SEW BLACK LIVE with Janine Lecour

0.75x 1x 1.25x 1.5x 2x 0:0000:37:56 SEW BLACK LIVE with Janine Lecour


Sign up for the Black Women Stitch quarterly newsletter!

Check out our merch here 

Leave a BACKSTITCH message and tell us about your favorite episode.

Join the Black Women Stitch Patreon

Amazon Store

This episode was recorded live at the Sew Black Affinity Space hosted by Black Women Stitch at the MQG Quiltcon in Atlanta, Georgia in February 2023. Click here to see warm memories of a wonderful time. 


Janine Lecour is an Atlanta-based digital pattern designer who loves to design vibrantly colored, exuberant patterns. Mixing bold pattern motifs with eye-catching color palettes, she strives to create a whimsical art experience. Something that gives the viewer a sense of joy and optimism.


Lisa Woolfork is an associate professor of English specializing in African American literature and culture. Her teaching and research explore Black women writers, Black identity, trauma theory, and American slavery. She is the founder of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. She is also the host/producer of Stitch Please, a weekly audio podcast that centers on Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. In the summer of 2017, she actively resisted the white supremacist marches in her community, Charlottesville, Virginia. The city became a symbol of lethal resurging white supremacist violence. She remains active in a variety of university and community initiatives, including the Community Engaged Scholars program. She believes in the power of creative liberation.

Produced by Latrice Sampson Richards.

Insights from this episode:

How Janine got into fashion design. [4:37]

  • Growing up in a family of artists.
  • Going to Savannah college of art and design.
  • Taking on a job for a company in Italy.

Saying “yes” before you know for sure. [9:00]

  • Saying yes before knowing for sure.
  • Finding a space where she fits into design.
  • Janine’s favorite approach to design: Is design a verb or a noun?
  • Design as a category of expression.

A room with 110 yards of Janine Lecour fabric. [15:05]

  • The jumbo jumbo and small jumbo pieces.
  • What the studio audience sees in the jumbo shape.

How to get out of the creative block. [17:18]

  • How she started designing the design.
  • How she got started on spoonflower.
  • The power of hearing what others think.
  • How to overcome creative block.

The freedom of not having to design for others’ taste. [21:11]

  • Designing for someone else’s taste vs her own.
  • Conversational printmaking and pattern design.
  • Taking a contract from a company or organization.
  • The pressure to create every day.

How to create a modern design. [25:57]

  • One of her favorite pieces, a modern print.
  • A calming color palette.
  • The power of affirmations in daily life.
  • How to center yourself.

The slogan of the stitch please podcast. [30:06]

Read Full Transcript

Lisa Woolfork  0:09  

Hello stitchers. Welcome to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax and get ready to get your stitch together

Lisa Woolfork  0:40  

Hey friends, hey. It's Lisa with Black Women Stitch, and I am so excited to welcome you to Stitch Please. And, as I say every week, this is a very special episode, because this episode is taking place here- right here!- at the Sew Black Lounge at QuiltCon. We are at QuiltCon, the Modern Quilt Guild annual convention. It's a 16,000 membership organization with about 10,000 people expected to come through this weekend. And some of them have been coming through this space, and we are so glad of it. But before we get started with Janine Lecour. Janine Lecour, surface pattern designer, SCAD alum, brilliant creative mind and, Spoonflower genius. Well before we jump into Jeanine, we are going to--that sounded totally inappropriate. But before we jump into Janine's--

Janine  1:34  


Lisa Woolfork  1:34  

--identity as a designer, we want to pay some bills. So, I want to thank, so much, Spoonflower. Sew Black is underwritten by Spoonflower, and Janine Lecour is a Spoonflower designer. Every fabric in this space that is not black drape was designed by Janine Lecour. And I am very glad of that. [Applause] A special shout out to Nefertiti Griggs, who's also in the house. She is also a Spoonflower designer, among other things, so special shout out to Nef, the Corny Rainbow, we love you. [Applause] 

Lisa Woolfork  1:34  

And you too could be a Spoonflower designer. If you got a favorite photo- I have a picture of me and my sisters on a piano bench when we were little girls, wearin' a--dresses that my grandmother had made us. And I turned that into a fabric. I made my mother a bag out of it, I made her little wallet, I made her--and she just loves it. She loves showin' her friends, pullin' out her little bag with her daughters on it as little kids. She would much prefer the grandchildren be on it now. "So, can you, like, change this, and do something with the kids? You know, let's put the kids on it." You know, but it's been really wonderful. So if you want to give it a try- design your own, or if you want to make and buy--make something out of these fabrics, you can buy them at Spoonflower. I am wearing a dress that I have created from an In the Folds pattern called a Rushcutter.  I'm wearing cotton sateen on the bodice and cotton lawn on the sleeves. And it's lovely. 

