The Making of Black Magic Leopard

0.75x 1x 1.25x 1.5x 2x 0:0000:39:48 The Making of Black Magic Leopard


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

Queenora Irvin

Queenora Irvin is a fabric designer and owner of Queenora Renee Fabrics, offering small batch custom inclusive fabric to home sewists and small businesses that center Black people, our community, and our culture.

Janine Lecour

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

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.


Insights from this episode:

  • The origin story of Black Magic Leopard fabric and all of the considerations and details that went into the design
  • Tips for reaching out to artists for commissions, sharing your vision while still giving the artist room to breathe life into the design
  • The response from the Black creative community to the gift of Black Magic Leopard
  • Gaining the courage to reach out, ask questions, and collaborate

Quotes from the show:

  • “Creativity is in steps… You can just wake up one day and be great, but that’s not the norm. You have to work at it.” – Queenora Irvin, Stitch Please
  • “When the idea came across [for Black Magic Leopard], I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that makes total sense.’… I don’t always get them very quickly, but I saw this one pretty quickly and it just became a matter of how do I take the standard shapes, me understanding different hairstyles and textured hair, and how do I use particular ones to translate this overall look. I feel like it came together very fast.” – Janine Lecour, Stitch Please
  • “It really does feel like I’m looking at a community; I’m looking at a group of people who have affinity and relation with one another. The diversity… their skin colors are different, their hairstyles are different, some of the textures seem a little different from the other… the detail really pays off.” – Lisa Woolfork, Stitch Please
  • “When it comes to creativity and artistry and putting it out there, you really are putting a piece of yourself out there.” – Queenora Irvin, Stitch Please,
  • “I think that there has long been a need for some equity around who gets represented on fabric, just like who gets represented anywhere.” – Lisa Woolfork
  • “Enjoy the process. Enjoy where you are now… I think sometimes we look to where we want to be with such anticipation… just enjoy where you are, and it will make the journey so much more fulfilling.” – Queenora Irvin, Stitch Please

Stay Connected:

YouTube: Black Women Stitch

Instagram: Black Women Stitch

Facebook: Stitch Please Podcast

Lisa Woolfork

Instagram: Lisa Woolfork

Twitter: Lisa Woolfork

Queenora Irvin

Website: Queenora Renee Fabrics

Instagram: Queenora Renee

Facebook: Queenora Renee Fabrics

YouTube: Queenora Renee Fabrics

Pinterest: Queenora Renee

Janine Lecour

Website: Janine Lecour

Instagram: Janine Lecour 

Subscribe to our podcast + download each episode on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify.

This episode was produced and managed by Podcast Laundry.

Read Full Transcript

Lisa Woolfork  0:10  

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  0:37  

Hello, hello, everyone, and welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. And like I say, every week, this is a very special episode because this episode is going to take you behind the scenes to not only the fabric of the year, I forgot what year it came out. I'ma say 2021 I don't think that's right. But anyway, the fabric of the year, pretend it was 2021. It could be 2020. It could be 2019, you're about to find out. Because, I know you have seen this fabric. If you are a follower of Black Women Stitch, you know that there are some things that I have and feel very strongly about. One of them is bananas. I feel very strongly against them. The second thing I feel very strongly about is my love of Black people doing Black things to help Black people find their joy and their bliss, and if I can find that in a fabric, so much the better. And that fabric for me was Black Magic Leopard. It is the fabric that looks like leopard from a distance but when you get close up on it, it looks like us with our hair in its natural state. We are joined today by the creators, the dynamic duo that created this fabric, Queenora Renee Irvin, and Janine LeCour. Welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. Yay! (pepewpew) 

Janine LeCour  2:04  

Thanks to you. 

