Mary Fons: A Quilter Comes of Age

September is National Sewing Month and if there was ever an impassioned stitcher, it’s Mary Fons. Though she’s spent her life cocooned by quilting, it wasn’t always on her radar—in her 20s she worked in Chicago as a writer and performer. But over the last few years she’s gained a new perspective on sewing and quilting and she’s passionate about sharing that with other young women.

“Sometimes I think getting women in their 20s to sit down and make a quilt is an exercise in frustration,” she says with a laugh. “There are always exceptions, but I maintain that we largely begin quilting in our 30s, when we finally stop and reflect on all the crazy things we did in our 20s, when we were busy figuring out who we are.” She describes quilting as meditative, creative, and relaxing. “I wasn’t ready to meditate in my 20s,” she says. “Now I like to sit down with a glass of wine and do some piecing—that sounds like a really nice Friday night to me.”

Mary’s Burgoyne
While Mary says she’s reached a calmer phase of life, you’d hardly know it by her schedule. In a recent week she traveled from her Chicago home to Iowa twice, once to record the upcoming season of Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting—since Liz Porter’s retirement three years ago, Mary’s co-hosted with her mom, Marianne Fons—and once for photo shoots for Quilty, the magazine she edits that complements her online quilting show of the same name. Then it was on to the New England Quilt Festival, where she participated in a panel on the future of quilting.

That panel led her to reflect on the reasons why her contemporaries quilt.

Mary and her mom, Marianne, with members of the Boston Modern Quilt Guild at the New England Quilt Festival
“I think quilting fits at that intersection of DIY culture—the interest in buying local, slow food, sustainability—the values are similar,” she says. “Making things with your own hands, doing something that doesn’t involve a computer screen—quilting comes from that same part of us that wants to eat the vegetables we grow ourselves.”

Mary notes that her generation had fewer opportunities to learn to sew in school, where home economics classes were often replaced by keyboarding. This familiarity with computers led Mary to conceive of her online show—she knew that beginners would gravitate toward YouTube to learn to make a quilt, but in Spring of 2010 she couldn’t find an engaging series that spoke to her generation. With the help of sponsors, including Moda, she’s created a series that helps new quilters with topics ranging from the basics of presserfeet, needles, and seam rippers to quilt labels and selling quilts.

“Our shows are strong on content and instructions, but are funny and fun to watch,” she says. The magazine follows the same format and next year will go from two issues to six issues annually.

Mary’s My Little Black Dress: For more about this visit The Dress Test
Though Mary’s speaks most directly to new, young stitchers, she feels a strong connection to quilters of the past. “The American quilt is an important artifact for our country,” she says. “The women of the 1800s who made quilts didn’t have to make their quilts beautiful, but they did. They were designers and engineers, and as soon as you take up quilting you’re a part of that legacy. I find quilting inspires extraordinary feelings of pride and patriotism. It’s an American art form, like baseball and apple pie.” 

Moda Candy

Moda Candy, each of those words individually are two of my favorite things on earth!
Put them together and what do you get? The newest precut from moda.
Moda candy are little bits of fabric available in 2 1/2″ squares.
Just the perfect size to “nibble” on. 
Carrie Nelson must be a nibbler because guess what she did?
Just like her line of schnibbles patterns 
using charm packs and layer cakes,
she has out done herself
with a new line of patterns, Little Bites.
Used with permission of LaVieEnRosie
The projects range in size from 15″ to as big as 32″ square.
Each pattern has at least 2 colorways.
Some of the patterns have different setting options.
The variety of projects is just like being a kid in a candy store trying to decide
which piece of candy to choose.Why choose just one?
Guess what, you may not have to choose because Carrie has graciously sent us
 2 sets of Little Bites to share with 2 special readers from the moda candy store.
 Keep Bella solid jelly rolls or charm packs on hand to cut background pieces for these projects  
 Tell us why
you just have got to have
a set of Carrie’s patterns to be entered in a drawing to
win 1 of each of all 8 Little Bites Patterns.
Drawing will take place Wednesday September 4th.
You can win a set of patterns here,
but I guess you need some fabrics to go with them, right?
 Hop on over to Miss Rosie’s blog to read more about these patterns
and have a chance to win
Moda Candy fabric squares!
Just think…Candy that is low-cal, non-fat and you wont have to share with the family!
Just as a heads up the patterns are brand new and have just start arriving in stores. So if you don’t win here be patient, they are worth the wait! However if you are like me and obsessed over all things moda and Miss Rosie, all the patterns use 2 moda candy packs so start hoarding these.
Have fun. 

A Day in Giverny

Giverny…….. a quaint little village in France where artist Claude Monet made his home and grew his amazing gardens.

And inspiration for my newest block-of-the-month called “A Day in Giverny”.  When I first saw the beautiful fabric from French General called Chateau Rouge I knew just what I wanted my new BOM to look like.

