Home Is Where the Bobbin Is.

"Northbound." From my forthcoming book, "Make + Love Quilts: Scrap Quilts for the 21st Century." Pre-order now at ctpub.com.
“Northbound.” From my first book, “Make + Love Quilts: Scrap Quilts for the 21st Century.” Available nationwide May 15th.

Most people assume I have been making quilts since I was small. My mother, Marianne Fons, is a famous quilter, so it makes sense that she would’ve taught me how to sew from an early age. If I had shown more interest, she most certainly would have. We made a few doll quilts and a few quilts for friends of mine, but my creative pursuits took me to writing stories, putting on plays, singing…and creating and editing a magazine for my junior high school called TRUTH, the name of which I got from a film strip we watched about Russian communist propaganda newspaper, PRAVDA (translation: “truth”). I hired my best friends as columnists and we put out six issues with zero ad support. True story. Have I mentioned I didn’t have a boyfriend till my senior year of high school?

I started making quilts about six years ago. In my lectures to quilters, I talk about the reasons why:

  • I realized I didn’t have to make quilts that looked like what I saw in contemporary magazines or books; my quilts could look like ME, with solid black fabric, and teeny-tiny prints, and washed out shirting prints, and zero rick-rack
  • it was no longer uncool to be like my mom — in fact, it struck me as the coolest thing ever to be a part of my family’s place in the world
  • I got really, really sick and I needed non-medicinal healing (hello, patchwork)
  • the timing was right, age-wise. I was in my late twenties and ready to sit down for five seconds

And so I became a quilter and making quilts has brought me untold joy ever since. I’m not sure how many quilts I’ve made; it’s dozens, and they’re all kinda huge. Mom has always told me to make quilts that cover people, since that’s what quilts are for. The Fons women don’t do table toppers, though we support anyone who does. We support quilters, period.

A sewing machine with my name on it arrived in New York City yesterday. The fine folks at BabyLock are loaning me an Ellisimo while I’m here, and I carried that huge, glorious box 2.5 blocks and up 2.5 flights of Manhattan walk-up stairs with huge smile on my face. Anywhere I hang my hat for more than about four minutes simply ain’t a home unless I’ve got a sewing machine nearby. Making patchwork and making quilts isn’t just something I do: it’s something I am. The craft, the gesture, the sense-memory of the process is in my DNA, now. I quilt, therefore I am a whole person.

I have absolutely no idea where I’m going to put this thing. Seriously.


13 Responses

  1. lynnenew
    | Reply

    Very cool, Mary! I love reading your posts, both quilting and non-quilting. What a great balance you seem to have struck up!

  2. Jeremy Eble
    | Reply

    I feel like I’m in that place right before I dive head first into quilting. I’ve got a couple of simple quilts under my belt and I’m in the process of my first large one. And, yet, I am not a quilter. Not yet. But the more time I spend with my mom and my aunt (who adores your mom, by the by), the closer I come to making the final step of accepting that title. For now, I only dabble in quilts. I am not a quilter.

    • Mary Fons
      | Reply

      Jeremy. Eble.

      Hello, my friend. Take the leap.

      It’s so good to see you.


  3. Liz Flaherty
    | Reply

    I loved this! I’m in our winter rental in Florida with my computer on the kitchen counter and my sewing machine on a folding table in the spare bedroom–there’s *almost* room to sit down. But it’s the only way to be away from home.

  4. Mary Ann
    | Reply

    My husband couldn’t figure out why I needed a 2nd sewing machine when I have a great one in sewing room. It’s the traveling machine of course! Interesting how our lives find us when we let them. I am so looking forward to your book!

  5. Andres
    | Reply

    I don’t see the tag “Mary Fons Baby Lock” which, I think, would make a great Google search.

  6. Diane Mosher
    | Reply

    …it’s not home until the sewing machine is set up…welcome home, Mary!

  7. Holly Conner
    | Reply

    We usually go to the Keys for the winter; my machine; & the idea of what quilt I’ll work on. This year we went to South Padre Island, with no machine but knitting. I must have thrown the Karma off because the weather was bad & I wasn’t creative at all. We returned Monday and I’m so glad to see my machine & boxes of sorted fabric. My spirits have improved & I can hardly wait to jump back in.

  8. Susan
    | Reply

    I’m moving this weekend and have a newly aquired sewing machine. I’m not sure where it’s going to go or where all of my yarn is going to go either. It’s been about 10 years since I’ve worked on a sewing machine to make costumes, and I’ve never owned one myself. I’m going to have to watch all of the back episodes of Quilty and have you over for lunch when you get back into town. I went back to crochet 15 years ago when college was too much. Now that my life is upside-down quilting can be the new anchor.

  9. Judy Tucker
    | Reply

    Great story! Where ever the machines are there are also Quilting friends, maybe old friends or friendships that are waiting to be made. For me…..the best part! Congrads on the new machine!

  10. Phill K
    | Reply

    Happy Valentines day.

    The winds of reddit carried me here.

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