October 2010 - Posts

Hello, quilters. 

As time has gone on, I have done more and more co-hosting with my mom on her PBS quilting show, "Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting." For several decades now, my mom has been half of the "Fons & Porter" duo. She and Porter -- that's the other half -- made quite the names for themselves in the quilting industry. They're titans, really. Titans with thimbles. A while back, Porter decided that she wanted to spend more time with her grandchildren and play more golf. She was able to retire and chose to do so, a decision that wasn't sudden or unexpected, really. Time marches on and the woman had worked hard for years -- she earned the right to hang up her professional needle and thread.

When the producers of LOQ sat down to figure out what would be next for the show when the Porter half eventually moved on, it seemed pretty clear that:

a) I was becoming quite the little quilter
b) folks in the quilt world seemed to like me
c) mom and I had done the show together before, as I 
had appeared as a guest several times already
d) if one Fons was good, two might be completely awesome

And so it was decided that I would come on for at least a few series as the co-host of the show. I was thrilled. Mom and I love working together. In fact -- and I hope I'm not going to get in trouble for putting this out there -- Mom was unsure of <i>her</i> future with the show until I came onboard. She's kind of interested in retiring at this point too, you know. But once we started taping the show together, she was hooked. Totally. The crew, the floor director, the producers, the IPTV people -- we all have a blast working on the show and it was clear immediately that it was a new age. 

The good news is that we get lots and lots of emails and letters from quilters all over the country that say they really like the shows with Mom and me. Some of them/you even seek me out online personally and email me directly to tell me that you like what I'm doing and that you're happy to see me on the program. Really, most of the time the mail is good and it's so very, very helpful for me to hear that. Because I'll tell you, it ain't easy being the new kid. It's a lot of pressure and I have a lot to learn.

It doesn't help when I get an email that is not nice, which does happen from time to time. I got one today, which is why I'm bringing all this up. No one emails me to tell me I'm a terrible person, but one lady told me that as a retired costume designer, my clothes were all wrong. Another said that on the show she watched recently I mentioned my manicure too much -- which is true, in fact, because it was the second show I ever did and I was nervous as hell -- and several have asked me flat out when Porter would be back. That was the gist of the one today.

Quilters are wonderful people, in general. They are usually a titch more generous, kind, creative, and compassionate than the average person. But they're human. They like what they like and change can be frightening -- especially if the quilter facing change is over 65 or so, and it happens that many quilters today indeed hover somewhere around that age. Some of them won't like a young-ish upstart like me coming in and messing with their Saturday TV ritual. They'll continue to miss Porter and tsk-tsk at the Fons & Fons menu we're offering them. Some will stop watching the show and that is too bad. 

But others will start watching. I believe this like I believe in the other good things that are going to happen as a result of this change. 

Why? Because "Love of Quilting" is a really good show and I honestly think it's getting better. Fons & Porter had been doing their thing a long time. Without a change, a freshening up, a new guard to liven up the crowd, perhaps the show would've become stale as it went on. Perhaps it already was stale. All I know is that I am full of energy and enthusiasm for the American quilt and this thing is my family business, people. I'm like the next Godfather in the quilt mafia. The art form is in my blood and I feel passionately about its future, what I can contribute to the industry at large and my own community and family. I love working with my mother, I love working in Iowa twice a year, and I love to teach quilting techniques and make projects that inspire people all over the country. 

I can't be Porter. I can't be Fons The Elder, either. I can only be myself, and I will continue to be myself until my last breath, whether I'm blogging on PaperGirl, co-hosting a television show, spending the weekend in New York, making theater in Chicago, working, playing, or somehow otherwise engaged. 

Thank you, quilters, for watching the show. Keep watching.

[This was reposted, with permission of course, from a PaperGirl entry for 10-28-10 at www.maryfons.com]


I spent the weekend in New York City, which means that I spent too much money. Here are a few things that came home with me:

- a striped Marc Jacobs dress that was so on sale, buying it was almost like stealing
- fall shorts (!)
- lots and lots of fabric

I visited The City Quilter, a wonderful quilt shop on W. 25th St., and also The Purl Bee, a beautiful shop in SoHo. If you get to NYC often or if you'll be going anytime soon, you simply must visit these shops. The women were so helpful and friendly and the New York City quilt vibe is exciting. The projects on the walls are tre interesting and fun, and there are always delicious fabrics for the perusing.

I'll post more pictures when I get them onto my computer. For now, here's one of me - yes, in my new striped dress -- digging through little fat eighth bundles at The City Quilter. Note the awesome patchwork behind my head!


Did you know that the gorgeous, talented, haunted Gloria Vanderbilt went through a big patchwork quilt phase?

She did, in the late seventies, I think. New York Magazine has a nice profile of her this week. I'm not sure the pictures of Gloria actually <i>wearing</i> a crazy quilt are on the web version, but the magazine clearly shows her swaddled in patched velvet.

Ah-ha! Here's the picture of our girl Gloria, who, by the way, is Anderson Cooper's mother. 

I shall now go to yoga and then come home to continue patching my pieces. I'm having a little trouble abutting the seams, I'll be honest. I pressed toward the dark, but that doesn't actually work when you're doing the layout I'm doing. It's got to be one this way, one that way, since I'm not flipping anything upside down. Does that make sense? 

Live, sew, learn.

What would I do without my quilting mentors?

Not only do they share their expertise, their ideas, and their shortcuts, they share their scraps. Without my mom and my good friend Colette, I would never have been able to get all these glorious pinky fabrics in my Diana Vreeland quilt. It's not a complex quilt. In fact, it's all just half-square triangles. But I love it, and I love the way the blues and pinks are directional -- all the blue on the bottom, all the pink on top. 

I laid out a few of my pieces on the coffee table to show off before they start being piece together. Oh, all that glorious pink...



And there's a nice picture of my living room, too. That's the morning tea from the day I took this picture. It was really excellent. I'm a little embarrassed about the yoga towel hanging on the screen in the background, but I'm pleased with how you can't see any threads on the carpet... 

My list of heroes is short and changes every now and then, but one name that has lasted for many years is Diana Vreeland.

Vreeland was a columnist and editor in the fashion world whose joie de vivre and general gusto and panache was legendary. The diminutive woman lived large in the hearts, minds, and careers of those who shaped fashion along with her from the 1940s through the 1970s and beyond. The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute owes much of its existence to her, and her name evokes class, and style, and fun. 

She is ridiculously quotable. She said things like, "Blue jeans are the most beautiful things since the gondola," and "The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it." This is style, people. This is class. And when Vreeland visited the east and saw the explosion of colors in the clothes and palaces there, she exclaimed with her typical enthusiasm and joy, "Pink is the navy blue of India!"

That's the inspiration for my latest quilt. I've been collecting scraps of any and all pink that I can get my hands on and got several yards of a great Kona Cotton navy. I'm doing a big top of just half-square triangles. Half will be scrappy pink, half will be navy. Simple as that. The squares will be directional, so that the navy is all on the bottom and the pinks all on the top half of the squares, which will finish 2". 

It's been wonderful to find all the pinks. When I thought of Diana Vreeland and her "Pink is the navy blue of India," I thought that I should combine the two. If they both function in the same way to a style maven like Vreeland, they'll probably function pretty well in my quilt. I'll post pictures as they come. 

Cheers, Ms. Vreeland. You're still having an effect.