Quilt Retreats!

Does your quilt guild offer retreats? Have you gone on one? From my own experience, I highly recommend you attend one!

Our guild retreats are held twice a year – once in September and once in February. They’re not too expensive ($110 – $240) and if you’re well enough prepared, you can get a LOT done! What do you do on retreats? Well, here’s what we do: our retreat center allows us to show up at 10am on Friday (and the majority of us do), we move tables around and set up cutting and ironing stations. We’ve had as many as 26 attendees so organizing where the tables go is an important step…everyone wants their personal space! Only after the tables have been arranged do we allow people to bring their sewing stuff into the room. Seating is on a first come, first served basis (which is why a lot of us show up at 10am to “claim” our spots!). Some like to be near the windows, some like to be under the fan. Everyone has their own reason for being where they want to be. It always strikes me as funny though that the people who are always cold, chose to sit in front of the windows!

Once everyone has their spot, that’s when the goodies come out! At our retreat we basically have the entire lodge at our disposal. There is one large room for sewing, and another smaller room (which has the best light, so people tend to want to be in there!) and then the entry way. We typically set up the snack table in the entry way. We’ve got everything to snack on from delicious home made baked goods to a simple bag of chips…some people try to healthy and bring fruit, while others consider this a vacation from their diets and go for the decadent stuff! If you saw how the snack table looked at the beginning of the retreat, you’d think the retreat center wasn’t feeding us!

Rooms – some people like to set up who they’re going to room with ahead of time, some wait till they get there and still others choose a private room (extra cost). My first retreat I roomed with a friend, the second retreat I tried to cheap out and stay in the heated cabin…I know now that I’m not a heated cabin kind of girl! So now I room with another friend and that has worked for us for the last six retreats. The hardest part about finding a roommate is finding someone that can deal with your sleep habits and you with theirs! I don’t typically snore, but sometimes I do…same for my roommate. We found that having a sleep machine (white noise machine) or a fan going helps cut down on the extra noise. We also agree on the room temp. Sometimes you have to go through a couple of roommates until you find one that works for you – dont’ give up!

What can you expect to get done on a retreat? Well I have found that if I go with everything cut out and ready to sew, I can get a LOT done! It took me a while to figure this out though. When you’re on retreat, you probably won’t be using your own cutting mats or rulers but using a cutting station…there may be a line for the cutting station which will cut into your productivity (pun intended). A friend of mine got an entire king size quilt pieced while on retreat, and it was mostly due to the fact that she had everything cut out and ready to go!

Now here’s a little tip – go to a Salvation Army or Goodwill thrift store and find yourself a wooden TV tray table. It’s okay if it’s beat up. Now, take a couple layers of batting about 5″ larger than the tray top, lay them on the floor and staple them to the tray top. Find a sturdy piece of fabric (I prefer cotton) and cut it about 5″ larger also…here’s where you need to make a decision…you can either staple it to your tray top or you can make a casing, run a string or elastic through it and then when it gets dirty you can either wash it or replace it easily. These are perfect to set up with your sewing station. No more running up and down to the ironing board! You can even put a cutting mat on top and use that (at least for small cuts). And it folds up flat so it’s easy to bring with you!

Each night we sew until 5pm when the wine bottles appear! After a glass of wine and a couple of goodies from the snack table, it’s time head to dinner! Our retreat offers 5 meals over the weekend – dinner on Friday, breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday…there are a few from our group who have lunch on Sunday added, but my group of friends usually bring some sort of lunch for Sunday. Check with the retreat center you choose and see what they have to offer!

A lot of church camps work out nicely for quilt retreats. We use the Barbara C. Harris Retreat Center in Greenfield, NH for our guild retreats. It suits our needs well. Look around your state to see what’s available for your guild and get a group going! I promise, you’ll have the time of your life and get a lot done!

One Comment

Lois Kindley

You said it girl! I like the great tips to quilters considering a retreat! 🙂
I certainly had fun with my new creatives, woo hoo SVQG!!

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