Lisa Woolfork  2:06  

I'm pretending I know how to do sound effects. I don't. So, one of the things I wanted to share, just to begin, and if you are on the Patreon, you get to see the beautiful us and you also get to see this amazing picture. Now y'all, this is a picture that I took. We were coming back from the trip we took in February of 2023 to QuiltCon in Atlanta, and we collaborated with Amtrak, and it was a wonderful experience but part of my goal, and I think Naomi had a similar one (that's Naomi P. Johnson pictured here) and I forget what his role was, but he works on the train. He's been working on the training for 25 years, believe it or not, he was really nice. We had a sleeper car. He was our attendant and we just got along swimmingly. And so, we took this picture, the three of us together when we got back, I'm getting off here in Charlottesville. So, we're both wearing (as you can tell) the Brooklyn romper. This is a really great piece. I recommend this a lot for spring especially. It's a really great in-between piece. Ideally, I was wearing quilting cotton, because we've had a quilting cotton so long, to kind of show garment sewers how easy it is to work with quilting cotton. So, I had some Rashida Coleman Hale and Jen Hewitt and E. Bond, and Janine LeCour. I was like, Oh, this is so great. We're both wearing, you know, black designers because Naomi, you got the Queenora Renee, and I've got the Janine LeCour. Come to find out, they are both Janine LeCour! So, yeah, I just absolutely had to share that picture with y'all. But this was a really great time. And, of course, when you wear these pieces, we get so many compliments, but I just wanted to again, welcome you all and celebrate you for being here. And to thank you for the beauty that is Black Magic Leopard. Thank you. Now Queenora, let's start with you. I was so excited to see you shared a bit about where Black Magic Leopard came from. And it was because you were in Target?

Queenora  4:07  

Yeah, in Target. You know, Target's my jam-- and this was pre "the panoranama"-- So just took my glasses off, and I was cleaning my glasses. And, we were living in Kansas City at the time. (And the kids n' the women's section is up front.) So I was just cleaning my glasses, took my glasses off, cleaning them, and I look up and I thought I saw, almost like Black women polka dots, like you know, Black women polka dot type. And -- 

Lisa Woolfork  4:30  


Queenora  4:30  

Put glasses back on cause I was excited. I was like woo I'm bout to buy this for Kristen right now. We bout to have mummy and me. We bout to do something. And it was a regular lep print. Just regular lep print. 

Lisa Woolfork  4:42  

Regular jegular. 

Queenora  4:43  

Yeah, just regular lep print, nu'in' special. You know, I hadn't even thought about making or trying to make it into a fabric until later on that night. I was telling Chris about it. And he was like, Well, you have a fabric company. Why don't you just make it" And I was like, whoa!

Lisa Woolfork  4:59  


Queenora  4:59  

Just make it. I love how Chris is like, "what you got the Fabric Company for then?" Like, why wouldn't you do such a thing? What? Like, why do you have a fabric business, if you don't like, make fabric you dream of? Right? Just make it. And I was just, like, oh my gosh, why didn't I think of that? So I first started trying to draw it myself. 

Lisa Woolfork  5:16  

And what was your first attempt? Like? Did you try with chalk? Did you try with pencil?What were your attempts? Like? 

Queenora  5:21  

First, I tried on paper, because I was like, let me try it on paper first. That way, I can kind of see what I see in my mind. Like in my mind, I see it. But on paper, they weren't in the same book. And then I tried also, let me try on my iPad, because you know, they make digital art look just so easy. And the creation? No. Yo, when I say it was so horrible, it just wasn't working at all.

Lisa Woolfork  5:45  

I'm sensing this beautiful wave here, right like this, really, really excited to have this great idea. Because it's needed. You saw it, you saw it, you saw the vision in your mind. And then, you sit down with a pencil, and a piece of paper and you try to make it come to life. And it's like, that's not what I saw! That's not what I saw! And then you go to digital, because, I too had been fooled by those reels. And those TikToks that make it look like all the person has to do is like wave their hand (like this) from left to right. And then this arc pops out underneath it. And I'm like, I know how to move my hand from left to right. I can do it too. And then you get on there and it's like, now your feelings are hurt and you are a bit demoralized. Because you saw that you really cannot do, just move your hand left to right. And so, you're in this frustration point, or did you still believe it was possible? So, after you realize that you couldn't do it? What did you do after you got past that limitation and said, Okay, it's not a limitation anymore. It's gonna be an opportunity.

Queenora  6:45  

I was definitely frustrated. I was mad. Because I was like, "I can do this!". I can do this! But no, I had to realize there's some things I'm good at.

Lisa Woolfork  6:52  

You can do a lot of things! And that's the hard part too, right! you are good at lots of things! You are a kick-ass accountant and business person, and creative generally. You sew prom dresses, you sew for little kids, you sew far adults, that you can line a bodice with boning inside. I mean, these are difficult things to do. And you can do them. You can put in a buttonhole without having a buttonhole feature on your machine. I know you did that, because you told me so. So then it's like, wait a minute, what now? 

Janine LeCour  7:26  

How long it took me in school (fashion design school) to master a buttonhole, even with all the things. Still now I'll see something, that has a buttonhole on it. And I'm like, No, that would be Matt bye, no.

