I’m ambivalent about Mary Fons’ new book Make + Love Quilts: Scrap Quilts for the 21st Century. I enjoyed spotting all the vintage and modern quilt influences in her 12 big bed size quilt patterns, and seeing the vast array of scraps she uses. Yet I can’t help but wonder if her work would be as recognized if she weren’t from a quilting dynasty. There are many similarly talented quilters out there who toil in relative obscurity.
First, the good things and there are many. Mary’s writing showcases her unique voice. There’s no bland cut and pasted general instructions here. Mary has opinions and she’s not afraid to write them down. I think her explanations may get through to folks who zone out on the usual directions.
Mary doesn’t come down in either the traditional or modern camp. She says every quilter should feel free to make the quilts she wants to make. I think she’s influenced by current quilting trends – colors, desire for functional quilts, pieced quilt backs, etc. However, I kept thinking about old quilts I’ve seen in museum collections as I examined pictures of her work. The happy accidents that occurred when a quilter ran out of a fabric or wasn’t concerned about symmetry are consciously included in Mary’s quilts.
And I had to laugh at the deliberately rumpled look of the quilts in the glossy photos. The pillows seem to have been used recently.
Now for the niggles. This is a book of scrap quilts – yay. I love scrap quilts. I have boxes of scraps waiting for their chance to be part of one. Yet making an attractive scrap quilt is harder than it looks. An individual block of scraps may look great, but induce winces when put next to other scrap blocks. A quilt like the one below takes a lot of planning to have it look accidental.
Mary talks about contrast, value and scale in fabrics; but doesn’t take the next step to give pointers about exactly how to make a successful scrap quilt. I wish she had spent less time on quilt labels and charms and more on scrap selection. I’ve followed the scrap fabric selection advice given in Nancy Mahoney’s Rich Traditions: Scrap Quilts to Paper Piece (2002) and found it specific enough to get me started.
Other points – the resources section is minimal, but Mary may figure these days most folks just look up a YouTube video. The biblioholic in me is saddened at this because a good quilting book reflects its author’s vision. A three minute film clip doesn’t.
Would I make any of the quilts in this book? Probably not, simply because I no longer make bed size quilts and, while many of the quilts are attractive, none bowl me over enough to make an exception. That said, I can see folks who are looking for more casual bed quilts that aren’t “modern” liking these.