your prize. Congratulations!


104 Comments (leave a comment)

  • A walk outdoors always inspire me, all the fantastic creations of nature are great inspirations for my quilts.

    Anita on December 11, 2014
  • I have always loved a decorated wall in a Mexican restaurant that I frequent. The gorgeous bright teal wall and the vibrant painted plates would make a beautiful quilt!

    —Jennifer Plamp on December 11, 2014
  • Just walking around can give great ideas – on my phone I have an album titled quilt ideas since overhead pipes, light posts, street grates can all have visual graphics worth quilting.

    —Cindy Wienstroer on December 11, 2014
  • I see a lot of inspiration in floor tiles. The patterns in them always make me think of how to turn it into a quilt block. Thanks!

    —Delaine on December 11, 2014
  • My inspiration for quilt patterns mostly comes from surfing the internet. I will see photos, drawings or art work that makes me think,"I could make that into a quilt." Love the "Graphic Quilts from Everyday Objects" it looks amazing! Thanks.

    —Wendi M. on December 11, 2014
  • I guess my eyes dont work that way unless forced 🙂 I just dont see things "outside" as potential patterns!

    Debbie D. on December 11, 2014
  • Being a newbie, I’m still inspired by quilt supped and seeing others quilts, but these pics shows there is do much more!

    —nan on December 11, 2014
  • i have always been traditional see a pattern i like but more and more after taking a classes i have learned to train myselk to see potential in things that i normally wouldnt have book looks grat hope i am the recipient of your giveaway thanks

    debra on December 11, 2014
  • I get colour inspiration from a walk outdoors. I’ve also often looked at a tile floor and thought of what a great quilt pattern it is.

    —MoeWest on December 11, 2014
  • My main inspiration is nature and animals, but I get alot of ideas on internet as well.

    —Claire on December 11, 2014
  • Id say mostly other quilts, maybe around the house for a farmhouse pattern idea

    —Sunnie on December 11, 2014
  • A walk around the lake where I live, so many natural inspirations plus the various cabins & landscaping. So many ideas, just not enough time to put them all into production.

    —Terri on December 11, 2014
  • I’m a Realtor so I often see perspectives in the streets I drive and the homes I show. I recently listed a home that is owned by an Indian family and was blown away by the intricate design that they had drawn on the front porch to welcome me.

    —Jackie Shulsky on December 11, 2014
  • I see things in my home, on the web, outdoors and any building I’m in. You can draw inspiration from anywhere, it will just draw you in and you think, "that is a really cool design or look at those gorgeous colors". It’s all around you, you just have to let it come to you.

    —connie b on December 11, 2014
  • I am mostly inspired by the fabric or a picture. Now I will start looking around more for my inspiration. These quilts are beautiful and so creative

    —Shawna on December 11, 2014
  • Right now probably a walk outdoors – the snow on branches and weed stalks is very graphically interesting.

    —Kathy on December 11, 2014
  • A walk outdoors is always inspiring by the colors and objects nature provides. But I also see lots of interesting architecture that inspires me as well. Recently I was in California at a shopping center and all the stores had different tiles as part of the facades and I took pictures to try and recreate them in a quilt.

    —Susan on December 11, 2014
  • I like graphic designs, in nature and in a quilt. High contrast also appeals, one of my favorites – dark bare branches against a blue sky. I am a beginning quilter so have not ventured much into the art, or self designed quilts, yet. But the idea is intriguing.

    —Karen on December 11, 2014
  • My latest inspiration comes from a new company in town. The Blackbird Fruit and Vegetable Company created a new logo just perfect for an applique! It is basically and ying/yang sign with the head of a blackbird supperimposed. It has movement but is very simple. I am using it in a small wall hanging.

    —Janey on December 11, 2014
  • Unusual techniques, cool fabrics… figuring out how they would look good together by pinning them on my design wall and then drawing out the pattern.

    —wendy m on December 11, 2014
  • at this point in my life I’m inspired by my sweet grand babies. in fact I’d like to use your masonry pattern to make a quilt for my 5 year old grandson. it reminds me of his favorite building block.

