As I finished up the manuscript to my most recent book, I decided to add this story to the welcome page. As you open the book, the first thing you will find is this little tidbit from my childhood.
When I thought about what I wanted to write to you here first, I thought I might start you off with the same story as I did in the book.
I am glad to share this creative journey with you and hope that you enjoy our site and work.
This is a little story that my mom recently reminded me about. I had all but forgotten it ever happened but knew that it was a good as place as any to start a story about me…
Apparently the very first time I visited the United States and thus found myself on a very long trans-Atlantic flight, I was 3 ½ years old. Suffice it to say that I was a bubbly and extroverted little girl who wanted nothing to do with sitting in a plane seat for hours at a time. As the story goes, my mom searched frantically for something to occupy my time. Finding nothing better, she handed me a small bag of mismatched buttons and a needle and thread and sent me on my way. What happened next entertained not only me but the entire crew and all the passengers I could get my hands on. For the next 5 hours, I meticulously sewed buttons to the pant legs and sleeves of any aisle customers who would give me the time of day. I intently tried to use every last button in my little bag. Apparently, no one objected and I was mesmerized and entranced by the process. Before I knew it, the plane flight was over and all of my neighbors had more buttons on their clothes than they had started off with! A sewer might well have been born that day.
It would be a long time before I would remember that story and I am not quite sure exactly why I wanted to share it with you here. I thought at the very least it would give you one more insight into how much our lives can come full circle without our slightest knowledge or planning. Who knows where you started out and where you might land. In some small way, I hope to be a part of that journey for you as you work through the “pages” of this site. Welcome.
Many of you have asked about our story, about how it is that we’re “figs” and about how we started out. So here’s a bit of the story...
My parents always told me that it was clear that it was in my blood, making art and selling things! What a seemingly odd combination... When I was 8 years old, I held my first backyard art show where I convinced all the neighbors on our street that they each had to have a Joanna original for their walls. Apparently my pitch worked and I made $5.00 that day which was a fortune to me at the time! Not only did I finish the afternoon with more money than I had ever earned but a little mustard seed had been tucked deep inside my soul. I could make art, and I could sell it. People would buy it.
From then on it seems that regardless what else I was doing or studying at the time, I was also doing some kind of art. As I grew older the art changed- paintings changed to drawings & sketches, to cards & stationary, to jewelry, to pottery. In college I became fascinated with graphic design and the art of papermaking & printmaking. I worked on huge handmade paper canvases that wove in a variety of other mediums. I created my own prints with abandon. But when I discovered fabric and quilting, I knew immediately that this was the medium for me. It drew me in from the moment I sat down with needle and thread. It was a coming home kind of experience for me that was different from any other I had experienced before.
My company first started off as "Figlets", selling small quilted pillows, wall hangings and other accessories in local boutiques, art shows and street fairs. We worked hard to keep up with demand but as a young mother I quickly realized that I couldn’t manage the pace. Soon after I began working at my local quilt shop, first as an employee and then as a quilt and sewing teacher. The need for good patterns propelled me quickly down the path of designing my own quilt and sewing patterns. It wasn’t long before that itch to make art and sell it, resurfaced for me and FIG TREE was born. The rest is a whirlwind of good timing, good people and, we think, good design.
Why "Fig Tree" many of you have asked? Is it a particular fondness for the fruit? A Biblical reference? A childhood memory? Actually, it’s not all that profound. Instead its all about my husband Eric [at least that’s what we like to tell him]! Being that our last name is Figueroa, his friends have referred to him with the nickname of "FIG" ever since Junior High School. And since we often call our kids the Figlets and Eric runs all the background and production work of the company, we couldn’t think of a more appropriate name than FIG TREE. And so FIG TREE & COMPANY was born.
So now you’ve read a little bit about our history and where we’ve come from. Today at FIG TREE & COMPANY, we produce over 150 quilting, sewing and children’s patterns and thematic booklets. We focus our quilting designs on classic patterns with fresh and innovative methods so that they are accessible to every level of sewer. No complicated templates here! Our sewing patterns are made with the beginning and intermediate sewer in mind and focus on using quilting terminology so that quilters do not have to be intimidated to cross over into sewing projects. We compliment our quilting and sewing designs with whimsical and charming accessory and children’s patterns. We love to make little animals and other fun goodies. Think- mice, snails and goldfish! We are addicted to making pincushions as well as purses so you will be able to find something that suits your needs for sure!
