It was a beautiful Friday afternoon when my friend Priscilla and I headed to Marion, Indiana to meet Marianne Fons and Liz Porter on the eve of their induction into the Quilters Hall of Fame.
I was only familiar with “F&P” for their book on quilted vest making going back to the 1980’s. I never made any of them but I purchased a simple vest pattern and started “string quilting” holiday vests for various holidays.
Little did I know until the Friday prior to the trip when I stopped at a “fabric and craft” yard sale that they also created quilt kits. I found their “Yikes Daisies” (2011) kit featuring colorful Red Rooster fabrics at the sale, purchased it and brought it along for the ride. At the celebration, vendor Cindy Claycamp, this year’s Indiana State Quilt Guild’s 2019 Life Time Achievement Award winner, purchased it from me so she could hopefully get her photo taken with it and F&P. Truly one quilter’s yard sale find became another quilter’s treasure.
The walk through of Marianne and Liz’s quilts was a great opportunity to get acquainted with them and their quilts. Marianne and Liz met back in 1977 when they took a quilting class in their hometown of Winterset, Iowa (pop 5276). They evolved from students to co-teachers and started publishing quilt books as a means to support their families. In 1993 they hit the proverbial jackpot with the publication of Quilter’s Complete Guide, an exceptional reference volume that sold over half a million copies. The success of the book opened doors to other ventures. Being so popular in print form, they cast their eyes toward a how-to program on public television. F&P soon discovered if you want to be on PTV, it’s up to you to raise the funds to make it happen, which they did by obtaining national sponsors. Over the next decade PTV took them into the homes of millions of quilters who learned how to take bits of fabric and rearrange them into beautiful designs. Their quilting empire grew to include the largest circulating quilt magazine, a mail order business, and a quilter’s product line.
Marianne refers to her latest finished quilt as her “latest and greatest quilt” and unlike other quilters, she finishes every one. No unfinished projects languishing under her bed!
Liz created a quilt using two different quilt blocks: the nine patch and the nine-patch within a nine patch where five of the squares are made up of mini nine patches. She noted that the quilt didn’t have a border which makes it look older. She admonished us to know when to quit. It is her opinion that some quilters get tired and add borders just because they wanted a bigger quilt even though the added border doesn’t enhance the quilt. Liz has her quilts quilted by the Old Order Amish women, but she was quick to point out several times that she did hand applique the stems.
We viewed Americana Sampler created by both F&P for the cover of Quilter’s Complete Guide. They both made doubles of their blocks to swap so they would each end up with a complete set.
Many of the attendees had questions and shared thoughts about their quilts. I only had one question: Do they still make quilted vests? The answer was a resounding “NO!”
From a beginning quilt class to a quilting empire, Marianne Fons and Liz Porter are deserving to be inducted into the prestigious Quilters Hall of Fame!