Friday, August 15, 2008

Interview With Patty Young Of Michael Miller Fabrics

Do you have any professional training in graphic design, textiles, or the garment industry?

My professional background is in Graphic Design. I have a BFA in Design & Photography from the University of Central Florida and I've been designing professionally (whether it's on paper or textiles) for 15 years.

What is the process for designing a new fabric line? Did you actually hand draw all the designs and motifs to begin with?

Some of my designs were hand drawn and some of them were computer generated. The more geometric designs, like the "Mod Dots" and the "Mod Blooms", were completely computer generated (using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop). The more ornate ones, like the "Birdie Damask" and the "Flora", were hand drawn first, then scanned in and then traced over digitally using my Wacom tablet.

Where did you get your inspiration for your new fabric line?

I was inspired by my travels to the South of Spain. This beautiful region, Andalucia, is just South of Madrid and includes such colorful cities as Seville, Cordoba and Granada. My husband, Jon, and I spent 9 glorious days in Andalucia for our Honeymoon and I took hundreds of pictures of everything surrounding me, from tiled floors, to Flamenco dresses, to flowering gardens, to street markets. Oh, and the food... I cannot forget the food. Yes, I took pictures of our meals as well, LOL! Everything was just so colorful and flavorful, I couldn't resist.

So, as soon as I decided to take the plunge and design a fabric line, there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to pay homage to this amazing land. Out came my honeymoon photo album and the memories started flowing and my hand started sketching. Except for the food. There really isn't a good way to transform a plate of paella into a fabric design.

How would you define your design style? Did this design style come to you easily or did it take a while to evolve?

I would describe my design style first and foremost as MOD (I'm sure that didn't come as a surprise to any of you! LOL!) I enjoy all things modern and minimalist whether we are talking about furniture, clothing or even architecture. I am obsessed with mid-century modern artifacts. When I set out to design Andalucia, my goal was to give these designs a modern approach and I think I succeeded. Even my most ornate of patterns still retain some of that modern style I adore so much.

How long does the fabric design process take from start to finish?

I can only speak from my own experience with this particular line, but Andalucia has been evolving for approximately 16 months so far. And I don't mean 16 months of working on it every day & night. The design process probably took me about 6 months, but then you go through several rounds of revisions before you turn in the final files. The designs go to a mill overseas to be produced, and the first strike-offs (or proofs) could take anywhere from 6 - 8 weeks to arrive at your doorstep. Then you need to go through each and every print with a fine-toothed comb and return the proofs to the mill for re-strikes. Again we are looking at another 6 weeks or so. There is a lot of idle time at this point, but I'd say after all is said & done, Andalucia's gestational period will be about 18-months! WHOA! That's almost as long as an elephant! LOL!

How many fabric lines do you plan to do in a year?

I'd love to do 2 lines a year if time permits, one in the Spring and one in the Fall. I'm already hard at work on my second collection (gotta do something with all that idle time, right?!)

Are you still going to be designing children's clothing?

That is the million dollar question, and believe me, one that has been on my mind a lot lately. I saw MODKID develop from it's beginning stages when it was a hodge-podge of styles into a line that has a style of it's own, different and recognizable. I enjoyed every second of it and the friendships I've forged (with both fellow designers and customers) while I've been on eBay and Etsy have been priceless! So, I'm not really sure how to answer this question. Part of me wants to give my clothing line a break so I can concentrate on all my design-related projects (yes, there are more! LOL!) and part of me wants to continue with MODKID... mostly when I see my little one, Sydney, wearing one of my creations. There is such a sense of joy and pride that is hard to describe.

Time will tell.

What inspired you to want to become a fabric designer?

I must admit that if I hadn't been involved in boutique children's clothing I probably wouldn't have developed an interest in designing textiles. I've always enjoyed creating repeated patterns and designing beautiful things, but my designs always ended up printed on paper goods... mostly direct mail and some brochures and catalogs. But after I left my corporate job and decided to stay at home with my girls, this desire to put my creative juices to work evolved into my clothing line, MODKID, which eventually evolved into a strong desire to create my own fabric for MODKID... and the rest is history as they say.

What is your first passion...designing fabric or clothing?

My first passion is art, period. Ever since I can remember I've doodled on whatever surface was available which got me more than my fair share of detentions when I was in school. I've never wanted to be anything else but an artist. I remember perusing design magazines and books all the time when I was a teenager... most of these were interior design and architecture books, because my father is an Architect and Civil Engineer. When I went to college, I enrolled in the Art Department but didn't know at first what my concentration would be. I tried it all... Drawing, Painting, Sculpture, even Art History, but eventually fell in love with Photography and Graphic Design. I felt like I could express my modern style best through both of these mediums. My passion for clothing and fabric design did not develop until years later, after I had my children.

Do you have any fabric designers that you admire?

Too many to mention! But for the sake of keeping this interview relatively short I'd say that I admire Amy Butler for staying true to her style through the years, which is so beautiful and elegant, yet clean and modern. I also admire Sandi Henderson for her commitment to the craft and perseverance to achieve her dreams. Her support and friendship during this incredible journey of mine have been invaluable.

Where and when will we be able to buy your fabric?

Andalucia will debut at the International Quilt Market this Fall in Houston (October 25 - 27) via Michael Miller Fabrics. It should be available in stores a few weeks after that. Please check my blog at and Michael Miller's website at for updates.

You've had a busy year with a new greeting card line and fabric line, what's next?

LOL! Yes, it's been busy! I do have a couple of surprises up my sleeve but as it is with most things, it's still a bit premature to mention. I have so many ideas and dreams all the time. I'd love to get my designs produced on paper goods, housewares and what not, but it is all still in the planning process. Just keep checking my blog for updates. I don't enjoy keeping secrets so as soon as I am able to share, I'll share BIG TIME.

Thanks for all the support, everyone!


Patty would like to offer readers 10% off their purchase price in her ModGreetings or MODKID stores on Etsy if they mention seeing this interview on 'Boutique Buyers Blog' at check out. The 10% coupon is valid until August 31st and will be given as a Paypal refund after payment receipt. Thanks a bunch!!!

Click Here to go to ModGreetings

Click Here to go to ModKid


philippine lotto said...

Your blog is very creative, when people read this it widens our imaginations.

Anonymous said...

OH, what a wonderful interview! I enjoyed every word of it. Patty is such a creative gal and such an inspiration to all of us. Oh, and I have some of her greeting cards and they are just too pretty to give away! LOL! Can't wait for the fabric!!!


Clara said...

Great interview, Patty! I can't wait to work with your fabric line!!! Much Success to you and any future endeavors!!!!!

Sweet Sunshine Boutique said...

We love you Patty, can't wait for Shelby to actually wear a fab set made with your amazing fabric!!

Cheers :)


TatteredTulips said...

Your fabric is simply stunning! I love it all and can't wait to use it!

modkidboutique said...

Hi everyone! Just wanted to pop in here and thank Michelle and the ladies of Boutique Buyers Blog for a wonderful interview. It was so much fun!! And thank you guys for the lovely comments. I am so excited about the fabric debut. :)


couture*4*my*cutie said...

Patty, I know I have already told you this, but I am seriously obsessed with your fabric and will be sure Sydney has at least 5 outfits made with it, LOL! So gorgeous! Thanks for taking the time to do the interview! You are such an amazing and fun women! Best of luck to you with all your dreams and ideas to come!


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