Lisa Woolfork  7:40  

Janine says, "I got you. I got you, Kam snaps". There's a whole episode, I have turned almost every button project into Kam snaps. And when I tell you my family, freaking loves Kam snaps. I don't think anybody wants to go back to buttons. But, I say all that to say that Queenora is used to sitting down and working hard and staying up until three, four, seven o'clock in the morning until she figures out how to do something. And so, I'm just grateful that we have the fabric, and that Queenora was just like you know what, fuck it, forget it. Nobody getting nothing. Nobody's getting no fabric. If I can't figure out how to draw it. It's just not gonna happen. But you did it. You did a great job. So, you get past the frustration, and then you say, 'Even I have boundaries'.

Queenora  8:26  

Yes, I was frustrated. And then, I had to realize 'creativity isn't the steps'. I mean, you can't just wake up one day and be great. But that's not the nor you have to work at it. And so, I had to be real with myself and be like, No, Queenore can't go from drawing stick people to doing a whole masterpiece in two weeks. Like, that's not realistic. For me. 

Lisa Woolfork  8:50  

Yes, for me either. Queenora and I, you might imagine, are rather similar personalities, we share some commonalities. I'm proud to say, I'm proud to say, Janine and I, everybody on this screen share some commonalities. We are high achieving creatives who have had good success and track records, which sometimes causes us to do more than we should. It's not that we can't, we can, we can, but we don't have to. That's the wisdom I'm practicing. And that's the wisdom that brought us back Black Magic Leopard, Queenora so you got frustrated, but you got past the frustration. So, how do you take that next step?

Queenora  9:32  

So when I started the business, I have a list of artists I wanted to work with. So basically, I started Googling. I went on school sites websites, I started going to Instagram searching hashtags like 'Black seamless designer' or 'pattern designer', but when I first started it, probably like a few months before that.-- So I had this list of Black artists that I wanted to work with. And so they were like, "I want to work with these people list". So I was like, Well, I guess I'm just bout to go to my list, because at the time, I felt like my business wasn't established enough to work with these artists. But I was like, I'm just gonna take a leap of faith and reach out to one of these artists. And so you were one of the ones on that list. And so I was like, I got to send my little, you know, we send an email you nervous?

Janine LeCour  10:19  

Yes. All the time. Even responding to somebody's email, I get nervous. I'm like, wait a minute.

Queenora  10:25  

Yes. So it was that for me, because I want to say you just released something. So I was like, Man, I don't know, I'm not a big name, you know, it's just lil me. So you know, I'm like, Okay, I'm just gonna type the email, and I attached pictures of different leopard print. So that way she could kind of hopefully get what I was trying to say. And I tried to, you know, put brained up into the email. And so I went to her website, I did the Contact Me form, and I just put it all out there. And boom, you said,-- and I was just like, go see.

Intro  11:04  

The slogan of the Stitch Please podcast is that we will help you get your stitch together. And now we're bringing it to you in a new way. The Stitch is a newsletter from Black Women Stitch, and I am delighted to tell you about it. What do you get when you sign up for the Black Women Stitch newsletter? You get to hear what's happening with Black Women Stitch in the Stitch Please podcast, events that we've had, events that are coming up, contests for prizes, live shows, social media meetups, IRL meetups, episodes of the podcast that you might have missed, as well as opportunities to learn. And so, in community, with other Black makers, across the country, and across the world. You'll learn also about some actual stitches, we will help you get your stitch together with continuing education for your sewing life. Oh, my goodness, y'all, I am so excited for this newsletter. It's always things I want to tell you, you know, wow. Well, now we have The Stitch, sign up using the link in the show notes, or on our website, we look forward to helping you get to a stitch together soon.

Lisa Woolfork  12:19  

And so Janine, you're sitting at home, or you know, someplace fun, minding your own business, and checking your contact form. So your right there,  managing the animals in your life who love you very much. And this email comes in from the contact form. Do you remember the subject line? Queenora, can you remember the subject line of that email that you sent to her? 

Queenora  12:39  

It was very basic. It was just like commission inquiry. 

