You and Me and Quiltfolk, Too

posted in: Quilting, Work 55
Merikay and me, on Merikay's back porch in Knoxville. Photo by Leah Nash, courtesy Quiltfolk.
Merikay and me, on Merikay’s back porch in Knoxville. Photo by Leah Nash, courtesy Quiltfolk.


I never meant to be a quilter and I never meant to work in the quilt industry.

I was working as a freelance writer and performer in Chicago and then, not knowing what I was doing (in so many respects!), I made a quilt that I loved fiercely, a quilt that helped me heal from illness and heartsickness and that was it: My life in quilts began.

Those who know the American quilt landscape know why I stay. It’s the same reason we all stay: for the people.

Fine, we stay for the fabric, too.

But you know and I know we’d throw all the fabric bundles in the world into the sea if it meant we couldn’t keep the friends we’ve made in this quilt culture of ours. Some of the quilters and quilt industry people I’ve met are among my very best friends; many are people I’ve met at events. I’m happy to state the obvious: Quilters are remarkable people. When I think I stumbled into this thing sorta-kinda by mistake, I get quiet, because I might’ve missed it entirely if I wasn’t paying attention (and if I had given up on that first, awful quilt.)

There’s a publication out now called Quiltfolk. It’s not exactly a magazine; it’s not quite a book. The creators call it “a keepsake quarterly” and they’ve got it exactly. Quiltfolk put out its first issue last yaer; when Mom came across it, she said, “Mary, you gotta see this.” And so do you: Quiltfolk is unlike any quilt magazine you’ve seen, I assure you.

There are no ads. There is photography that will make you drool, except you’d better get it together because the paper Quiltfolk is printed on is way too nice to get wet. And, as you’ve probably guessed, the content is all about quilters. Quilt people. You, and me, and us.

Each issue focuses on quilt culture in a state or region of America, and that is a very, very groovy way to shape a thing. This is not a pattern magazine. There are a lot of fine magazines for that and we definitely want those patterns. But Quiltfolk offers a window on the world, each issue an investigation of the quilters who live in a particular area. The first issue was Oregon. Then came Iowa (there may or may not be a Fons person or two in there.) Issue 03, out now, takes you to flippin’ Hawaii.

Then, late last spring, I got a call from Mike McCormick, co-founder of Quiltfolk, about doing some writing for them. I said I’d think about it. (I’m kidding. I pinched myself and muted the phone so I could yip and jump and not scare the poor guy.)

In June, I met up with Mike, Rebekah, and Leah in Nashville, because Issue 04…is Tennessee.

We went to Tennesee! To investigate the rich quilt culture of Tennessee and write about it and take pictures of it! Could you die?? I just about did. This assignment was bliss for a quilt history nerd like me. You might remember when I was down there. I was vague about my trip because fans of Quiltfolk — a growing army at this point — know that when the publication’s next state or region is announced, it’s like Christmas.

Being able to write for Quiltfolk is an honor. I met Merikay Waldvogel, y’all. This woman is a legend. A quilt historian whose work over the decades has strengthened the roots of our world in incalculable ways. She’s a personal hero and she’s just one of the people we interviewed for Issue 04 — there’s so much more.

So I’m breaking my rule about outside links in the ol’ PG. Get Quiltfolk in your life and don’t wait too long: Issue 01: Oregon sold out long ago and Issue 02: Iowa is dwindling. Get ‘Hawaii’ and sign up for Tennessee. You know I don’t promote too much stuff around here; when I do, I mean it. Yes, this magazine is more expensive than your others; but to make this collectible object, a publication without ads, with deep reporting, and lush photography by a woman who has shot photos for National Geographic for Lord’s sake… You will never regret it. I promise you that.

My only regret about this whole Quiltfolk thing is that I didn’t come on as a writer one issue earlier. I missed freaking Hawaii. You owe me one, McCormick. I’ll forgive you if you slate Issue 10 for Alaska.

55 Responses

  1. Dorothy
    | Reply

    I think I was one of the first to subscribe to this. I love it !!!! Congrats on getting the chance to write for them6cNy

  2. Pat Gottshalk
    | Reply

    Great news! I have been a subscriber and look forward to each issue. I find myself going back and rereading the stories. I love the regional approach to the publication and look forward to your words on the pages.