Lisa Woolfork  3:05  

We are also grateful for sponsorship support from Moda. And support also from Bernina. We are also thankful for material support. These are folks who gave us wonderful products to have the room be really nice and festive. And these are folks from AccuQuilt, AURIfil, Crimson Tate, Ruby Star Society, Free Spirit fabrics, Sew Easy, Kai Scissors, and also a partnership with Amtrak. And a special shout out to the Sew Easy table for being really easy to transport a sewing machine and sew anywhere. It stores, like, underneath your bed, it stores down to, like, maybe, like, four inches tall. It's wonderful. So, I gotta go check it out. 

Lisa Woolfork  3:47  

So, we are about to begin our conversation with Janine, and I am so excited. Spoonflower has a lot of designers, and actually have over- I think- a million. Million designers. Like, they have a lot. And what--when I was looking for someone to talk about your work, and your study of design, really appeal--and way that you deliver your collections, responded well to what I think the Modern Quilt Guild is trying to--like, what a modern designer would do. Can we get started, Janine, talkin' about your creative journey. How did you get started? Did you come from a background with a lot of sewing? Did you--were you an artsy kid? How did you end up at--in the design space, as when you were 16 years old, thinking, "I'm gonna apply to school and go to SCAD." What's your early story?

Janine  4:36  

Well, first, thank you for inviting me to this. This is amazing. 

Lisa Woolfork  4:37  

You're so welcome.

Janine  4:41  

I'm just thrilled to be here. I was pretty much an artsy kid. I wanted to do something in design. My mom is very talented. She is an artist, she just picks up things and draws them, and it's perfect. Like, she has more of, sort of, like-- no training in it, just, this is just what she enjoyed doing, and what she would do around us and activities with me and my brother. And, so, I basically kind of just knew I was gonna to do something brilliant. I didn't know what it was gonna be. I didn't know how I was gonna do it. 

Lisa Woolfork  5:20  


Janine  5:21  

So I--we were living in Georgia. I went to--I was born in California, but my parents moved to Georgia when I was 12. And so, in, like, Fayetteville, Fayette County area, and I, you know, I wanted to go to New York, or back to LA, or--and my dad was like, "You know what? It's cheaper of you stay in state." [Chuckles]

Lisa Woolfork  5:42  


Janine  5:42  

And I said, "Okay, I'm gonna go to the expensive art school that is in the state." 

Lisa Woolfork  5:47  

That's right. 

Janine  5:48  

Yeah. So I went to Savannah College of Art and Design. 

Lisa Woolfork  5:50  


Janine  5:50  

And I, kind of, towards my teen years got into fashion design. 

Lisa Woolfork  5:54  


Janine  5:55  

And so I thought, "Well, maybe I'll do fashion." And that''s what--where it started. I went to SCAD. I graduated with a degree in fashion design. And I wasn't really sure where I wanted to go with that. Like, was--I enjoyed the construction of design. I enjoyed, sort of like, the pattern and draping aspects. 

Lisa Woolfork  6:19  


Janine  6:20  

And so, I kind of--when I graduated, I didn't know exactly where I was going to fall. 'Cause I graduated in 2005. And so the economy was starting to get a little, little rocky. 

Lisa Woolfork  6:31  


Janine  6:31  

There was a lot of, like, startup companies and stuff like that. And so I took some freelance jobs. And I thought maybe I would do- flat, like the flat designs. 

Lisa Woolfork  6:43  

Yes. I do- like the flat--like the illustration for-- 

Janine  6:47  

Yeah, but computer-rendered. So that's what I thought I was gonna to do. 

Lisa Woolfork  6:49  


Janine  6:49  

And then I took a freelance job. That was for a company in Italy that wanted their patterns for their scarves digitized. 

Lisa Woolfork  7:00  


Janine  7:01  

And I said, "Yes, I can do this," not really knowing if I could do it. Like, I just said, "Yes. This is the job. I need to take the job." 

Lisa Woolfork  7:10  


Janine  7:11  

Job: money. 

Lisa Woolfork  7:12  

Job: money. Thank you.

Janine  7:14  

Yes. Yes. This little--"Look, Dad, I'm working." Like, this is it. 

Lisa Woolfork  7:19  


Janine  7:19  

You know, I'm doing Italy! Yeah, basically. And so I digitized some of the patterns in Illustrator. And they were like, "This is great. Do you wanna try designing some of them?" And I was like, "Yes. 'Course. Yes, I can do that." Again, no real experience with textiles other than, you know, my fashion, sort of, what I learned--

Lisa Woolfork  7:43  

Yes, yeah.

Janine  7:43  

--in school about it and stuff like that, but no real experience on how to--like, just learning the programs as I went along. And very trial and error. If I was to look at those files now-- 

Lisa Woolfork  7:56  


Janine  7:56  

--that I created, I would probably just cringe, like, they're probably so heavy. So [unclear]. There's--I could have saved so much time.

