My first post featuring completed student work was so popular I’m certainly going to make it a recurring topic. I never really know which of my posts is going to strike a chord with readers, but I assume that in this case seeing the work of their peers made it obvious that fabric collage is something almost any quilter can do. Some, at least, found it inspiring, which is what I hope for. One of the comments from the post sums it up nicely, I think.

Susan, you certainly inspire people to create incredible works of art! Bravo! Thank you for sharing this so generously with the rest of us! —May Lynne Gill 

I am happy to give my students an opportunity to shine. They work so hard, I think it’s fitting that their quilts should be exposed to a wider audience. It pleases me to be able to provide that to the extent that I can.

In this second collection of finished student work, I dip further into my email inbox to retrieve photos from former students. I often receive them long after the class, sometimes months later. I always ask permission to use a quilt before I post images. If you have a finished quilt you’d like to send to me, please feel free to email me. Please be explicit in stating whether I am free to use to the image. That’ll save me from having to email you again to ask permission. Thanks.

June 2014: London, Ontario

Some students take my class to learn to do fabric collage exactly the way I do it. Others come to class mostly as an excuse to be creative. Beth Sims’ love of buttons and beads led her to adapt my technique in her own unique way. Two years ago she took my class in London, Ontario, where she did her family tree. Since then she has done two fabulous fish and a sea turtle on her own, infusing them with her own creativity.

Thank you for your inspirational way of teaching. I loved your class,” Beth said.


Beth arrived to class with the “family leaves” already made. Her tree took on its own character with twisted silk cords, and hand-dyed gauze add texture in the background. Beads, buttons, and charms add the finishing touches. Who wouldn’t want to see their name on that family tree?

Family Tree by Beth Sims.
Fish by Beth Sims based on my pattern “Winged Butterfish.”

Beth’s fish may start out as a fabric collage, but look at those scales she adds with beads and buttons.

In progress fish by Beth Sims based on my pattern “Prickly Bass.”
Finished and framed fish art!
Sea Turtle by Beth Sims based on my “Serendipitous Sea Turtle” pattern

I can’t rave enough about Beth’s sea turtle. To me it looks like it is armored with silver medals, like some decorated knight. And the close attention to detail! Look at the tiny beads outlining the entire piece!

March 2015: Empty Spools at Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, CA

Jan Dolan was a one of my Asilomar students in 2015—along with a group of her friends. Jan’s frog has more than a touch of whimsy about it. Frida the frog seems to be wearing a self-satisfied smile. Perhaps she is particularly pleased with her hot pink eyeglasses.

Frida Frog by Jan Dolan
Jan and her new Empty Spools friend. This was one class where I managed to get farewell photos of both the creator and creation.
I love the way the stars in the background are reflected as highlights her eyes—and the red fingernails complete the look.

Jan stopped by this year’s classroom to show me the finished Frieda in person. It’s difficult to see the quilting on the background, but Jan stitched a half inch diagonal grid to balance the quilting on the frog.

June 2015: Summer Quilt Retreat, Harpswell, ME

Margaret England took her first class with me here in Harpswell, Maine, at last summer’s retreat held at the Harpswell Inn. She hopes to take another. In the meantime, she’s checking out the blog posts!

“I’m inspired by your blog and it has provided some much appreciated motivation and knowledge,” she said.

Margaret’s goldfish when I last saw it in Harpswell. She got pretty close to done.
The finished piece hanging in her home. I love the way quilting ties an image together, softening and blending edges.

July 2015: Kalispell, MT

Ann Steck is one of my numerous students from my classes at the Quilt Gallery in Kalispell. This was her first attempt at using fabric collage, and she worked very hard in training her eyes to see all the subtle shading and highlights on this little fellow. I was quite impressed.

“I so enjoyed your workshop this summer,” she said in her email. “It opened my eyes to new ways of working with fabrics. And of course it was wonderful to get to know you a little bit, and to interact with all the other lovely folks in the class.”

Ann did a great job identifying and mimicking the values in the original photo. But do you notice something is missing from the photo? (Squirrel photo by Karina Wetherbee.)
What do you do when your subject photo lacks hind feet? You get creative.
Ann used a stipple design for quilting the piece.

June 2013: Kalispell, MT

Another Kalispell alumna, Linda Dunbar, has taken more than one class from me there. Here’s her wonderful penguin—so glad I still had some in-progress photos to show.

