A Quilt Scout Round-Up!

posted in: Quilting, The Quilt Scout, Work 3
Who’s that gal, sittin’ on a chair? It’s the Quilt Scout! It’s the Quilt Scout! Photo: Lucy Hewitt, 2018.



I have been a little relaxed about letting you all know when there’s a new Quilt Scout column up. But why?!

After all, this Scout continues to keep the home fires burning over there at Quilts, Inc., opining about all sorts of quilt-specific items twice a month. Besides, she’s been filing rather sparkling content of late, darnit. Most of the time, when I turn in my work to the (rakish) Bob G. and (steadfast) Rhianna G., I say, “This is my favorite column, yet, you guys!!” but lately, I’ve meant it even more.

If you go to the Quilts, Inc. Scout page, I guarantee you’ll find several pieces worth your time. What will likely show up first is my piece examining the similarity between music “zines” of the 1990s and the early publications of the late-20th-century American quilt revival. Fascinating stuff. The column I turned in last week might be up by the time you click, though, which is just as groovy: I offer tips for taking great quilt style photography. Trade secrets!? You bet.

Regardless of what comes up on the homepage, all my columns, most-recent first, are linked on the left of the page. These pieces shall surely provoke and entertain. Now, I mean “provoke” in a good way, as in “provoke thought” or “provoke reflection”, though I have been informed that several of my columns — presumably the post critiquing feminism/quilting and the one about the Smithsonian article — elicited angry letters! Yes! Several people were miffed and let their miffs be known in emails (okay, two) to my bosses. Well, I like that very much. Writing and/or reading about quilting shall never be dull because the quilt is alive and well and complicated. Let the discourse live!

See you at the Scout. And you know, speaking of feedback … If you like what you read and want the Scout to keep scouting — forever in service to you — let Quilts, Inc. know. We all need a little encouragement, even a fearless scout.

The Quilt Scout is … Talking About the ‘F’ Word?!

posted in: The Quilt Scout 15
A pin. Image: Wikipedia.




Remember when I did that survey this winter for a big paper I had to write? It was about quilters and feminism.

The survey wasn’t out to get data to support a point I wished to make. I didn’t want to make any kind of point — I just had questions. Almost without exception, zero quilters I have in classes or meet out there on the road talk about feminism. How come? What’s the deal about quilts being inherently “feminist” objects? Is that true? And what is feminism, anyway? I don’t know how you feel about it, but I think the best thing ever is to realize you’re interested something and then going after knowledge on the topic. So that’s what I did.

Maybe someday I’ll share my big, honkin’ paper on the topic, but it is very big and honks very loudly, which means it has a long bibliography. For a distillation of it, though, you can read my most recent Quilt Scout column! See? I take care of you.

Indeed, I do hope you do click this link and go read it. I think you’ll be surprised to see what I’ve been thinking about Oh, and the results of my survey aren’t included in the column, but here’s how all that shook out:

Are you a feminist? 
62% = yes
27% = no
11% = maybe

*Note: One of my two lectures at QuiltCon 2019 is a lecture on this topic! Wow! Bad idea, but let’s go for it! 

The Quilt Scout and The AIDS Quilt, Part II

posted in: The Quilt Scout 5
AIDS Quilt in Washington, 1986. Image: Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, via Wikipedia.


On the phone today, speaking with a nice lady about a gig I’m doing in Maryland next week, I had a twinge of sadness that I can’t take on any more road gigs for the foreseeable future. We were going over the lectures I’m doing for the Bayside Quilters in Easton next week, and the lady said:

“We’ve done a lot of publicity already, so we can’t switch the lectures we selected, but I did have someone ask if we could have the AIDS Quilt lecture … Maybe next time!”

When we made the date for my appearance, of course, many months ago, the AIDS Quilt lecture didn’t exist. Now it does, and I very much look forward to the time when I can give it again. I know that lecture will have a long run, but as to when the talk will be presented — and to whom — we shall have to wait and see.

For now, here is the second part of the two-part Quilt Scout column in which I share a bit of what I learned in researching the AIDS Quilt. Make sure you read the first part first and then go on to the second. I hope you’ll feel enriched by the material as I was.

Thanks, all.

p.s. The shoes arrived and I’ll have an update on those and the coat this week!

Missed My Lecture on the AIDS Quilt? The Quilt Scout is IN!

posted in: The Quilt Scout 6
One of some 50,000 panels made for the AIDS Quilt. Image courtesy Wikipedia.


