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An Interview with Fabric Designer, Patty Young

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If you're a regular visitor to sew4home, you may have noticed we have quite a number of projects that feature fabrics from designer, Patty Young. To borrow a line from Chris Farley, it's because 'She's AWESOME!' Patty's also been a great supporter of Sew4Home from the very beginning and is always a joy to work with. She took a few minutes out of her very busy days to share with us, and you, a few of her thoughts about home décor sewing in general, and her design style and inspiration in particular.

S4H: Do you have any encouraging words for people who want to sew but think they can't because, 'it looks difficult, I'm not creative, I can't draw a straight line, I don't want it to look unprofessional'?

PY: Practice makes perfect. We all started out a bit wobbly and unsure. I saved some of the very first garments I ever made for my kids because they have sentimental value and now, looking back at the construction, I am amazed at how far I've grown as a sewist and designer. If you are uncomfortable with taking sewing up on your own, look into your local community colleges. Most of them offer beginning sewing classes that will provide the basic skills you will need and then you can expand on your own.

S4H: What was your first project? Was it a horror or a hero?

PY: My first sewing project was a medium-size tote. I remember at the time how proud I was of that tote and I seriously carried it EVERYWHERE. Now, it sits in my laundry room and I don't take it out anymore because the stitching around the handles is coming apart and I have other much nicer totes now. It certainly wasn't perfect but I'd call it a 'hero' in that it launched my love for the craft. :)

S4H: What would you suggest as a first home décor project for someone brand new to sewing?

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Patty's Pillow Trio from MODKID Sewing Patterns. Shown in Flora & Fauna.

PY: PILLOWS! I don't even hesitate when people ask me that question. I wish my first project had been a pillow cover instead of that tote I mentioned above because it would've been much easier to tackle for a novice sewist. I always suggest making them with an envelope back because there are no pesky zippers, button holes or snaps to install and you don't even have to hand stitch it closed!

S4H: What tools are home décor 'must haves'? And, are there specific things you look for when you're shopping for tools?

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Patty's studio. Look at that storage!

PY: Well, of course, I recommend a great quality pair of shears and a good rotary cutter with a self-healing mat. Always have a supply of new blades for your rotary cutter because you'd be surprised how fast those things go dull, especially if you are cutting through heavy weight materials. My favorite non-conventional tool is a set of wooden chopsticks I've had for ages! I use those for poking out the corners on pillows, sashes and garments. Throughout the years they have proven to be such a versatile tool around my sewing room.

S4H: When you sew, what is your favorite thing to make? And... because we're a home décor website, what do you sew for YOUR home?

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Patty's daughters, Patty's fabric, Patty's patterns. What a trio!

PY: Well, of course, anyone who knows me knows my favorite thing to sew is clothing for my children. They definitely are the best dressed girls! :) But for my home I adore making pillows. I have hand-made pillows on every sofa, chair and bed of my house! I love playing with appliqué, patchwork and creating new and unique designs for my pillow covers. I have so many pillows that I am able to change out the look of a room in just minutes by switching out the color-scheme of my throw-pillows.

S4H: I've always loved Glamour's 'fashion don'ts' and the 'What not to wear' TV show .... are there any 'home décor don'ts'?

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PY: I think home decor is a very personal thing. I personally love modern, clean and uncluttered spaces so I live by the motto 'less is more'. I love to walk into a room and see modern furniture, lots of open spaces and pops of color here and there. Great lighting and an interesting piece of art on the wall just pulls it all together. I guess my personal 'home decor don't' would be a cluttered room that has no discernible style.

S4H: Can you REALLY save money making your own home dec items? What is your favorite comparison of off-the-shelf versus made-it-myself? Have you ever made something yourself then found a similar item in a store for a ton more?

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When you use a beautiful fabric like Patty's Andalucia collection, your home sewing projects can outshine anything you buy.

PY: A great-quality window covering or bed quilt will cost you a fortune at the stores. By making these things yourself, not only will you save money but you have more control over the overall look and feel of the items by being able to pick out favorite fabrics and do decorative finishes on your own.

S4H: Where did you get your interest in sewing and fabric design?

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Patty's booth at Quilt Market featuring her Flora & Fauna collection.

PY: My interest in sewing developed when I had my two daughters. It was the common case of wanting to dress your kids in unique clothing that was not found in stores. One thing led to another ... wanting to make the clothing led to wanting to design the sewing patterns, which led to wanting to design the fabric for these pieces.

S4H: What is your background? Did you study design?

