One of the unfortunate realities of teaching fabric collage is that I don’t often get to see my students’ finished work. Only rarely do students complete projects in class. They get a solid start then I send them off (usually) confident they have the skills to complete the piece. But I seldom get to see the final work.

Which is why it’s such a treat to receive photographic presents in my email inbox when students do send me images of their completed quilts. I enjoy every one and have been gathering them for a while now. Recently, I started asking for permission to post these creations in this first batch of completed student work. As time passes, I’ll delve deeper into my mailbox and find more quilts to share.

These photos arrive from all directions of the globe, from classes in all sorts of locations, and held in different years, so the organization is somewhat haphazard, I’m afraid. The following quilts are just the most recent photos from my email box, and therefore the most easily accessible. Most are from classes given this year. I’ve identified which class they took and provided a link to that blog post, if it exists. I’ve also included any in-progress photos I may have from the original class.

I invite any past students, or anyone who has created a quilt inspired by my books or process, to send photos to be included in future blogs.

January 2016: Quilting in the Desert, Phoenix, AZ


Kate Groves arrived to class with a photo of a favorite Gustave Klimpt painting. I absolutely love Klimpt too and have forever been inspired by his color and pattern-rich artwork, which made it all the more fun to help Kate with her rendition.

I remember how Kate quietly worked away on this small homage that seems to express her own inner world as much as Klimpt’s.


February 2016: St. Augustine Piecemakers, St. Augustine, FL


I’ve received many lovely notes, like this one from Cindy Pilkington: “I finally finished my moth from your two day workshop I attended earlier this year at the St. Augustine Piecemakers. I’m so pleased with it and really enjoyed the experience of using fabric in a different way, a more artistic way! Thanks for opening my eyes and my mind to this form of fabric art! I have named it “Peace of Mine” I look forward to trying something a little more challenging now.”

Cindy did such a nice job using the designs in her fabrics to their full potential with flowing curves and leaves. The black and aqua accents on the edges of some shapes are especially effective.

“Peace of Mine”—I especially like her background treatment.

April 2016: Quilting Adventures, Schulenburg, TX

Beth Johnson moved right along on this portrait of her grandson. The original photo pictured him on his drums, but that would have made his face quite small in the overall design. She decided to focus on just the face. I think she captured his creative spirit with her very artistic approach with color and pattern.

Beth wrote: “I decided to send it to my grandson for his 12th birthday. He declared it was “awesome”! He is still talking about it. I knew he would have no trouble with the bright colors! Now I guess I need to do one for my granddaughter!” 


April 2016: Australasian Quilt Convention, Melbourne, Australia

Lesley Rumble wrote: “I see by your blog that you are in the middle of another class.  I hope they all enjoy it as much as we did here in Australia.  I thought you might like to see my completed Iguana.  I changed the eye.  I have to say that this is the first project started at AQC, that I have completed, and as I am a finisher that says a lot.”

Thank you to Lesley! Australia was in the midst of an ambitious stretch of teaching this spring, but wasn’t it fun! And look at this guy—what great use of the pattern and texture found in fabrics. He’s such a mellow fellow. Take a good look at the quilting: the shells and sea life help tell the story of this marine iguana. Nice shadows on the ground too.


In that same April class in Australia, Anna Julia chose to make an elephant with all Kaffe Fassett fabrics. The large scale of the patterned fabrics worked perfectly with the rounded contours of her subject. This is certainly a multi-colored creature, and Anna has used the warm tones of yellows and pinks for the sunny highlights, with the cool colors of blues and purples for the shady underside.

When I last saw this piece, Anna had just started on the green background. We talked about keeping larger, more detailed designs to the front, directly under the feet—progressing up with smaller shapes to give a sense of distance. It certainly worked! And I really like the patch of lime green in the background to balance the strong yellows of the forehead and tusks.



May 2016: Mother’s Day Quilt Retreat, Harpswell, ME

This butterfly truly illustrates the Impressionistic capabilities of this fabric collage process. Dabs upon dabs of fabric “strokes” make up this colorful fellow by Susan Desmarais. In the progress shot above, the upper and lower wings meld together. Susan gave a sense of separation by filling in the gaps with either yellow or blue fabrics, and now the finished piece has found its home.


