Guest Post/Giveaway: Patty Young on Flora & Fauna

This winter was a flurry of activity for fabric designers; it saw the releases of dozens of new collections, including Patty Young‘s Flora & Fauna for Michael Miller Fabrics. We invited Patty to stop by the True Up, um, “virtual offices” (have a seat on the virtual couch! There’s room for virtually everybody!) to share a little bit about her latest fabric line. Stay tuned for a special Flora & Fauna giveaway at the close of the post!

Well, thanks a bunch to the True Up girls for inviting me back into their cozy little corner of the world to talk about none other than my favorite topic … fabric! I think I’ll just make myself comfortable on this Eames chair in the corner and, OH WOW, you gals got me an Iced Grande Peppermint Mocha? You really shouldn’t have, but thanks!!! How did you know that was my favorite?

So, last time I came over we chatted about Mezzanine and I mentioned how my next collection (Flora & Fauna) was so different from the last two and a bit out of my comfort zone. It’s funny for me to think about it in those terms now that it’s out and about because, believe it or not, I’m quite comfortable with it now, haha.

I fall more in love with Flora & Fauna every time I look at it and I always wonder why I have such a strong bond with it, even more than with my prior two collections. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore Andalucia and Mezzanine. The whole experience has been a dream come true, really. But when I look at my F&F bolts all lined up on my shelves and arranged in order by colorway, I get filled with an intense joy that I cannot begin to describe. I think it may be because of the variety of colors within this collection. I never had that before… and also because it pretty much got printed exactly like I turned it in. Anyone who designs fabric will tell you that it is really a crazy process in which you don’t really know what will come back from the mill until you actually have those strike-offs in hand. There are always some color-variances and entire colorways or designs may be dropped for one reason or the other.

With Flora & Fauna, I was utterly surprised that exactly what I originally pitched is what came back from the mill. We didn’t have to adjust any colors or fix any elements of the collection. Nothing got dropped or re-colored or re-pitched. Plus, I purposely pitched some lime greens and pinks that were an exact match to the greens and pinks in Mezzanine so sewists out there could mix & match the two collections and by golly… they ARE a perfect match!! (I was a tad worried about that one! haha)

Birdie Damask — Andalucia

So, you wanted to hear about the inspiration and process that led up to Flora & Fauna? Well, like I’ve said so many times before, I really just wanted to do something different. My first two collections, Andalucia and Mezzanine, were architecturally and travel-inspired. They both have a very structured, graphic & linear quality to the designs. So I wanted to step away from this look and try something else. I also wanted to draw animals, since the closest I ever came to it before was the lovebirds in Birdie Damask.

Luna Moth in Mustard

The first design I drew up was the Luna Moths. I thoroughly researched this beautiful creature online and downloaded tons of photos of it. I decided I wanted to stylize the shape and make it sort of Art Deco-ish (blame a recent trip to South Beach, Miami). I got to drawing on Adobe Illustrator with my Wacom tablet. I drew the left side of the moth, tweaked it a little, then grouped it and mirrored it. I couldn’t believe what I saw! It was just like I envisioned it in my mind. Next it was just a matter of adding color and a background texture and VOILA!

Hive in Raspberry

The next creature I drew was the bees. Boy, did I have fun with this one! They were just a pleasure to play with.+ Once I drew the honeycomb shapes for the bee hive it was a matter of sprinkling and grouping them here and there to form a visually pleasing arrangement.

I stepped back from my designs at that point and I realized that even though I had two animals, I still had a very “structured” feel to the collection. Both of those designs had geometric backgrounds… the moths had skinny stripes and the bees had hexagons. Ahhhh… I needed to force myself to break away from that mindframe and draw something totally organic and free-flowing!

That’s when the Dandelions came into existence. I forced myself not to use any guides or lines and just drew some freestyle shapes with my Wacom stylus. The whole process was so freeing. It was like being a kid again… no boundaries or rules! I just kept drawing and drawing, then I would throw in some dots here and there. I must’ve drawn hundreds of Dandies! I chose the ones I liked best, pitched the rest, and a design was born.

Hummingbirds came next. More free-flowing, organic drawing from my part… and so much fun!

The Blossoms were plucked right out of the Hummingbird print to have a life of their own. And they do! Seriously one of my favorites of the collection.

I printed everything out and taped it to my studio wall. My hubby, Jon, walked in, took one look at it and said… “you need another floral.” It’s funny how you can be so immersed in something and so close to it that you cannot see something as obvious as that. I frantically started pacing around the house, looking, grasping for anything, any source of inspiration. All of a sudden I spotted these huge fake Gerbera daisies I had bought at IKEA recently and that was IT! Back to the drawing board.