  3. JB
    | Reply

    Is this the magazine thats $74.00 a subscription? If it is, thats to bad. I’m sure that it’s a great magazine but way to expensive. I can mske a lot of quilts with that kind of money. Lots of quilters cant afford that.

    • Sue
      | Reply

      Way outside my budget. Wish I could subscribe.

      • Connie
        | Reply

        Ask for it at the library?

  4. Denise Kreider
    | Reply

    That is so Awesome!! Congratulations on writing for them. I love their book ❤ each book is full of history of that particular region & heartwarming stories. Photography is outstanding!! I missed out on volume 1 , very sad about that, hopefully they’ll be a reprint. Love this book!!

  5. Diana Roberts
    | Reply

    It is beautiful. Now even better for me since you are involved!

  6. Ann Nora Conte
    | Reply

    How wonderful for you!!! And Quiltfolk! And us!!!

  7. Gina
    | Reply

    Oh goodness, how about Australia and Japan, two hotbeds of quilting!! Maybe you could get a three day layover in Hawaii!!

  8. Wilma Chambers
    | Reply

    Send me more about getting the magazine.

    • Pam
      | Reply

      Google it!

  9. Pepper Cory
    | Reply

    So glad another Fons is writing for QuiltFolk. As a subscriber I look forward to your articles. Best of luck-Pepper

  10. Mary
    | Reply

    Is there any chance of getting at least a digital copy of the first issue on Oregon? I am in Oregon and was ill last year and missed its very existence. I am willing pay

    • Susan
      | Reply

      I heard they are reprinting it so those of us that missed it will be able to get a copy.

  11. Gabi Arnold-Sampaio
    | Reply

    So happy for you, Mary Fons! They picked someone phenomenal!!! Can’t wait to get my copy!!! Alaska! Greet idea (hopefully in summer!!!)

  12. Penny
    | Reply

    The quilting world missed you! Especially on T.V.! So glad you are back.☺

  13. GT Bradshaw
    | Reply

    I subscribed &!❤️❤️ The Iowa & Hawaii issues & I live in TN, so I know y’all will be visiting me soon:-). Great publication

  14. Linda
    | Reply

    Oh boy! Now you’ve done it! I’ve just sent for my subscription (I’ve been looking for an excuse), and found that I could get the 2nd and 3rd issue for 1/2 price. Hooray!!

  15. Sharon Martini
    | Reply

    Where di I sign up?

    • Pam
      | Reply

      Google it!

  16. Anne Marsaw
    | Reply

    Can you buy single copies or do you need a subscription?

  17. Alberta Schlundt
    | Reply

    This is the first I have heard of this. Would love to receive it. Is it just an online magazine or can it be delivered to my door?

  18. Linda
    | Reply

    I am not a quilter. I would love to be – but so far…hasn’t happened. However, I do love looking at quilts – and I do love
    looking at Quilting magazines. And Quilt Folk is one of the ones I purchase each time a new issue comes out. My other favorite quilt magazine to read is “Quilt Sampler”… It features different quilt shops around the US.

    Linda in VA

  19. Joyce
    | Reply

    I love this publication, and am so excited Mary Fons is writing for it! It’s a beautiful product!

  20. Kelly Cline
    | Reply

    I never meant to be a quilter either and love your story! What a fabulous looking magazine. Thanks for the post, I’ll be getting this one!

  21. Linda Norgaard
    | Reply

    How do I sign up for a subscription ti”Quilt Folk”I believe the name is and what is the cost and does it come quartly?

  22. Andrea
    | Reply

    So excited Mary is joining the team. I treat my issues like gold. They have a special place in my sewing room. I can’t wait for the next issue. First ever magazine subscription I read cover to cover. Wish there were more issues in a year ,but totally understand why there are not. patiently waiting for issue four……..

  23. Penny
    | Reply

    I would love to subscribe, but it’s a little pricey for me. I might have to drop my other subscriptions to do it. That’s a thought though. Now with you on board, even more enticing…

  24. Barbara Williamson
    | Reply

    I was in the first issue along with the many fabulous quilterscat The Pine Needle in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Beautiful magazine.

  25. Susan T
    | Reply

    Mary, I have missed you and that great smile in the quilting world. So glad for your good fortune.