Each year we design 3 fabric collections of licensed designs for MODA Fabrics and we are currently working on our 24th fabric collection if you can believe it! It hardly seems possible when you look at the numbers! To read a bit more about our fabrics and how to find them, please see our FABRICS page or read through our Fabric FAQs.
We publish Fresh Vintage™ which is our quarterly style magazine with color and style advice, book reviews, recipes, ideas and at least two full size patterns per issue. At its unbeatable price, Fresh Vintage™ is perfect for anyone who is a Fig Tree fan. If you are interested, you should email us for auto ship information.
We organize year round trunk shows and trade shows of our products and collaborate on books and magazines with our favorite publishers. We work on the Fig Tree Club, which is available in dozens fabric stores both online and brick & mortar stores nationally. If you are a store, contact us if you are interested in any of the above.
We travel several times a year to do national and international teaching engagements and seminars. Unfortunately due to our design schedule and our commitment to our family, we decline more invitations than we accept. If you are a store, guild or retreat venue that is interested in having Joanna come speak, please contact us to see our availability. Please see the calendar for our upcoming engagements.
We are always working on new projects so who quite knows where we might go next!
When I bought my first antique quilt at a garage sale (for $7), I fell in love with the art of quilting. But when I made my first simple quilt, I fell in love with the process of quilting. After that I was hooked! It was as if something inside of me had “clicked”. For me, quilting is a perfect combination of art and practicality. I can be totally creative and totally utilitarian at the same time, knowing that what I create is both beautiful and can be used to keep my kids warm!
Vintage quilts and unusual vintage color combinations seem to inspire most of my designs. I can't seem to go anywhere without seeing patterns or color combinations for potential quilts--in nature, in greeting cards, in wrapping paper, or in dishware & pottery. My favorite quilts utilize a patchwork design that shows off the fabric and color. I am not drawn to complex quilt or pattern designs unless they truly showcase a fabric combination or palette in a way that another pattern would not. Whether vintage, soft, bold, contemporary, warm and cuddly, masculine, or romantic, I believe that any feeling or emotion can be communicated through a well-chosen palette of color, pattern, and texture.
The possibilities are truly endless and I love working in an industry that is constantly reinventing itself as it creates new beauty. As both a fabric designer and a pattern designer, I feel like I get to play in both worlds. As I work on fabric designs, I am able to think about what patterns would go best with each collection, how the prints are going to work cut up and how the various designs will work together in the quilting process. As I am working on the flip side, the quilt and sewing patterns, I am always thinking about what fabric designs will work best with the next set of pattern ideas in my head, what colors and tones would add that extra “pop” to a particular kind of project and what scales of prints we need for visual interest. It is a good symbiotic relationship as far as I am concerned and I love the interplay of the two worlds. I feel blessed to be doing my job.
Besides quilting, I am passionate about searching for vintage textiles of any kind, antique toys, painted furniture, and ceramics--anything that seems loved and well used…anything with personality you might say. In any spare moment that is not already dedicated to something else, you will find my scouring flea markets and junk sales to see what textile or vintage treasure might be around the corner. My husband says I have an unnatural love of bowls and painted chairs!! Can you relate? My husband, Eric, and my three kids [ages 7 to 14] are my truest inspiration and the core of the "Fig Tree team". Besides being in charge of all production, Eric is truly my right hand man when it comes to marketing, bookkeeping, trade shows and the website. Now that you've read about me… I'd love to hear about you. I'd especially like to hear what you enjoy about quilting or sewing and what you enjoy about our designs. If you want to receive regular updates about Fig Tree & Co., our new patterns and whatever else we happen to be thinking about, then add yourself to our mailing list. We look forward to getting to know you and serving you as best we can.
At this point we really are a team effort and I wanted to thank each one of you who work to help us quilt, piece, applique, edit, construct patterns, and generally assist us in creating the best possible products for our customers.
Thank you Vickie, Diana, Cheryl, Kathleen, Caeli, Gabbie, Sherri, Valerie and Kayli.
We couldn’t do it without you, with much gratitude, Joanna and Eric
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Threads - Fiona