Janine LeCour  12:42  

It sounded professional and always amazes me, because everybody is all trying to sound professional. What does that mean? -- Cause I do it too, I'm like, "Thank you for reaching out" or "Thank you for your inquiry" and alll these things. Exactly what I wanted. So I had this idea. That's what I really want to say. But, you know, put it in nicer, professional terms, because like, I'm hearing this for the first time, I don't ever know what people are thinking when they reach out to me. I'm always so grateful when people reach out for me, because even if it's something that I'm like, I can tell that it's not a fit. That's still an opportunity. You know what, this isn't fit for me right now. But if you have something, like that's along these lines--

Queenora  13:23  

Down the line.--

Janine LeCour  13:24  

An email is always great, because it's like, 'yay', cause if they're not coming in, then what is happening? what do I need to check? Hearing it, and just hearing like, Oh okay, I was on a list, I didn't know, like, I never really know who is gonna contact me, or what that next project is. And, generally speaking, I don't look at a business, and I don't look at them and go, well, beneath a sort, I don't have, like a level. It's really based off of how we are interacting with each other on the emails. I remember your email being very thorough, which is something that I really appreciate. This is what I'm looking for. I know this sounds weird, but do you think this could work? And I'm like that. Does that sound weird? And yeah, it can work. I do leopard prints all the time. And so, they're just things that you (as a surface pattern designer) have to do animal prints, somebody's going to want an animal print some time. And yes, sometimes they're like, we would like something that looks more traditional. But what I like to do is I always like to make them kind of have, like, funkier colors or different shapes, or try to add different texture through the illustrator program, that get them (so that, it's like, more engaging) and people want to sort of be like, well, that's different. That's a leopard print. But that's not what I would think of as a standard leopard print. And I think that when the idea came across, I was like, oh, yeah, that makes total sense. I could see it quicker than like, I don't always get them very quickly, but I saw this one pretty quickly, and it just became a mad bout how do i I take the standard shapes me understanding different hairstyles and textured hair, and how do I use particular ones to translate this overall look. And so, I felt like it came together very fast. I'm not exactly sure. But I felt like I had the design nailed pretty quickly.--

Queenora  15:17  

You did.--

Janine LeCour  15:18  

 It was a good idea.--

Queenora  15:19  

I don't even remember if there was even like a revision or anything. I definitely remember when I got the pattern (like the draft). And I was like, she's in my head. I literally was like,-- because it's always so nerve wracking, like trying to make sure you communicate so much to where they understand what you see, but not so much to where you fit, where the artists feels like they are limited in what it creates. 

Janine LeCour  15:46  

Yes, if I can say to anybody who's contacting an artist have a vision in your head that is clear. And what you're sort of looking for if you need to have like images to kind of say like, this is like a style, but not like this directly. But just think about these sort of things. And then, generally speaking, sometimes it just works. Sometimes it's just that easy. It seems too easy too. I remember thinking, This seemed easy. When, I'm like, I've never thought about it. I've never had this idea at all, but it was there, it like presented itself very quickly. I was like, well, all of it work? Will it translate? Will people be able to understand what it is? Because if you're looking at each individual one, like I'm looking at it now. And I'm like, oh, yeah, it still feels, from a distance, like a leopard print. The second you get up next to it. You see, like what is, 'faces', you see hairstyles, and it just worked, it worked really well. So I would tell people, 'Don't be afraid to contact artists'. Have an idea in your mind of what you want, like you just saying, let us sort of breathe a little bit with it. And it can grow from that. As crazy as it seems. Sometimes, it works.

Lisa Woolfork  16:59  

What I see in what you're saying is, it feels, again, very organic, it feels very much like the engagement that you just mentioned, when I look at this print, even looking at it now, there's so much character in the design, I feel that there's depth, I feel like there is diversity. And, it really is very intriguing to look at. And so I just find it such a special piece, because it reflects this process that you're describing. But it also represents, I think, this beautiful collaboration, and the enthusiastic response. Just me looking at this right now, I'm looking at, okay, oh yeah, that's the one I call Frederick Douglass, that's the head, this person. No, seriously see his hair, right here. 

Janine LeCour  17:53  

I know, you're known as Frederick Douglass, because I literally did it. And I said, 'Can I just make Frederick Douglas?' This is the Frederick Douglass fro. I did this.--

Lisa Woolfork  18:04  

Yes, yes.--

Janine LeCour  18:05  

Well, looking at leopard print, that would be like, to a large like, circle and a small circle, sort of like blending together, which you see on those patterns. I was just like, oh, I'll just kind of add some more texture to it and make it look like the hair. But it definitely wasn't serious. Giggling while doing it, because I was like, I'm trying to think of all the hairstyles that I could do.

Lisa Woolfork  18:28  

Do you have a favorite dot? Do either of you all have a favorite? 

Queenora  18:31  

For me, obviously it's the Frederick Douglass one. So I do like this one because it is one of my Busta Rhymes one, or Thugnificant one with the two puffs. 