  26. cindy
    | Reply

    Congrats Mary! They are very very lucky to have you. Have not seen this publication yet but since it has the ” Mary Seal Of Approval”, I must search it out. It sounds devine!

  27. Susan
    | Reply

    I might like to get the Minnesota issue.

  28. Kerry Carl
    | Reply

    Would love to see Quiltfolk come to Alaska! Amazing things are happening up here. 🙂

  29. Texana
    | Reply

    I have tried to subscribe twice, but each time I stopped short of pressing that last button… Why? Because I live on a very small income and I can’t be sure that next year on the renewal date, that I will be able to afford the renewal…I might need food or medicine worse, and I might be incapacitated and be unable to cancel. So, make it subscribe without Auto renewal, and I’m all in.

  30. Heather
    | Reply

    Exciting stuff Mary!! Congrats on the new adventure.

  31. Linda Duff
    | Reply

    OH HAPPY DAY!!!!! More of Mary!!!
    Her humor .. her keen eye .. her humor .. her passion .. did I say her humor?!?
    Can’t wait to read more from you, Mary, and what better place to find you than in Quiltfolk?!? SO! EXCITED!
    Quiltfolk, I loved you guys before… I love you now, even more!!

  32. Jane
    | Reply

    I received my first issue yesterday. It is all that was promised, and more. It will take me awhile to read every word and give sufficient attention to every photograph. This publication is like a work of art, the most comfortable chair, a huge cup of the very best coffee, and a wonderful novel all rolled into one

    Thanks so much for the recommendation.

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Oh, Jane! This comment is a work of art, too. 🙂 I’m passing along to Mike. xo mary

  33. Patti Zwick
    | Reply

    I buy fabric at Fern Hill in the Amana Colonies and piked up the Iowa issue of Quiltfolk yesterday.
    It is all that you say it is. Beautiful photos, great stories. So lovely. I love your blog.
    A friend sent me an article about you that was in a Chicago area paper and one thing
    led to another.

  34. […] true: I’ve been in [REDACTED] for the past couple few days because I’m on assignment for this magazine and I can’t let the cat out of the bag about which state Quiltfolk’s Issue 05 will […]

  35. Julie
    | Reply

    I wish I could find Issue 01 that someone wants to part with….

  36. Michael
    | Reply

    It’s a stunning magazine (almost a book) Beautiful photography & writing. Truly a keepsake deserving coffee table space & sparks conversation when company visits.
    You can find a copy at Barnes and noble ,too. Some things in life just cost a little more for quality, & this is well with it.

  37. Beverly Letsche
    | Reply

    I am savoring my way through the Tennessee issue. I am lucky enough to have all the issues of Quiltfolk. They are all fabulous. I am so glad you have joined them.

  38. stephanie stemmler
    | Reply

    Oh_I would love to have you go to Japan and focus an entire issue on that! I was lucky enough to grab the Hawaii issue at the local bookstore and it is truly different-a work of art, yes! I know it’s expensive, but it’s a keeper.

  39. Virginia in AK
    | Reply

    We quilters in Alaska welcome you any time, any season. Quilts and snow do go together!

  40. […] regarding the price, which is higher than your typical quilt magazine: Like Quiltfolk, Curated Quilts doesn’t include any advertising whatsoever — and make no mistake, […]

  41. […] just do not come out right. I’ve been noticing them more often. Because between writing for Quiltfolk and drafting essays for grad school workshops; between my bi-monthly Quilt Scout column and cranking […]

  42. […] magazine, The New Philosopher, is my favorite magazine in the entire world  — after this one, of course. It’s quarterly, out of Australia, and it’s invaluable to me as a person who […]

  43. […] Magazine (my dream magazine) Philip Larkin (my dream dog) Travel (to distant lands??) A move to a new apartment?? (in Chicago, […]

  44. […] Patchwork and Curated Quilts. And, starting with Issue 04: Tennessee, I’ve been writing for Quiltfolk […]

  45. Dar Ryba-Borchardt
    | Reply

    Hi, I have been sewing for 50+ years and quilting for about 15. I have a product idea that I believe you’d be interested in. I’m not sure where the best place is to submit it. I have not seen this idea anywhere, and it should be marketed. Thank you for your possible interest. Dar

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