Lisa Woolfork  8:07  

If--yeah. It's like if we knew then what we know now. I love all of y'all who've listened to the Stitch Please podcast from the beginning, because some of those episodes, them early ones--

Janine  8:19  


Lisa Woolfork  8:19  

--when I was recordin' in my son's room, and you could hear the chair scrape out and, you know, somebody cooking in the background. And I did not know what I was doing. And I was learning as I go. 

Janine  8:30  


Lisa Woolfork  8:30  

So, like, that seems important. So have you--was it so much about--what was most more important to you at the time? Was it about, like, you know, making your dad like, "Look- this was a good investment"? Or did you see--do you feel as though, by taking on this jobs, taking on these jobs without, like, the, you know, dreaming yourself into the position. 

Janine  8:51  


Lisa Woolfork  8:51  

Right? Like, what--what is required for that? Like, what do you think made you say, "Hey. They're asking me to do this?" 

Janine  9:00  


Lisa Woolfork  9:01  

"They believe I can do it. And so now, I don't think I can do this. But yes, yes! I'm gonna say 'yes' before I know for sure." 

Janine  9:11  


Lisa Woolfork  9:11  

Why is that important to you?

Janine  9:13  

Well, I think it's because--I have to tell myself sometimes to say "yes." I tell myself sometimes to say like, "No, I can't do this, this is too much." But I naturally, probably would say "no" to a lot of things. 

Lisa Woolfork  9:27  


Janine  9:27  

So I'm like, "oh, I don't know. I'm not sure about that." 

Lisa Woolfork  9:29  


Janine  9:29  

That confidence really wasn't there. 

Lisa Woolfork  9:32  


Janine  9:33  

And so I started saying "yes" to these things, but it was also just to find a space where I fit into design. 

Lisa Woolfork  9:39  


Janine  9:40  

I knew I wanted to do design. 

Lisa Woolfork  9:41  


Janine  9:41  

 I just didn't know exactly where I wanted to take it, or where I saw myself going in the direction. 

Lisa Woolfork  9:49  


Janine  9:49  

So it was important for me to, sort of, try to be flexible in this. Because, yes, it would be very nice to start immediately at a very prestigious fashion--

Lisa Woolfork  10:03  


Janine  10:03  

--you know, designer, or something like that, like, --

Lisa Woolfork  10:05  


Janine  10:05  

--that that stress does seem overwhelming at the same time, too. But it was one of those things that I thought maybe I just needed to find--I needed to be flexible. And I needed to take the foundation and my understanding of design in general. Yeah, and just apply it to somethin'. 

Lisa Woolfork  10:23  

Right? Right. 

Janine  10:24  

So try it, see if I like it. And I loved it. I loved working digitally, especially because it meant that I could make mistakes and just go back, or I could change something up. So if I didn't--if this color pattern and palette didn't work, I just switched it up real quick, and--

Lisa Woolfork  10:43  


Janine  10:43  

--try another one. 

Lisa Woolfork  10:44  


Janine  10:44  

And so, it was a lot of freedom in that. And, for me, who- you know, I think most artists- perfection is, you know, it's always the goal. You know, it's not really obtainable,-- 

Lisa Woolfork  10:59  


Janine  10:59  

--but it is the goal.

Lisa Woolfork  11:00  

Is it your perfection? Whose perfection are you seeking?

Janine  11:04  

Oh, mine, probably. Like, I'm harder on myself about my designs. I'm like, "Oh, I dunno." And sometimes, "I love that. Why did you change it?" and I'm like, "Well, because this was off. There was too much of this color dominating. And I didn't think it was balanced. Just because I'm looking at it, and I'm being very critical about it. And so it was just one of those things where I, kind of just told myself, like, "You know, this is a form. And this is, like, a tool that you can use that will allow you to be a little bit more, you know- you can strive to find that perfection." Even though I know it's not gonna always be right. I'll still look at something go, "You should have changed that. You shoulda' changed the configuration about it." But that's always it.

Lisa Woolfork  11:53  

It's true. And what--I love to hear you talk about design, and I would love for you to, kind, of riff a little on: Is design--is your favorite aspect of design, because we know that "design" is a noun, and "design" is a verb. 

Janine  12:06  


Lisa Woolfork  12:06  

What is your favorite approach to design? "Design" as a verb? Or "design" as a noun? 

Janine  12:14  


Lisa Woolfork  12:15  

I'm an English professor- I always ask questions like this. 

Janine  12:17  

Yeah, yeah. [Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork  12:17  

Like, "Who on Earth is invested in the parts of speech as I am?"

Janine  12:21  


Lisa Woolfork  12:21  

Like, very few- I'm always going around--I love words so much. It really annoys others. But I'm so curious, like, because the noun is like, it is. 

Janine  12:31  


Lisa Woolfork  12:31  

It's stasis. It's there.  You go to the Savannah College of Art and Design. 

Janine  12:37  


Lisa Woolfork  12:37  

But also "design" is something that you do, and it's constantly in motion. 

