September: Mary Fons – Friendship Block

Media’s influence on the evolution of the modern quilting movement cannot be understated. While print and television media have played important roles in the quilting community throughout earlier generations, participation primarily took place locally and in-person. Recently that changed as quilters began using social media to find and connect with other quilters. In the mid-2000s social media was blossoming and with it creating a whole new generation of young quilt enthusiasts. They formed on-line groups, posted pictures, wrote blogs and made videos to share, inspire and teach each other about quilting. 

I’ve chosen Mary Fons to represent media’s influence on modern quilters because of the depth and breadth of her media use. Daughter of industry legend Marianne Fons, as a quiltmaker Mary’s work has been mostly modern traditionalism, appropriately bridging established quilting traditions with the new. Continuing her mother’s role as a quilting ambassador and teacher, with her name recognition and media savvy she was uniquely poised to reach existing and emerging quilters using the on-line platform over the last 13 years or so.

Little Black Dress by Mary Fons, 60” x 80”

Blogs and pictures filled the internet with exciting modern fabrics and fresh new quilt designs and, like Mary Fons, the 20 and 30-somethings were learning to sew on the fly, ignoring lots of the “old rules” and turning to the internet for tutorials, ideas and inspiration. 

Mary reached beyond blogging and picture posting to the internet video audience by launching on-demand quilting videos in 2007. Targeting beginning quilters, these videos were packed with the basics and how-tos that new quilters sought, and she followed up with a quilting magazine, podcast, blog and books.

Mary’s influence continues. In addition to being a quiltmaker, author, teacher and historian, Mary is on the editorial staff of QuiltFolk, a publication whose mission is to tell the stories of quiltmakers around the country.

Blonde Redhead by Mary Fons, 86” x 86″

This month’s Friendship Block is a variation of the block Mary Fons used in Blonde Redhead. Great for using up scraps (or not) it works alone in a horizontal or on-point layout and when used together with a the  slightly modified Companion block (refer to Section Two) it can create a more complex design.


Fabric Requirements

  1. Corner Arrows:  Blue, Green, Red & Yellow scraps for (12) 2.5” squares
  2. Background: Light Neutral print or solid (1) 16” x 2.5”strip, (1) 13” x 6.5” strip

Step 1: Cut and Layout Fabrics Patches

Referring to Figure 1, cut the following fabric patches.

  1. Corner Arrows  
  • A: Cut (4)  2.5” squares – 1 each in a dark values of blue, green, red & yellow.
  • B: Cut (8) 2.5” squares – 2 each in medium values of blue, green, red & yellow.
  1. Background  
  • C1 & C2: Cut (6) 2.5” squares from the 16”x 2.5” strip.
  • D1 & D2: Cut (5) 6.5” x 2.5” rectangles from the 13” x 6.5” strip.

3. Arrange patches following the layout in Figure 1.

Step 2 : Make the four B/D2 Units

  1. Flip the B patches over so they are right sides together with the D1 patches.
  1. On the wrong side of each B patch draw a diagonal stitching line from the inside top corner to the outside bottom corner.
  1. Stitch together each B/D1 units along the drawn line.
  1. Trim the excess outside corner from each B/D1 unit, leaving a ¼” seam allowance & press. 
Trimmed B/D1 Units
Pressed B/D1 Units

Step 3: Make Center Unit

  1. Stitch together the two A/C1 sections & press.
  1. Sew the two A/C1 sections to patch D1 & press.

Step 4: Add Outer Ring

  1. Sew top and bottom B/D2 units to center unit & press.
  1. Stitch a C2 patch to each end of the left and right side B/D2 units & press.
  1. Sew C2/B/D2 units to left & right sides go center unit & press.
  1. Square up completed block to 10.5” x 10.5” as needed.


Bonus Companion Block

Make this companion block to create quilt designs like “All Tied Up”.

  1. Assemble the B/D1 units as in Step 2 above.
  2. Eliminate the D1 & (2) C1 patches, replaced the pieced center unit with a 6.5” X 6.5” background patch E.
  3. Add the outer ring as in Step 4, but eliminate the (4) C2 patches and instead use the A patches in the corner positions.

And Finally . . .  some quilt design ideas for the Friendship Block