Marianne Fons, J.Crew, and patchwork everywhere!

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:

Mom and that shoe!

Mom and that shoe!

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.

So chic, so patchworky.

So chic, so patchworky.

 

Nice one, J.Crew.

Maybe if I get married someday…

April 1, 2014   4 Comments

10 Tips For Hosting a Quilting How-To Show On the Internet (For Katy Jones, Who Is Doing Great Already)

Katy Jones is host of Quilt Monkey, the new show on QNNtv.com. Welcome, Ms. Jones!

Katy Jones is host of Quilt Monkey, the new show on QNNtv.com. Welcome, Ms. Jones!

“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!

Love,
Mary”

March 13, 2014   2 Comments

Calling Chicagoland Quilty-ers!

Aw, yeah!

Hi, everyone.

We’ve got a Quilty taping coming up at the end of March — that’s next month. If you’re in the Chicagoland area, let me know. I’m looking for several guests for the “This Is My Quilt” feature and a quilter or two to hang out and make a block with me on the show.

The shoot takes place in Chicago (Pilsen neighborhood.) We’re taping on March 28th, 29th, and 30th. Episodes have a magazine component (and vice versa.) We’re interested in beginners, advanced quilters, and quilters in between. Taping a show takes about an hour and you’ll sign a release form. It’s really fun to be on Quilty.

Wanna do it? If you’re available and in town, email me at Mary @ QnnTV.com and let’s talk it over.

Happy Saturday,
Mary

February 16, 2014   9 Comments

Quilt Magazines: The Agony of An Error

Stare at this delicious cupcake and remember: you love magazines. You do!

Stare at this delicious cupcake and remember: you love magazines. You do!

 

Donna, this one’s for you.

I got an email the other day from a delightful lady who alerted me to a possible error in the Jan/Feb ’14 issue of Quilty. Here’s what she had to say — and I’ll tell you right now, she was right.

“I decided to make the quilt entitled Twists & Turns on pages 28 thru 31.  I cut as instructed, but discovered an error when I attempted to join the blocks.

The directions tell you to cut the E rectangles at 2 1/2″ x 8 1/2″.  I did that, but came up with a block that is too short.  The block produced by the E rectangles (cut as you directed) produces a 4″ x 8″ finished block.  It should produce an 8″ square block.  THE DIRECTIONS SHOULD HAVE YOU CUT THE E RECTANGLE AT 4 1/2″ x 8 1/2″.

The square section which is joined to the E rectangles uses four Bs and one 4 1/2″ square and produces an 8″ finished square.”

Drat. I sent this along to the technical team and indeed, Miss Donna had discovered an error. Before I share the message (and the lesson) we take from errors, here are the two corrections pertaining to the green solid in  Twists & Turns on p. 28 of the Jan/Feb ’14 issue:

Materials
3 1/4 yards green solid (not 2 yards)

Cutting
From green solid, cut:
10 (8 1/2″-wide) strips. From strips, cut 80 (4 1/2″ x 8 1/2″) E rectangles.

First, note that we post any and all corrections to patterns on the HeyQuilty.com website. Click the Magazine tab and drop down to “Corrections.” There, you’ll find any errata that has occurred in Quilty. There isn’t much, but as we’ve just seen, it happens. This correction will be posted there, too, but it’s even quicker for me to blog about it, so I’m taking the opportunity to do so and to talk about published errors.

I’ve made a lot of quilts, and there have been plenty of occasions when I couldn’t get something to fit or go or otherwise look pretty so I pursed my lips and put my hands on my hips and declared with conviction — and not a little anger: “There is something wrong with this pattern!”  I did this, loudly, only to find when I came back to the sewing table the next day the problem was me and my brain, not the directions. Thus, I usually look at a problem with a quilt pattern as an opportunity to sit still, put down the rotary cutter and slowly go through the pattern again to make sure I understand what’s being instructed. I also take sample blocks very seriously; I don’t cut out a whole quilt until I make a sample block. Aside from making sure I like my fabric choices, I  ensure I can make one of the darned things at all.