Lisa Woolfork  18:38  

But do you all have favorites? 

Queenora  18:40  

I think I'm gonna claim Frederick Douglass as my favorite.

Janine LeCour  18:43  

I think, I like the puff buffs. Yeah, the puff puffs have always been like my favorite. And usually I keep my hair up most of the time. It's only out in free. Whenever I have to leave the house. It's in twists, or it's up. But I like the puff puffs. That reminds me the most of me as a kid. And I think I made it like kind of small too. For that reason. I was like, I like this one. This one should be a little bit tinier, not as pronounced. And then the other one, which I refer to as poodle, because it's got like, the longer hair. Yeah. And everyone sees these things because I think that I'm just entertaining myself. It's quiet in the room a lot of times when I'm working, and I'm trying to keep saying...

Queenora  19:21  

Like, 'Okay, first we'll do Fred. Okay, Fred. That's great. Nicely done. Now let's go on to the poodle. Let's go back to baby Janine. Good job there baby Janine'. 

Lisa Woolfork  19:32  

Queenora, you're a fan of the pumps as well? Or did you have a different favorite?

Queenora  19:36  

No, I really loved the puffs because it reminded me, like she said, of my childhood, it also remind me of Kristen, cause you know that was her go-to style, was the two little puffs. So yeah, that's my go-to.

Lisa Woolfork  19:47  

It is absolutely amazing. And even the way they're floating together, it seems like they are in this beautiful suspended animation. It's like, it really does feel like I'm looking at a community. I'm looking at a group of people who have affinity and relation with one another, you know. It really does seem to me like, between the diversity, the skin colors are different, their hair styles are different, like, some of the textures seem a little different from the other, the detail really pays off.

Janine LeCour  20:21  

Yeah, and I think that comes from the fact of having, like you said, I do a lot of leopard print, cheetah prints. And, when you look at these things for a long time (like an actual leopard print, or a cheetah print) you will see the variations that are there. They may appear very flat, but they're not, there's a lot of different colors, you think, Oh, it's just black, and maybe like a couple of different tan colors, but it's not. And so to make them, sort of, effectively, you kinda have to stare at it. And then, knowing that this was gonna be sort of Black hairstyles, and an homage to it, I was like, it should have different skin tones. That should be reflected in that, because its spots are different. And so skin tones are different. And I just think, it all worked out, I can't stress how much this is like, oh wow, really did work out.

Queenora  21:08  

It did. And one of the things they just mentioned, I don't even think that was something that I put in the original inquiry or, you know, email to her about it being different skin tones. But when you work with Black and people of color artists, it's something that they are already cognizant of, they already want to do that, it's already something that's in the forefront of their mind. And I just know this just talking with other artists, like there's something I have to say to certain other people. But I don't even think I had to say that. And that was something that, like you said, it was just so organic, and her knowing kind of, what was in my head, and also the things that she wanted to put forward in the design.

Janine LeCour  21:44  

I just think that like, as artists, we know a certain set of things that we definitely want to have there. Whether we know are true, well, this is a true thing. If you're going to do people, there's so many different skin tones, and that's it's more opportunity for just color in a design. So, that should always be kind of, the goal. The standard should just be oh, we're doing people, there's a variety of skin tones. There's not just you know, standard, this is a brown. This is like a lighter, creamier color. You know, those are exact skin tones, I use colors that were under the color codes for like different skin tones. So I was like, Oh, this is perfect. I'll put these in, and then see which ones work. And I definitely think it adds depth, which is what you need with a design like this because it does appear very simple. And then when I look at it, it isn't that difficult for me to put together. But it needs to have something that elevates it slightly. And so you have the simple shapes, but they're elevated by the depth of the different colors that are used.

Intro  22:49  

The back stitch is a reinforcing stitch sewn by hand, or stitched by machine. The back stitch is a return with a purpose. On the Stitch Please podcast, our do backstitch series will recall early and or favorite episodes of the podcast. And the best news. It's hosted by you. Yes, you. Thank you. You. Do you have a favorite Stitch Please podcast episode? Let us know by leaving a voice memo on our website. Five minutes max. Let us know what episodes you love and why other people will love it too. And if we use your message on the show, you will receive in an honoraria. So remember, the back stitch makes us seem stronger. Leave us a message so that your contribution can make the Stitch Please podcast that much stronger, you can find the link at the website, or just click on it in the show notes for this episode.

