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.
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.