Guarded Garden by Michelle Fitzgerald Guarded Garden by Michelle Fitzgerald

Guarded Garden by Michelle Fitzgerald  Guarded Garden by Michelle Fitzgerald

Guarded Garden by Michelle Fitzgerald Guarded Garden by Michelle Fitzgerald


Guarded Garden

Michelle Fitzgerald, Colorado, USA (Clockwork Faerie)

IG: clockwork_faerie

Self-modelled and photographed


The Design

I am a garden.

Texture was my main inspiration here. Architecture was hard for me to feel inspired by, until I started looking at countryside cottages, thatched roofs, moss-covered doors, and hand-built walls. Ever inspired by nature, this feeling of hand-built and partially taken over by nature was the way forward for me.

Alexander McQueen is my artistic hero. I love how his designs instantly spark and convey strong emotions. The feelings I wanted to communicate were coziness and comfort, but also strength and authority. I wanted to really feel like myself in this garment. The dichotomy of delicate and yet solid is where I am finding my feet.

This design had been bouncing around in my mind for a long time. It changed a lot from my first sketches, where it was originally a short swing coat with bell sleeves.



The Construction

I loved the organic and soft feel of hand-stacked stone walls and warm white plaster, combined with the hard strength of ancient wrought iron door hinges. To convey the hand-stacked feeling I decided to go with quilting this coat.

It’s about 60% machine quilted, and 40% hand-quilted with big stitches (average length ~4mm) in varying colors in-between the rows of machine quilting. The pieces were cut with big seam allowances to account for shrinkage first, then spray-basted together and quilted. Pieces were marked with blue water-soluble pen. Assembly came last. The backing and facing are plain quilting cotton, with a layer of poly micro fleece as the batting/filling. There are no shoulder pads. The face side is a creamy ivory, and the inside is pure white.

The back appliqués are faux-leather. They were cut with scissors, spray-basted to the back after it was quilted, then machine stitched on (straight stitch all around the edge).

I'm a notoriously terrible planner and finisher of projects! This project was great for me to practice those skills. Having the competition was a great motivator!


What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?

It was great to have this "excuse" to do something just for the fun/art of it and not for a client. Even if you don't finish in time for the deadline, I'd definitely encourage you to do it anyway as you'll grow and learn SO MUCH!



This could easily be a part of an exhibition in a museum like the V&A. It is absolutely beautiful - congratulations on an amazing entry.
The play of textures is really well done, and conveys just what you described! Wonderful work!
kitty mortensen
great work, well done! it looks absolutely stunning
I have made several gambesons, be it machine quilted or one time hand quilted (a total bitch to do :p)..So I know how much work and precision goes in to one and you've done it so perfectly and executed it so beautifully. Looks crisp and soft at the same time <3 <3
Beautiful organic rustic textures, so tactile, I really want to touch it. The black applique flows really wonderfully in the design too, it feels old and magical and special. So unusual and lovely x
The quilting and appliqué you have done is just impressive and I love that you have done a coat to interpret the theme.
Jackets and coats have always reminded me of architecture with the structured tailoring that goes into it and with the finishing techniques you have chosen I think it is a perfect match.

Lovely textures and tailoring. I love the quilting and the black wrought iron applique.
This is SO beautiful! Not only a fabulous competition entry, but I hope it's something you'll get lots and lots of wear out of; it's so unique and whimsical and looks very warm!
This is wearable work of art, I would really love to have such piece in my own closet, amazing quilting skills, amazing fit, amazing entry!
All that stitching, it's so tidy. The lines accentuate the shape beautifully and the way the quilting makes it hold that flare is great.
Beautiful shape, and that stitching! Beautiful piece :) x
A wonderful concept and beautiful execution! You did a marvelous job of balancing soft lines and a feeling of comfort with a sense of structure and power. A beautiful entry!
I like the stitching, the shape, the design, the colours, the idea, the... Wow!
I love the simplicity of your design, the hand-quilted details add a lovely texture to the piece. Well done!
The texture is wonderful and the whole piece is gorgeous.
So perfectly detailed! I could see this as a piece in everyone's wardrobe!
marloes dadswell
Fabulous coat! I'm in love with all those stitches!
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