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

I Left My Money In San Francisco. XOXO, Britex!

Guess where I was?

San Francisco. For just two days. And it was really, really awesome, fabric adventure-wise. Food-wise, too. Man, did I eat some good food. Hill-wise, it was also great. Lots of good food, lots of hills, and the best part of all, a trip to Britex Fabrics.

If you can — as soon as you can — visit the fine folks at Britex, right downtown in San Fran. They’re across from freaking Neiman Marcus! How crazy/cool is that? Now, Britex primarily serves garment sewers and home dec folks, etc. They don’t have an enormous selection of quilting cotton — it’s not Amish country, which is where quilters go when they die if they’ve been good — but the six floors of stunning fabric at Britex are inspiring, beautiful, and fascinating, whether they go into a quilt, a garment, or some nice curtains.

Thank you to Britex and their hospitality. I’ll be back soon, no doubt about that.

Oh… This is good.

Melody was so helpful and lovely!

And look at her crazy quilt! Truly incredible workmanship, Melody. Nice one.

I’ll be back, Britex. xoxo!

June 12, 2013   11 Comments

The 8-Minute Challenge.

In early 2010, the idea for Quilty was born.

I was at spring Quilt Market in Minneapolis and I looked around and thought, “There’s gotta be a show online that gives quilting instruction to beginners in little, friendly pieces. It’s got to look good, be entertaining, and teach basics and have guests… I think I can do it, if I have help from good people.”

And so it is — the good people part, and the help, and the short chunks of quilt-making information. Quilty is a thing! And a lot of people find it very helpful. For those who don’t, no problemo. I just hope those people will help teach in the way that they find helpful and we’ll all help keep quilting alive and strong.

The biggest challenge in making Quilty is getting each episode to share several teaching objectives in the time we have. We have about this much time:

We shoot for about 6-10 minutes for each episode, that is. And when you’re talking about making a quilt block or discussing the parts of the sewing machine, those minutes go really fast. It’s not that you can’t say a lot in that time — I hope that we do — but you gotta edit. And then edit a little more. And then (this is important) the whole, entire show overall needs to be enjoyable and engaging enough that the viewer will finish and episode and want to come back and watch another one to learn more. Because she’ll learn more.

We’ve got a shoot coming up next week and with 26 episodes to tape, I’ve got a lot of work to do, along with all the rest of the team. Thank you everyone, for watching Quilty. We strive to give you a good eight minutes of joy and information, every time.

May 30, 2013   29 Comments

Spring Market, Portland, OR

Well, it’s all over. Mostly.

I still need to pack and get to the airport, but for the most part, Spring Market is wrapped up and boy, was it awesome. The fabric, the trends, and the best part, which never changes: the people. The donuts were good, too. And the crepe paper. And the enormous swan at the Michael Miller booth. That was pretty flippin’ cool, too.*

Thanks to everyone who works to make Quilt Market, OESE, QuiltCon, and all the awesome quilt trade shows happen. I can only imagine the work that goes into organizing such events. And to all the vendors, the attendees, the folks who stand at the door to check that you have a name badge… It’s a great industry and I’m honored to be a part of it.

The Kanvas booth won the Best Booth award! Designed by
Tailormade, of course! Congrats…

Voodoo donuts. Thanks, Kristi! (Kristi = Quilty publisher)

Oh, the fabric… Gorgeousness from Anna Griffin.

There’s never enough. (At Portland’s famous Fabric Depot.)

Discussing the finer points of why cotton broadcloth is better than home dec fabric when making a quilt.


* I have a confirmed, hot tip from a good friend that someone BOUGHT THE SWAN OFF THE FLOOR!

May 20, 2013   4 Comments


I did a video to show you just how random AND unscientific the process was! Winners, look for an email today with the good news — and I’ll get your address.

If you didn’t win, don’t despair; your name will stay in the hat for the next giveaway. WARNING: I just did this 5 minutes ago and I am not wearing any makeup. Note awesome BabyLock Tiara mid-arm quilting machine in background! Quilting is taking over my house…

Congrats and thank you a million to all the lovely, thoughtful, and HELPFUL feedback about Quilty so far.



Click here for the video: http://youtu.be/f2yN9cna-Zs


May 16, 2013   11 Comments


Okay, people. Here’s what going down:

I have 15 medium to large-ish boxes of goodies in my hallway. They contain a mixture of the following:

fabric (oh my, the fabric)
notions (oh heavens, the notions)
promo materials
stabilizers, fusibles, etc.
thread (holy cats, the thread)
miscellaneous great stuff including scraps, blocks, Quilty demo materials, etc.

These boxes are in my hallway! (You can see me taking the picture in the mirror.) I can't get out of my house!


EVERYTHING MUST GO. No, really. I can’t take it anymore! I need to get outside! The only sensible, goodly, humane thing to do is a giveaway. I have personally put together 15 boxes of great stuff and I would like to give it to YOU, Quilty fan/reader/viewer/excellent + intelligent + attractive person.

Here’s how it’s gonna work:

1. Get an extra copy of Quilty and give it to a friend. We’re not going to make you prove that you did this, so it’s scout’s honor.
2.  Comment on this blog post by answering this simple question: What do you like about Quilty?
3. Sit back and check in here on the blog because on May 15th, we’ll draw from all the entries and 15 of you will win one of these sizeable boxes of goodies.

Drawing will be 100% randomized. We are utterly unscientific and will be using no algorithm or computer aided-randomizing system, but I hereby swear to throw all your slips into a big popcorn bowl and draw with my eyes closed. (Seriously, that is how it’s going to work to pick winners.) We’ll ship out as soon as we get back from Market on Monday, 20th or Tuesday, May 21st, depending on how tired we are. (By “we,” you realize I mean “me.” Mary. I’m the one with the popcorn bowl.)

You deserve a little gift! Try your luck!



p.s. Need the magazine? I gotcher’ magazines right heh: http://fonsandporter.commercev3.com/product/quilty-may-june-2013-digital-issue/Quilty

May 12, 2013   252 Comments