    —D Diana on December 11, 2014
  • I’ve used all sorts of things as inspiration for quilts – my most recent one was a Starbucks Christmas mug which had a great colour combination.

    Gail G on December 11, 2014
  • I see things in nature that inspire me- I have blocks now for Autumn Leaves -something I have wanted to do for years- hopefully this winter I will finish them into a quilt. So many projects – so little time!

    —Nancy on December 11, 2014
  • I’m always in such a hurry with life, I don’t stop and take pictures. I recently went on a foliage hike and will now go back through my photos and see what pops out at me for a quilt design. It’s always good to stretch yourself.

    —Glenda Britten on December 11, 2014
  • I have been inspired by a tile floor in one of the bathrooms of our house, I’ve always thought it would make a great quilt, but so far haven’t had time to graph it out! But it’s on my quilt bucket list!!

    —Debra Reber on December 11, 2014
  • Fascinating. Very inspiring. Got my creative gears moving!

    —Janet on December 11, 2014
  • I have taken photos of material used in restaurant chairs/booths planning to use in a quilt one day. I also study floor tiles when I am in a high end waiting room!

    —Nancy R on December 11, 2014
  • A wonderful reminder to slow down and notice the small everyday details-I love the quilt "Thorny". Thanks for the chance to win this book!

    —Debbie Miller on December 11, 2014
  • Probably something related to architecture

    —NancyB from Many LA on December 11, 2014
  • I take walks and some of the things that I see along the lake would make beautiful quilts

    —Margaret Schindler on December 11, 2014
  • Definitely a walk out doors. I think Mother Nature has more design ideas than what humans create with architecture. And the same thing that I saw the day before during my hikes will change. Sometimes lighting effects the design, sometimes animals have moved or consumed part of the view. Sometimes I just am more aware of something I pass daily and "see it for the first time". I do enjoy architecture and see repetitive designs that are interesting but I still like what Mother Nature provides.

    Jane Modjeski

    —Mj Modjeski on December 11, 2014
  • The toys covering the floor is what I see all day. 😉 Perhaps I’ll go for a walk later and see what’s outside.

    —Erin Marie on December 11, 2014
  • I take tons of pictures from old buildings like grain elevators, barns, windmills to flowers to birds and animals. Each time I think to myself "this would make a great quilt". Everywhere I go I’m looking for quilt ideas.

    —Susie Furgason on December 11, 2014
  • Vacations inspire me. I usually see something outside of my normal life such as the beach and the waves that give me color inspirations.

    —Debbie Chenoweth on December 11, 2014
  • I find Nature to be a great source of inspiration.

    —Julie B on December 11, 2014
  • I see the patterns in bridges, buildings, walkways, and carpets. It’s fun to seek out different designs in new places.

    Jocelyn on December 11, 2014
  • Anything to do with the outdoors. What wonderful inspiration can be found every place one can look. There’s not enough hours in the day to create something from all the ideas floating around me.

    —Cindy on December 11, 2014
  • When I visited Budapest years ago, I took lots of photos in the cathedrals we toured. They were very inspiring. I haven’t made any quilts from those photos, but I think I should pull them out and have another look at them. Who knows, it could be my next quilt.

    —Bridget on December 11, 2014
  • I would make a quilt using ordinary mailboxes that had quilt block designs on them.

    —Joan M H on December 11, 2014
  • Although I have been inspired by all the things you mentioned, nature is my most frequent inspiration.

    —Lisa Marie on December 11, 2014
  • I love mosaics and now can see how they could be transferred into
    a quilt

    elr on December 11, 2014
  • When I see a piece of fabric that just "hits me in the face", I can just see it in a quilt. I haven’t designed my own pattern. I usually only go with patterns I have seen in print already. This book would inspire me. To see someone else’s perspective.

    —Darla C on December 11, 2014
  • I’m inspired by details others do not see.Particularly an unexpected color combination not planned. Example In a floral display 2 colors next to each other that are not planned color harmonies.

    Caroline Rohrer on December 11, 2014
  • A tour of architecture for sure. Love entrances and arches and ceilings! Such inspiration!

