The quilt retreat experience is all about fabric and friends. Usually, I have the opportunity to join in three or four a year, with 6 friends at a home, 30 at a small summer camp, and 300 at a conference center-hotel complex. If you haven’t gone to one, think about saving up, or organize one yourself. Whether you are on a budget or interested in an all-inclusive splurge, there are plenty of options.
How To Find A Retreat
Your local quilt guilds would be a good place to start. These are usually BYOP (bring your own project) and attended by about 30 – 50 members, so they will have lists of things to bring and agenda’s typed up. Usually the rates are double occupancy, so bring a buddy to ride, room and sew with. Meals are usually provided buffet style.
You can search for a retreat destination that includes a project, the teacher’s time, sewing machines, gourmet meals, and other activities. Horseback riding anyone? Cruise to the islands? If you’ve been, please share, I’ve never been!
A weekend getaway can be put together simply, too, for a small group. You may know someone with a mountain home, a beach cottage, or lake cabin for rent or borrow. Many state parks have cabins that can be rented. Off season rates can be a bargain. Try to keep travel time under an hour or two. Everyone brings salad or sandwich ingredients, so everyone shares kitchen duty. Be sure everyone is okay with sharing – space, irons, meals, because there is little privacy. And pack your sense of humor!
Can’t get away for an overnight? Plan a full day at your home with a few friends. Your church or a community center may have a classroom that can be used for a full day, or a quilt shop may let you use their classroom. Have everyone pack a lunch, plan a demo, work on a donation project, or just plan to cut out a new quilt or bind a finished one.
Tips Before You Go
Bring three projects – a new project (to get excited about), a simple scrappy piecework in progress (will accept scraps!), and hand work, usually a binding or yo-yos (for chatting time or in a cushy chair at the fireplace).
Know what size work space you will have. One applique project I brought to work on was a disaster because there were 3 at a table. Another time I had a round table to myself!
Stay organized. I like a rolling bin or tool box to get me from the car, room, and workplace easily.
Take a few bottled waters, your favorite snack to share, and the latest quilt magazine you can find.
Tips For While You’re There
Wear a name tag, or go around and introduce yourself to everyone.
Ask questions and admire others projects. Take notes so you can remember who was working on a pattern you may want to do, too.
Put your name on your rulers, mats and cutters in case they get misplaced.
Bring a few extra fat quarters. You may want to try a new technique, contribute to a door prize, or share with someone in need.
The retreat coordinator should send you a list of everything you’ll need to bring. Keep in touch with a countdown text or email with everyone – “Leaving now!” is my favorite one!
I hope this encourages you to attend your first retreat, or even plan your own!