The Sweetpea Star Block.

posted in: Tips, Work 5
I'm calling it "The Sweetpea Star" block. Photo: Me
I’m calling it “The Sweetpea Star” block. Photo: Me

I was invited to teach a class at the 2017 QuiltCon and the one that they want is my (new!) class on partial seaming. The block above — which is old as the hills — uses partial seaming and will be the basis of the class. I’m calling it the “Sweetpea Star” but it surely has ten names already. “Partial” and “seaming” are two words that when used together make many quilters flinch. Isn’t that something garment makers do? Surely there’s a shortcut. A special ruler, perhaps?

Yes, garment makers use partial seams, but patchwork makers can, too: including you, if cutting up big pieces of fabric into small pieces of fabric and then sewing them back together again is your cup of tea. Are there shortcuts? Special tools? For most partially seamed blocks, yeah, but if you see a killer block that uses partial seaming and then you try to find a way around doing that part, you won’t get the same thing. The shapes will be a little narrower, maybe, or a little wider. It’ll look close, but not as good.

It’s like a designer handbag: you can totally buy the knock-off version, and okay, sure, it looks pretty good. You might even get compliments on it. But there are those who will know, who will ask you where you got your bag and, because you are honest, you will say, nervously, “Oh, well, haha, you know, a store — hey, are you hungry? Let’s get a panini.”

And of course, you’ll know. You’ll know you did some dirty patchwork to avoid doing partial seams. And you’ll have to live with that. You’ll have to live with that a long time.

This is a strange way to invite guild programming officers to request my new “No-Fear Partial Seams: Sweetpea Star Block” class when you contact me about coming to a guild near you. It’s also an announcement that I’ll be teaching at QuiltCon in Savannah in February and those planning to attend should register for the class. (I’ll be teaching two blocks of it and will debut a new lecture at the show, as well.)

You can do something hard. Usually, it’s not even hard. You just tried it once (whatever it was) and it yes, it was hard, so you got it in your mind that that thing is hard and you can’t do it, so you say you don’t want to do it. But you kind of do want to do the hard thing, deep down. I don’t know about all those other people, but if you’re a quilter facing a hard situation, I have fabulous news for you:

Fabric is soft.



posted in: Work 0
The first book in the American Girl Doll series for Civil War-era girl, Addy. That would be double-pink she's rocking.
The first book in the American Girl Doll series for Civil War-era girl, Addy. That would be double-pink she’s rocking.

The webinar series I have begun is proving to be as educational and groovy as I thought it might be. The next installment is next week, Wednesday, July 24th. The time of the show changed from the afternoon slot we had last time to accommodate those who wanted an evening time slot this time. At 8pm EST tomorrow night, it’s showtime. (Is that prime time?? I think it is! Very exciting.) As always, you don’t have to watch the thing live; you can download it whenever you please and watch it whenever you please.

Next week in the Color Me Quilter webinar series, I will examine pink in American quilts and help you use pink in your own quilts. We’ll talk about cool toned pinks (“bubblegum” pinks popular in the early 20th century) vs. warmer toned ones (“double pink,” a.k.a. “cinnamon pink” all the rage during the Civil War) and we’ll look at the pink stars of the quilt shows — think Rose of Sharon quilts, charm quilts, and countless baby quilts, of course. Goo-goo, ga-ga.

As for me, well, I adore pink. Slavishly devoted. If stopped on the street and asked what my favorite color is, I would have to say red, “in small doses.” But doesn’t that mean pink is, by default, second in command? And if I prefer red, meted out, might I accept pink in waves? Why, yes. Yes, I would. Do. Give it to me.

The calmness of pink. Its wink. The quiet power of pink and its allies — for you don’t put garish bright yellow with pink, or a crazy Kelly green, not if you’re wise. Pink needs gentleness around it; all goofiness must go. So pink attracts like minds. And I like pink’s mind.

Join me for Color Me Quilter. Wednesday next week. Let’s spend time together and geek out about our quilts. Let’s get inspired by the color cool enough to not even want to be red.

Next Week: “Patchworkshop” at NYC’s Sewing Studio!

posted in: Work 4
It's almost obscenely enticing, isn't it? Sewing Studio, 134 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001. Phone: (646) 961-4747
It’s almost obscenely enticing, isn’t it? Sewing Studio, 134 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001. Phone: (646) 961-4747

See that picture up there?

Add some fabric, some friends, and some patterns to work with, and that’s a lil’ picture of heaven, muchachos.

Next week, I’ll be leading a “Patchworkshop” at NYC’s fabulous, adorable, info-rich Sewing Studio. I’m kinda pinching myself, honestly. Teaching people to quilt in New York City?? Whose life is this?! I feel very grateful. I’m working on all my packets of info, I’ve got a friend at Dear Stella who is making some goodie bags. I’ve got quilts to share. I can’t wait to meet my students.

There are still a couple slots left in the July week-long class; same for the August class but you should not tarry. Here are the deets:

Master Series: “Patchworkshop” with Mary Fons
July 21st-25th (Monday to Friday), 6:30pm-9:00pm; or August 18th-22nd (Monday to Friday), 6:30-9:00pm

“No matter how cool our gadgets are, no matter how fast we can pin images and send files, human beings still want and need handmade quilts. If you’ve ever wanted to make one, this class is for you. Primarily, we’ll focus on what comes first in any quilt: making the patchwork top (you will get some quilting instruction.) You’ll learn “the patchwork quartet” (cutting, sewing, pressing, and ripping); you’ll learn how to properly rotary cut fabric; you’ll get tons of pointers on fabric selection; you’ll construct blocks to either finish or get a beautiful, running start to your very first quilt. (You’ll get lots of quilt history, too, and tons of tips from the pros.) Come learn how to make patchwork — and probably change your life while you’re at it.”

About the instructor: Mary Fons, aside from being an avid quilter, national teacher, on-camera host, author, and magazine editor, is a self-proclaimed “beginner quilter’s BFF” and will never make you feel foolish for not knowing how. Mary is a celebrated quilter and TV host, and the founder of Quilty, a weekly online program for the beginner quilter. For more about Mary, visit

Course outline: Full course details will be posted the week of July 14.

Class limit: 10 students
Cost per student: $650
Materials: Bring basic sewing supplies plus a selection of fat quarters: 4-6 light, 4-6 medium, and 4-6 dark. (Bring more if you want!)