Women: A Love Letter.

posted in: Family, Luv 39
I forget the name of this painting... And who's it by, again? Image: Wikipedia.
I forget the name of this painting… And who’s it by, again? Image: Wikipedia.


There are male quilters.

But the overwhelming majority of American quilters are female, so in my line of work I spend a lot of time with a lot of women. Today, I feel like going on record to say that I love them. All of them, like sisters, because they are my sisters.

Just let me get this out.

Everywhere I meet these women — in Seattle, Richmond, Omaha, Phoenix, Orlando — I see beauty, grace, brains, compassion, passion, and strength. I love their stories. I love seeing girls of every age not know how to do something then figure it out. I love to see them bring out their favorite colors: This one has a dozen shades of blue from deep navy to snowflake; the lady sitting next to her has a collection of batiks so deep she could open a pop-up shop.

The women I meet and spend time with are kind. Dorie presses a seam ripper into my hand because I have to try it, it’s the best kind. Sarah makes cookies for everyone and laughs because she forgot to put egg in them but really, they’re pretty good, aren’t they? I see friends helping friends with sewing machines and iron settings and emotions too big to shoulder alone; I watch younger members aid older ones and vice versa; daughters and mothers sewing together, or maybe it’s aunts, nieces, granddaughters at the card tables. These are the women I sew with, who I work for. They are all ethnicities. They are 12 or 53 or 76 years old.

Dignified. Talented. Beautiful. Hilarious. Sometimes I look at these classrooms of women and I just shake my head and think, “We hold up the whole world.”

I’ve been sad for several days.


39 Responses

  1. Claire
    | Reply

    You are loved by thousands of quilters. I am so sorry that you are sad. What can we do to help you?

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Just be you, sweet Claire!! It’s so much more than enough.

  2. marci piraro
    | Reply

    I love reading your blog. What is wrong?

  3. Britiney
    | Reply

    Oh Mary. Let us help carry the burden of whatever is making you sad.

  4. Tracy - St. Louis
    | Reply

    Mary, you are a beautiful person inside and out. You have so much to give to the world through your talents as a quilter and especially a writer. I’ve gone back and started reading your archived blog post from as far back as 2013, and your writing both inspires me and makes me laugh out loud all at the same time.
    Please know that you matter to so many of us and we can’t wait to see what you do next. So smile!

  5. jessie
    | Reply

    Its OK to be sad. One morning you won’t be.

  6. Diane Rincon
    | Reply

    Sad is hard. I’m sorry you’re sad. Im angry, trying to regain my equilibrium. I wish the same for you, soon.

  7. Rhonda Mossner
    | Reply

    Here’s a solution to your sadness. I belong to a small group of quilting girls “The Quilt Chicks” who are taking a shop hop on Friday (yes, the day after tomorrow) and I had to back out due to a bout of fatigue from my nasty auto-immune disease. Why don’t you take my spot in a van of pleasantly plump quilters and hit the road from Madison to Milwaukee? It’s an all day trip. You’ll meet some great gals, laugh, maybe cry, forget your checkbook or credit card limit and go hog wild buying nothing but fabric and sewing notions to your heart’s desire! It’s a sure cure the quilter blues and will cheer you up and possibly guarantee you get invited to sit up front in the passenger seat the whole day!
    What’s the catch? Hmm…maybe a coffee together if I ever get to Chicago or if we meet up some summer on the ferry to Washington Island.
    Does this help? The van leaves Madison at 8:30 am. Friday. Just saying…

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Oh, man… Rhonda. Thank you. I am teaching in VA this weekend, but this sounds pretty darn good. Get better, please!!

      • Gina
        | Reply

        You are in Virginia and I didn’t know? Wassup!! See you next October in Williamsburg, I guess!!

  8. Joan
    | Reply

    I think you are not sad; for if you were truly ‘sad’, you couldn’t have written such a meaningful and heartfelt tribute to quilters, everywhere!

  9. Jess @ Quilty Habit
    | Reply

    Mary, I have the fortune of visiting quilt guilds as well, and this notion struck me last night. Women are just amazing creatures. Ironically, my own guild met the same night I was at another lecture, and I still felt right at home.

