You know how it is when you fall in love with a quilt pattern and you HAVE TO MAKE IT RIGHT NOW?
That happens to me all the time.
I recently came across this pattern in an old Love of Quilting magazine. It’s an antique kaleidoscope pattern created from a quilt at the International Quilt Study Center, which is the coolest place on earth, by the way.
If you love it as much as I do, you should give it a shot, but before you do, learn from my experience and know this:
1. It’s paper-piecing, which I love but some people definitely do not
2. There are no curved seams, which some people love but I definitely do not (so yay!)
3. The lights and darks matter way more than you think they do
Let’s talk about that third thing. See my quilt up there? Compare it to the quilt from the illustration. I ain’t gettin’ no kaleidoscope in my quilt, am I? No, I am not. As I was making blocks, I really thought I was in the clear. I thought the lights I was using were light enough that they would be in contrast — albeit low — to the darks I had selected. I LOVED all my fabrics. I LOVED making the blocks. I thought I was good.
Then I laid out what I had on the floor of my apartment. Hm.
As you can see, this quilt is not giving me the look I want. But I had worked hours on it! What to do?? I could’ve ripped apart my blocks and set them to the side and taken a risk to continue with my quilt using new, higher-contrast fabrics and blended these blocks through. Depending on the size of my quilt (I was going for queen) this could work. Maybe.
But what I decided to do instead was finish up five or so of the blocks I was ready to make and call it a scrappy baby quilt. It’s still a very adorable little bit of patchwork…it’s just not gonna work for what I originally intended. In fact, it’s going to go into Quilty magazine in 2015, so you can make your own version and try to get that kaleidoscope look if you want.
Anyhow, that’s my little lesson for today. Contrast really does matter. And sometimes, you need to make more than a few “sample” blocks to see if you’re getting the pattern you want. One or two sample blocks probably wouldn’t have shown me what I needed: I needed more of the quilt to see (or not see) the pattern emerge.
Good thing I love making patchwork and quilts, right? I mean, even when you screw up, it’s still the best thing ever.
October 17, 2014 2 Comments
We get to have so many wonderful people step into the Quilty set.
As my sister and Quilty producer Rebecca Fons will tell you, it’s not always easy managing all the people who we invite onto the show. It’s a lot of logistics for a flurry of activity just two weekends a year. Everything needs to be in place, with a backup, before the gun fires and everyone takes off running to the finish line. But when the guests come in, it’s a little quilt love party and that makes it worthwhile.
Last shoot, we welcomed Tisha Nagel (not Tischa with a “c” as she kindly pointed out) to the Quilty fold and she made an extra good impression. How come? Well, not only did she come with the fabulous quilt you see up there being hung by our crew, but she brought gifts. Like, really good ones. She brought gourmet goodies for me and Rebecca and potholders, too, which of course she made herself. A potholder might not sound like that big of a deal, but it was homemade. And it was in special fabric just for me, too.
Tisha has a great blog called Quilty Therapy (no relation to this Quilty, but certainly a friend) and she’s very active in the Indiana Modern Quilt Guild. She has an adorable child and an equally adorable husband and in general, Tisha is great — not because she brought prezzies* but because she’s a great example of today’s quilter: energetic, curious, creative, and passionate about quilts. Whatever age you are, whatever skill level you’re working, if you call yourself a quilter in 2015, you’re in good company.
Tisha, this one’s for you. Watch her episode at QNNtv.com, too.
October 6, 2014 No Comments
We look like we’re getting engaged or something!
That’s me (Mary) and the lovely and talented Amy Ellis on the set of Love of Quilting, having just taped a fabulous, info-packed, energetic episode on Amy’s gorgeous star quilt.
Amy sewed at the Babylock, I helped cut pieces, we did improv piecing, set-in seams, AND found time for just a touch of “Hey, we’re friends sewing together!” patter. All in all, a great show. Amy and I are both Babylock spokespeople, so off camera, we chatted about our machines and the new, totally incredible Destiny machine that is coming out soon.
You know why I like Amy Ellis? Well, aside from the fact she gives me a great home-quilting article to run in each issue of Quilty? I asked Amy to be a guest on Quilty when we shoot in November…and she said no. That’s right: she turned me down. The reason? She’s been traveling a ton and wants to be home with her kids.
Amy, you rock.
Thank you for saying no. Being on Quilty would be really great, and I know you want to do it because you told me you did. But I think it’s really awesome that family comes first, that you know your boundaries, that you actually stick to them, and that you have faith that you’ll probably be able to be on Quilty another time.
Here’s to you, Amy! Now go make some rice krispie treats with those kiddos.
