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8 Keys To Planning a Great Quilt Retreat

Summary

Hosting a quilt retreat has it's rewards for both you and the quilters. Here are the top tips you need to know to make it a retreat to remember for your guests.

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8 Keys To Planning a Great Quilt Retreat

What could be more fun than attending a quilt retreat? Nothing I can think of! I love attending them and hosting them. I've been hosting an annual quilt retreat for ten years. It's always been the same facility, the same weekend each year, same times, and I've had very nearly all the same women attending each year. I absolutely love hosting my quilt retreat!

8 Keys To Planning a Great Quilt Retreat

 

Anyone can host a quilt retreat - a quilt store owner, a quilt guild, or even an individual wanting to bring a group of like-minded quilters together. Once you have the basics under your belt, you can go wild with creativity!

I'm going to give you the basics to hosting a quilt retreat - then let the fun begin!

 

1. Finding A Facility

This can sound intimidating, but think outside the box here. Your first thought may be to use a hotel-type facility. Unfortunately, this type of facility can be terribly expensive even for only a three-day, two-night stay. When you add in the food factor, and upping the over-all cost to be able to afford purchasing gifts - it become too expensive.

Most quilters who have some retreat experience will balk at spending a hundred dollars or more per day for a retreat. This is where thinking outside the box comes in handy. Look for local youth group camps, youth church camps, and family camping facilities that have family cabins to rent. These types of places are always less expensive, offer bunk rooms (we never use the upper bunks), and have a dining room with a cook. The food is included in the fee.

Quilt Stash

 

2. Pick Your Date

ANY time of the year is perfect for a quilt retreat! Of course, weekends are the most quilter-friendly, but consider hosting a retreat in the middle of the week. You'll find that mid-week retreats are cheaper. And don't forget to look into off-season retreat dates at youth camps. The rates are often cheaper during that time.

Starting off with a three-day, two-night retreat is the easiest. It'll give you the feel of what hosting a retreat entails. After a few years I was asked to extend my retreat to four days. The women were more than willing to pay for the extra day since we always have such a good time!

Settle on what time the quilters can start to show up. Be prepared that many of the women will show up MUCH earlier than the designated time. They will be THAT excited to be there! And be firm on the check-out time.

calendar

 

3. How Many Can Attend?

This gets a little tricky. Of course, you'll need to find out how many beds will be available. Are you going to be an "open" retreat? Or a "closed" retreat.

An "open" retreat means that you will post the information about the retreat in a quilt store newsletter, a quilt guild newsletter, or through word of mouth to quilting friends and anyone with the funds can attend.

A "closed" retreat means that you invite, for example, only those in your quilt guild, or only those that meet for a monthly quilt class, or only a specific group of friends. My retreat has become closed since we have limited beds (we do not use the upper bunks in the bedrooms) and we now absorb the entire main floor for quilters and our "stuff"!

Try not to split your guests up into different rooms to do their sewing at the facility. Having everyone in one common room offers that camaraderie that is your goal. Having a huge number of guests just because you can isn't the best idea. If this means you have a smaller number of guests - it'll better in the end. Bigger is not always better. You need to be able to control the retreat.

Quilt Stash Cart

 

4. Pre-Retreat Lists

You will need to write up your retreat invitation list to give out. This will include the basic information of date, times, place, etc. I recommend a minimal non-refundable deposit for each attendee. Also, decide on a date when the retreat balance must be paid.

A few weeks before the retreat, or at the time of sign-up, have a list ready with those items that each quilter will need to bring with them. Bedding? Personal bath items? Ironing board? Iron? Long extension cords or surge protectors, fat quarters for games? Cash for purchases if you do a road trip, or if you have a sales table. Let your attendees know what to expect.

Quilty Fun Heart

 

5. Provisions

What are you, as the hostess, going to provide? Here are some ideas: coffee, coffee supplies, a couple ironing boards and irons, extra surge protectors, bottled water, a few snacks, a couple of large cutting mats, and an area (or two) to layout blocks.

If possible, allow one table per quilter. This is ideal, but not always possible.

Cupcakes

 

6. Open Sewing

Is your quilt retreat going to be where everyone will be working on their own project? Or is it going to be a specific class? Make sure the attendee knows what type of retreat it will be.

 

7. Food

Is the facility providing the meals? This always works out the best. But it is not often the case. If you are providing the food - keep it simple! Make sure you've added enough to the individual retreat fee to cover all the meals and a couple evening snacks.

sandwich

 

8. Ten Point Bonus Tip List

You now have the basics. What can you do to make it memorable? Let's see:

  1. I love to have a color theme going at my retreat. You can do the same with colors, or a specific theme. You could play up a specific quilt block on everything you advertise in and then bring it into the retreat with stickers, name tags, room assignments, etc.
  2. Name tags - this is important since not everyone may know each other.
  3. If you feel comfortable with this idea - add a few dollars to each retreat fee so that you can provide each guest with a gift. A new quilt pattern that has just come out on the market, a small set of beautiful thread, a couple fat quarters, a small ruler, or any quilt related gift!
  4. Play games! There are a lot of different games for quilters available online. Google "quilt retreat games", or even look on Pinterest. It's a good idea to have your quilt guests be able to get out of their chairs once in a while!
  5. Why not have a fun short stretch and bend time-out once a day? Again, it'll help those stiff backs and sore bottoms! Add some bouncy music and you'll all be laughing in no time!
  6. Provide a neat door prize! This can be one amazing item, or a basket full of little amazing items.
  7. How about a speaker! Why not host a speaker to come in for an hour one afternoon to talk about their specific talent? This gives the quilters a short break from sewing.
  8. Ice-cream Night! Ask the facility if you can use their freezer to keep some ice cream containers in. Provide bowls and spoons, but ask some of the quilters (or all!) to bring their favorite ice cream topping and have a party!
  9. Depending on the facility - you could have a wine night! Provide plastic stemmed cups and a few bottles of your favorite libation. Or you could ask a few friends to help provide a bottle of wine. One thing to keep in mind - YOU control your retreat. Alcohol and sharp instruments don't always mesh!
  10. Lastly - what is a quilt retreat without chocolate?!!

Have fun!

What Happens At A Quilt Retreat Stays

 

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Glossary

Block
The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
Ironing
Moving a hot iron while it has contact with fabric. Often ironing can stretch and distort fabrics and seams. A better alternative is to press, where you just lay the hot iron down and lift straight up from the fabric.

See Also: Pressing
Ruler
A heavy plastic measuring guide that can come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
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Quilting Contessa
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