Quilting Magazine Exposes Craft's Risque Underside

Mary Beth Bellah says her Viagra-inspired quilt "Helping Hands" has caused a stir at some shows.
Mary Beth Bellah says her Viagra-inspired quilt "Helping Hands" has caused a stir at some shows. (By Stephanie Gross For The Washington Post)

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By Monica Hesse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 5, 2009

The issue is wrapped in a prim plastic sleeve, but the lurid electric blue display copy still leaps from the page:

Shocking!

Controversial!

Quilts!

Quilts?

As in, "Shocking Quilts: We Show You the Controversial Patchwork." Advertised right on the cover of Quilter's Home.

(The magazine's other cover lines: "5 Popular Appliqué Glues Put to the Test," "Read This Before Buying That Longarm.")

Mark Lipinski, the editor of Quilter's Home, knew that the January/February issue might be perceived as scandalous.

This is why he took precautions -- $2,500 worth of precautions, which is what it cost to wrap each of some 45,000 copies in plastic before distributing them to newsstands and craft stores across the country. Doing his best to protect the unwary public from the adults-only images inside (but you buy it for the articles).

The precautions were fruitless.

Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts, the sewing and scrapbooking mega-chain with several locations in the Washington area, opted not to carry the sordid edition -- a little "too hot" for Jo-Ann is what Lipinski says his distributor told him. Phone calls to Darrell Webb, chief executive of Jo-Ann, and Lisa Greb, public relations director, were not returned. "Good grief! What year is this???" writes a poster identified as "Sara Volk" in response to the news on Lipinski's blog. "Since when did JoAnn Fabrics become the arbiter of MY morals? I'll go to church for that . . . and when I want styrofoam chickens I'll go to JoAnn's."

Lipinski, who takes pride in his magazine in showing the "irreverent" side of quilting (see: the feature on "Quiltzillas" or the regular column Cocktails With Mark), says he fully supports Jo-Ann's right not to carry the issue -- especially as the magazine is available at Barnes & Noble and Sam's Club. And he has 35,000 subscribers. Jo-Ann stores usually sell about 7,000 copies per issue.


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