September 25, 2014 No Comments
I’m working on planning the first half of Season 5 for Quilty. It’s takes a tremendous amount of brainpower to coordinate the show and the magazine — and believe me, I have made mistakes. But we’ve all done this Quilty “thing” long enough to know a little about how to do it. And as I set up episodes and plan quilts, I get very excited to be on set with the crew, including our newest addition: the BabyLock Tiara.
I have one. And Quilty the show has one. And it’s funny to watch guests and the crew go, “Woooah… What is that??” when she’s all unveiled and has all her doo-dads on and the TruStitch Regulator glowing nearby. (I have a little cloth doll that I stuck on the top of mine and I’ll make sure to put Spooly on top of the set’s machine this season; Rebecca, remind me!)
When I learned to make quilts, I learned piecing first. Quilting came later and that’s okay. Many of my quilts are finished by a longarmer, simply because I am usually working under publication/editorial deadlines and several quilts have to be done and turned in at once. But when I quilt at home, I use my Tiara. It’s a free-motion mid-arm machine, which means that you move the quilt under the stationary needle, as opposed to a long arm, which works by moving the needle around on the stationary quilt (nice if you can get one, but a longarm hardly fits in my apartment in Chicago, much less where I am in NYC right now.)
We haven’t gotten Matt Hyland, sound engineer, to make a quilt, yet, but I’m going to make sure he practices a bit more on the Tiara when we shoot in a couple months. It’s very, very fun to quilt on the machine; “addictive” doesn’t quite cover it. We’ll get him, yet!
August 26, 2014 No Comments
There’s no question that Team Quilty is pretty great. From the sound engineer on the show to Heather, Magnificent Step-Out Helper, to Sheyenne, who does all the crazy linking and url’ing from show to page and back, to Diane, who gets contracts to every last person who has a quilt featured in the magazine to — well, I could go on.
Our art director, Courtney, makes the pages of Quilty look pretty and make sense. But she does much more than that. She handles photography deadlines with grace while trying to make them square with deadlines for layouts, all while suggesting cool ideas (e.g., “Let’s take a picture of a quilt on a chain link fence!”) She also deals with silly requests from the editor — ahem — who, when editing the Sep/Oct ’14 issue, for example, decides that Spooly needs to be featured in a Halloween costume.
She doesn’t have the time to draw it, so… Courtney? Could you? Could you puleease??
Are you seeing what she did??
SPOOLY IS AN ALLIGATOR.
Or a dinosaur.
Maybe a toothy frog??
It doesn’t matter. He’s wonderful. And ladies and gentlemen, this is Courtney Kraig for you. Brilliant, talented, and she like, “gets it.” Which is a pretty rare thing. I mean, this is a talking spool of thread we’re looking at. Oh, and when I freaked out on her for doing such an amazing job and making me squeal out loud with glee when I saw it, Courtney replied, “lol — I think Spooly’s just really stoked to have feet!”
July 23, 2014 No Comments
I’m working on a neat Quilty book called “Dear Quilty.” Wanna be in it? Okay, here’s the deal.
Quilty’s been existence for four years, now. We’ve grown, we’ve improved, we’ve learned. And we know that you, dear Quilty reader/watcher/quilter have done the same. We know because you write to me (Mary), or Spooly, or Team Quilty in general and you tell us so.
I want to include letters from readers in the book. Because you’re just as important as the shows and the magazine and the whole Quilty “thing.” I mean, without you…we don’t get very far. Besides, Spooly likes the attention.
And so, I’m looking for great letters to Quilty. Shoot for 50-150 words, with images or without, and post them here in a comment field, or, if you’d like more privacy, you can send a message via the Quilty Facebook page or email Mary at mary.fons @ fwmedia .com (no spaces.) Okay? Pictures are great, as long as they’re high-resolution (300dpi or above.) At this time, we’re only doing email or posted comment letters; no regular mail entries.
Just tell Mary, Spooly, and/or the Team how Quilty has affected your life as a quilter. We know for a fact some people are 100% Quilty-taught quilters. Is that you? Tell us about it. Love the show/mag? What is it about the Quilty style that appeals to you? The more specific you can be — and if there’s a funny story that you think is good — all the better. Just telling us you like the show or the magazine is great (and appreciated), but to make it into the book…your letter’s gotta be extra sparkly.
We’ll get your picture in there. And it’ll be awesome. I can wrangle you a free copy. I’m not sure how many letters can be included, but I’ll gather 20 and then go from there.
Cool? Cool. I look forward to reading your letters!
June 17, 2014 No Comments
Okay, get ready for this. I found my escape, my runaway hiding place. There is a Quilty, Ireland. It’s a real town. It’s in Ireland. And there’s a cottage for rent.
Goodbye, cruel world.
By the way, it’s rented pretty much through the end of forever, according to the online calendar thingy. But you can try!