    —Linn Jencopale on December 11, 2014
  • I see a lot of things that inspire me, but I am a newbe and nt always sure how to execute them.

    —sonia afanador on December 11, 2014
  • I find myself looking at patterns on sidewalks, at patterns on walls when stopped at red lights. When I was going to a new position in my company, I didn’t want the standard framed photo of an airplane with signatures on the mat from my co-workers. I made 5 large quilt blocks that mirrored the tile pattern on the bathroom floor and had everyone sign the blocks as my memento of 2 wonderful years in that group. 🙂

    —Jill Ellis on December 11, 2014
  • I am a big fan of fractals and get a lot of creative ideas and color combinations from them. I Google "fractal" and look at the art sites for their work. little sections of a fractal art design can trigger an idea. I also have used some of the fractal generator sites and come up with other creative ideas

    —lavonne on December 11, 2014
  • I remember reading about someone who made a quilt to remind her of her summer holiday. When I first read it I thought that might be a bit boring, especially if you have the same kind of holiday every year! But if you don’t and travel to various parts of the world, you can take inspiration from so many different things that you wouldn’t normally see: architecture, landscapes, wildlife, and create fantastic blocks to reflect those.

    —Suzanne Bradley on December 11, 2014
  • Going through the photo’s of my last few trips or old trips, anywhere!, as I usually take at least some of my photo’s as ideas for quilting/sewing. Thus I keep that memory for when I am ready.

    —Tonie Peterson on December 11, 2014
  • I think I’d have to make a quilt of the next door neighbor’s dogs playing in the leaves. They are just too cute! 🙂

    —Jennifer Alexander on December 11, 2014
  • Love this book and the way she interpreted the "graphics" she sees in nature!

    —Sandy Cerra on December 11, 2014
  • The trees in my yard will be my next inspiration.

    —Judy Allen on December 11, 2014
  • I love wandering around art galleries, an often find inspiration for quilts there …

    —Paula on December 11, 2014
  • A trip to the art supply store that has a small gallery inspires some great colors and combinations.

    gail bartels on December 11, 2014
  • My family has traveled extensively over the years and I am always drawn to the architecture and natural elements around me as we visit these other countries and continents. There is inspiration everywhere and my photos will show you the amazing designs I have seen in tiles, floors, flower close-ups, buildings, even looking into a European bakery window . . . . I am always on the lookout for design inspiration wherever I am!

    —Jeanne on December 11, 2014
  • I see patterns and colors everywhere.

    —Valerie Clark on December 11, 2014
  • Nature and architecture always inspire me.

    —Jamie on December 11, 2014
  • Color inspiration often comes from a walk outside, as well as looking a color photos in gardening magazines.

    —Nancy N on December 11, 2014
  • A walk outdoors is always inspiring, especially walks on vacation when you can appreciate the scenery at a more relaxed pace. Seaside, woods, mountain lakes, island getaways…endless possibilities. 🙂

    —Rose D. on December 11, 2014
  • Flowers(I photograph flowers for greeting cards)inspire me to think of a quilt that could possibly become a copy from one of my cards. I also love the saltbox style homes and those make great quilts with their straight lines. I would love to add this book to my collection…it looks really amazing.

    —Barbara Dolan on December 11, 2014
  • I walk outdoors …. a lot! I walk my dogs twice a day, morning and late afternoon so that would be my most logical form of inspiration. Plus I love all things dealing with nature whether they be birds, trees, flowers, or any thing related.

    —Karen L. on December 11, 2014
  • I love the art that nature gives us, like raindrops on windows, leaves blowing in the wind, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, birds sitting on wires. Someday I’ll get to use these inspirations in a quilt.

    —Kathy E. on December 11, 2014
  • i find inspiration from colours i see outside as nature often provides interesting combinations that just seem to always work!

    —Suzanne Keal on December 11, 2014
  • I have some very interesting friends so visiting with them in their homes are are always inspiring me and my quilty thoughts.