June 2016: Quilters Unlimited, Northern VA


Linda Cooper is one of those students that looked so familiar but I just couldn’t place her. As it turned out, that was because she had made the fish pictured above in a class at G Street Fabrics in Rockville, MD in 2004! Check out the fishy creatures in the background quilting.

She later took a class with me at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, VA, starting a floral piece that is still in progress.

And now it was back to Northern VA for a 2-day fish class. With her other guild duties, Linda only got so far in class, but look look at that eye. It’s got some intensity already.

In the end, the fish developed a great personality and Linda finished it up with more very nice quilting.


July 2016: The Quilt Gallery, Kalispell, MT

Sam and Chico from 2015.

Samantha Leonard works at the Quilt Gallery in Kalispell, so I got to see her again this year during my annual trek to Montana, as well as having her as a student in last year’s class. She’s such a pleasant person and is quite taken by this fabric collage process. She has yet another piece to finish up and show me.

A post-bath brushing gave Sam enough of Chico’s fur to trap under the lacy “rug” under Chico’s feet.

A parting gift from Sam was this collaged reminder of what I try to impart to my students (and a slogan in my Serendipity Quilts book): “Cut Loose and Let Go!”



Quilt Gallery owner Joan Hodgeboom, began this portrait of her dog Sally in the 2014 class. The quilt is now on display at the shop, along with its show ribbons. I so enjoy seeing the real Sally every year—Sally is the real-life sister of our dog, Kali!




Joan created “Musk Ox” in last year’s class. I really like her treatment of all the wind-swept masses of fur. He looks perfectly warm enough under those Northern Lights—an addition I particularly like.


Kaye Burns was in the Kalispell class this  June, working on not only one but two pieces (see class link above). She had also been in a previous class in Harpswell (see next entry). However, this coral reef quilt she is so proudly holding up was completed on her own in the interim between classes. Just a bit prolific!

November 2014: Maine Quilting Retreat, Harpswell, ME.

In the very first class Kaye Burns had with me, she dove into this mythological beast. I say beast because the wings alone are huge and daunting. She got about this far in the four day class.


From Kaye: “Hi, here’s a photo of the quilt I did at your retreat in Maine last Nov 1–4.  I entered it in our local county fair and won best of show. Many thanks for a terrific retreat and for sharing your technique!” Her husband also made “some hooks out of very small horseshoes and a dowel with some sort of decorative ends to hang it with…” Prolific and thorough, too.


Kaye topped the entire piece with a diagonal stripe tulle that alternates between pink and purple, simulating rays of light.


October 2015: Leaf Peepers Quilt Retreat, Harpswell, ME

To finish up this premier posting of finished student work, I’d like to introduce Quin Brannaka. I had the pleasure of having her and her mom, Tracey Noviello, at my Maine October quilt retreats two years in a row. I’ve known Tracey for maybe twenty years from when we lived in New Hampshire. Quin and my son Sam were early playground playmates at about 1-1/2 years old each. She is now a lovely and talented young woman.

Quin began this sun face in the 2014 retreat. She finished it off in a very imaginative way by printing a story she had written onto canvas as the background. She then highlighted special quotes from that story and presented the piece as a gift to a very special teacher of hers.
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In 2015, Quin came prepared to begin her high school senior project—a self portrait using fabric as an artistic medium.
She chose a variety of greens to describe herself and showed a gift for working with values of color as well as using the designs in the fabric to help create her form.
The finished presentation for her senior project—”Zaia”. Quin displayed progress shots along side the original black and white photo enlargement to tell the story of her creative process.

Technically, this isn’t yet a “finished” quilt. The black background is still being considered and it still needs to be quilted. I decided to include it though, because it finishes a major stage of Quin’s life; evolving from high school into the next part of her journey. She will soon be setting off on a gap-year adventure, backpacking through Europe with a friend. Bon voyage, Quin!

Thanks to all who have sent in pictures. There are many more to post in future blogs. Remember to send in your images if you’d like to share them with others.

Click here to see The Finish Line: Completed Student Work Volume II


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