Did you miss my lectures at QuiltCon this year? Hey, it’s okay: I was so nervous before both of them, I almost forgot to put on pants.

The first lecture I gave in Pasadena was on the AIDS Quilt. If you did miss it, you’re in luck: I have written a condensed text version of it for Column #61 for the Quilt Scout, the column that I have written for Quilts, Inc. since 1999.

Psyche! I started writing the Scout in 2015. In 1999, I was a silly human sophomore at the University of Iowa, throwing (great) parties and scamming my way through Italian 2 homework while in rehearsal for the theater department’s Playwright’s Festival. Good times, people.

I digress.

I take my work very seriously, especially when it comes to lectures. I spent hours and hours and hours and days and days in research for both lectures, which means that in the case of the talk I was scheduled to give on the AIDS Quilt, I spent a year reading about the AIDS crisis in America and beyond, the creation and life of the quilt itself, the backlash to the project, and everything else.

Measuring myself against all the other work I have done, I know my AIDS Quilt lecture tied for the Best Lecture I E’er Did Lect. It tied with the second lecture I gave at QuiltCon: “Modern Quilts: Roots + Frontiers.” (I’d ask you to inquire about hiring me to come speak to your group but I am off the road these days, what with all the things going on.)

Please head over to the Quilt Scout to read what I have prepared for you. Learning about the AIDS Quilt will enrich you as a quilter and as a citizen and as a human — and you think you know what you’re going to learn, but you’re not. You’re going to learn other things. Because that is exactly what happened to me. Yep. You and me. We’re the same. We are exactly the same.

Except … that these shoes are going to arrive at my building tomorrow and I think … I think I’m the only one on that one.


A Google Doodle Update: 1000+ Votes, Zieman in Lead

posted in: The Quilt Scout, Work 5
Women quilting in Arizona, 1965. Photo: Wikipedia.


We’re really making tracks on this whole “nominate a quilter for a Google Doodle” thing. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out yesterday’s post.) We’ll hit 1,000 votes before long, and that’s a good showing in such a short time.

However … to really get Google’s attention, I’d like to see us at least double the number of voters. What does that mean for you? One of two things:

IF YOU HAVEN’T VOTED — Click here to be taken to the form, then vote!

IF YOU HAVE VOTED — Click here for the Quilt Scout post, then copy the URL to share it with your pals on social media/email/carrier pigeon. Then your friends will go vote and we’ll get our community represented by the people who decide what history is important. *You could just send your friends straight to the form, but going to the original post first seems sensible. But do what you want; I just want us to get those numbers up!

Right now, Nancy Zieman is in the lead, followed by Cuesta. Then … Well, there are a number of write-ins gaining ground and one person nominated me and my mom, which was very nice. I’ll keep updating on Facebook and when the time comes to do the official nomination, you’ll obviously be the first to know which quilter — sorry, which first of many quilters — will get Google’s attention.

This is fun.

Let’s Get Google to ‘Doodle’ Quilters! (xo, Quilt Scout)

posted in: Quilting, The Quilt Scout, Work 17
Hey, Google! Yo! Over here! Image: Wikipedia.


Ladies and a few gentlemen.

I know it’s early in the year, but I’m going to say it: If you read one Quilt Scout column in 2018, read the one I’m linking down below.

Over the past month or so, I’ve been noodling on how to go about petitioning Google to make a “Google Doodle” about a famous, important, special quilter. I’ve figured out the way, and the time is now — and I need you. We need you. There’s never been a Google Doodle about a quilter, ever. Ever! What’s up with that?

Questions you have may include: “What’s up with that?” and “What’s a Google Doodle?” and “Wait, what do I have to do?” and “Mary Fons what is even happening please explain.

That last one is not a question but there’s no time! This is all very easy: Head over to the Quilt Scout, read all about it, then vote. Let’s make sure the internet (read: world) never forgets how important quilters are and how much we contribute to society, art, and human beans everywhere. A Google Doodle is a legit way to do that, so let’s circle the wagons, people. Filling out the form will be your good deed for the day — well, unless you’ve done other good deeds today. Considering the people who make up my readership, it is highly likely you’ve amassed a number of good deeds already. That’s okay.


Mary “da Quilt Scout” Fons

The Quilt Scout is IN: ‘Binding Threads’ at Quilt House

Ahh … Quilt House. A museum just for quilts in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo: International Quilt Study Center & Museum.


Hey, gang!

