Designer Tidbits: Leah Duncan - The Jolly Jabber Quilting Blog

Designer Tidbits: Leah Duncan

A collection as enchanting as the desert. Tule by Leah Duncan for Art Gallery fabrics captures the essence of the Southwest with warm colors and alluring prints. Leah is here on the Jolly Jabber to tell you all about her new collection for Art Gallery Fabrics, Tule, which is now available at Fat Quarter Shop!

Q: Where did you find your original inspiration for Tule?
A:Tule was inspired by the vast Southwestern landscape and in particular the Tule desert in Nevada. While living in Austin I had many adventures in the Southwest and fell in love with the calmness of the desert. It’s easily my favorite landscape and Tule pays homage to it with desert flowers and geometric shapes that reflect the sharp ravines of the hills, as well as a warm color palette.

Q: What would be your collection’s theme song?
A:Anything Johnny Cash would be perfect.

Q: Tell us about your sewing machines. What kinds do you have and how many?
A:My first machine was a Kenmore Mini Ultra I asked for as a birthday present from my mom in college. It remained pretty dusty until about 5 years ago when I started sewing my own throw pillows and scarves as a means to translate my designs to textiles. I’ve now added a Brother CS6000 and Brother 1034D Serger to my collection. One day I’ll invest in a big fancy one, but for now these have worked out just fine.

Q:What is your favorite part of the fabric industry?
A:I’m not sure if this counts as the industry, but by far the best part of being a fabric designer is seeing what people make with my fabric. It adds an entirely different layer to my original work and it’s so great to see what it inspires people to create. I’m constantly in awe of the craftsmanship and creativity throughout the community.

Q:Tell us about your background. What lead to you designing fabric for the quilting industry?
A:I’m a former graphic designer who needed to spread her wings. When we moved to Austin in 2008 I started selling my drawings on Etsy and quickly moved into surface pattern design as well as sewing my own home goods and accessories. I now sell my line of home goods and stationery in shops internationally and I have worked with companies like The Land of Nod, Schoolhouse Electric, Urban Outfitters, Studio Oh, O’neill, and Betty & Dupree to create collections including gift wrap, bedding, tabletop linens, clothing, and stationery. Fabric seemed like the next step and I’m so thankful to have found a great new home within the quilting industry!

Q:From what aspect of your life do you draw creativity?
A:I feel like I’m a sponge who is constantly absorbing. It’s not a particular place or aspect for me, it’s more like a state of mind and a way of being.

7:What is your design process?
A:Everything starts on paper with an ink pen. Then I scan it in to color it digitally and create repeats for patterns.

Q:What is your favorite print in the collection?
A:Oh! That’s such a hard question because they’re all special to me in some way. I’ll go with Flora’s Oasis, available in Naranja and Rosa, because that was that was the first print in the collection that everything else was built upon.

Q:What is the most challenging part of the design process?
A:Color palettes, especially when building two different colorways for one collection. For me it can be difficult to create two colorways that reflect the collection perfectly but are still completely different and dynamic.

Q:What are your favorite and least favorite colors and why?
A:I love yellow. There are so many different shades of it and for me it is the singular color that makes a palette pop. I’m also partial to peaches and pinks because I love the softness they add to a palette. My least favorite color would have to be chocolate brown. I’d prefer to use a navy, black, or gray for a dark neutral. I was actually rather obsessed with chocolate brown in college and painted all of my furniture a deep chocolate color, so it could just be that it overstayed its welcome in my life! Sorry chocolate brown! It was good while it lasted.