Lisa Woolfork  24:02  

And even some of the shapes of the faces are a little different too.

Janine LeCour  24:05  

Some of them are profiles. Some of them are a little bit more side. Some of them are a little off. I still wanted them to look like faces, not just circles or ovals. I still wanted there to be some sort of movement. But again, I can't remember if I really thought about it a whole lot. Because I'm still sort of being like, I hope this is what Queenora had in mind. I hope this is what she was looking for. So, I was still being like, it's me working it out. And by the time I sent it (because I was like, well this seems like really quick), I was so happy to like, get the response. Yes, that's it. That's it.

Lisa Woolfork  24:41  

And how often does that happen?The first draft is the only draft. It's like 'No, no, that's it! That's it. This is it. This is perfect'.

Janine LeCour  24:48  

Yeah, but when it does happen, and I asked repeatedly. 'Are you sure? Are you sure? No, tell me like, are you sure? Think about it. Don't say Yes, right away'.

Lisa Woolfork  24:56  

I'm really also excited, Queenora, if you could share, a little bit about the response to the fabric.

Queenora  25:03  

You know, I couldn't even imagine, honestly, I was so worried about how it would be received, until I really stepped into the creative world of sewing and doing stuff for other people. I never really got the Erykah Badu "I'm sensitive about my shit". Because being from logical, you know, accounting is a black and a white, you do gray, you're going to jail.--

Lisa Woolfork  25:22  

It's right or wrong.--

Queenora  25:23  

You know, it's right or wrong.--

Lisa Woolfork  25:24  

If you do gray.--

Queenora  25:26  

It's very black and white, I don't have to worry about (I don't want to say people's feelings), but I don't have to worry about the response because there's a right and a wrong way.--

Lisa Woolfork  25:33  

That's right.--

Queenora  25:33  

But when it comes to creativity, and artistry, and putting it out there, you really are putting a piece of yourself out there. And so, I was super nervous for this one. And that's why the strike team that I had, that's why I asked y'all, Black Women Stitch to be a part of the strike team, I knew he would give me honest feedback, and be like, "Queenora, nah, this ain't it", or "Yes, this is it". And, I was really, really blown away by the positive response and continued response. I really thought this was like, Okay, I put it out (and this was in 2020) And that was the other thing that made me nervous. It was during the pandemic, I think I had the pre-order, like in October of 2020 ish. Nope, couldn't ev been in October, cause we moved, it was in 2020. I know that for sure. So, I was really nervous also about that, because, you know, even if people would have wanted to support, with the pandemic, there's so many things that come into play. So it was the initial response, and also the continued response. I'm still blown away, blown away when people are like, um, "When you bringing it back?", and I'm like, I kind of thought I would just offer it, and it'd be just done, and people like, no, no. 

Lisa Woolfork  26:43  

The answer to that is clearly no, because there is a strong need. For me, hearing about the connection, the creative connection that you two made. And then Janine, like really saying, I wanna make sure this is Queenora's vision, that I'm executing this, and that you were able to do it because it clicked, you just got it. And all of the things that Queenora didn't even brief you on, because she was writing to another Black woman, she didn't have to brief you on 'Black people are different colors from each other'. Like, these are things that you don't have to be told, right? So it just feels like it was really meant to be. It, even me, like, just as a consumer, and a Queenora Renee fan, am blown away. The impact that this fabric has had, I don't believe can be underestimated. I think that there has long been a need for some equity around who gets represented on fabrics, just like who gets represented anywhere. And many of us who've been sewing, have had experience of going through the fabric store and seeing like, a little brown thing on a piece of fabric, and you're like, Oh, yes, oh, this is great, my little brown baby is gonna have a little shirt that I'm gonna make with other little brown babies on it. And it's not a brown baby, it's a bear, or it's a dog, or it's some other animal that is not a child. Or, it's like, oh, look at all these fabrics with little kids on them. And there is one black kid out of four, or out of seven. That's not a good ratio for me. So, to have this, and to have it be so bold, and upfront, and in your face, but also subtle at the same time. I think that that's what I love about it. It's that optical illusion of it all. I love people say Oh, I love leopard print. And then I go closer and say it's not leopard, it's Black Magic Leopard. People just, they get wowed by it. They get wowed. They really get wowed by it. Queenora, do you have any stories just about the fandom that this fabric has generated?

