September 2010 - Posts

I found another one!

Perusing a stack of cooking magazines this morning at my mom's house, I came upon another instance of a patchwork pattern in an unlikely place. In the January 2010 issue of Food & Wine, Top Chef judge Gail Simmons is wearing an apron printed with a zillion little triangle units. I think there's a four-patch in there somewhere, but it's hard to find the block. 

Here's a detail:

And here's Gail's perky little face in a wider shot. I didn't like her when I first started watching Top Chef, but she's growing on me. If she keeps going for the homespun, patchworky look, I'll like her even more.

The gals over at Totally Stitchin' have a very cool contest going on right now. If you could use a shiny new sewing machine -- and we could all use a shiny new sewing machine, now couldn't we? -- then check this out. 

The contest is called Frank-N-Tote, which is totes adorbs. The goal is to create a Halloween-inspired totebag that shows off your embellishment abilities. Using fabric, embroidery, beads, paints, fusible webbing, etc., the Totally Stitchin' people want to see your best work. From what I can tell by reading the rules, the more creative (and grand) you get with your project, the better chances you'll have in the contest. 

And yes, the two (!) winners will receive a brand new Grace sewing machine, which is pretty amazing. You should do this.

Click here for all the info on the contest and good luck, lil' pumpkins!


I'm in Des Moines taping the latest series of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting. It's the 1700 series, chock full of fantastic content and sweet projects. Mom and I are having a blast. 

We were in the middle of filming an episode on Thursday and I had a revelation. I was holding a rotary cutter, smiling for the camera when I realized, "Woah. I get to work with my mom." Obviously, I have been aware that I've been working with my mom for several years now, but it hit me last week how truly fortunate I am to be able to do that. It's not something most people do. Mom and I get along so well and our energy is through the roof when we're together. The shows have been easy as pie and I'm excited for everyone to check them out. 

And speaking of checking stuff out, I snapped a picture of one of the unsung heroes of the TV set: The countdown clock. Without this little guy, we would have no way to determine how long we have left in the episode. It's a backstage implement that we would be lost without. 

Way to go, clock. 


I'm really working hard to figure out the layout of the Quilty blog. Please be patient. Me and HTML have a tumultuous relationship. 



I'm seeing patchworky designs in unlikely places -- and I like it. 

Here are a few recent examples:

This is a page from this month's Real Simple magazine. They suggest framing colorful bits
of fabric for wall decor. It's like fussy cutting on a larger scale, really.

This is one of my favorite examples. Free People, a lovely fashion label that I often wear, is using this tag on a lot of their items this fall. That, my friends, is a quilt block.

I flipped this picture a zillion times and it's still upside down. But it doesn't matter. I can spot a Mariner's Compass and pieced sashing a mile away and backwards... And on chick lit!

When my mom started quilting, the American Bicentennial was what really got her attention. I don't know if the Great Recession will do it, or if Quilty will do it (!) or if the hipster-make-stuff-with-your-hands-again trend will do it, or if it will be something else entirely, but I'm hoping the graphic artists who used these ideas and designs are inspired by quilts more often. 

My dream is that Michelle Obama makes a quilt with the girls, maybe for Quilts of Valor. If she does it, you can bet a lot of people who never thought about quilting will suddenly catch the bug. I don't think everyone is a born quilter, but I think there are a lot of nascent quilters out there who need a boost. 

How about you? Have you seen patchwork popping up in unlikely places? I'd love to know...

I had a longarm lesson!

It was awesome. Here are some pictures of me attempting this art form at American Professional Quilting Systems in Des Moines, IA. My teacher, Dawn Cavanaugh, is truly an incredible longarmer and I couldn't have had a better teacher.mary fons, quilty, longarm, cavanaugh, apqs
Seriously, you guys. This is really fun... The photo below is of my bee. (It's kind of a bee.)

mary fons, quilty, apqs, cavanaugh, longarm

Last night I sat on the couch at my mom's house, binding this quilt:

memories, quilty, mary fons, patchwork

This is a picture from back in July when I was still working on the top, of course. I hadn't put the borders on yet. Once I had it done, I sent it off to be longarmed by the truly talented and gifted Debbie Treusch. What she did with this quilt will make your jaw drop to your pumps. It's incredible, really. She took a quilt that was pretty awesome and made it a work of art. 

But the quilt ate my house, and for that I may never forgive it. It's huge. It's like 100 x 1,000 or something. Each cross block has 73 pieces in it and there are 20 of those; the setting pieces have fewer pieces but are just as big. The instructions, which I got from one of my mom's books, Fat Quarter Friendly, called for an inner border, but to be totally honest by the time I got to the borders, I was ready to send this puppy to bed. So it would be even bigger, but I ran out of juice. 

Here's a picture of me, without makeup mind you, being eaten up. Seriously, I couldn't get around it to get to the kitchen.


memories, mary fons, quilty, patchwork, cross block


I'll post pictures soon of the finished quilting and the binding, and the finished quilt, which should be done tonight*. Perhaps I'll find my missing sock? And that important file folder of documents? And my favorite lip gloss? There are all kinds of things missing since I began this little production number...

*Look for "Memories" to be featured on an upcoming episode of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting!

So I made this little quilt. 

quilt, peace, fons, mary, patchwork, sawtooth, star

It's not little, actually. It's at least nap size, and I'd give the measurements of it except that it's folded nicely in a totebag right now, waiting patiently to be longarmed. The quilt is a simple design I got from Katherine Bell's adorable book, Quilting For Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time. I knew when I saw the pattern that I wanted to make it, and that decision -- that moment that I said, "Yes, that one, now" is a crucial moment in any quilter's life. 

For a long time, I worked with my mom on quilts for her PBS show, "Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting". The quilts are awesome, and I enjoyed every project I helped with or made, but it's not up to me to make choices in terms of content. There are people with a lot more experience figuring that stuff out. But for some reason, my passion for quilting didn't totally bloom until a year or so ago. How could that be, when I've been around quilts all my life, have worked closely with my mom for several years? 

Here's how: Every quilter needs to make the quilts she wants (or he wants) to make. 

Mom says so herself. Until a quilter can put her stamp on a project from pattern to binding, I don't think quilting can really take hold. I have happily worked on projects as a wingman for years now, but until I realized that I could make whatever I wanted to make, in the way I wanted to make it, I just didn't catch the bug. 

The quilt above is a quilt I saw and knew I loved. In Katherine's book, the quilt is done with gray and blues. I liked the Kona Cotton lipstick reds I found at Quiltology in Chicago, and the rest is history. 

sawtooth star, fons, patchwork, peace, katherine bell, patchwork