Janine  12:41  


Lisa Woolfork  12:41  

You know, so how do you balance, like, the idea of, like, product over process? And what design itself as, as a category of expression?

Janine  12:54  

I think it's it's definitely the expression. That's--that is the way that I express a lot of my feelings and emotions about something. 

Lisa Woolfork  13:03  


Janine  13:03  

Even though I don't really realize that I'm doing it. There's some times when I, just, I am in a mood...

Lisa Woolfork  13:09  


Janine  13:10  

And I will design, kind of, towards that mood, but not really realizing that it's happening-- 

Lisa Woolfork  13:15  


Janine  13:15  

--until I sort of look at it. I'll look at the finished design and I'll be like, "Oh, wow, that's not where I thought--I didn't think that I would go there would go there, or it would have that sort of feeling." 

Lisa Woolfork  13:25  

Right. And do you course correct. When you do that? Are you like, "Oh, no, no, this is great. This is"--

Janine  13:30  

I don't--I try not to think about it all that much. I would say that for me, it's the act of doing it that is the whole, sort of, the way that I approach it. And then whatever product it goes on, then that's fine. Because I don't necessarily design--unless I know specifics. Unless the client is like, "I need to have it on this product, needs to be designed this way." Because of your manufacturing, sort of. 

Lisa Woolfork  13:30  


Janine  13:37  

You know, parameters. 

Lisa Woolfork  13:59  

Right, right. 

Janine  14:00  

But if those don't exist, then it's kind of how I feel. And if a client tells me what they want, like, if they're just like, "I love these things because this connects to, you know, a parent," or you know, an experience that they had. But they told me that and I sort of will be like, okay, maybe there's a little bit of the emotion that they have towards it that I'm also, like, adding,--

Lisa Woolfork  14:27  


Janine  14:27  

--too because I want people to see my designs and to feel a particular way about it, but I don't know how you're gonna feel about it.

Lisa Woolfork  14:36  


Janine  14:36  

Like, I don't want to project, like, what my feelings are about it.

Lisa Woolfork  14:39  


Janine  14:39  

I would rather them just--because it's amazing to me when people do tell me: "This makes me feel this way. 

Lisa Woolfork  14:45  


Janine  14:46  

And, so, usually like when I describe my designs, I describe them as vibrant, as joyful, and I don't always feel vibrant and joyful. [Chuckles] I don't--I, you know, I don't think I'I project that a lot. But I guess I do probably through the things that I create.

Lisa Woolfork  15:05  

Absolutely. We are in a room right now with 110 yards of Janila Lecour's fabric, and it is beautiful. And when I put in the order, I made sure to get a few different bases so people could feel what the fabric is like. We have some cotton sateen. I believe we have some cotton spandex, which is like one my favorites. I love me some cotton spandex. But I would love to--if you felt comfortable, to talk a little bit about the pieces we have here. 

Janine  15:35  

Oh, yeah.

Lisa Woolfork  15:36  

Can you share a little bit about--I'm gonna start with my favorites. I love the "Shape of things." 

Janine  15:40  


Lisa Woolfork  15:41  

I love the "Shape of things" jumbo. And I love the "Shape of things" small, which is back there, in the back. And if you look, like, where Nef is- right in front, of that's the "Shape of things." Is it jumbo?

Janine  15:52  

I think is. I think this is the jumbo.

Lisa Woolfork  15:54  

A jumbo and then that other one was small. [cross talk]

Janine  15:56  

Yeah, that was small or a mini or something like that.

Lisa Woolfork  15:58  

Yeah, a mini. Can you talk about, like, what it means to build something out like this? Oh, and then, that we have a photographer here- a wonderful photographer, Drea. And she took a photo of me, and I looked at it. And when I was sitting, it was like this little crown on top of my head. 

Janine  16:13  


Lisa Woolfork  16:13  

And I was like, "Awww. Awww," you know--

Janine  16:18  


Lisa Woolfork  16:18  

And so, like, can you talk about the pieces? And, like, what went into something like this? I see movement. I see- y'all, you know, we can talk here. It's a studio audience. What do y'all see in this "Shape of things" jumbo? What do you see? Y'all- whaddya all see y'all see? 

Audience member  16:31  


Lisa Woolfork  16:32  

Yeah. Anybody else see anything else? Because that--I bet it's really trippy for you to, like, hear us say what we see. 

Janine  16:39  


Lisa Woolfork  16:39  

And I want to--I really want to hear what your goals were,--not goals. But, you know, you can't control how your work is interpreted. Artists never tried, I think--they can't care about that. 

Janine  16:49  


Audience member 2  16:53  

Color and how we shine. 

Lisa Woolfork  16:55  


Janine  16:55  

I like that one.

Audience member 3  16:56  

Movement. Movement, moving. We movin'. 

Lisa Woolfork  17:02  

Yeah. Ahh.