Queenora  28:48  

People always think that they see it, even though they don't see it. I'll get DMs of someone, and they'll be like, "Hey, so-and-so has your fabric line" and I'll go, you know, and they'll send me you know, the reel or whatever it is. And it's normal leopard print. I'm like 'Hey, thanks for looking out. But that's not it'. I get a couple of those tags every once in a while. But definitely, anytime someone makes something with the fabric, it's like a new, almost like wave of people to say, where did you get this from? I want it now. I mean, it's almost made me rethink my business model because I primarily do pre-orders. I only get this certain amount, and that's it. You know, it's more of an exclusive. This is it. Because when, oh my gosh, I can't think of her name and you just had her on the podcast this week. Jamie Black, Yes. When she made the boots. That brought a wave of people saying, "Hey, I want to order it" and I'm like, "I don't have it. I'm sorry". It's been a good and positive response overall. If anything, it's more in demand than I can ever supply.

Lisa Woolfork  29:45  

And we love that. We absolutely love that. I love that you model it. I love that there's such a robust still. People asking me like I'm holding back. And I'm like, first of all, you can't have mine. So, you don't have to worry about that. And second of all, please get on her newsletter, you know, follow Queenora on Instagram. She always says when the fabric is going to be here, and I am always telling people, trying to repost it in my stores and stuff because, you're not gonna get mad at me when you see me with my great outfit and then wondering, Where did you get that fabric? And you know where I got it from. And you know, there's none left. So stop. I wanna wrap up this really great conversation again, thanking you both. I am so happy that you were able to talk today. And, really Queenora, when I saw your story, and I saw Janine commenting, and I'm like, "That's the Janine that I know. I know that Janine, can that really be the Janine that I know, could Queenora know the same Janine that I know, who's also a surface pattern designer, and who I did an entire podcast episode with in Atlanta to feature her fabric and stuff. And quinoa kind of knew I was doing that, but didn't know that I was talking to this Janine? Like, all of this. I'm pretty sure I did not tell you, Queenora, that I'm talking to somebody, she's in Atlanta. Her name is Janine Lecour. Because I chose Janine because Janine was in Atlanta. And her work was amazing. It was just a total coincidence.--

Queenora  31:14  

I have always put that Jeanine was a designer for this fabric.

Lisa Woolfork  31:20  

I'm not saying you're withholding. Yeah, what was the beginning? Again,--

Janine LeCour  31:23  

That's great. Because a lot of people, I mean, I get like, it's a 50/50 split. Sometimes I even have worked with companies that are large. And there's no mention of who supplied this art for it. Because that's not the contract that I was in with them, you know, they just bought the print for me so that they can pad out their collection with it. So, I always appreciate it, so much, because it does bring more people in. And that's awesome. Okay, I think like working with different brands, you know, as long as I feel like we're working well together, I can understand what they're looking for. And they can understand what my range is. I can't do all the things. I wish I could, but I can't you know, I have a skill set, and it's there. And if you look at my artwork, you can kind of see what it is. But I would say that it's amazing, because I still get it. When I see somebody post it, and they'll tag me in it. Or like, with the reel, I got so excited because I was like, "Oh, look, there it is". And that's the story behind it because I had some of the story. But now I have an even clearer thing of this story. And I could see it. Just to see how people react to it. Because I didn't know that it was as popular. I was like, wow, this is something that either I wasn't paying attention on social media to it, or I just was like, it didn't show up on my range of like, wow, that's doing really well. And it was such a fun print to make. That's probably it too. It was fun. It was easy. I was like, Well, this is great. So I'm not necessarily, I'm remembering that part of it. But just seeing what everybody makes from it. I like, as an artist, creating my own artwork, coming up with ideas, and bringing visions that I want to see out there, and stuff like that. But I really do love working with other artists, other visionaries, other designers, because that's a fresh approach, a fresh idea. Something new that I hadn't thought about. And I'm like, Oh, I hadn't thought about that. Let's see if we could do this, like, this will be a fun thing to keep my creativity up. So, I love it, cause then it has another life. And then I go, I get to see what people make from it. And I'm like, I wouldn't have thought about that. I would not have thought about bras and various like, the bras are gorgeous. When I saw, I was like, I have never thought.--

