I have never participated in a professionally organized quilting retreat. It’s on my quilting bucket list to do so. But last October, I got together with a group of quilting friends for a weekend of quilting fun at a town-home we rented in Frisco, Colorado. I was supposed to go on retreat with the same quilting ladies this weekend but I was not able to go. But I still wanted to share my thoughts on how to prepare for a quilting retreat based on my last experience.
Dress comfortably and have layers that can be easily removed or added to. When I’m sewing I tend to wear yoga pants and a comfy top. Some of the ladies opted to stay in their PJs all day. Do what you’re comfortable with. Also, have some light layers in case you get cold or too warm. Layering is a way of life in Colorado.
Have a plan for food. Do you have access to kitchen facilities or will you eat out? At our retreat last year, each person was in charge of a meal and we had some AMAZING food. We’re going to do the same thing this time. Also, make sure you have healthy snacks; fruit, nuts and veggies and hummus are great ideas. But also have some decadent snacks (must have chocolate!). If everyone is OK with it bring along some wine to share and make share you have plenty of drinking water. Because we are over 9,000 feet in Frisco, our mantra was and is, “hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!”
Plan your projects. At the last retreat, I focused on one quilt top and was able to finish it over the course of the weekend. Other retreat goers worked a little bit on several projects. No matter your focus, I recommend that you take a few projects in different stages or that use different techniques. You may find that you get tired of piecing and want to do some quilting or handwork.
Understand hardware logistics. Do you need to bring your own sewing machine? Do you need to provide power strips or extension cords? What about ironing boards and irons? Don’t forget cutting mats, rulers and cutters.
Pack extras of notions you will be using. Bring extra thread, bobbins, needles (hand and machine), pins, scissors, pen and paper and patterns. Also, don’t forget your charger for your phone or tablet.
Do some prep work before you go. Try to cut any fabrics you’re going to use before you leave for retreat. You want to be a pleasant retreat goer and you don’t want to be known for monopolizing the cutting station. Plus you want to start sewing as soon as possible. Print any pattern instructions and pieces before you go.
Lastly, be prepared to lose some sleep, whether you stay up late sewing or chatting and laughing with other retreat goers. Retreats are a wonderful time to get some quilting done but to also make new friendships and strengthen existing ones. Have fun!