She makes a brave choice with that purple wing—yea Linda! A good find with the lights and darks essentially built in.
She brings more purple in—and look at that wonderful fabric on the rump! The variety of colors work well together and the texture and pattern are perfect.
Then she cut away the surrounding foundation fabric in order to try out different backgrounds.
This particular choice places the penguin on a stony Antarctic  beach.
Adding a horizon gives depth. The shadow very effectively adds dimension to the piece.

January 2016: Quilting in the Desert, Phoenix, AZ

I have some dedicated students. But last winter, Rita Blocksom took that dedication about as far as it can go. Rita fell ill before the Quilting in the Desert class and was hospitalized. She had so looked forward to the class that she checked herself out of the hospital so that she could attend the five day class. Now that’s dedication!

Rita was a pleasure to have in the class, but she was obviously accomplished in fabric collage already. Here’s her (quite enlarged) version of my betta fish design from my book, Serendipity Quilts.




In class, Rita worked on a portrait of her son on a bicycle race in Europe. That one is still on the drawing board, but she sent this turtle photo to me recently. When someone works from one of my designs, I just love seeing how it gets infused with each person’s individuality.

Rita’s latest work, “Oscar” the sea turtle, quilted and finished. I love the frills.

April 2016: Quilting Adventures, Schulenberg, TX

Kaye Martindale was quite productive in class, getting not one, not two, but three projects started in class—not a usual occurrence! She then finished them at home, though I haven’t seen the fish yet.

She has displayed two of those quilts she started. The grackle was accepted into a juried art show. The flamingo was displayed in her group’s latest fiber arts exhibit.

“Both were well received, a tribute to your good teaching,” Kaye said.

Thanks, Kaye.

The very beginning. She had a good design and had a strong idea what she wanted to do.
The purple fabrics capture the sheen of the feathers.
In the finished piece, Kaye really captured the bird and its surroundings, including the reflection and transparency of the water.
Kaye chose a classic flamingo pose, perched on one leg.
The hummingbird, cut whole from a printed fabric, adds a touch of whimsy.

June 2016: Quilters Unlimited, Dulles, VA

I’ve had two students from this year’s VA class send me images of their completed quilts.

Suzanne Meader attended both the one-day spiral class and the two-day fish/bug/butterfly class. The fish quilt is based on my Peacock Bass pattern.

“Thanks so much for all of your guidance and sharing your technique. I so enjoyed the workshops and love the finished projects,” said Suzanne.

Her “koru” just begun.
“Koru” by Suzanne Meader. She did an excellent job blending from red to yellow—exactly the skill to be learned with this simplified shape. The spiral seems to mimic the flight of the butterflies she added.
Suzanne kept her fish to a more monochromatic color scheme. By the end of the second day she was playing with background ideas for this guy.
Definitely an aquatic feel to the background of Suzanne’s fish. Very nice use of patterned fabrics for the borders.

Also at the Quilters Unlimited show in Dulles, VA, was Linda Cooper. I featured Linda’s fish from the class a few weeks ago in the first “Finish Line”blog. Seeing her fish posted inspired her to finish a piece started in a previous class, a bouquet of zinnias.Woo-hoo, it’s done!

Linda managed to give the flowers shape and definition. Not an easy task. Just look at all those darn petals.
The whole cloth background adds a dramatic touch. I’ve also noticed that Linda puts a lot of thought into her quilting. You can just see the quilted zinnia design in the lower border.

Serendipity Quilts

Finally, here are a few quilts made outside of my classroom, using my book Serendipity Quilts as a guide.

Sandy Jeroszko didn’t take the class in Naples, Florida last February, but she bought my gecko pattern when I visited there. She later bought Serendipity Quilts online. Her gecko is made with batiks. She plans to enter the quilt in the 2017 Naples show. He’s a beauty!

Gecko by Sandy Jeroszko.

Kaye Burns, who has taken more than one class with me, and her friend Cyndi Guridi, who has my book, both had entries in their quilt guild’s annual show challenge. The theme of the special exhibit was “Cracked.” Kaye made a quilt of the Liberty Bell.

Liberty Bell by Kaye Burns

Cyndi won the show challenge of “Cracked” with her humorous quilt “Pumpkin Men.” It’s clear that Cyndi adapted the raw-edged collage technique to suit the piece. Parts of the quilt are collaged, the rest is traditionally pieced.

“Pumpkin Men” by Cyndi Guridi. In Maine we call that a Presque Isle Smile (no offense to any Presque Isle readers—just repeating what I’ve heard!).

So that’s where I’ll end this round—with pumpkins and a smile—seems fitting as we enter into the Autumn season (at least those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). There are many more completed student work quilts waiting in the wings for future blog posts. Keep sending them in folks. I’m so proud of all of you.

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


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