Audience member 4  17:15  


Janine  17:18  

I like all this. [Laughter] This is so nice to hear, because I didn't really--when I started designing this,--when I think I just designed it. I started--I opened up the file, and I was like, "I need to just start doing something." I can't remember if this was the--there was a--there are points where, sometimes, the block is very real. And I don't feel like designing anything; I don't--I just don't know, like, like, can I--what am I doing? Can I do this? 

Lisa Woolfork  17:48  


Janine  17:48  

Like, what is this. And I just started making shapes, and just tried to playing with it. And then I had this color palette that--there--are a lot of my colors, they are, it's like, a repeating color palette that you will find in different prints. 

Lisa Woolfork  17:48  


Janine  17:49  

And I like to do--take different prints in different, like, styled prints, and use the same color palette.

Lisa Woolfork  18:13  

Mhm. Mhm.

Janine  18:13  

And see how that changes. And this one was one, this color palette was there. And I just started, like, moving it around, and kind of feeling where it should go. And then, at some point, even though I thought, "Oh, this is very simple." I don't know if this would work, ike I don't--there's something about it that just it--I wasn't sure if it was, like, didn't feel basic, but it definitely felt just kind of uncomplicated. And if you see some of my prints, they feel very complicated. And so I just put it up on Spoonflower because I was like, "Oh, well we'll see how it does. We'll see if this catches on." And this is one of the more popular ones. So I guess I did something right. Yeah, and I did what I to do, but it's definitely--it's nice to hear what everybody else, you know, feels when they see it. Because I think that's that connects everyone. 

Lisa Woolfork  19:14  

Mhm. Royalty. Regal. 

Janine  19:16  

Yeah, a lot of people say that because of the crowns. They will say, like, "Oh, did you intend to"--and I was like, "No, that wasn't it. I just like the way that shape looked." [Cross talk]

Lisa Woolfork  19:24  

You didn't think it was a crown? 

Janine  19:25  

Nope. I just, like, I just thought it--

Lisa Woolfork  19:27  

--What did you think it was, the shape?

Janine  19:29  

--it was a shape. It was just an abstract shape. So, I was like, this is so wonderful, because it's like, I don't--I will do it, and I'm like, "All right, well, it's out in the space. It's it's no longer--kind of doesn't belong to me anymore."

Lisa Woolfork  19:43  


Janine  19:43  

It's going to belong to whatever everybody else feels about it. But it's amazing because I I've never actually looked at it and thought 'a crown.' Like not once. I just like this shape. This shape to me is a very powerful kind of shape and and you can turn it different ways.

Lisa Woolfork  20:13  


Janine  20:15  

Thank you.

Lisa Woolfork  20:16  

I love the idea of this dialogue, you know, that all of this is like a conversation. You know, you are in conversation with your own imagination as you go through to create these things. And this process, in some ways, of continuing to convince yourself--not "convince," "remind." This idea that, you created this, you were getting through a significant creative block. And you were like, "You know, just do something, just start."

Janine  20:43  

Oh, yeah, I have to tell myself, "Just start. Just do it. You can do it." Like, it'll be okay. 

Lisa Woolfork  20:49  

For every project?

Janine  20:50  

Not for every project just when that, sort of--I would say, like, I wouldn't say that I'm uninspired, because there are things that I'm thinking about. And I'm like, "Oh, I want to do that." Or I write it down. 

Lisa Woolfork  20:50  


Janine  20:50  

I have like, you know, just journals of things that I'm like, "This is what I need more of these. I want to do these." But it's just the starting point sometimes isn't there. 

Lisa Woolfork  21:11  


Janine  21:12  

And so a lot of times, I consider them kind of like, exercises. 

Lisa Woolfork  21:17  


Janine  21:17  

But when I think about it now, like, a lot of those exercises turn out to be patterns that I end up really liking. 

Lisa Woolfork  21:24  


Janine  21:25  

Because it's probably--I don't have the pressure of having to design for someone else's taste. I'm just sort of letting whatever happen happen And so it does feel very freeing. But while it's happening, I don't necessarily--I'm not sensing that yet. 

Lisa Woolfork  21:43  


Janine  21:43  

Just because I'm like, "Right now I feel the pressure of being like,"--[crosstalk]--"Can I design this?" Like, is it gone? It's just this kind of thing that you know, keep going. 

Janine  21:52  

But like you said about conversation, and having conversational, like, things, there is in printmaking pattern design, there are conversational prints. They're meant to be things that like when you see them, they're kind of one off, sort of, they don't necessarily fit in categories and stuff like that. If you go on my website, there's conversational prints. They don't really fit anywhere. They're just, they're not geometric. They're not floral. They're not, animal or, you know, organic. Yeah, they're just maybe-- like I have one that there's just like little skier skiing. And I just like the shape. Yeah.

Lisa Woolfork  22:29  

I thought that was cute, the little Alpine things, and the--

Janine  22:31  


Lisa Woolfork  22:32  

 There's little cabins and a little list of. . .that was cute.

Janine  22:35  

Just random things that I think, "Oh, that would be--that's an interesting idea." 