  10. Jen
    | Reply


  11. Heather
    | Reply

    I read this while wrapped up in a quilt made by my mother. She presented it to me this evening and I’ve been trying not to cry about it for the last 2 hours. It’s the 6th quilt that she’s given to me and I’m just as overwhelmed with excitement and gratefulness as I was when she gave me the first one. It smells like her and knowing that she slept underneath it before she gave it to me (as she does with all of her quilts) makes a lump rise up in my throat that I’ve been desperately trying to ignore. Although I’m not a quilter, I was filled with pride as I read your post, knowing that my mother is one of these special people that you’re talking about.

    But, when I read your last line, that lump in my throat got the best of me. I’m sorry you’re sad, Mary. I’ll be thinking of you and sending happy, positive, healthy thoughts and virtual hugs your way.

  12. Colleen
    | Reply

    I am sad also I know why I am sad so that is a positive thing for me I am now taking medication that has really helped me to ,how to say this, not cry day after day currently I cry sometimes but not all day every day. I have done individual therapy but right now I am attending weekly group sessions these are teaching lessons with doctors teaching a group skills to better coop with what ever each persons problem is. I have a great life and all that friends, enough to eat , a roof over my head friends…all wonderful stuff.
    It is okay to be sad …..yes even if you have friends family food shelter all that stuff a person can be sad
    I hope you know why you are sad and find the correct help for you
    Life is hard and we just have to work hard to make it work for us
    I wish you happiness

  13. MrsB
    | Reply

    Be assured that thousands of sweet caring thouogh are flying to you. So rest your head on our shoulders. We’re so many and will gladly share your burden.

    It’s okay to be sad. Just know we’re all here to support you.

  14. Tracy
    | Reply

    What a sweet blog today! I am a 60 year old. Quilter and teaching my 14 year old granddaughter. I love your blog and enjoy you so much when you are on PBS, alone or with your Mom. I do not know what is making you sad, but I hope tomorrow is better. You are in my prayers. Much love and God Bless You.

  15. Nancy McFall
    | Reply

    A burden shared and all that. We’re here for you sweet Mary.

  16. Linda
    | Reply

    Claire is right. You ARE loved by thousands of quilters of all ages. Many nights Quilty plays all night long on my tv. I doze off, I wake up, I smile, and go right back to sleep knowing you and your happy face are still there teaching me many things. You are AMAZING Mary Fons! Please don’t be sad!

  17. Lori walter
    | Reply

    What an ominous statement at the end of that post.
    Everything you said about the quilters you meet is felt about you too. You are such a joyous and important part of our quilting community, Mary.
    Stay strong and know that you are appreciated and loved by many people you’ve never met!

  18. Jay
    | Reply

    Be brave, and know that you are loved.

  19. Phyllis
    | Reply

    Sorry that you are sad. At times we need to process our sadness to make a space for happiness.

  20. Lori
    | Reply

    Mary, whether or not you are sad or over the moon with joy, you are never alone.
    Sending a hug with love from the Canadian Rockies.

    Please remember the words of the mystic, Julian of Norwich:

    All is well
    And all is well
    And all manner of things
    Shall be well

  21. Diane
    | Reply

    I have a friend who calls this the army of women who are there to support you.

  22. Linda
    | Reply

    I have had the same thoughts many times as I stand to teach. Nothing really gets done in our lives without womens’ guidance.


  23. Joan
    | Reply

    Embrace the sad. it has something to tell you. It becomes part of the quilt of your life.