Lisa Woolfork  33:38  

I mean bras, underpants corsits, --

Janine LeCour  33:41  


Lisa Woolfork  33:41  

So many things.--

Janine LeCour  33:44  

But it makes sense. It all makes sense. It's like, Oh, of course, of course it would be used for this. Course people will want to see it, like now I know, there's boots out there. I'm like, this is amazing just to see the life and the creativity that I did. And then the art and then somebody else going off and doing something else with it. That's why I do it. You know, that's what I want to see. Otherwise, why would I be putting this stuff out in the world if I didn't want it to go on and make people happy, to make people have a conversation about things? To sort of open up the ideas and concepts of what something can be because I think that's a hard thing. I think people go well, a flower is this color. And you're like, no, they can be whatever color you want it to be. There's nothing that stops, there's usually your ability to see past a little box that you've already been told, "This is what it is". I love that. And I hope that that's what I try to do. And I hope that people appreciate that cause whenever you're having those days and you're just like, I don't know, can I do it? Is it even reaching people? And then you'll get a tag and you'll be like, yeah, it is, for this, because this is what I want to do. But I'm also doing it because of these other reasons.

Lisa Woolfork  34:53  

This collaboration clearly feels to me like a sign from the universe, that these things align so beautifully. Because of you as two unique and irrepeatable people, but also because you came together under this shared mantle, to give something to the Black creative community. For me, I consider the Black Magic Leopard fabric a gift. I consider it a gift of a fabric, it is so unique. It is not something that had ever been done before. But it's also so warm, and so generative and rich, and it really is a gift. It's a gift that we can recreate to meet our own needs. And so that's why you have people making stuff out of it again, and again and again and again. And it doesn't seem like it's being repeated. It seems like it's being extended. And that is what I love, being an extension of what you all have already started, which was so beautiful. I'm gonna ask you the question, we asked everybody on the last part of the podcast that the slogan of the Stitch Please podcast is that we will help you get your stitch together. So I'm going to ask you both. I'm going to ask for Queenora first, because maybe she knew I was going to ask the question. So maybe she's been thinking about it. I don't know. I just chose that. So Queenora, you, now today you get some extra time, what is your recommendation or your advice to help us get our stitch together?

Queenora  36:19  

Honestly, Iwould just say enjoy the process. Enjoy where you are now. Don't try to put the cart before the horse, like my mommy say. Enjoy being a beginner, but advanced beginner, wherever you are, enjoy where you are. I think sometimes we look to where we want to be with such anticipation of ooh, I want to get to point B, C, D, but just enjoy where you are. And it will make the journey so much more fulfilling. It really will. 

Lisa Woolfork  36:48  

That's beautiful. Thank you so much, Janine, how about you? How would you tell us to get our stitch together?

Janine LeCour  36:54  

I remember you asked me this at QuiltCon and I went, what?

Lisa Woolfork  37:00  

You had a good answer.

Janine LeCour  37:01  

I don't remember what I said, I blanked out that whole entire conversation. I was like, what happened? It happened but it was all fine. So I don't know what I said. But what I would say is that I think it's important. If you have to reach out to people, I would say to that you have to take that leap of faith, you have to take that awkwardness and you're gonna feel, being like, "Hi You don't know me, but I like your work". Or "I have a question about something". It doesn't hurt to ask a question. I hope I will never be a person who will be like, I don't have time to just answer this question. Because I know that I needed that when I was first starting out and I felt, when you're doing this and yes, I have a design background, I went to you know, design school, but it still is very lonely. And also nerve-wracking because you do not know what you do not know. You're like, I have questions, and yeah, just keep asking people like, reach out. If you have a question about working with an artist when you want to see, you never know, you never know what that artist might say. You never know what the designer, when I reach out to other designers because I have questions, I have no idea if they will give me the brush off or if they will be like "Hey, yeah, I can answer that question for you real quick". That's it. It will help you grow. It'll help if you're having a business. It'll help your business grow. It'll help you grow personally just asking a simple question. So, I would definitely say, best thing you can do is ask questions, reach out to people and put yourself out there. I think I did a good job. That was good.

Lisa Woolfork  38:40  

You did a great job. You did a great job last time too. I just gotta run the tape. But You totally did a great job. Y'all. Thank you so much for being with us today. Thank you very much to Queenora Irvin, and to Janine LeCour, for speaking with us today about Black Magic Leopard. Thank you all so much for the gift that is this fabric. We are incredibly grateful. 

Janine LeCour  39:03  

Thank you. 

Intro  39:05  

You've been listening to Stitch Please. The official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you joining us this week, and every week for stories that center Black women girls and femmes in sewing. We invite you to join the Black Women Stitch Patreon community with giving levels beginning at $5 a month. Your contributions help us bring the Stitch Please podcast to you every week. Thank you for listening. Thank you for your support, and come back next week, and we'll help you get your stitch together.

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.