Lisa Woolfork  22:38  


Janine  22:39  

And usually those, you know, a conversation, because people see and, they're like, "Oh, look at this, this has this on it." And people will talk to you, like, when you have them on, so that, "Oh, I see this. I see that." So, I like doing those. I like designing in all these sort of ranges: geometric, floral, traditional, sometimes--

Lisa Woolfork  22:59  


Janine  22:59  

--conversational, but it definitely--I think that, when I hear people talk about 'um, or say how they feel about it, that's really a thing that I get to get from it. Like, I can take from 'um and be like, "Thank you. This makes me feel good about what I'm doing and creating. 

Lisa Woolfork  23:18  

Oh, that--it's wonderful. Because I just think it is so vital that we are able to recognize the work of a creative who has to be creative for a job. 

Janine  23:31  

Mm. Yeah.

Lisa Woolfork  23:32  

Right? Like, you know, you can't afford to only work when you are inspired. Right? If you take a contract from a company or an organization, and they're gonna pay you a certain rate to produce a certain outcome, and you like, "Okay, I did"--be like, "Okay, well now, go! Go make art! Go something!" Like--

Janine  23:51  

Yeah, it's very hard to, just, get in that space sometimes. And, especially when, you know, it's like, kind of like a, "Okay, now do it." 

Lisa Woolfork  24:01  


Janine  24:02  

"You can do it." And then you have to tell yourself, "Yeah, I can, but maybe today, I wanted to just sit and just kind of, like, you know, do stuff around the house, or do nothing around the house. Maybe today, I'm just watching TV." [Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork  24:16  


Janine  24:16  

 Suddenly, I'm zoned out and I'm like, "I should be working. I should be working." And I'm like, "But I can't." Or I just feel like it's just not there. 

Lisa Woolfork  24:27  


Janine  24:28  

And then, suddenly, there's a day that I'll be like, "Well, it's there." And I--but the pressure sometimes to keep going.. keep doing it--because I think, you know, you see other people, and you're sayin', "Why [inaudible]. Are you making this stuff like every single day, like a new--" Like, I don't do the art challenges that you see some times. 

Lisa Woolfork  24:46  

Oh yeah. 

Janine  24:48  

And that's because I just--I don't think I can--That seems like a lot of pressure on me--

Lisa Woolfork  24:53  


Janine  24:53  

--to do, every day, create something new. 

Lisa Woolfork  24:56  

Yeah, like 365 days of "blank." So every day, you could make a sketch.

Janine  25:01  


Lisa Woolfork  25:01  

Or a this or a that?

Janine  25:03  

And, yeah, and I think--but for some people, I do get that that is--they can do that. And I'm like, "Hat's off to you, because I can't."

Lisa Woolfork  25:10  


Janine  25:10  

There's no way that I can do that. I will, you know, stress myself out.

Lisa Woolfork  25:15  

Yeah, you won't be--you won't enjoy it. 

Janine  25:18  

Yeah! I will get tired and frustrated with it. And I was like, "unh." But I get the exercise of it. 

Lisa Woolfork  25:24  


Janine  25:24  

In theory. Sure. It's, it sounds good. But I definitely I try it. I'm like, No, I don't. That's not me. I have to there are some times when I'm designing a lot. Yes. And tons and tons and tons. And then there's maybe, you know, a couple days of the week where I'm just like, "I can't. There's--I have nothing."

Lisa Woolfork  25:42  

Yeah, [crosstalk] and we need to replenish. 

Janine  25:44  


Lisa Woolfork  25:44  

You know, like, you can't--like, everyone says and everyone knows that you can't pour from an empty cup. 

Janine  25:48  


Lisa Woolfork  25:48  

And if you imagine your creativity that way, you've got to fill yourself up in some ways to recharge your own batteries, and your own creative energies. Let me ask you about another piece. Tell me about this one. This one--what one is that called? It's like a--

Janine  26:04  

It's one of the modernists.

Lisa Woolfork  26:05  

 It's a modern--is it a modern geo? 

Janine  26:07  

Yeah, there's, like, a couple modern geo. There's like--One. Two. Three. Four. 

Lisa Woolfork  26:11  

Yeah, it's one of the modern geos. And we really like the colors. And something when we were choosin' the fabrics, we were trying to connect them by color, where the colors tell a story. 

Janine  26:20  


Lisa Woolfork  26:20  

What--do you remember what you were thinking?

Janine  26:22  

Yeah, I think, with a lot of this, is just me taking--just kind of, like, creating elements. And I do like very structured things. 

Lisa Woolfork  26:34  


Janine  26:35  

And so that is probably what I was--I dunno, like, it's kinda hard to think what I was doing at this point. But I just sort of started playing with stuff and cutting out spaces. 

Lisa Woolfork  26:47  


Janine  26:47  

And being like, "Well, this fits here." And I do like symmetry. 