The BOM is worked for 6-months, sewing two of the same block each month for a total of 12 block. The main color of each set of blocks is one of the beautiful creams and the background is one of the reds. It’s the opposite of what most people are used to sewing but I think that is what gives it such a beautiful and unique look.

I find that sewing 2 blocks each month is very do-able for even the busiest of people. I really enjoy designing projects that people can keep up with or finish in a short amount of time. I find that it gives them a big sense of accomplishment. Who doesn’t like that! And with Autumn right around the corner, it’s that time of year that I finish up a new batch of pattern for Fall Market. I have several new patterns along with 2 new books that will be released soon. One book features embroidery for all you stitchery lovers and the other is a book on bags. I am a MAJOR bag lady (And very proud of it!) I just never seem to have enough, so I thought I needed to design a book full of bag patterns for all of you that love bags as much as I do.  I wish I could tell you more but it’s still hush-hush around here. I will post all the new goodies on my blog Little Bits of This & That as soon as they are ready…..hope you will join me there!

Now a little Q & A about me…..
What is your one guilty pleasure in life?
That is really a hard question! To pick just one!?! I would have to say that it would be going to a yarn shop, finding that perfect skein of yarn, knowing exactly what I want to make with it….and not caring what it costs. Knitting is my newest hobby and I love the challenge of learning something new. And of course if yarn or fabric is included in that hobby it’s even better.
Where do you do your best thinking?
I would have to say in my front room. I just re-decorated it in very springy colors and I love the big bay window where the morning sun comes shining in. It the perfect place to plan my day and have a cup of coffee. And there is no TV which means my kids think it’s a pretty boring/quiet room.
What do you listen to while you work?
I love music…pretty much any kind of music. But right now Rascal Flatts seems to be what I am playing alot. 
Thanks for joining me at The Cutting Table! 

P.S. The Chateau Rouge fabric starts shipping to stores next month so be sure to watch for it and don’t forget to sign up for “A Day in Giverny”.


Stitch This sounds as if it could be profanity,
 but as quilter’s we have our own language and would
jump at the
chance to stitch almost anything.
Join in as Martingale celebrates all things PRECUT with some wonderful Moda fabric
 giveaways and tips to sew with precuts.
Martingale - Jelly Babies (Print version + eBook bundle)
If you have never sewn with any of the Moda Precuts now is the time to give it a try.
I will never forget the first time I used a jelly roll.
I went home from work, started dinner, unrolled the jelly roll and actually started sewing. No pre-cutting, planning or fumbling through sets of templates. I couldn’t stop. I almost burned dinner!
There are so many products in the market place that
 make quilting with the moda precuts a breeze.
 There is a recipe of a few ways to slice and dice a
Layer Cake
printed on the back of every layer cake package.
A layer cake is a set of 42-10″ squares.
 Choose any of the cuts featured above or
just sew the squares together into 7 rows with 6 squares in each row
 to make a quilt top that measures 57″ x 66 1/2″.
Enjoy Martingales selection of books chock full of ideas and designs.
Martingale - Another Bite of Schnibbles (Print version + eBook bundle)
Warning: Precuts are addicting. You may stop making
dinner to dive into your next project.

Quilter’s Olympics… WINNERS

We had so many creative comments!!!
Thank you everyone for making this so fun. 
It is now time to announce our winners… 
The BRONZE goes to KELLY! 
Kelly Says…
I would surely win the gold for the worst case of Q.A.D.D. (Quilters Attention Deficit Disorder). I have been known in a single Saturday to start numerous projects without ever making any progress. My work surfaces are usually covered in piles of fabric I pull for a project but can’t quite commit to cutting, so I pull the next batch, and so on. Darn you Pinterest and all your beautiful inspiration!
The SILVER goes to BEE!
Bee Says… 
i’d be a Gold medalist for the doubles sewing event with my mom! 

when we get together to quilt it’s always fun. we have multiple projects going, typically musicals or old movies playing in the background, snacks and over the sound of the machines – constant quilt talk! 🙂 love it!

The GOLD goes to KAREN in BREEZY POINT !!!
Karen in Breezy Point Says… 
“I would win the gold in “square footage take over”. I’m not sure how I got him to agree, but my husband helped me move my sewing stuff into our huge master bedroom. We then squeezed our king-size bed, dresser, armoire, and 2 bed side tables into what had been my sewing room with about half the square footage. Our guest bath is my “quilt locker” with quilts draped over the shower rod, plastic bins of fabric and UFO’s in the bath tub, and boxes of batting on the toilet. I can’t receive sleep-over company, but I have plenty of room to work on my quilts!

Karen in Breezy Point

Email me with your physical address & I will get your goodies to you in a jiffy!