Vacation Time is Inspiration Time

By Jane Haworth

Last week my daughter Becky graduated from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.  So with friends and family we just had to spend a week down there to celebrate! In preparation last fall I booked a vacation rental in Cayucos about 18 miles north of San Luis Obispo. Our house had views over this small, charming beach town and was just a few blocks walk into town and onto the pier. Vacation for me is an enforced but much needed break from sewing. My brain doesn’t forget about art and quilting so my camera and my sketch book become my friend. As I said ‘Vacation time is Inspiration time’.

View of Cayucos Pier

Our daily walks took us to the beach and the pier.

At any opportunity I took photographs of the views, the misty coastal mornings and things quintessential to this Central Coast area. We viewed elephant seals at the Piedras Blancas Elephant seal Rockery, walked around Morro Rock talking pictures of sea otters, sea birds and crabs!

The crab I found washed up on the beach early one morning as we took a walk. I flipped it over for a photo and was amazed at the colors  and textures I saw. Guess what I was reminded of; fabric especially Kaffe Fassett print ‘Roman Glass’. Now here is inspiration for a quilt.

Another of my loves whilst staying in this region are all the succulents and cacti you see at every turn. For me here are more opportunities to use my camera and for even more quilt ideas.

Prickly Pear cactus at Morro Rock

In this photo I love the contrast between the plant life and the rocky background. Also the contrast between the natural plant life and the inscribed initials on the leaves and finally the pops of color in the cacti flowers. All these elements would combine for an intriguing subject for a quilt design.

Moonstone Beachwalk, Cambria, CA

Moonstone Beach

Now how am I going to use all these photos? Some of my favorites I will set aside to develop further into ideas for individual quilts but first I’m going to look at making a journal quilt. Two years ago after our family vacation to Maine and Acadia National Park I put together a journal quilt called ‘Our Maine Event’ as a way to preserve many of the memories of our time together.


‘Our Maine Event’ 36″ x 37″

In this quilt I took many of the items I brought home like maps, postcards, photographs, visitor guides etc and combined them with collaged elements from the memories of that trip like eating lobster, picking blueberries, spotting a cardinal and seeing the Loon. I also wrote on the postcards and journaled about some of events and memories I didn’t want to forget.


The lobster design came from a picture on one of the lobster bibs we were given. Other elements that I chose to make using fabric collage came from looking up blueberry plant pictures on the internet and a guide book of birds to find the Loon and the Cardinal. So when looking for inspiration for fabric collage its good to do some research and gather your ideas to combine. A photo is great starting point especially if its taken by yourself but looking other photos may make you look at colors in a different way or give you ideas for the setting/background for the subject.

White Egret

This photo of this egret was taken by my son in Morro Bay after we had been watching the sea otters at play. With further research of birds in this area I figured out this is a snowy egret. What I love about this photo is the reflection on the water, making it a great image to feature in my design.

So when looking for inspiration for your next quilt or art project you may not have to go on vacation like me but might find great subjects in your own backyard or local park, vegetable garden or shell collection.  Fabric Collage Addiction is what I will be teaching at the Artistic Alchemy Retreat in September so if you are interested let me know as I still have a couple of spots open. I know Heidi does also and with registration closing soon don’t hesitate to contact us to see what is still available. And to see more examples of my work have a look on my website

4 thoughts on “Vacation Time is Inspiration Time

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