Lisa Woolfork  26:51  


Janine  26:52  

And so, this is just very comforting. This is one of my favorite prints, because it's very relaxing.

Lisa Woolfork  26:58  

Is it! Tell me more about the relax, 'cause it seems really active to me. The orange-- 

Janine  27:02  

It does.

Lisa Woolfork  27:03  

--it feels active to me. It doesn't feel relaxing. Tell me where the relaxation is for you in this piece.

Janine  27:08  

For me, it's a little bit in the color palette. 

Lisa Woolfork  27:10  

Okay, yes.

Janine  27:11  

I love it. It has--this is something that I would be like, "Well, that's water." 

Lisa Woolfork  27:16  

Yeah. Okay.

Janine  27:17  

And so yeah, like, something that's very in a calming sort of color palette for me. 

Lisa Woolfork  27:23  

Ohh, yes.

Janine  27:23  

So a lot of my color palettes, they have a lot of bright colors. I love yellow. 

Lisa Woolfork  27:29  


Janine  27:30  

So a lot of them have yellows in it. And I just think,  when I see this one, it's green, but it's soft. 

Lisa Woolfork  27:40  


Janine  27:40  

And it has, like--they have like tonal colors that are--I feel are very soft, and very calming. 

Lisa Woolfork  27:44  


Janine  27:45  

So just staring at it for a long time, it's kind of nice, 'cause your eyes does move around it. 

Lisa Woolfork  27:50  


Janine  27:51  

But it's very, sort of like, it centers me when I look at it.

Lisa Woolfork  27:55  

[Repeating] "It centers me when I look at it." 

Janine  27:58  


Lisa Woolfork  27:59  

"It centers me. When I look at it."

Janine  28:06  


Lisa Woolfork  28:06  


Janine  28:06  


Lisa Woolfork  28:08  

Listen. There's something beautiful in that phrase. And isn't that an affirmation we all need, just for the daily.

Janine  28:19  

Okay. That's a lot of my thing, is how do I just sort of center myself? Because I can get very anxious, I can get very stressed, I can work myself up very quickly. It's a talent.

Lisa Woolfork  28:29  

 Were you there? Are we the same person?

Janine  28:33  

[Laughter] It is a talent. 

Lisa Woolfork  28:34  

Oh yes, I'm good at it.

Janine  28:35  

Oh, my parents could tell you. They're like, "Janine that's not happening." And I'm like, "Well, you don't think it is. But right now my brain is telling me it's happening."

Lisa Woolfork  28:41  


Janine  28:42  

And so I need to find things that I can focus on. 

Lisa Woolfork  28:46  


Janine  28:47  

And things that'll give me, kind of, just, like, a little bit of like, everything's okay. 

Lisa Woolfork  28:50  


Janine  28:51  

It may not be okay, but right now just look at this. 

Lisa Woolfork  28:53  


Janine  28:54  

Just stare at that for a little bit. And then maybe you'll figure it out. Or maybe you won't.

Lisa Woolfork  28:59  

And one of the things I appreciate about--when you turned it to water, when you turn that aqua and turquoise into water, it really shifted so much about what I was thinking that was solid into liquid. [Crosstalk] Into air.

Janine  29:12  

Yeah, there's a play to it. Like, it's a--

Lisa Woolfork  29:13  


Janine  29:14  

--it sort of, like, moves around it. And you kind of look at different spaces, but you don't really know what it is. 

Lisa Woolfork  29:20  

That's right. That's right. 

Janine  29:21  

And so, that's how I think of it. Because this particular one has a different color palette, too, that's more yellow. 

Lisa Woolfork  29:28  


Janine  29:28  

Yellow, blue, and red and that's very active. 

Lisa Woolfork  29:31  

Okay. Yes. 

Janine  29:32  

And I feel like it has a stronger sort of feel to it. Like, it feels very heavy. Very direct. 

Lisa Woolfork  29:37  

Yes. Yes. Yes. 

Janine  29:38  

Whereas this is the softer version of it. 

Lisa Woolfork  29:40  

A softer version.

Janine  29:41  

I try to create color palettes that are--one that is very dominant in your face, very strong, very bold. 

Lisa Woolfork  29:48  


Janine  29:48  

And then I try to do ones that are still bold and this bold color--

Lisa Woolfork  29:52  


Janine  29:53  

--but are a little bit calmer. A little settled. A little bit, like, it's not as loud. It's not as vibrant. 

Lisa Woolfork  30:00  


Janine  30:00  

--but it still has a nice flow to it. 

Lisa Woolfork  30:05  

Love that.

Lisa Woolfork  30:06  

And so, I think we're ready to wrap up. And I will have to ask you. The slogan of the Stitch Please podcast is: we will help you get your stitch together. 

Janine  30:15  


Lisa Woolfork  30:15  

And I'm going to ask you, Janine Lecour, surface pattern designer, what advice would you have for our listeners, the folks here today, the folks who will listen to this episode in the future. What advice would you share with us to help us get our stitch together?