Daisy Dot in turquoise

When I started drawing the Daisy Dot design, I was seriously squealing like a little kid. I couldn’t believe this wasn’t already part of the collection. It was like it came out of me with a fury because I had almost left it out. The Daisies had to be! They are so happy and colorful they make me smile every time.

I can’t take credit for the Double Border Daisy. That was Kathy Miller’s idea as soon as she saw the Daisy Dots, and I am so glad she suggested it because they are so super cool! I have made quilts, pillows, dresses and even a skirt for myself with it. And now, I love looking online to see what other people are making with it. I adore that print.

So, how about that little peek into my crazy world? Hope you enjoyed it and thanks so much again for having me. I always enjoy visiting with the True Up gals. :)

– patty

Thanks for the peek, Patty! And now, as promised: Leave a comment naming your favorite colorway or your favorite designs from Flora & Fauna and Patty will send one winner a 1/2 yd. bundle with five different prints. Comments will close and a winner will be chosen randomly next Friday, February 5, at 2pm Central U.S. time.

409 Comments

  1. Jen says:

    I’m most in love with the Luna Moth in Mustard. It is so subtle but vibrant and clever at the same time! And I have no idea what I’d make with it, I just want it to sit on my sewing table for awhile so I can look at it and dream about it and then one day it will be perfect for something!!

  2. Donita says:

    I love the humming bird in red and turquoise.

  3. georgia says:

    I love the mustard colourway (actually I like all of them, but mustard the best), especially the hive and hummingbird designs. It goes so beautifully with the other colourways too.

  4. Leigh says:

    Thanks, that was really interesting!!! I love ALL of the dandelions, they are so pretty and versatile!

  5. Carol says:

    I am passionately in love with the turquoise colorway!

  6. Rebecca says:

    I just love those double border daisies! I have plans for summer dresses for my three girls – one in each of the colorways. And maybe I’ll make a matching skirt in the stone colorway for me? Sounds like a plan!

  7. Carmel says:

    I absolutely ADORE the hummingbirds in lime which is from the raspberry colourway. I love the raspberry and turquoise colourways best.

    I love the organic feel of this collection and love the turn it took once the dandelions were introduced. It gives it a lovely “free” feel.

    Thanks for the explanation of the development of the collection, it was quite an interesting read.

  8. gnomeangel says:

    I love this collection – I’m particularly fond of the bee hive pattern.

    I made this bag using flora and fauna and it’s so cute: http://www.gnomeangel.com/made-melly-me-toffee-apples/

  9. sarah p says:

    I adore the dandelions! I’m going to make a reversible girls dress, a modified version of an oliver + s pattern, and I think this will work perfectly!

  10. Thank you for this guest post, I love this fabric collection! My favorite fabrics are: Humming Birds in Lime, Dandelion in Stone and Raspberry (really like the Lime, Fushia and Turquoise also) and Blossoms in Lime, Black and Stone (with turquoise, red and yellow not too far behind). I really hope I can get some of those sooner or later!

  11. Anita says:

    I really like the green colorway.

  12. I really adore the moths, hummingbirds and bees. My favourite colourway for now is the Mustard, but the turquiose is a close second. When I first saw the collection back in the fall, it was the Stone colourway. I think this collection is fun, bright and cheerful. The “animals” and dandelions really add a touch of organic-ness (new word) to a great rigid collection. Way to go, Patty Young :) Thanks for explaining the creative process of making a print.

  13. Bren Kim-Rastello says:

    The dandelions are my favorite. They are so fun and whimsical.

  14. Kate Erbach says:

    The turquoise colorway grabs me the most. I love the retro red mixed in, gives it extra pizzazz. I find myself drawn to all things turquoise lately. It is one of those colors that looks good on everybody and everything!

  15. I love all the beautiful color. The Dandelions are my favorite.

  16. Charlotte M says:

    They are all really awesome– I really enjoy nature type prints and dots. Stone and Mustard are probably my favorites.

  17. Em says:

    Admittedly, I’m a “skimmer” and I rarely read through an entire interview post like this. But this one, I did. I read the whole thing.

    Because I love, love, LOVE this collection. I think it speaks to the botanist/biologist in me. My most favorite print is Dandelions … in raspberry, followed closely by Hive in the same colorway, though this collection is so wonderful it really is tough to choose a favorite.