  24. J M
    | Reply

    Shucks and butter Fons – get better. May I recommend something? You are a top notch quilter but maybe change something up, I don’t mean change jobs, change dreams, or anything like that but CHANGE Things up. By that I mean this – walk into a woodshop- find a real down home cabinet maker. Smell some sawdust. Get yourself into some wood – oak, pine, maple – learn about old saws, tpi and kerf. Make a birdhouse. I don’t know why you’re sad but sometimes a change up helps. Make that bird house for starters. Find a yard to put it in next spring. Garden. Even if that just means a sweet potato in a pot on the window sill. Put your hands on an old hand plane and feel that nick and bite of the blade as it slowly roars down the grain. There’s something to that. All that said, I wish I had a shop (and here’s a confession, I wish I was a woodworker). And just for kicks, check out Westworld – it’s a pretty good new series on HBO – I never imagined an orchestra version of Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones could be the perfect theme music to an old West shootout. Also, although I don’t know you, you strike me as a person who plans everything right down to the second – and you’d just about have to be in your line of work – but you give yourself a break if you can. Me, I’ve given myself a break and I feel a whole lot better about things. Life is life and life rolls on. And here’s another confession, I never much planned anything at all. And it shows. Trust me on that. Anyhow,.. I really hope you get to feeling better. Can you drink coffee? I ask cause I got a weird story on coffee that hit me last week. it was an eye opener and kind of cool. Kind of changed my out look. Anyhow, take care and I’ll tell you that story if you want, as is, I’ve probably bored the sh-t out of you enough for one night.

  25. Jan C.
    | Reply

    This is a Sacramento hug from Jan. I wish you could feel it.

  26. Ursula O'Sullivan
    | Reply

    I love your blog Mary. I’m a quilter in Ireland. You are such a positive and interesting person. I look forward to your stories.
    I’m sorry you are sad. Hope it passes soon. I’m sad too…a lot.

  27. Nancy Christman
    | Reply

    I save your blog to be the last email I read each night before sleep. It is important to me as it is the only blog I read and follow. I love to quilt and you keep me in the loop. I am the granddaughter of a wise woman with over 50 grandchildren. She was always laughing and sewing and never used a pattern in her life. She clothed their 11 kids through WW2 and made quilts , afghans and doll clothes for us all. I am the only granddaughter who quilts. I have taught sewing to 4-H kids but do have 1 granddaughter who quilts niw. Really warms my heart.to know I have been able to pass on that part of the legacy to 1 of mine. Do know your words add a bright spot to my day Mary. I recently had a heart Stent placed and have future heart surgery ahead so am not sewing as much. Back soon, I hope. Still can read your blog tho and it means a lot. Please don’t be discouraged for long as we count on you. Still,we all have low days. Love you dear

  28. Marissa
    | Reply

    Your post reminded me of a line I recently read: “She was brave. And strong. And broken, all at once”.

    Us women really do hold up the world, but some days it gets heavy. Sad is okay, and sharing it helps. Take care of yourself….

  29. Julie
    | Reply

    I am proud to say that I am a quilter. And now I can add that we are all sisters!! I love your blog and am honored that you felt comfortable enough to share that you are sad. By sharing, you have gifted us with the ability to tell you it’s okay. I hope that will help you through this…

  30. Barbara
    | Reply

    Hey Mary, do you remember me writing to you once and saying your “Quilty” Magazine tutorials, tips and all were jewels of information. I still feel that way. You have a quality not many people have, and aside from being so quilty smart, I enjoy all you have to say. I hope your sadness passes, and your inside smiles. Did you feel that . . . . it was a hug.

  31. karen swann
    | Reply

    We are so incredibly strong, and all of this is heart wrenching and so terrifying on so many levels.

  32. Pam Williams
    | Reply

    Dear Mary: Chronic pain is a dreadful
    Condition. I am sending you a hug and a
    Sincere bless your heart from

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Everyone is so kind, including you, Pam. Thank you — I’m actually feeling physically fine! It’s something else that is making me sad these days.

  33. Pat T.
    | Reply

    Mary, know that you are SO loved!….
    …and never alone…
    Love and Blessings!!!…

  34. Brita Pingry
    | Reply

    Four of us “girls” went on a road trip last week. When we were chatting over lunch, I mentioned how much I love being with my girl buddies. One friend said, “I love my husband, but I need my girlfriends.” So true!

    As an aside, could you change the print on your blog to a darker and heavier one? I know Gray is so modern, but for our older eyes, it’s extremely difficult to read!

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