Janine  30:28  

Oh, that's a big question. 

Lisa Woolfork  30:32  

And there's no wrong answer. So that's the easy thing.

Janine  30:34  

I would say, for me, as far as where I see myself with career is that being flexible, and sort of like letting--going on a journey with the things that I've worked with. Maybe I thought, "Oh, I was only gonna do, like, work in apparel." And now it's moved on to here. Like, I just took my design, sort of, education and just sort of pushed it to another thing. 

Lisa Woolfork  31:02  


Janine  31:03  

But by saying--being flexible, I'm able to, sort of, I don't lock myself into one thing. I'm always growing with that. 

Lisa Woolfork  31:14  


Janine  31:14  

I'm taking on new challenges. 

Lisa Woolfork  31:16  


Janine  31:16  

I'm doing things that maybe are a little bit out of my comfort zone. 

Lisa Woolfork  31:20  


Janine  31:20  

And that I normally would be like, "Well, I don't think that's for me." Or, "I should be in that space." But being like, "Well, no, I'm gonna try this. They think I could do this," or, you know, "I feel like I can do this." 

Lisa Woolfork  31:32  


Janine  31:33  

So I would say, like, flexibility with your, sort of, design choices and things that you want to do. And kind of, like, pushing yourself a little bit. And growing from it. 

Lisa Woolfork  31:46  


Janine  31:47  

Because if you're not curious about it, if you don't-- like, what is the point? You never--you don't know everything.

Lisa Woolfork  31:54  

You don't. It's okay not to know somethin'. 

Janine  31:56  

Yeah! Like, that's kind of how I just, sort of, move through life. It's generally being, like--it's being curious about stuff. 

Lisa Woolfork  32:04  


Janine  32:05  

And just, sort of, seeing where it takes me. And, you know, just doing that.

Lisa Woolfork  32:10  

I love that. All right. Janine, thank you. How did I even get in touch with you? 

Janine  32:15  

You emailed.

Lisa Woolfork  32:15  

Did I email? Oh, I think I messaged--I emailed her, and I copied her message on Instagram. And I said, "I'm Black Woman Stitch. We're comin' to Quilt Con. We want to center Blackness, we want to celebrate Blackness, we want to center--and you are part of that. Spoonflower sponsors. You got great fabrics, etc, etc." And she was just like, "What? What?" 

Janine  32:34  

Yeah, there's a lot of that. [Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork  32:37  

Hunh. And so, like, the first 45 minutes was that. 

Janine  32:40  

Yes, yes.

Lisa Woolfork  32:40  

And then, after that, we had, like, an actual conversation with words going, where she was more than one word exclamations.

Janine  32:47  

I think you asked me, "How much fabric do you think that you ordered for this event?" And I was like, "I dunno, maybe 20? 20 yards?"

Lisa Woolfork  32:55  

Yeah, she was like, "20 yards." I said, "Well, how much you think is a lot?" She's like, "Well, a lot to me is five yards." I'm "Like, well, it's not that."

Janine  33:04  

[Laughter] Funny.

Lisa Woolfork  33:04  

And I was like, "Nope, we got 110."

Janine  33:04  


Lisa Woolfork  33:04  

And so, I was telling her, I was like, "Please come and see it." Like, "Come and see it."

Janine  33:13  

Yeah. I'm so glad. And I'm, just, so honored. And it's overwhelming, ut in the best way. 

Lisa Woolfork  33:19  


Janine  33:20  

In the best way.

Lisa Woolfork  33:21  

And, for me, this is what community looks like. 

Janine  33:23  


Lisa Woolfork  33:23  

This is one of the reasons that, like, I do--my background coming into this space is as an organizer. It is as an activist. It was pushed by--some of y'all might have heard yesterday--my own pivoting away from, you know, white dominated spaces, and deliberately seeking Blackness, and seeking a Black fullness. And so, when you shift your vision a little bit, just a little bit, it doesn't have to be a lot, I am, just, so honored and grateful for you. And what you've done, and that there are so many others out there that are doing it. And being possibility models for other folks. And I'm just so glad that we could be sitting here together today, surrounded by your fabric,--

Janine  34:10  

[Laughter.] Thank you.

Lisa Woolfork  34:11  

--surrounded by the beauty that you've created., and allow us to create beautiful things with it, right? Like, thank you. Let's give it up. [Applause]

Lisa Woolfork  34:19  

[Music] You've been listening to the Stitch Please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out to us with questions, you can contact us at If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon: P. A. T. R. E. O. N. And you can find Black Woman Stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as two dollars a month you can help support the project with things like editing, transcripts, and other things to strengthen the podcast. And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really, really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere you listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews, but for those who do, for those that have, like, a star rating, or just ask for a few comments, if you could share those comments and say nice things about us and the Stitch Please podcast, that is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together. [Music]

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

You may also like...


Discount code SEWBLACKQC for 20% off at Spoonflower and 10% off at Crimson Tate.