I have a great time talking to myself, let’s be honest. But from time to time, I’ve found there’s nothing better than interviewing someone more interesting than me. Shocker, right? Yeah, well, it turns out I have a lot of interviewing to do. Like, a lot. Basically, I will never stop having people to interview.

I’d better get started.

Therefore, please enjoy this Quilt Scout interview with the delightful Marin Hanson over at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum (IQSCM) about a very cool exhibit happening in Lincoln right now. If Marin wasn’t so friendly and warm, she would be intimidating because Marin is wicked smart about quilts and, I’m sure, 90,000 other things. I enjoyed learning from Marin, who curated the show, and I think you’ll enjoy learning from her, too.

After you’re done, flick open your calendar, whether it’s on your phone or your desk or your wall, and figure out when in 2018 you’ll make the trip to visit the IQSCM. Some of you have been and need to go back; some of you have yet to see this iconic, exquisite quilt museum and in a way, I’m kind of jealous of the latter group. After all, you still have before you that incredible moment when you drive up to Quilt House and realize that the whole, huge, gorgeous place, honors quilts and only quilts. Well, this is the year to get there and have that moment — and if you go before May 13, you’ll see the Ken Burns quilt exhibit, too!

Speaking of interviews: Kenny, I’ve got you in my sights.

The Quilt Scout is IN: Quilts Light the Way

posted in: The Quilt Scout 4
Look at the chipmunks in this crazy quilt! They’re CRAZY! Photo: Wikipedia.


Hey, gang! The Quilt Scout is IN!

And guess what else? The column has been renewed for another year, so all throughout 2018, I’ll be buzzing around twice a month with my friends over at Quilts, Inc. to bring you sparkly content that benefits your brain, your quilting practice, your life!

Yeah! Your whole life!

I’ve been writing the Scout for four years, now. Isn’t that something? It’s one of my very favorite things to do.

Here’s the first of three columns for January. (January has a bonus column this year, since the Scout drops every two weeks and January is kind of long. Long and cold.) This column is about history and love, essentially, and I think it turned out pretty good.

Just like you.

The Quilt Scout is IN: On Pictorial Quilts and a Woman Who Loves Them

posted in: The Quilt Scout 4
Pictorial Quilt with American Flag, unknown maker, Ohio, cottons, c. 1930. Image: Wikipedia.

Gang, it’s Quilt Scout time.

“Mary, it’s always Quilt Scout time,” you say, looking ravishing in your Christmas sweater.

I beam at you and open up my arms and, in a loud, Southern-accented voice in the style of my quilter friend Margaret down in Baker, Florida, “Honey, git in these arms! Git! C’mon and just git in these arms, sugar! You ’bout as sweet as they come.”

Anywhoo, the second December Quilt Scout column focuses on pictorial quilts; specifically, how I am (v. slowly) making one of my own, and how much I love them and have always loved them. I can’t be the only person around here who feels this way, can I? Surely not, except that a person doesn’t see them a lot being made these days, does a person? This person doesn’t, but maybe I’m not looking hard enough.

Enough of the lead up. You can read the column right here and thank you, everyone, for seeming to give a lick* about the things I write.

*another Margaret-ism

The Quilt Scout Is IN: ‘Raining On My Parade’

posted in: Quilting, The Quilt Scout 4
She’s reading a book about quilts. Image: Wikipedia.


We interrupt the trotting out of holiday traditions for a special announcement: My latest Quilt Scout column is up! And I really do need to let you know that because I forgot to do it last week.

You’ll soon see that the column is sober in tone; that’s by design. In the piece, I examine how hard it is to learn things that challenge what we think — even what we love. It happened to me recently while I was doing quilt history research and writing it out for the ol’ Scout helped me cope. Maybe it’ll get you thinking, too.

Anywhoop, I’ll be back tomorrow with Holiday Tradition No. 2.

(It involves ‘tockins.)

Your Quilt Horoscope: The Quilt Scout is IN!

posted in: The Quilt Scout 5
Maple Bacon Donut from Voodoo Doughnuts, Portland. Image: Mike McClune via Wikipedia.


Greetings from Portland!

But I’ll tell you more about that later. For now, the first Quilt Scout of the month is so silly, you just have to read it. It’s your very own quilt horoscope, so obviously it’s very important.

Enjoy the Scout; I’ll see you tomorrow, probably with wet shoes and Voodoo Doughnut in my hand. I’m in Portland, after all.



