Friday, April 22, 2016

Pack Your Bags For A Quilting Retreat

Hello faithful blog readers.  Today's guest blogger is Nancy over at Patchwork Breeze. Nancy and I "met" on one of the many blog hops we participated in together and I'm sew happy to have her as a friend.  She's talking today about one of my favorite things to do... Quilt Retreats!  

Nancy writes:
Have you attended a quilt retreat? If so, your experiences might mirror mine. If not, I hope one day you have the chance. I think quilt retreats are fun and really a TREAT.
With no idea what my first retreat would be like, I am still attending them after 15 years. Did I mention they are fun?

Retreats are held any time of the year. The weather doesn’t keep most quilters from a retreat. One spring retreat I attended began with warm weather and changed to inches of snow the next day. Fall retreats with the cooler weather and the colors are my favorites.

A retreat can be held for one day or can last a week. The locale can be a youth camp, a hotel, a conference center, a bed and breakfast above a quilt shop, or a friend’s house.
There are even quilt cruises (I haven’t been on one). 

A retreat gives us time to get away and work on projects without the daily distractions we encounter. Games and snacks are must haves at a retreat. I am not one to stay up past 1AM sewing, but I know some quilters who sew with little sleep.  Thus, our workspace is more important than where we lay our heads at night.

It is great to go with a friend or two, sharing the ride, telling stories (both to and from retreat), and perhaps a meal or side trip along the way. Don’t hesitate to go alone. You will have new friends before the first day ends.

Packing involves concentrating on the sewing to be done. I take unfinished projects organized into kits. I get them done in a short time, and then visit others to see what they are sewing. Some people take pre-cut projects to work on. I learned to pack my sewing machine first, with all the cords and owner’s manual! An extension cord, extra threads and scissors are good to take, as is tape. You can’t believe how useful it is.
When packing, partially fill luggage. You want have room for items you procure at the retreat. There might be door prizes, silent auctions, freebie tables, vendors from local shops, and items sold by attendees, or maybe a trip to a local quilt shop.
The first evening might involve a get-to-know us game where attendees exchange in some manner of play a small sewing gift brought in a bag.

Bingo blocks are blocks sewn at home or at the retreat. For each block turned in, a ticket is given. At a chosen time a winner for all the blocks is chosen by picking a ticket. The blocks can be made into a quilt.  
Signature blocks provide a retreat memory. Directions are sent beforehand to make these fun little blocks. Each attendee writes their name and the retreat date on their blocks. Then everyone exchanges blocks. After each retreat, I make a quilt from the blocks I get.

LCR (Left, Center, Right) is a very popular dice game adapted by quilters. Fat quarters or jelly roll strips are substituted for the chips. It is a loud, boisterous game with one quilter leaving the table with a new stash of fabric. At the last retreat we played for hours every evening.

Table space for sewing is usually shared with another person. I pack a 2-foot folding table that I can set up near me for extra space, if needed. Two or three irons are shared by all. I bring a small craft iron and 12-inch square ironing pad to use at my workspace. We always hope the electrical capabilities at the facility are more than adequate. I always pack a heavy duty extension cord and my small OttLite.

There really aren’t many rules at a retreat. I find quilters are kind, generous, grateful, sharing, helpful, and fun. Two rules I have heard are: The last quilter to leave the workroom at night has to turn off the irons and the lights. And, what happens at retreat, stays at retreat.

Would you like a chance at a giveaway? Visit my blog Patchwork and comment about a retreat you have attended or would like to attend. Make sure I have a way of contacting you. I will randomly select one comment to receive a nice canvas tote and 3 patterns I have published that you can take to your next retreat. (The bag with patterns will be shipped within the United States. If you are overseas, I can’t send the bag, but will email the patterns in PDF format.

If you missed the announcement, The Quilting Queen is opening a Quilting Retreat facility soon... The Queen's Rustic Retreat.  You can read all about it here or visit her website 



  1. Great job with your post Nancy. Now you know that you can always be a guest speaker. I'll keep that little info. in my back pocket. 8-)

  2. Great Post! Thank you so much for sharing such a fun time! would love to attend a Retreat sometime...with my two quilty Daughters! what Fun!! :)

  3. I went to a retreat this winter and we got snowed in. We had the best time, sewing and laughing. Can't wait until I go again. Your list was very helpful. I forget a few of those things sometimes.

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