So the weather teased us all week long during my June 2017 Maine Quilt Retreat. It started out much hotter than normal, up in the 90s for the first couple of days, which was quite a surprise to students coming from the hotter areas of the country expecting relief from the heat. Then it switched to cooler than normal, hovering around 60 degrees for the rest of the class.

Nonetheless, we had a fabulous time inside the classroom, cutting and gluing fabric to create some wonderful fabric collage quilts. Helping to make the week a success were new Harpswell Inn owners Rick and Trisha. Thanks, guys!

Also adding to the experience was the food by our new caterer, Theresa Tetreault, from local fresh food emporium Veggie Corner. She delivered yummy lunches and one dinner with all the vegan (and non-vegan) options I make available to everyone.

Dinner at the inn.
Dinner at the inn.

As usual we also had one night out on the town. We trekked over to the other side of Harpswell to visit Morse’s Cribstone Grill. While we were on Bailey Island we also visited the Giant’s Stairs, an easy after dinner stroll along the rocky coast and a local scenic attraction.

Dinner at Morse’s Cribstone Grill.

We may have a new leader in the long distance student challenge. Trisha Wright came all the way from England to attend the class with her sister Jo Cleverley from Toronto. They met in Canada and drove to Maine to attend the retreat together—adding to Trisha’s mileage. But then there was also Becky Price from Alaska to contend with. That’s some serious distance too. I know I have some Aussie readers. Looks like Trisha and Becky have thrown down the gauntlet. Is someone from Down Under going to pick it up and become the new long distance student record holder? I’m truly honored when people attend my classes, wherever they’re from. It’s a vote of confidence I take seriously.

Pictured left to right: back row—Jean Savalchak, Marilyn Davidson, Betsy Dorr; third row— Darlene Detterman, Becky Price, Lynda Flynn, Jan Fox; second row—Louise Greenfield on left, Suzanne Meader on right; front row—me, Trisha Wright, Jo Cleverley, and Nancy Cooledge. Not pictured: Joanne Haslam.

Of course it wasn’t all eating good food and sightseeing. They actually did do some work as well, of course. Betsy Dorr of Quilt Essentials, a fabulous fabric and quilting shop in Auburn, Maine, took some time off from her shop-owner duties to relax and be creative for herself. An elusive wolf is the result.

Betsy Dorr and her wolf.

You might recognize returning student Marilyn Davidson’s work. She brought a couple of her finished bird quilts to share with the class. I took some close-ups of the snowy egret’s feathers. What a beautiful job she did with layering lace and other sheer fabrics to create the visual texture. I featured her and her photographer husband Joel’s work in a blog post: “Marilyn and Joel Davidson: Collaborators in Life and Art.”

Take a look at the progress the entire class made in following slide show.

Susan Carlson June 2017 Maine Quilt Retreat

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For an overall impression of the classroom, the students, and their work, my husband Tom dropped in to film a couple walkthrough videos. So nice to have a local assistant!

Day Two

Day Four

Thanks to all my students. It’s their energy that carries me through the week. At dinner one night, one of them asked me, “Don’t you ever get sick and tired of us?” I kinda laughed and tried not to choke on any food. But I think she was implying that the classes could get tedious and perhaps repetitious for me. In fact, what I find interesting is how different each class is. Each brings different subject matter and different skill levels which make for a teaching challenge every time. I never know quite what to expect. But it does help to keep life interesting. 


  • Seeing the progression of the quilts is wonder-FULL! One really gets the sense of ‘building’ from the foundation up. Can’t be done without the help of a good architect: You!

    • Wow I cannot wait for the day that I am one of the students, what a talented group. Thank you for sharing

  • I love your blog and the pictures you share of your work and your students’ works. Someday I want to be one of your students!

  • I just ordered an older publication of your books…..Serendipity Quilts. I hope it gives me all the information that I need to start making one of these collage quilts that I’m absolutely in love with…….love your tecknique… it’s a waiting game for the book to arrive. Do you have any other books that I should consider Susan?

    • Serendipity Quilts is my most recent book (Seven years ago!). The only other is Freestyle Quilts, almost two decades ago. Serendipity describes the way I work and teach now, so I think you have the right one.

  • My all time fovourite class/retreat bar none. So happy to see that fantastic room and the magic transformations still taking place!

  • I love your blog posts Susan. Since I’m Down Under I’d love to be the first Aussie to do a class but I very much doubt it. :-((((((( However, you may come back down here and then we’ll see. The class photos are great, the only workshop I’ve done with piles of fabric heaped up was with Gloria Loughman and it was a beautiful sight! I really like looking at the use of the fabrics and sometimes spotting one I’ve got.

  • It was a wonderful class/retreat and group of ladies. Susan’s teaching and guidance gave me the confidence to try something new. I can’t wait to take another class.

  • Wondering if you could post a video on how to create the background once the central piece is complete.

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