The Scout is IN! ‘On Proust, Procrastination, and Piecing’

posted in: School, The Quilt Scout 1
Ol' French Fry himself. Image: Wikipedia.
Ol’ French Fry himself. Image: Wikipedia.


What in the world does Marcel “Ol’ French-Fry” Proust have to do with patchwork? You’d be surprised. Find out all about it on my latest Quilt Scout column for my friends over at Quilts, Inc.

Also: I have 348 pages of Remembrance left to read before Tuesday night. See ya!

Mary “The Quilt Scout” Fons

The Scout Is IN! (And Thank Goodness, Because Some Days, You Just Can’t Sew)

posted in: The Quilt Scout 5
Doesn't she just look suuuuper over it? "Mujer de Pueblo" by Pedro Lira, c. 1910.
Doesn’t she just look suuuuper over it? “Mujer de Pueblo” by Pedro Lira, c. 1910.


Do you ever have those days when you just cannot sew? As in, nothing you cut, stitch, or otherwise patch or quilt goes the way it should? Oh, me neither! But if you have a friend who has ever felt that way (cough, cough), you might want to show them this.


p.s. Much love to all my new pals in Kentucky. Today was so, so great.

The Quilt Scout Is IN…the Little Boathouse.

Little Boathouse! Photo: Mom.
Little Boathouse! Photo: Mom.


The first of the August Quilt Scout columns for the mighty Quilts, Inc. is all about Washington Island.

You know, the place where musicians go to rehearse in the lake. And where I fell through the ice. The place where a certain wedding took place and where I played with my sister Hannah summer after summer after summer. (Note to self: Make summer Island play date with Hannah.) Oh, and there’s this. And… Well, just put “washington island” in the search box over there and you’ll see a slew of related material. There’s not much going on in the news or anything; what else are you going to read for heaven’s sake?

Anyway, over at the Quilt Scout column are some great pictures of the quilt studio, my mom, and our family and friends. So head on over, gang. The sun is shining.

Mary Fons, Q.S., P.G.

p.s. Mom corrected me: The Little Boathouse is definitely not 600 square feet. Try 300, tops. I state in the piece that I’m bad at estimating distances. And I was telling the truth.

‘My Bookshelves Runneth Over’ — The Quilt Scout is IN!

posted in: Quilting, The Quilt Scout 4
It's like this, except for quilt books. Photo: Wikipedia, natch.
It’s like this, except for quilt books. Photo: Wikipedia, natch.

I have a problem.

It’s a book problem. I’ve had it for awhile, but the beast has grown a new head without me cutting off any of the others.

The second Quilt Scout column for July examines this. I know not all of my readers are quilters and, in a friendly kind of way, of course, don’t immediately zip over to the Quilt Scout to see what I have to say specifically to the quilt world at large. It’s okay!

But for those who know the secret handshake, I think you’ll enjoy “My Bookshelves Runneth Over”, which is about how I now have essentially a whole separate library for my quilt history books.

Don’t judge me. Monkey.

The Quilt Scout is IN! (Interview with Susanne Jones)

posted in: The Quilt Scout 0
"Marian Anderson" by Margaret Williams, one of the many terrific pieces in the show. Image courtesy Susanne Jones.
“Marian Anderson” by Margaret Williams, one of the many terrific pieces in the show. Image courtesy Susanne Jones.


Hey, who’s that? Why, it’s the Quilt Scout! And who’s that she’s got with her? Well, if it isn’t fiber artist and curator Susanne Jones! What are they doing? Well toot my horn if they’re not chatting about an upcoming exhibit at Fall Quilt Festival! And just what —

Okay, that’s enough of that. But this month’s Quilt Scout columns, part one and part two, indeed feature an interview with la Jones about a terrific exhibit of art quilts and I think you should head over to the Scout right now and have a look.

And hey, if you want to read another good Quilt Scout interview while you’re over there, this one with pal Jenny Doan is pretty good, too. I get to talk to some pretty cool people, I’ll tell you what.



“Quilts On Phones” (Guess Who?)

posted in: The Quilt Scout 6
Hey, she might be looking at quilts! We don't know, do we?? Image: Wikipedia.
Hey, she might be looking at quilts! We may never know. Image: Wikipedia.


I have one more day of classes before my first year of graduate school comes to a close. Can you even believe it?? I hardly can.

Now is not the time for deep reflection, however. That will come later this week, but not yet. It ain’t over till it’s over, people, and it ain’t over until 6 p.m. tomorrow night, after one more presentation (with attendant critique, gah) and then my final advising session. The advising session will be a blast; the presentation, not so much, unless I get my précis done. Now.