May 20, 2014 5 Comments
As an editor and host of a couple TV shows, I do get a measure of gratis stuff. Quash those pangs of jealousy — it’s not that much stuff (and it’s not like I spend time rolling around in it like Scrooge McDuck.) But the odd fat quarter bundle, tool, or newest book release does cross the transom here at ol’ Quilty HQ and those goodies have been piling up for far too long.
It’s time to pass the freebies onto you!
I have created 12 totally random, totally mish-mashed (but great) Quilty Goodie Giveaway Boxes of varying sizes and you, yes you, Quilty fan, can enter to win one. All you have to do is answer a question about a Quilty magazine subscription. Answer honestly — your answer holds exactly zero bearing on your chances to win. We just want to take the temperature on this one.
If you tweet about the contest and like us on Facebook, you get more virtual raffle tickets/chances to win! Neat, huh?
I enlisted help in getting this Rafflecopter thingamajig to work, so if you just click on this thingy down here, you’ll go through the entry. This will keep everything randomized and raffle-ized so there’s no need for me to print out all your entries and select names from a bag. I did that once. It took a long time.
The giveaway starts tomorrow at 10 am and goes till Wednesday. Once we’ve got our winners, you’ll be contacted via email. Good luck!
May 4, 2014 36 Comments
Yesterday, my mom and I were in a J.Crew in Chicago. We were there because my younger sister (and Mom’s youngest daughter and Quilty producer) Rebecca Fons was looking at…wedding dresses! She did find a dress yesterday, but not at “the Crew.” The trip was hardly a waste. I mean, look at this:
Those are quarter-square triangles!
I love it when patchwork motifs show up in the outside world. These shoes are too expensive at $300, so I think waiting for a sale is the way to go. But Mom made me try them on — seriously, she made me — and then she needed to take a picture.
Nice one, J.Crew.
Maybe if I get married someday…
April 1, 2014 6 Comments
10 Tips For Hosting a Quilting How-To Show On the Internet (For Katy Jones, Who Is Doing Great Already)
“Dear Katy Jones:
Mary Fons, here, welcoming you to QNNtv.com! You have a new show, “Quilt Monkey” on the site. I’ve watched several of the preview episodes and you’re doing a great job straight out of the gate. I love your crisp, clear instruction and your sense of color and pattern. Fully awesome, all around. Of course, I also love your accent; to you, it’s just your voice, but to those of us across the pond, it’s an accent.
But I’m here to give you a few words of extremely unsolicited advice. Hosting a quilting show is a big responsibility! Thousands and thousands of people watch the great how-to videos on QNNtv.com. That’s a lot of eyeballs. And because our viewers are smart (not to mention extremely attractive) they demand nothing but the best. So here are a few tips to make the show even better and help you further enjoy the job. I’ve done this job for a number of years now, so I feel qualified to share my “Ten Tips For Hosting a Quilting How-To Show On the Internet.” Let’s do this.
1. Coffee. Drink it.
2. Make sure you have a toothbrush and toothpaste on set. (See #1.)
3. No matter what you wear or how you do your hair, someone will hate it or think you’re insane. Being insane is fine, but it’s impossible to please everyone. You think you know that and you may tell yourself that you don’t try, but if you’re like me you still kinda try and then you feel sad when you fail to please everyone. Don’t feel sad. You’re perfect.
4. Always, always get more closeups than you think you need. You can’t go back and get them later. This is an extremely painful lesson to learn the hard way.
5. It’s okay to do lots of shows on half-square triangles. People will always need help with them, there are always new quilters out there, and even if a seasoned quilter knows all about HSTs, she can still be refreshed or see things differently for the project she’s working on presently.
6. Candy. The crew loves it, you love it, right? Bonus: candy can’t leave negative comments!
7. Watching yourself on camera during your post-production work may not be hard for you; for me, it is like having hot bamboo shoots stuck under my fingernails. If this sounds familiar, the only thing I can tell you is that I am with you, my sister. No human being should have to watch hours of footage of themselves. It’s pretty agonizing. You’re beautiful, you’re smart, you’re doing a good job. Just keep telling yourself that. (See #8.)
8. It will get easier. (See opening paragraph about how you’re doing an amazing job already.)
9. My “dressing room” has been and likely always will be a tiny bathroom. If you manage to get an actual dressing room, please tell me how you managed it.
10. The last tip is always where people say, “Have fun!” so I’m not going to say that. Of course you’ll have fun. And of course it’s a tremendous amount of work, but you already know that. This last tip is my phone number. Call me anytime to talk about the new gig: 773-793-XXXX.
…Kristi can give you the last four digits. Go get ‘em, Quilt Monkey!
March 13, 2014 3 Comments