Cutting Loose

butterfly001susan carlson

This class is full.

Tuesday & Wednesday, April 4-5, 2017

9:30 am-4:30 pm

Instructor: Susan Carlson

By popular demand, Susan Carlson is back at WMQFA to teach classes after her exciting exhibit and lecture on “Crocodylus Smylus” in December, 2015.

The Cutting Loose class combines aspects of Susan’s earlier classes (Somethin’ Fishy and Somethin’ in the Air) with her evolving techniques of fabric collage. Cutting Loose demonstrates a looser approach to the piecing and assembly of a wall quilt. Emphasis will be placed on the collage piecing process. Patterns or templates will not be used. Instead, students will sketch their design onto a foundation fabric and fill in the design with fabrics of their choice. This encourages playfulness, serendipity, and a willingness to “cut loose.” Due to time constraints, students need to create a fish, butterfly, or bug. Designs will also be available from Susan for a small fee of $3-$5.

Instructor Bio: Susan Carlson is an artist by birth, a teacher by calling, and an author by choice. She has been developing and practicing her own technique of fabric collage quilting for over thirty years, teaching it for 20 years, and has written two books describing it (Freestyle Quilts and Serendipity Quilts). Each year she travels around the country and internationally helping hundreds of students to discover and set free the quilt artist inside. Her quilts have won awards from the American Quilter’s Society and the International Quilt Festival.  Susan is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art and a long time student of the Meta Carlson Studio of Fabric Creations. www.susancarlson.com

Meals and Lodging: Bring a brown bag lunch or order daily from a Cedarburg eatery. Beverages and snacks provided. There are a number of B & B’s and chain hotels in the Cedarburg/Grafton area and all are in an easy driving distance from the museum.

Class fee is $265. Register online below.

Cancellation Policy: This class has a 90 day cancellation policy. Registration cancelled before January 4, 2017 will be refunded.



  • SCRAPS OF FABRIC in a variety of colors and shapes. The little pieces that you would normally throw away. The more the better, fiber content may and can, vary. SPECIAL EMPHASIS ON FABRICS WITH PRINTSOR PATTERNS IN THEM – especially “organic” shapes such as flowers, leaves, swirls, etc… Batiks work especially well as there is usually a value range (light to dark) in addition to the overall design (solid colored fabrics or those with gradual color gradations don’t work well in this technique).
  • LARGER PIECES of fabric in a variety of designs and colors you plan to work with – especially fabric you may want to use as background to your subject.
  • FOUNDATION FABRIC. Muslin works well, as it is sturdy but light enough so that a photocopied pattern can be seen through it. It should be large enough to more than cover the base of your project – usually 1/2 to 1 yard.
  • TULLE (Bridal Illusion) in a variety of colors, especially black and a color or two to match your color scheme – size to match your project.
  • AILEEN’S TACKY GLUE or other water soluble, non-toxic, craft or fabric glue. I like a glue that has some body to it (it won’t seep through the fabric easily) and that dries flexible (some white glues are made to dry stiff).
  • FABRIC SCISSORS – different sizes or styles may be helpful. Larger for the straight cuts, smaller for detail cutting. I find those pelican-BLADED embroidery scissors nice for cutting around curves.
  • Sharpened PENCILS
  • Fine-point permanent MARKER
  • Straight PINS


  • NETTING – various sizes, weights, and designs to play with.
  • My BOOKS – Serendipity Quilts: Cutting Loose Fabric Collage (will be available in class), presents the cutting loose process; and Free-Style Quilts: A “No Rules” Approach, presents fish and coral reef quilts (will need to find a used source as it is out-of-print).
  • A REDUCING GLASS (looks like a magnifying glass), or a PEEP-HOLE from a door (find at a hardware store), or DIGITAL CAMERA. Any of these will reduce the image you are looking at and allow you to assess how your work is progressing from a different perspective.
  • Clear TAPE
  • TWEEZERS or STILETTO (I don’t use them, but many students do and are happy they brought them).
  • Table LAMP
  • Foam core BOARD – to work on and possibly to transport work-in-progress.


In multiple day classes there may be those who get to the quilting stage, maybe one will even get to the binding, but most will still be collaging (I’d be in that group!). So, use your best judgement on how fast you work and how easy it is to travel with your machine. If it’s not a big hassle, bring it just in case. In which case, please add:

  • A SEWING MACHINE that can be set up for free-motion machine quilting–including the correct presser foot (refer to owner’s manual if needed).
  • BACKING FABRIC – to match size.
  • THIN COTTON BATTING – to match size.
  • SAFETY PINS for basting.
  • A variety of THREADS for quilting. I particularly enjoy using rayon, variegated, or other specialty threads.
  • A ROTARY CUTTER, cutting MAT, and cutting RULER.

Cutting Loose Materials List Addition

SUBJECT MATTER: Fish, butterflies, or other bugs are the subjects for this 2-day class. They are fun no-stress images that allow you to delve into the collage technique as well as allowing for color and shading practice. I will have such designs (see my website for examples) available for $3-$5 in class or you may draw your own version of a fish, bug, or butterfly. If you have fishy or fluttery photos or drawings to refer to for color inspiration, bring those along. If you are drawing your own fish or bug version, then enlarging it to the size you wish your completed piece to be will speed the process in class. If you have any questions whatsoever, please email susan@susancarlson.com. Thanks!

  • The museum will provide irons and ironing stations for class use.

My Material Matters will be carrying fabric that can be used in this class. 

This workshop is being sponsored by My Material Matters.