  18. Kaye Prince says:

    All of Patty’s lines are just so gorgeous (I follow her on twitter and on her blog)! My favourites from Flora & Fauna are definitely Hive, Dandelions, and Hummingbirds. I don’t own anything from this line, because I’m a grad student and can’t afford a lot of fabric right now, so I really hop I win!

  19. angie/sweetbabies00 says:

    The Flora & Fauna designs are all pretty, don’t know if I could pick a favorite. My favorite colorway is Stone.

  20. Catherine says:

    Oh, I choose the dandelions. So evocative. Thanks for the great interview. I love reading these!

  21. Maria M says:

    Oh my, how can I choose? I love the entire line! But if I had to choose, I’d say the Stone colorway – it’s different, yet still so bright and beautiful as the others!

  22. PJ says:

    Hard to choose between the turquoise and raspberry (and the rest for that matter) but I guess my favorite is the hummingbirds in turquoise.

  23. 2hippos says:

    I love the moths and the bees. The gray colorway is so elegant.

  24. Amy says:

    Fuchsia dandelion! Thanks for your post. I love reading about the design process.

  25. Shannon says:

    Thanks for this great post. I love these fabrics and especially the mustard colorway.

  26. Madeleine says:

    gorgeous fabric! I love the dandelion and the hummingbirds. Thanks for the little story of the design and for the giveaway!

  27. BlackCatMima says:

    I adore the dandelions and hummingbirds, but the border daisy print is fabulous too! The turquoise, aqua, pink and green shades are ALWAYS my faves! Love this cheery, colorful collection – makes me want summer to get here right now!

  28. camelama says:

    Oh, I love the dandelions – I could see using those i so many different ways!

  29. Rosemary says:

    Turquoise! My girls rooms are both this color and it is sooo refreshing! Love the dandelions!

  30. Beal says:

    The dandelions win my vote!

  31. michelle says:

    mustard for certain :)

  32. Amber says:

    I love the hive in raspberry – but they are all gorgeous!

  33. charlotte says:

    i love the dandelions… they bring back some fond memories from my childhood!

  34. PaulaK says:

    I love the Hive pattern in both lime and mustard. I really like the entire line – so many possibilities. Thanks for a peak into your design process!

  35. Corky says:

    I love love love the Daisy Dot fabric! Especially in mustard and the turquoise. Thanks for such a great giveaway, I feel an entire dining room make over coming on!!!

  36. Bronwyn says:

    I can’t actually pick a favourite – my eye is drawn constantly from the turquoises, to the raspberry, to the stone colours!! I think the moth and the dandelion are my favourite patterns – just so delish!!

  37. Christie says:

    Love it all! My favorites are the daisy dots, dandelions and the humming birds, all in blue!

  38. Autumn says:

    I love all the patterns and colors! Truly a wonderful collection! But I really am in love with the turquoise hummingbirds. The colors are so beautiful. The hive prints are great too!

  39. Densews says:

    Hard to decide but I think I love the turquoise grouping the best. Love the bees and the dandelions.

  40. Nicholas says:

    I’m in love with both the mustard and the turquoise… so much goodness, I tell you!

  41. KathyT says:

    I love the bees – especially in the mustard!

  42. Mary P says:

    The stone and turquoise are dead even–I love them both. So hip and modern!

  43. Victoria says:

    I am still in love with the Mezzanine collection so I am thrilled that some of the colors could be mixed and matched. The daisy dots and borders are such fun for little dresses. I have to admit, though, that the turquoise colorway is enticing…

  44. Heather says:

    I’m really liking lime, particularly the Humming Birds, I love the way the lime and the raspberry look together.

  45. Shelley says:

    Thank you so much for the wonderful description of your process – it makes the fabric look even better when you know the story behind it!

    The stone colorway is so current, so graphic and so unique. The other shades pop on it in such a glorious way. LOVE IT TO BITS!

  46. Flora and Fauna is so pretty! I love them all, but the turqouise is probably my favorite!

  47. Julia says:

    Oh my gosh, well I really like the whole line and all the colors, but my favorites are the bees and the dandelions! So cool! I love the bright, vivid colors, and the greens, golds, and blues are so lovely!

  48. Catherine says:

    Thanks for the great insight into the design process of Patty Young. I love all her collection and would be hard pressed to choose a favourite. In this latest one my favourite fabric would have to be the turquoise humming bird print. Just so pretty.

  49. Jennifer says:

    I seriously love this whole line. The beehives are my favorite. There is so much you can do with that print!

  50. SewLindaAnn says:

    While I’m really drawn to the organic dandelions in all the colorways, I am intrigued by the hive and luna moths. I love all the colorways and would love to have them all!