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Catchin’ Up with Mary Fons!

October 11, 2013 in Stitchin Women

It’s been about three years since we first introduced the Totally Stitchin’ community to Mary Fons, one of Baby Lock’s AWESOME sew-lebrities. A lot has changed in three years, so it’s definitely time for an update 🙂

Totally Stitchin': Catchin' Up with Mary Fons

Mary comes from a family of quilters, and as part of a “quilt mafia” it was a bit intimidating starting out in the industry as a beginner.  Her mom, Marianne Fons, co-founded Fons & Porter’s “Love of Quilting” and has been in the quilting industry’s public eye for many years. Many times while Mary was learning to quilt she was on the set (and sometimes taping an actual episode) of the PBS series Fons & Porter’s “Love of Quilting” with her famous quilting mom.

“I have a deep and abiding love for beginners,” Mary said. “I learned on national television so I definitely understand nerves and pressure.” This understanding of beginner quilters inspired Mary in 2010 to pitch her own show dedicated to new quilters, the QNNtv web series “Quilty”.  Every episode teaches something a beginner quilter may want to know—from covering popular quilt blocks to how to follow a pattern, choosing fabric and more.

Today, Mary co-hosts “Love of Quilting” with her mom while juggling “Quilty” and web series “Quilt with the Stars”.  She also writes, quilts for and edits bi-monthly, nationally distributed Quilty magazine. She recently finished her first book, due out next spring with C&T, and is launching a line of products, beginning with Quilt Charms. When she’s not filming, writing or editing, Mary’s on the road for quilt shows and special events, and she cultivates a vibrant social media presence on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and posts daily observations, quilting-related and otherwise, on her popular blog, PaperGirl. Mary will admit her life gets a little crazy now and then, but she knows how to handle the pressure and loves every minute of it.

Totally Stitchin': Catch Up with Mary Fons

“My highest and best use as a person is being creative,” Mary said. “Making things makes me happy. It’s my push.” Mary has been creating things since she was a child. Her first memories are creative ones, doing things such as painting or writing. “I’ve been a writer my whole life, and I’ve been writing professionally since 2005,” Mary said. When she has time, she participates in the “live lit” scene in Chicago, performing/reading original work.

It wasn’t until later in her life thus far that Mary picked up quilting. As she dove deeper into the world of quilting, Mary was forced to compromise performance and writing time. She was an active member of the Neo-Futurists, a prominent theater group in Chicagoland, for about six years. The pursuit of a career in quilting ended Mary’s involvement with the group.

“I’m still a writer/performer, I’m just doing it in the quilt world now,” Mary said. “The only way I can manage it is if I love it. What gives you energy when you’re absolutely caput is passion.”

This passion has driven Mary to write her first quilting book, which debuts in spring 2014. The book, called “Make + Love Quilts: Scrap Quilts for the 21st Century”, will feature scrap quilts for today. In it, Mary explores the use of fabric in modern quilting and provides patterns and instructions for 12 king and queen size quilts. “The way we make quilts today has changed since the 70s and 80s—they didn’t use a lot of different fabrics,” Mary said. “So much fabric is available now. Scrap quilts are more possible than ever, now—so I say use as much fabric as possible. If I’m making a quilt with green in it, I’ll use 60 different greens. Why use three greens when 3,000 are available?”

Totally Stitchin': Catch Up with Mary Fons

Choosing fabrics is one of the many topics Mary has discussed in episodes of “Quilty”, too. The show, primarily aimed at beginner quilters, has grown in popularity since its 2010 debut. Similarly, Mary’s skills have grown, and she hopes her audience’s skills are improving, too. While the show still very much plays to beginner quilters, recent episodes explore the world of longarming more than ever before. “The first thing you do is patchwork, but as ‘Quilty’ grows, we’re giving more information on how to quilt your quilt at home,” Mary said. “I used to think longarming was OK, but I was THAT kind of quilter—I was afraid to totally ruin it, which I have done. As you get more confident, you get better.”

Mary does her patchwork on the Baby Lock Melody, and she recently started quilting with a Baby Lock Tiara 16-inch longarm machine. The Tiara is a compact longarm machine ideal for anyone just getting started in the quilting world. “I’m in love with my Tiara. It’s my buddy. I seriously come home and say ‘Hello little Tiara!’” Mary said. “I still have a lot to learn, but it’s really lovely—so easy to use.”

“Quilty” will continue to feature episodes related to piecing, choosing the right thread, tips for pressing, and other more “beginner focused” topics. As you watch the show and read the magazine, you can expect to see a bit more longarm quilting thrown in the mix, too.

Keep an eye out for Mary’s book in spring 2014, read her blog, keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram, and catch an episode of “Quilty” at www.heyquilty.com.

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