There’s a lot of work to my business that goes on behind the scenes, so to speak. At least you don’t often hear about here in the blog. (An exception was when I asked for feedback about a possible online coursesee below.) Yet, you may be aware of promises I have made and may be wondering whether I am working on keeping those promises.

For example, many of you have been asking when I am going to announce dates and open up registration for my 2018 Maine Quilt Retreats. Or you may be aware that I am planning to create an online course for those of you who, for various reasons, can’t attend my retreats or a class at another venue around the country. Whatever happened to that?

Well, I wish I could say that both of these projects were complete and ready to release.

But I can’t.

I am making progress, however. So I thought now would be a good time to bring you up to speed on the things that I’m working on behind the scenes.


The Portland, Maine waterfront during my May Quilt Retreat.

Openings for 2017 October Maine Quilt Retreat—All Levels

I have recently had a (smallish) rash of cancellations for my five-day, October 16-20, 2017 retreat held in Portland, Maine at the Hyatt Place Portland–Old Port. Currently there are at least 2 openings.

Here’s a description of the class:

If you haven’t taken a class with me before or if you need a refresher this class is for you, though any level may sign up. I start each morning with about an hour-long demonstration that will lay out the basics of fabric collage and will give you the information you need to start your work day. I will then visit each student in turn to address individual needs and your project’s unique challenges.

Retreat fee includes onsite lunches as well as one group dinner. Lodging and additional meals are extra. Continental breakfast provided by the Hyatt for those who stay there. Lodging arranged and paid separately by student. Extended stays can be requested. Sharing of rooms can be accommodated. It is not required to stay in the Hyatt Place Portland-Old Port but it is recommended for convenience. Class size enrollment is limited to 12.

For more information, or to sign up or be added to the waitlist, follow this link:

October Maine Quilt Retreat–All Levels


The Harpswell Inn, home of past and hopefully future quilt retreats.

2018 Maine Quilt Retreats

The best laid plans… you know how that one goes, right?

Well, I expected to have my 2018 Maine Quilt Retreats all planned out by now, but events have conspired against me. The Harpswell Inn, which has hosted most of my retreats has recently changed owners. While I and the Inn’s new owners plan to continue that relationship, I’m going to let them settle into the busy Maine summer season before confirming events for next year.

So here’s what we’re going to do:

I plan on holding five Maine retreats in 2018, two of which will be (fingers crossed) hosted at the Harpswell Inn—one in June and one in early October. I will wait until this September to make my decision on whether those two retreats will be held there or at an alternative venue. I will announce dates and other details at that time.

In the meantime, the other three retreats will be held at the Hyatt Place Old Port-Portland. Since I have already signed contracts with them, there’s no reason I can’t go ahead and announce the dates for those events.

BUT, I am going to delay registration for ALL five retreats until this September, when I have finalized plans for the last two. That way both venues, either Harpswell or Portland, will be available to choose between upon registration.

So if you’re interested, you can start dreaming, maybe even checking your vacation schedule. However, registration—or even a waiting list—won’t begin until September. Thank you for your patience.

Here are the dates for the Portland, Maine retreats. See above for a description of the class.

April 9-13, 2018

October 15-19, 2018

October 22-26, 2018


New AV equipment, including lights, will aid in the production of the video for my online course.

Online Course Update: Process vs. Project

Months ago I asked for your input on creating an online class. I even asked you to help support this blog and the planning and production of an online class by making a small monthly monetary contribution, which a number of you have done (See the Patreon link on this page), and I thank you very much for those votes of confidence! At the time I expected I could produce the class in a few months or maybe half a year. I was oh so naive. Producing an online course has proven far more involved than I imagined.

However, I have made progress. Most of the progress is still conceptual. Answering the what, and how, and even why questions has been my focus in partnership with hubby Tom.

The hardest part for me is not presenting the information, but figuring out feedback. Not how to give it. That would be relatively easy—a private Facebook group is one simple solution I’m already trying out. Rather, how to manage answering questions so that it doesn’t become all-consuming. I want to continue to host my own retreats as well as travel to select venues around the country and internationally. I also want to continue to produce my own art quilts. I fear that the commitment of giving feedback to dozens of people who may be taking my class at any moment could be overwhelming, taking over my own creative and personal time.

Identifying this problem and working to find solutions to it actually has led to an interesting insight:

I think I need to develop two kinds of online classes.

