Mary Fons – A Writer Who Grew Up Under a Quilt

Mary Fons

Mary Fons

Mary Fons refers to herself as “a writer who grew up under a quilt.”  She co-hosts Love of Quilting on PBS alongside her mom, popular quilter and educator Marianne Fons.

a-aQuilty-LogoIn 2010, Mary created Quilty, a weekly online program for the beginner quilter (New Track Media, now F+W Media). Today, there are over 200 episodes of Quilty  available at, as well as a bi-monthly magazine. Quilty magazine, of which Mary is the editor and creative director, is available nationwide at bookstores, quilt shops, and via auto-ship and digital subscription at and www, Each issue has more than a dozen projects aimed at the beginner quilter.

a-aMakeLove_Final_LowResCoverMary’s quilts are frequently featured in Love of Quilting and Quilty. She lectures and leads workshops across the country, has written her blog, PaperGirl, since 2006, and her first book, Make + Love Quilts: Scrap Quilts for the 21st Century is out now from C&T.

So, who is Mary Fons? What inspires her? In a recent PaperGirl post entitled “The Question Must Not Be Asked,” Mary writes:

“I will always prioritize writing. Always. If I’m not writing here, I’m in my journals. If I’m not in my journals, I’m reading, the other half of writing. There’s time every day for one part of this endless, bizarre, oft-fruitless, occasionally ecstatic process of mine and I refuse to be told there isn’t. I can’t help it. I actually can’t. Without the writing thing in my life, I feel nothing short of impoverished. And when I feel like that, well, no one gets anything at all — not on time, not late, not anything.”

Born and raised in rural Iowa, Mary lived in Chicago for twelve years where she worked as a theater artist and freelance writer, writing for books, magazines, syndication, and educational companies. This summer, she moved to the heart of New York City, “for love,” as she says in her blog, found at

Mary started quilting in earnest seven years ago while recovering from a life-threatening health issue. Though she started quilting when the modern quilting movement was beginning, Mary’s quilt style is not modern, but “traditional with an updated palette.”

When buying fabric, Mary applies what she calls “the Dress Test.”  She asks herself, “If this fabric were a dress, would I wear it?” If the answer is no, the fabric is bypassed.  She loves every fabric she buys, therefore, no fabric sits long. Mary makes big quilts and tries to use as many fabrics as possible in each. She does not use just one color of pink, but rather twenty shades or more, as in her Pink Waves (2010) quilt. Mary loves to make scrap quilts and likes to add a rogue fabric or color just for the thrill.

Mary with mom, Marianne Fons.

Mary with mom, Marianne Fons.

Having an influential mom in the quilt world has been a mixed blessing. While certain introductions were made more swiftly as a result of her last name, Mary’s struggle has been to establish herself as distinct from her mother’s style and name while showing the sincere respect she has for all her mother’s contributions and for the art of quiltmaking as a whole. What has never been in question: the love and true camaraderie she and her mom have with each other. “You can’t fake that,” Mary says of her and her mother’s rapport on public television. “We really do love each other and love working together – always have.”

a-AColorMeQuilter-logoMary recently started a monthly webinar series, Color Me Quilter, where each month, she examines using a different color in your quilts. Webinars continue to gain in popularity for quilters who want great instruction from the comfort of their own homes. Mary’s series is attracting fans already for its fun, engaging approach to selecting fabrics for your next project. Go to to purchase a “ticket.” You can watch the webinar live as it happens or buy it later as a download to watch at your convenience.