But I needn’t go dark today on the ol’ PG; lucky for me, the newest Quilt Scout post is up! So I’ll direct you over to Quilts, Inc. today to read my little piece called “Quilts On Phones”. It’s about how much I enjoy it when people show me pictures of their quilts on their phones. You can click this link right here and you’ll be zipped right on over.

Hey, guess where I’ll be, starting tomorrow night?

Halfway to my master’s.

One Of The Best Stories I’ve Got… (The Quilt Scout Is IN.)

posted in: The Quilt Scout 6
For the full story, check the Scout. Photo: Moi
For the full story, check the Scout. Photo: Mee.


Something rather miraculous happened the week before last. Waiting to tell you about it was torture. But what happened was so delicious, so extraordinary, so wait-till-I-tell-you-what-happened-today, I had to do it just right. And because it had everything to do with a quilt, I felt the most appropriate place to share the story was over at the Quilt Scout.

If there weren’t pictures, you might not believe it happened. But it did happen. I saw a ghost — and she was so beautiful, I cried.

I’m going to email Barbara Brackman about this one. She is, by the way, my No. 1 Sewlebrity Obsession. I’ve talked to the famous quilt historian on the phone but have not yet had the pleasure of meeting her in public, but I will not rest until I do. I’ve got you in my sights, Bracks. In my sights!


Bye, Bye, Monopoly Thimble: The Quilt Scout Is IN (and Annoyed.)

posted in: Quilting, The Quilt Scout 15
See ya, little thimbles. Image: Wikipedia.
They’re only for actual Image: Wikipedia.


The first Quilt Scout of the month of March is up today, so I’d like to send you to the fine folks at Quilts, Inc. to check it out. I have to warn you: You will probably get sad. Why?

The Monopoly game people took the thimble out of the game.

Check it out here and sigh deeply. 

“The Gift of a Closer Look” (From The Quilt Scout.)

posted in: Quilting, The Quilt Scout 3
Star of Bethlehem with Pomegranate Trees, New York, c. 1850. Image: Wikipedia via Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


Tonight, I’m gonna scoot you over to the newest Quilt Scout column, brought to you by the fine folks at Quilts, Inc., the people who bring you Quilt Market, Quilt Festival, and all manner of cool quilt industry things that you should know about (like the upcoming “Beauty In Pieces” exhibit, which has been juried and judged and all that. I’m sure they’re going to let the folks know the results very soon. For the record: Everyone is amazing and quilters are the best people on the planet.)

This one was fun to write because I describe the quilt history research project I’m doing for my cool class in the Fiber and Material Studies Department. I am debating whether or not to send it to my professor. On the one hand, she’d love it; on the other hand, gross. The teacher’s pet thing has never been a good look, you know?

Enjoy, comrades.


Meditations On Hand-Quilting (Love, The Quilt Scout.)

Mom's hand-quilted Tulips quilt hanging on the back porch at the lake house. Photo: Marianne Fons
Mom’s hand-quilted Tulips quilt hanging on the back porch at the lake house. Photo: Marianne Fons.

From where I sit in Sacramento, I’m about two hours away from the Pacific Ocean; if the breeze blows just right tomorrow, I might get some salt in my nose. Who doesn’t like that? I’m fourteen-and-a-half hours from Berlin, by the way. But I’m glad I’m at my aunt’s house. I don’t want to be in Berlin and I don’t want to be home right now, either. It would be hard tonight, being among all those objects that have now changed shape.

Tonight, rather than moping around or rubbing it in my auntie got us facials at the spa tomorrow (it has literally been a year since I had a facial) I shall direct you to the latest Quilt Scout column wherein I share my maiden voyage into hand quilting. This column has been up for about a week, actually; Quilts, Inc. has gotten a bunch of mail about it. I didn’t realize just how many hardcore hand quilters there are out there. I have been invited to join several groups already and I might do; if I bring the quilt and huge quantities of cookie bars to each group, I might get some sewing bee-style help and get that dang thing done by 2021.

The post is about memory, though, too: our first memories in life. What’s yours? What does our first memory say about how we see the world? My first memory, as I say in the article, is one of sitting on my mother’s lap while she hand quilted a wholecloth quilt. The resonance of her voice in her chest. The rocking of the rocking chair. That’s what the post is really about, I guess.

Tonight, feathers in the rocking chair to you all. Goodnight, friends.