The Quilted Jardin Blog

collection of The Quilted Jardin old postcards and business cards

January 25, 2021

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Fabric Landscapes to Pet Portraits: My Business Journey

People at craft fairs often ask me how The Quilted Jardin got started. Well pull up a chair, get a cuppa as they say in the UK, and I’ll tell you a story that crosses the continent and comes full circle.

New York City – Chicago – Upstate New York

The Quilted Jardin is woven from the generations of my family. The threads of my skill and love for sewing reach back to my mother who sewed all my clothes and taught me to sew as I grew up in Chicago, and beyond to my grandmother, a seamstress in New York City in the early 1900s. Living in upstate New York, after years of sewing quilts and snowmen for friends and family, I found myself with that twitch to sew something different.  

mom pinning costume
brown diamond quilt

My mom adjusting one of the many Halloween costumes she made for me over the years, and a quilt I created

Vermont – Florida – California – Upstate New York:  

 At the 2005 Vermont Quilt Festival, I took a fabric art class called Accidental Landscapes and was hooked. Such amazing results of beaches and mountains without the precision of piecing! The fabric just flowed into vibrant designs from my memory and imagination. My children encouraged me to sell them. I asked my son and his girlfriend to collect seashells on their college spring break to Florida. My daughter, who was working in California as a park ranger, designed my logo. The family stamp of approval was given to the name, and The Quilted Jardin was in business. Jardin is Spanish for garden, honoring my dad’s heritage.

beach themed wall hanging fabric with shells
fabric wall hanging fall themed

Beach and mountain wall hangings embellished with shells and yarn

Washington – Upstate New York: 

I quickly discovered that I needed to modify the technique I was using.  No matter how I tried, there were spots in the mountain peaks and ocean waves that got missed in the top-stitching process. I shifted to raw-edge machine applique without fusing.  

Translation: instead of sewing the closest possible to an ironed down edge, I sewed what looked like an old-fashioned blanket stitch directly at the edge of the fabric. I also did not iron on a special material to prevent the edges from unraveling a bit. My reasoning was that it would be too much to fuse down all the material I would ever use.

One day my daughter emailed me several photos of a hike in the Northern Cascades Mountains with her environmental education graduate school cohort. These just called out to be transformed into fabric, and the results were beyond my wildest imagination. I was painting with material and threads and embellishing with beads as I combined my daughter’s photographs with the wall hangings I was creating. These custom designed fabric collage landscapes became my next passion.

quilted fabric wall hanging of Diablo Lake, Washington
fabric picture of Diablo Lake, Washington

My daughter’s graduate school cohort on a hike in North Cascades National Park, and my fabric rendition of the photo

Upstate New York and Massachusetts

If I could make beautiful art pieces from landscape photos, I wondered if I could make a fabric pet portrait of an animal. This led me to create a simple fabric collage piece of my cat, Niles. 

Niles the cat as fabric pet portrait

Don’t ask me why but I took it to one of my shows in Massachusetts. When asked “Could you do my dog?” I was initially speechless. “Well, I never had done a dog before but I’d be willing to try. What kind of dog do you have?”

I don’t remember what breed it was but I clearly recall thinking, “Oh, fiddlefarts, you’ve never heard of that type of dog before. You might be over your head.” Thinking quickly, I offered “Here are my thoughts. Don’t pay me now. If you like the finished pet portrait, it’s yours and pay me then. If not, that’s fine.” And that was how I started doing fabric pet portraits.    

Birds, houses, landscapes of vacation spots, wedding sites, cherished places (i.e, the site where her son’s ashes were strewn) and even a human portrait – all were done over the years because someone asked if I made it. I learned to reply “Not yet, however I’m willing to try.”

The Quilted Jardin old postcard

As you can see from this 2012 business postcard, my custom work spanned a variety of subjects.

Vermont- Upstate New York – Vermont: 

By 2012 both adult children had settled in Vermont. My son and his girlfriend (now wife) bought a farm and were growing organic vegetables; my daughter and her boyfriend moved back east, got married, and bought a house an hour south of the farm. I love my trips to the farm and also the southern Vermont trips to see my first grandchild. As my professional job took over more time/energy and the business plummeted to almost nothing, my kids encouraged me to retire early and move to Vermont. While it took 8 months of planning, prepping, and patience, in 2016 in a 3 month fell-swoop, I sold my house, left my job, and moved to a new house in Vermont with a studio on the bottom floor.  

I shifted my niche to specialize in pet portraits and pet memorials. It was the perfect blend of my artistic skill and my gift of empathy and compassion for those navigating the path of loss.   

The farm remains an inspiration for my work. I have a whole collection, ON THE FARM, that celebrates the vibrancy of vegetables and the adorable nature of farm animals.

The two farm dogs, Echo and Callie, appear often in my Instagram feed and Facebook posts and on some art pieces. My daughter has become an integral part of the technical end of the business. My 3 grandchildren help bring forth my playful nature and ability to look at the world through different eyes.    

It feels like I have come home.