A quilt pattern magazine like Quilty or Love of Quilting is in the business of publishing perfect patterns. That’s our job. Getting incorrect patterns is like going to a nice hotel and finding you have no hot water in your shower. A hotel’s job is to give you a bed and  a shower with hot water – that’s their business model. It’s safe to say that 100% of nice hotels pride themselves in being able to guarantee a hot shower 99% of the time. Well, 100% quilt pattern magazines promise perfect patterns 99% of the time, too.

But we’re  human. Robots don’t write patterns; people do. And computers can only calculate the numbers that humans give them. Every so often, you turn on the shower in your (nice) hotel room at 5am and there’s no hot water and you have to go down to the lobby in your bathrobe and glasses and speak very sternly to the night desk lady who is scared of you.** Sometimes you find that there’s a typo in a quilt pattern and you spend two hours going nuts before you realize that yes, there’s actually something wrong in the pattern, and you write to the company and they post a blog about it and update the corrections page.

We’re sorry.

We are! That’s the truth. Whenever a mistake happens, we feel more than bad. We feel sheepish and lame. We feel worse than you do and we know you feel lousy as all get-out, what with the cut fabric and the time spent, etc.

It’s not an excuse, but I do want to play PR gal for a second and mention the fact (!) that F&P publishes hundreds of patterns each year. Hundreds! That’s a lot of seam allowances, friends. We do our utmost and our very best to set the industry standard, and I think we do. It’s honestly a point of personal pride, if I may say so for two seconds: that’s my family name up there, after all. Nice to know it means something.

Donna? I hope you’re still reading. You might’ve just gotten the correction and gotten back to sewing. We support that decision, as always.

January 30, 2014   20 Comments

Sew It All, Volume 7: Mary + Ellen = Potholder Magic!

Do you know Sew It All?

Sew It All is a show on PBS and a magazine, too. Created and hosted by the lovely, delightful, and talented Ellen March, Sew It All strives to help sewists everywhere a) get better at what they love to do and b) get inspired by great projects. Sew It All does a great job at both of these pursuits and I had the great pleasure to get involved with Sew It All not too long ago. I took Ellen through a cute potholder project: it’s a real neat, fast project that helps teach quilting skills and did I mention it can be made real fast? It can. Here she is!

Cute, right? And it keeps your paws safe!

Cute, right? And it keeps your paws safe!

If you wanna make it, I highly recommend doing so — it was fun to make. And not only are the directions in the magazine, Ellen and I did an episode on the Sew It All show, so if you wanna watch it going together, there’s that, too. Does this sound like a plug? IT TOTALLY IS! Quilty is just one of the neat shows in the family around here that wants to help you be better at sewing and quilting. When a magazine and a show work together (like Quilty, and like Sew It All) it’s a great duo for teaching. You’ve got two resources. Two = better than one. Right? Right.

Here’s what Volume 7 of Sew It All looks like so you can make a beeline for it at the newsstand or at your LQS:

Loving the purple, Ellen!

Loving the purple, Ellen!

 

And here’s me and Ellen hangin’ out on the set. I’m telling you, this March lady is pretty cool. Thank you so much for having me on the show, Sew It All. I’d love to come back — and Ellen, when are you going to be on Quilty?? The invitation stands. :)

These girls are sewing machines. Get it?? "Sewing MACHINES"?? LOL

These girls are sewing machines. Get it?? “Sewing MACHINES”?? tee hee

January 24, 2014   11 Comments

Spooly Lives! (And so does the Quilty blog…)

A match made in heaven! (Please ignore my hair.)

A match made in heaven! (Please ignore my hair.)

Folks, I’ve been gone and it’s not okay. But there’s a reason.

Spooly and I are in love. We escaped to Mexico. We eloped. It was very romantic and very crazy of us, of course. But what could we do? Our love isn’t anything that our families would accept. And society! What will society think?? Posting this is terrifying, but we will not live in the shadows any longer! I love you, Spooly!

