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.


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?


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   12 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!



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

Time To Tape: Love of Quilting is NOW!

Pop quiz!

Hey, who's the pretty lady on the left? (That's my mom!)

Hey, who’s the pretty lady on the left? (That’s my mom!)

I am in Iowa right now because:

a) there are still fried Snicker Bar crumbs to be found at the Iowa State Fairgrounds
b) it’s time to tape Love of Quilting
c) my stepdad needed me to help him weed the garden
d) Chicago kicked me out

If you answered “b,” you are very smart and impervious to my cheekiness. Indeed, ’tis time for Love of Quilting and I am excited, as usual, to hit the studio. If you’ve never seen the show, check your local PBS listings; we’re on in nearly every state. You can find my mother and me on LOQ via the Internet, too. (The Quilter’s Club of America is a good place to go, but QnnTV.com works nicely, too.)

Today, there was prep. Tomorrow, there will be more on my part. There will be load-in, wardrobe, makeup, sound checks, etc. Taping TV is a really big job and though I’ve been doing it for awhile, now (and hosting/performing for many years prior) it’s always a butterfly-in-muh-ummy kind of a moment when I wake up on the first day. A lot of people watch the show.

So enjoy your back to school or back to reality week next week: I’m “back,” too, and hopefully will be better than ever!

September 6, 2013   25 Comments

What Quilts Do.

"Basket" Doll or small wall hanging quilts by an 80 year old Amish quilt maker who would wish not to be named, or awarded a Blue Ribbon and who does not use rotary cutter or short cut methods. (complements of Rebecca Haarer Arts and Antiques)

Here’s what quilts do. Quilts…

- keep us warm
- make us smile
- help us remember
- keep us busy
- drive us crazy
- make our day
- make someone else’s day
- heal our wounds
- comfort others
- provide snuggle cover
- provide emergency aid
- help us feel better when we’re sick
- make us laugh
- make us proud
- make us money
- encourage our creativity
- help us connect
- teach us
- move us
- astonish us
- confuse us
…and as much as we love quilts, they love us right on back.

(Love, Mary.)


**Picture: ”Basket” Doll or small wall hanging quilts by an 80 year old Amish quilt maker who would wish not to be named, or awarded a Blue Ribbon and who does not use rotary cutter or short cut methods. (complements of Rebecca Haarer Arts and Antiques)


August 26, 2013   10 Comments

Quilts As Protection!? A Call To Sew.

This is a machine quilting pattern by MeadowLyon. You can find the gals behind this amazing design at meadowlyon.com

This is a machine quilting pattern by MeadowLyon. You can find the gals behind this amazing design at meadowlyon.com

I’m reading a deliciously good book by Thomas Mallon called,  ”A Book of One’s Own: People And Their Diaries.” I’m embarking on research for my dissertation, which will be years in the making. I’m pursuing an Master’s of Liberal Arts at the University of Chicago and it’s a good thing most of my classes are nights and weekends, otherwise I couldn’t reach this life goal at all. The quilt world, it keeps me pretty busy.

Anyhow, my dissertation will be on diary writers. That’s all I can say now, but being a slavish diary writer, myself, I have a vested interest in the best of the best, e.g., Thoreau, Nin, Woolf, etc.

Yesterday I read something that blew my mind. Read below an excerpt from a diary entry written by one little known Jane Gould, an “emigrant” (her word) traveling from Iowa to California by covered wagon. On August 15th, 1862, Jane was with her husband, two young sons, and in-laws when they were attacked by Indians on the trail:

“We were aroused this morning at one o’clock by the firing of guns and yelling of Indians, answered by our men. The Capt. calling, “come on you red devils.” It did not take us long to dress, for once. I hurried for the children and had them dress and get into our wagon, put up a mattress and some beds and quilts on the exposed side of the wagon to protect us.”

You read what I read, right? SHE USED QUILTS TO PROTECT HER FAMILY.

That’s a new one for me, folks. I know quilts are warming, calming, comforting, necessary, special, nostalgic, pretty, artsy, practical, etc., etc., But quilt as object of protection from bullets??

Sometimes, being amazing is its own reward. Do Jane Gould a favor: sew today.

August 5, 2013   11 Comments

Windham, Well-Played

I was going through a stack of fabric cards this morning and saw this totally great print from Windham. It’s coming out in August and was designed by Whistler Studios. While I’m not typically a novelty-prints fan, I gotta say: “Quilt Girl” is really neat and I’m going to have to nab a bit of it.

"Quilt Girl" by Whistler Studios for Windham Fabrics

We’re working on the Sep/Oct ’13 issue of Quilty and in my editor’s letter, I talk about how big the quilt world is and how there’s room for everyone. I love how all the different fabric companies have different flavors, different missions, different artists working under their respective canopies. I can go to Fabric Co. X for this particular thing and to Fabric Company Y for this other thing because for me, they do that thing better than anyone.

Nice work, Windham. Quilt Girl to the rescue!

July 20, 2013   4 Comments

Wow, Norma. Wow.

You guys know I love it when fashion and patchwork meet up.

I was just in Iowa and Mom told me about a huge, massive fracas back in the ’80s with Ralph Lauren. Apparently, the company bought up a huge number of old, used quilts and cut them all up to use in their clothes. Quilters were really, really mad. They protested, they picketed. It was crazy! Look for a story in Quilty one day; it’s just way too juicy to pass up, history/controversy-wise.

The intersection of fashion and quilting was already on my mind for two reasons:

1) I found some of Mom’s handmade, hand-quilted vests from her and Liz’s very first book on quilted vests. Yes! The FIRST BOOK. I asked Mom if I could have a couple of them and she was like, “Uh… Sure? You want to wear them?” And I said, “Heck yes! They’re FABULOUS!” And they are, people. They so are. I’ll post a picture on Facebook, promise.

2) Norma Kamali. Speaking of the 1980s, Kamali was big back then and is enjoying a surge of popularity today. And she’s introduced this coat for Fall 2013:

Norma Kamali’s quilted coat for Fall 2013.
The view from the back, Ms. Kamali’s Fall 2013 quilted coat.

Thoughts? Deep love? Total ambivalence? Disgust?

Me, I love it. I mean, it’s nuts. It’s a quilt! But it’s daring. And it’s risky. And I don’t ever penalize for taking a real risk. If it were easy, more people would do it. Taking a risk takes guts.

I hope you’re taking risks in your quiltmaking. Really. It could be anything from trying a new technique to doing your own quilting to simply making your first quilt ever.

And, uh, Ms. Kamali? I am an email away if you’d like someone to walk the streets of Chicago in your quilted creation. It’ll be like a sandwich board for your coat and my favorite American art form. We both win!

June 27, 2013   19 Comments