The first class is essentially based on this blog, particularly the posts that describe how I do what I do. It’s all about the technique: cutting, gluing, choosing fabrics, blending colors, using value to create form, and so forth. This class would be about process, giving students the skills they need to tackle any subject matter they may choose. This class would take the form of a student guide (a downloadable .pdf or e-book), made up of text, images, video, and simple exercises.

The student projects above illustrate what a second class—or series of classes—may look like. These projects are all by first-time students from recently taught classes at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, MI (sea turtle by Carol Thomas, butterfly by Ruth Pollow, and fish by Ilona Stroupe). On-line classes of this kind would be focused on a particular project. Students would choose a subject to complete—a spiral; a turtle; or a fish, bug, or butterfly. The class would take the form of step-by-step video, accompanied by written instructions with images. Each project will require it’s own separate class. I expect to start with either the Serendipitous Sea Turtle or the Fish, Bug, or Butterfly class. These are both classes I teach in real life and should be adaptable to a six-part, video step-by-step format. The six modules (at this point) would cover:

  • Getting Started: Design and Fabric Selection
  • The Fabric Collage Technique: Cutting and Gluing
  • Backgrounds: Highlighting Your Image
  • Details: Jazzing It Up
  • Netting and Tulle: Adding Layers
  • Quilting and Finishing

So when is all this going to be ready?

I should be ready to “publish” the student guide for the process-oriented class by the end of summer. The project-based online classes will take longer to produce, realistically following after the holidays.

Notice I haven’t even mentioned feedback.

The solution—at this moment at least—seems to be to keep the feedback optional. What do I mean? I mean that students would sign up separately for feedback via a dedicated Facebook group. In fact, as mentioned above, this service is available already through Patreon. For a monthly fee of $20, patrons get (among other goodies) access to a private Facebook group where I answer questions and give feedback on projects shared—much like the experience in a live class.

For those of you who have been following this blog, or have read my book(s), or attended a class or retreat, feedback is available right now. If you have a project in progress and would like to receive my comments as well as share it with an exclusive group of other fabric collage quilters, you can sign up for my private Facebook group by subscribing to my Patreon site at the $20 per month level. And, just so you know, this subscription can be cancelled at any time.


In Conclusion

So there you have it, some of the thoughts swirling around in my head—retreats, classes, on-line classes, this year, next year, this week’s blog, next week’s blog, where are the dogs, what’s for dinner? A mind can be a messy-scary place. It’s like when my students start getting into their projects and there’s bits and pieces here and there—so messy it’s scary. But I tell them to take a deep breath and trust the process. If you keep at it, it’ll all come together. Eventually. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

8 Comments

  • Susan,
    I have been waiting for years to get in a class with you and was so looking forward to coming back to Maine, old family stomping ground, to do a retreat with you. Well looks like I will miss out again, if you wait until September I will be in Spain for two months.
    So I miss out again, darn, tried a few times at . Empty Spool, once at Art Quilt Tahoe and a few times in Maine. Just seems to not be in the cards for me. Do love my Sun and Moon from your book but would still like to see a few tricks of the trade.

    • Hi Leslie, thanks for trying so diligently to get into a class of mine – I’m honored! My scheduled gets re-shuffled every year as I travel around, and hopefully there’ll even be a Maine date that works for you eventually.

  • Hi Susan!
    What an awesome post–so much great information about what’s up! You probably read my recent comment about being the first alternate (wait list) for your class at Asilomar. Still sitting here in California with my fingers crossed. Happy to hear about all that is going on behind the scenes. And, please share…where ARE your sweet pups? and what IS for dinner? Truly good to hear from you this week via your blog 😉

    • Well, Juliet, I will keep my fingers crossed too. And the pups are still lounging slug-like in “our” bed at 7am on a Sunday morning—even though Tom and I are up—with a clean-out-the-fridge smorgasbord on the menu for dinner tonight. Have a great week!

  • I have put my name down for your classes in Australia, with Caroline Sharkey in May 2018. So looking forward to working with you. Caroline is coming to our quilting group later this month, so will have a chance to talk to her and make sure I am signed up for your classes.
    Love your work..
    Cheers Chris

  • Hi Susan
    I’m in Australia,so can’t come to your classes, so anything you do online would be great for me.I have both your books & have used your technique many times, just recently to make a portrait of Marilyn Monroe which won a judges choice in our Guild show.I really think that $20 a month is a small price to pay for your feedback so will certainly start that up soon .
    Best wishes from Down Under.

  • I can’t wait for September! I look forward to the opportunity to register for one of your classes in Maine. The on line classes sounds like a wonderful why to prepare!
    Thank you!

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