Meet Mary Smart

Meet Mary Smart 

Mary serves on the Board as our current Secretary. You can thank her for the detailed meeting minutes posted on our blog each month. Next time you see her with her iPad out at a meeting you may want to say "Cheese"!

Mary at Blue Springs State Park

Please tell us how long you have been sewing and/or quilting and when you joined the Orlando MQG.

I’ve sewn since junior high, took my portable Singer across the country to college with me, made clothing from time to time including little girl clothes for my daughter, but mostly used it to make curtains or repair things till I joined a quilt guild in a small Montana town in 1995 and went full-bore quilt-nut. I joined OMQG in November 2014

How did you learn to quilt?

When I moved to Montana, I wasn’t working, didn’t know anyone but my husband, and there was a wonderful quilt shop I started to frequent. First I made a Jacket Jazz jacket for my mother (a great introduction to patchwork), and attended a meeting about forming a local quilt guild I’d seen advertised on posters. I’ve been a quiltaholic ever since. There was a ton of experience in that group, and there was a wonderful quilt shop, so everything fell into place -- access to great fabric and books, new friends with years of experience making quilts, and lots of time to sew.  I was self-taught from books - we didn’t even have Sew Days - but I had lots of support and resources.

Feathered Star is the kind of quilting I was doing in 2000 on my domestic machine - machine trapunto, very traditional.

What machine(s) do you drive?

A 12-13 year old Bernina Virtuosa 160 Quilters Edition, a Featherweight and a vintage Kenmore 1030 I use at Sew Days and classes, and an APQS Millenium longarm machine I got in 2003 with stitch regulation but nothing else computerized.

What and/or who inspires you?

Early I was inspired by very traditional quilts I loved and wanted to own, so I was inspired then by Harriet Hargrave, Fons & Porter, Anita Shackelford, Karen McTavish, and every quilt I saw. Now I look for inspiration on Instragram, bookmarking pictures of wonderful quilting daily, and from Angela Walters (in her many books, classes in person and online, her special exhibit at QuiltCon 2017) and other longarm quilters who do amazing work.  Ongoing, I am inspired by all quilt and all quilters – guild Show N Tell, quilt shows, magazines, and books.

What is your most treasured (sewing related) possession?

A wonderful Irises quilt made by my grandmother but left unquilted, which my mother had hand-quilted by a family friend, and then was on my daughter’s bed for years. I didn’t make it, but I love it for the family connection; and I have it but it’s not even mine, it’s really my daughter’s.

Irises - quilt made by my grandmother - is my favorite sewing-related possession.

Do you sew with your shoes on or off?

Shoes off at home, because I only put them on when I go out – but I leave them on at Sew Days and retreats, because I’m so excited to start sewing I don’t think about them!

What is your favorite thing you’ve made to date?

Two Gravity quilts, designed by Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts. I wanted to make one when I first saw a picture – a color wheel star of 114 different colors of Kona solids. It was fun to make and lots of fun to quilt, but it’s also a vibrant rainbow of color that makes me smile everyday.  I made the second one for my daughter. Someday maybe I’ll make it again with scraps and prints.

One of my favorites, Swatch, designed by Modern Quilt Studio - I have never had it at Show n Tell (my latest quilt hasn't been either).

What is your next sewing adventure?

I am currently trying to make a quilt without a pattern, something I rarely do because I’m not very good at it. I spent a year buying “retro” prints to make a quilt for my retro husband, and so far I have almost finished putting them together in a 70" circle of wedges cut with a 2-piece ruler. I have a lot of ideas to finish the quilt, but I am not sure how it'll go -- I'm leaving open the possibility of it turning into a big bunch of scraps instead of a quilt. If I get it done, it won't be pretty, but I hope it's fun. I'm making it up as I go - a real challenge for me. And in this one, it's the fabric not the quilting that is the focus.

My sewing space - not quite as cramped as it looks but definitely as full of stuff.

Tell us a little known fact about yourself.

A Quilt of Valor I quilted for a Florida quiltmaker was in a special QOV display in the National Quilt Museum in Paducah for several months a few years ago. The quilts were given to veterans on Veterans Day at the end of the display. It was exciting to know something I worked on was in the museum, but neither the quilt maker nor I got there to see it.

Wildcard question: (Pick a question from the list or make up your own interview question.)  What do I love about quilting?

I love watching the layers of a quilt come together, with the sculptural effect that the quilting stitches add, right under my hands. It takes lot of time to improve your quilting skills to the point where it’s more fun than frustratingly short of what you want to do – but it’s worth the effort – and I say that even though I’m still not where I’d like to be with quilting. It’s the one thing I do that makes time pass without my noticing – my flow experience.

This is a picture of my last quilt quilted.
You can find Mary on Instagram @maryesmart


  1. Such a great interview! You are sure a talented quilter!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. really enjoyed reading about Mary and her quilting past and present.

  4. Such an interesting and fun person!

  5. I love the use of solids ...I am always drawn to your quilts , Mary ! So beautiful and the quilting is gorgeous . Thank you for your wonderful interview !


Post a Comment

Keep the conversation going!