    —Jessie Hansen on December 11, 2014
  • I often find myself looking at floor tiles and figuring out how they can be converted to a quilt. The pictures of the floors in Italy really excite me and I have bought a pattern book to make some mosaic floor patterns found in Florence. I think if I ever went there in person, I’d be so distracted and in awe of all the designs in the tiles.

    Carolyn on December 11, 2014
  • A stroll around the house… more specifically, a stroll around the fabric closet!

    —Karen Cohn on December 11, 2014
  • In the depths of an Alaskan winter when the sun barely surfaces over the horizon for a few hours each day, I dreamily stare out my frosted window and visually inhale its creamy golden light reflecting off the snow, painting the birch tree trunks with a sunny promise of longer days ahead.

    —Mary Beth on December 11, 2014
  • In Spain, I was fascinated by the patterns of gray and black rocks arranged in intricate patterns on the surface of sidewalks. I have collected photos of manhole covers, doors, and doorknobs and am always looking for interesting combinations of lines and colors. This fall, I delighted in trees that had different colors in their different parts: orange, yellow, deep red, green.

    Marie G on December 11, 2014
  • I like looking at things through the macro mode on my camera. Details, segments of things whether flowers, nature or rocks.

    —Pam Reim on December 11, 2014
  • Going thru sales catalogs gives me plenty of ideas.

    —Millie on December 11, 2014
  • Usually I just walk outside. I live in the country so it’s pretty easy to get inspired. That said Pinterest is full of beautiful quilts and then there are all the old churches with the amazing tiles and stained glass windows that fascinate me.

    —Chris on December 12, 2014
  • My inspiration comes from outdoors, whether from my gardens (both vegetable and flower) or from our hikes in the woods. But so far my inspiration has been mostly color palettes. I am fairly new to quilting and am still trying to find my artistic "voice." Would love to pour over this book and study it for direction.

    —Kate on December 12, 2014
  • I love looking at architecture. These older buildings have stories to tell especially when you walk into older municipalities city halls or the older post offices. Simply inspiring.

    —Mary D on December 12, 2014
  • I make a lot of landscape quilts so being outdoors inspires me. Lately I have been inspired by architecture and I am going to make a quilt with buildings in it from a picture my son took in Spain.

    —Barbara on December 12, 2014
  • My grand kids inspire me. Always coming up with something new.

    —Gina S. on December 12, 2014
  • My inspiration comes from outdoors. I volunteer at our salt marsh nature center during the spring, summer and part of the fall. I take pictures from the time that the volunteers start preparing the ground for planting, the actual planting and growing season and clean up in the fall. Thorny and Fall Leaves really perked my interest in this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

    —Virginia Bronner on December 12, 2014
  • A walk outdoors is a great inspiration. You not only can get color combinations, but the design too.

    —DebV on December 12, 2014
  • It’s not an everyday event, but I’m sure that my trip to Paris in the spring will give me all kinds of ideas for new quilts!

    —Sue on December 12, 2014
  • Heather, your work is truly artistic. It resonates with my artistic heart. Thank you for sharing the THORNY video. It was intersting to walk through those steps with you. I have never seen your work before today. I’ll research to see if there is anything else posted, made or written by you. I wish we could be in a guild together. I think you would be a great quilting friend. 🙂

    —Catherine Price on December 12, 2014
  • Floors are a great inspiration, whether they be carpeted, tiled, wood, or terrazzo. There is a wonderful hotel in Galveston Island with fantastical underwater medallions in its terrazzo floors. Photographs from my childhood showing patterns in tiled floors are also inspiring. Intricate parquet floors are basically ready-made block patterns that one can use.

    —Crazy Cuban on December 12, 2014
  • I like to look at houses.

    —Margaret on December 12, 2014
  • I see the patterns in buildings, walkways, and all kinds of flooring. I am pretty knew to all of this so hopefully if I win the book would be a great guide for looking at things and being able to execute ideas.

    —Dar on December 12, 2014
  • An architectural tour whether real or virtual is aways a source of inspiration for me.
    Thanks so much for the giveaway,
    Jacqueline in Pitt Meadows

    Jacqueline VH on December 12, 2014
  • I am inspired by nature. A walk in the woods surrounding my home brings me to the perfect place to become inspired.