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PY: Yes. I attended the University of Central Florida from '89 to '93 and received my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design and Photography. For the next decade or so I climbed the corporate ladder in the Marketing and Advertising industry, working my way up from a Production Artist to a Creative Director in charge of a team of designers, writers and production coordinators. I left my corporate job in 2005 to pursue my own creative endeavors.

S4H: What and/or who inspires your fabric designs?

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Pillows made from Andalucia.

PY: My fabric designs are mainly inspired by my travels and my children. My first collection, Andalucia, was inspired by our Honeymoon in the South of Spain. My second fabric collection, Mezzanine, was inspired by a work-related trip I took to the Netherlands, Belgium and France back in the late '90s. Flora & Fauna was mostly inspired by nature and by the colors my children and I love. My next fabric collection, due out in May 2010 is purely inspired by my girls! I can't say much about it right now since it is still in the premature stages, but you will see what I mean soon! :)

S4H: How do you take a design from idea to finished product? Do you design using sketch book and/or computer? What software programs do you use? Is there speciality software involved in creating fabric patterns or repeats?

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Patty's workstation in her studio.

PY: About 99% of my designs are computer-generated. I do have a couple of examples of designs that started out as scribbles on my paper sketchbook, but they are few and far between. I like the exactness of working on the computer. I mainly draw my shapes on Adobe Illustrator CS4 using a Wacom tablet and then I play with color on Adobe Photoshop CS4. I will use either of these applications for doing my repeats, depending on the complexity of the design.

S4H: You have a lot to manage with your family, and your fabric design and pattern businesses, yet you still sew. How do you find the time? We ask because it's one of the reasons people cite for not learning to sew.

PY: I do get asked that question a lot and it is so difficult to explain. It definitely helps a lot now that my kids are both in school full-time. I get get a span of about 6 - 7 hours of uninterrupted time every day and that time is priceless to me. I try to get as much of the design and sewing done during those hours so when my kids come home from school I can spend some quality time with them. I also am a night owl, so often you'll see me working late into the night after the family has all gone to bed... it is so peaceful and quiet then. Plus I get all my best ideas in the wee hours!

S4H: One of our early mantras at S4H was 'it's the fabric, it's the fabric.' So often, fabric choices are the difference between 'love it' and 'hate it'. Do you have any advice on how to choose and combine fabrics?

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PY: Just like with the home décor question above, I definitely think it's a personal preference, but I use the same rules for pretty much all aspects of my surroundings, whether it's clothing design or home décor. I don't like to use too many busy patterns in my designs. I think that makes the item look cluttered and disjointed. I like to choose a focal fabric... something with a discernible print... then I pair it up with a combination of 'supporting prints', like stripes, dots, solids or near solids (like a tone-on-tone small floral). I use the same principles I learned in design school, which is basically to have a well-defined focal point for your eye to rest upon then arrange all the coordinating pieces in a visually-pleasing manner.

S4H: Do you have favorite websites, blogs or magazines?

PY: I have literally hundreds of blogs in my Bloglines reader that I try to check as often as possible. These span from fabric designer blogs, to crafty blogs to home décor. Of course Sew4Home is among my favorites! I just adore looking through all your projects. Other favorite home decor blogs are Decor8, Discover: Interior Design, Apartment Therapy and Belle Maison.

S4H: Anything new in the works... can we get a hint?

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PY: I always have something in the works! haha! I turned in artwork for my next fabric collection just a few weeks ago. I have yet to see my first strike-offs (proofs), but I'm over-the-top excited about this one! I cannot wait to be able to share some sneak peeks on my blog. I am also working on a few new sewing patterns which will be released around the same time as my new fabric collection (May 2010). I will be published in a few magazines this year, namely Where Women Create and Quiltmaker, so I am super excited about that. I am also working on some free tutorials and some giveaways to appear on my blog in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Patty's Blog

Our Original Patty Young Inspired 'Stylish Baby Nursery'

Our Latest 'Nature Brights Kitchen' with Patty's Flora & Fauna Collection

 

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Comments (4)

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Our Kid's Birthday Party projects, featuring Patty's Playdate, debut this week (7/26/10) and continue into next week. Happy Birthday smilies/wink.gif
janiemae said:
janiemae's picture
Love the birthday party ideas. How to you make the party (chalkboard) place mats? Love them and want to make some.
MHills said:
MHills's picture
I love Patty's fabric. It is so beautiful. When I first saw it, I knew I had to have it. I purchased several yards of it.
peggyann said:
peggyann's picture
Patty is the cat's meow in the fabric world. She really has a fresh approach to her designs both on fabrics and clothing patterns. And I love to visit her blog!

Thanks Patty for sharing your stories.

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