Okay. Enough of that nonsense.

The picture above is one I just took here at my desk. It’s Monday, January 6th, and the holiday party is officially over. Everyone is at their respective places with sunshiney faces, hopefully, and we’re all getting back into the swing of things. Personally, I like it. After awhile, the holiday malaise sets in and a person just wants to have a few emails to send. Yes, I just said that I wanted to send emails. I blame all the eggnog.

Perhaps one of the best moments of the entire holiday was when I got a package from Courtney Kraig, the Quilty art director. Somehow, inexplicably, she fabricated a Spooly. It’s a plushie Spooly for heaven’s sake!!! I cried when I opened it, I really did. I love it so much, Courtney! You’re amazing and so is this little toy, which is no sitting in a place of honor, just above my computer. Thank you.

Please ignore my hair in this picture. I can’t blame it on the eggnog, but I work from home so these things are acceptable. Sorry it took me a minute on the blog, y’all. We’ll be seeing more of you now. Spooly and I are settled into our love nest.

:)
Mary

January 6, 2014   9 Comments

Quilt Market Comes To You…

Just a few special members of the Quilty/Fons & Porter team -- we got our faces painted on rocks! Really, like actual rocks.

Just a few special members of the Quilty/Fons & Porter team — we got our faces painted on rocks! Really, like actual rocks.

Greetings from Houston Quilt Market!

You know, I was putting a picture up on Facebook and something hit me: are people who don’t go to Quilt Market super annoyed when everyone who goes to Quilt Market talks incessantly about it?

Seriously.

In the weeks before the show, it’s all we industry peeps talk about. The week of the show, you’d think we were on Mars for all the availability we have for things like…well, anything else. After the show is done, we have to “dig out,” as we call it, which takes at least as much time as it does to prepare to go. Some people out there (I’m thinking spouses, non-quilting friends, fellow guild members, our cats) might not love Quilt Market as much as everyone who goes seems to, more or less.

On top of that, it you’re like me, you might get a  bit blue if you’re not going — like everyone else, I like to be where the party is. Mind you, I don’t want to stay terribly long, but I do want to be there for at least a little while.

So in the interest of this little revelation I’ve had, I thought I’d list three important things about Quilt Market:

1. Whatever we see at Market, non-attending quilters will also see. Soon. Promise. That’s the whole point.
2. There’s always a first time attendee who is having the best 4 days of her entire life thus far. And there’s someone who is having the “worst Market ever.” Most people are in between.

3. Around every corner there is extraordinary inspiration. But that’s no different from any other place on earth.

 

October 28, 2013   11 Comments

This Summer… The Scrap Quilt Reigns! (Calling All Submissions)

Quilty editorial meetings are always a lot of fun, but last week, we discussed something EXTRA neat: next summer (that’s 2014), we’re going to do a Special Totally Scrap Quilt Issue! Yeah! A whole issue of Quilty, devoted to the “scrap frenzy” that overtakes us all eventually. And yes, magazines work this far in advance: I guarantee you that the summer issue will be in production before we/you know it.

Because our art director was too busy working on the Jan/Feb ’14 issue, I made special artwork to help advertise it. I apologize in advance:

I'm better with paper and pencil, I swear. Computer art eludes me.

Making computer art that doesn’t look like it was made by a 5-year-old eludes me.

This is exciting! It’ll be the first time ever that we’re focusing an entire issue of Quilty on one idea.

The whole issue is going to be devoted to the glorious scrap quilt and we want to get the BEST scrap quilts in America (Canada, too) for the magazine. We usually run 13 projects, give or take one, and we haven’t begun selecting quilts for the summer issue, yet. That means that we have 13 slots open right now for…YOU. Yes, you. If you’ve got a scrap quilt in mind (or one that’s already finished, that’s okay, too) we would love to see your stuff.

