Quilter’s Spotlight: Mary Fons

I’m sure many of you are most familiar with Mary Fons from her work with her mother, Marianne Fons on Love of Quilting.  Mary has also made contributions to Quilts Beyond Borders, recently sending a quilt along with us to Ethiopia for a child there, and also creating a lovely quilt for us to sell in our booth at the IQF in Houston.

We asked Mary to send us her picture, and a picture of a favorite quilt.  Here they are!

Version 2   dutch-summer-flat-shot

Hometown & State:  Winterset, IA
Years Quilting:  8
Favorite Quilting Style:  Contemporary
Quilt Guild or Group:  Chicago Modern Quilt Guild
Your Website or Blog:  MaryFons.com — click on “PaperGirl” tab or just go to blog.maryfons.com

Why do you volunteer with Quilts Beyond Borders?    When I learned of QBB, I just knew I had to donate a quilt (or two!) I have made quilts for Quilts of Valor here in the U.S., and that is a charity important to me and my mother, too. But we live in a global village and after reading of the work of QBB, I felt a tug on my heart and knew I’d have to contribute.

How did you learn about Quilts Beyond Borders?    I learned of QBB at Quilt Market, didn’t I, Susan?? Now I forget!   (Note from Susan:  “I met her at a quilt show in Puyallup Washington and talked with her about QBB.”)

How did you learn to quilt?   My mother is an accomplished quilter and quite famous in the quilt industry, but I actually learned mostly on my own. Quilt-making was my mother’s work, not a hobby, so my sisters and I didn’t really see making quilts as something we wanted to do! We did many other creative projects, instead. But when I was 28, I woke up with the desire to make a quilt, so I just started doing it. You could say it runs in the family.

Where do you get quilting inspiration?   Antique quilts knock me out. I use antique quilt blocks as inspiration. I find a block I love, play around with it in this or that fabric and setting, then design my quilt from there. I like modern quilts and art quilts, but I make contemporary quilts in that I use traditional blocks and designs but employ updated fabrics and put my own spin on things.

What’s your favorite quilting tip or technique?   Here’s how to wash a quilt:

  • Go to the laundromat so you can use the big, front-loader washing machine. The agitation is better in those machines than on a spindle machine at home.
  • Take your quilt, enough quarters, a soft detergent like Dreft or Orvus paste, and an old towel to the laundromat.
  • Put your quarters in. Put your detergent in. Put your quilt in. Fold that old towel several times and lay it at the base of the machine.
  • Push “start.”
  • Get down on your knees on that old towel and pray, pray, pray the entire time your quilt is in the washing machine that nothing bad happens. 😉

What else should we know about you?   All people who are creative and make things are valuable. But quilters are extraordinary makers.

We spend time, money, and tears, sometimes, on our creations and most of the time, we give what we make away. Quilts are expressions of love. They are functional art. Paintings are great, but you can’t take a nap under a painting. Most sculptures aren’t soft — and they usually come with a “do not touch” sign even if they are.

But quilts are to be used, touched, loved, washed, and worn out. I always tell someone who gets a quilt from me, “Do not put this in the closet for safekeeping! Use it. Wash it. Love it. Spill stuff on it. If you wear it out, don’t worry: I’ll make you another one.”


This is the pretty quilt that Mary has made for us to sell at the International Quilt Festival in Houston the first week of November.  We have no paid staff, so all proceeds from our sales go toward getting more quilts to more needy children and orphans.   Stop by and see this lovely quilt at our booth in the 1700 aisle at the show.




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