    —Sue Johnson on December 12, 2014
  • I think things in nature most inspire me in regards to color. Haven’t thought too much about shape. The video was really interesting to watch. I have been inspired by shapes I have seen in southwestern objects.

    —Nancy Angerer on December 12, 2014
  • Seeing designs everywhere is sort of a disease. I can’t help thinking how something I see outside or on trips might look as a quilt.

    —teri c on December 12, 2014
  • I spend a lot of time watching wildlife and nature from my back porch, so that is my greatest inspiration for quilt designs.

    —Glenna D. on December 12, 2014
  • While visiting my daughters in New York City and Dallas I always see shapes and ironwork that inspires me, so a picture is taken. I need to revisit those pictures. Merry Christmas!

    —Rita S on December 12, 2014
  • I think some of the best influences come from walks outside in the garden and flowers.

    —Shirley Strait on December 12, 2014
  • I never know when the next idea will come from. Maybe snow on trees, a tissue box,the sky, a view of the ground from a plane, or random colors in the laundry basket!

    —Susan on December 12, 2014
  • During a mad dash to hospital to see my sister, inspiration came ‘on the road’, driving to the town where she was, I glanced to my left and there right at that moment I had to stop and take photo. I am grateful for that ‘time out’ it diverted my sense of urgency, calmed me and gave me the gift of inspiration. Nature…gotta love it =)

    —Janet G on December 12, 2014
  • Trees and buildings with a sunrise or sunset accenting them.

    —Betty on December 12, 2014
  • A walk outdoors in all of nature’s glory, inspires me with color.. I also, like Heather, see designs in architectural buildings.. their ceilings, walls, floors, facades, etc…

    —Darrell Hardenburg on December 12, 2014
  • A stroll around town is where I would find my inspiration. I love see quilts in everyday objects.

    —Nikki Mitchell on December 13, 2014
  • Considering the season I would lean towards the festive lights, so bright against the crisp white snow.

    —Nanc on December 13, 2014
  • Before my Pentex cameras, filters, and lenses were stolen by the Rose Hill, MS thief, I went on nature photo shoots and would often sit by a tree, patiently waiting for a wild animal, mostly deer, to come strolling by. Fortunately, the only wild bear I ever chanced upon was crossing the road in front of my van. Red Maples are my favorite tree and thier array of God’s autumn colors blending one into another provided the palette of color for my quilts. Bear Paws, Turkey Tracks, Deer antlers, Wild Geese, Maple or Oak leaves, are a few of the quilts, I have made. I currently have a WIP of maple leaves and a herd of deer. The worn path in the woods, rocky cliffs, or waterfalls often gave me ideas for an illustrated art quilt.

    To sum it up: nature provides me with my ideas.

    Keep smiling,

    Lynnita Shipman on December 13, 2014
  • Advertising graphics on TV and in print have given me much inspiration — both colors and shapes.

    —Ellee on December 14, 2014
  • Windows inspire me: I enjoy seeing so many shapes and sizes on the flat surface of a home or garage. I like playing with light&dark hues to capture ‘reflections’ within rectangles, squares and half-circle ‘panes’.

    —Marty on December 14, 2014
  • I see quilt patterns in floors although I saw one not too long in the napkin I was handed with my drink on an airline. I kept the napkin and every time I look at it I think I should design a quilt pattern based on it as it would make an amazing quilt.

    —Judy on December 14, 2014
  • I usually get inspired from nature on a walk with my dog. She likes different scenery as I do. We go on walks to different areas to spice up our day.

    —Marguerite Namdar on December 14, 2014
  • Walking outside and looking at "Mother Nature" inspires me with designs and color combinations.

    —Rosalind Gutierrez on December 15, 2014
  • Mother Nature is amazing and how we can use this in sewing is cool.

    —laura on December 16, 2014
  • My inspiration is always from something unexpected. A stack of books, a row of cars, who knows. Eyes open, ready to receive.

    Gary on December 16, 2014
  • A jigsaw puzzle in my home

    Carmen N on December 17, 2014

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