Visit the Submission Guidelines page for the basics on submissions. You need to read this for sure, so don’t skip it. But note that for this issue, we’re taking only quilts that focus on using scraps. You DO NOT need to use 100% scraps, though; as long as the main idea of your quilt is scrappiness, you can use your favorite fabrics along with it. We like fabric companies. We like to buy fabric. So do that. But keep “SCRAP QUILT” in the forefront of your mind, here.

Remember: Quilty is friend to the beginner. So keep it simple. Remember that “simple” is not synonymous with “yawn,” however. Make the coolest, most gorgeous, most awesomest, beginner-level scrap quilt in the world, basically. Simple as that! And if you inch up to “intermediate,” we won’t immediately knock you off the list. But if your quilt is fabulous and something a new quilter can make? You just advanced to round two.

Deadline: Until further notice. When we have the quilts we want, we’ll let you know. I can tell you that the cutoff will be sometime in March.

Anyway, that’s the announcement and the scoop. So get crackin’ and we’ll see you this (scrappy) summer!

:)
Mary

 

October 15, 2013   17 Comments

Fons and Porter, The Early Years

I was looking for a pattern the other day and I found this in my magazine stacks:

They look mahhhvelous.

Impossibly great. 

That’s my mom, on the left there. And on the right, it’s Liz Porter. Above their heads, we see the magazine title, “Sew Many Quilts” — which, if you’ve been around for a minute, switched to “Love of Quilting” not terribly long after this magazine was on newsstands. Long story.

But just look at ‘em. Young. Full of ambition and ideas. Wearing denim shirts, the both of them, which is a funny story: for a minute on TV, Mom and Liz decided to wear matching denim shirts because they were so sick of having to buy a zillion outfits that worked on camera. I think that lasted one season. Then there was the season with the aprons. That didn’t last long, either.

Looking back to Mom and Liz’s early days is really heartening — and not just for me, I hope. We all start somewhere. We all start differently. Some of us have awesome upbringings and love our family; other people can’t wait to get out. Some people are good in school, some people…well, can’t wait to get out. Some folks have a head start, some don’t; some people take a head start and waste it, some people don’t; some people take a chance, some people take a bigger one, etc., etc.

I hope today you go for it. Maybe it’s patchwork. Maybe it’s something at work. Maybe it’s a friendship that needs a tweak or a relationship that needs a goose. (That’s supposed to be funny!) Whatever it is, just go for it. Mom and Liz sure did. They had families to feed and great ideas to share. They really did “sew many quilts” and they really did have a “love of quilting.”

And aren’t we all glad they did?

September 30, 2013   14 Comments

Georgia Quilt Show — wow.

I’m here at the Georgia Quilt Show and yesterday, I was able to view about 20% of the quilts before I did a demo. The quilts are so great, I could’ve stopped there and gone home happy. Lucky for me, there were even more quilts to see.

There’s a whole exhibit of Quilty magazine quilts, an incredible competition quilt gallery, and other cool mini-galleries, like those for the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild and for 15 Minutes of Play, Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s awesome quilt-making method.

Chicago Modern Quilt Guild mini-gallery!

Chicago Modern Quilt Guild mini-gallery!

"Little Black Dress," by Mary Fons (that's me!) featured in Quilty magazine this year.

“Little Black Dress,” by Mary Fons (that’s me!) featured in Quilty magazine this year.

As much as you can, as often as you can, go to quilt shows. Big ones, little ones, whichever ones you can get to and whatever fits into your budget, make it happen. Quilt shows are inspiring, both artistically and technically speaking. You might get great ideas from Quilt X and Quilt Z, and be moved to create “perfect” patchwork when you see Quilt A. All of this is good. 

And of course, here at the Georgia Quilt Show, there are classes, workshops, vendors — all sorts of things that we quilt geeks love. There are friends here, too, and familiar faces. A big crowd, too!

Thanks, Georgia Quilt Show — and every other quilt show going on right now, both big and small.

September 21, 2013   3 Comments