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How To Host An At-Home Quilt Retreat

Summary

We love quilt retreats, but they can be costly and too infrequent. I decided to host my own, and I am sharing you the story and tips for success.

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How To Host An At-Home Quilt Retreat

Retreat! Just the word makes my heart happy. I love quilt retreats. Most of us quilters do! Who doesn’t like to get away from real life and spend a couple of days hanging out with like-minded people, focusing on our craft, and getting some projects done? Unfortunately, and I am certain most of you would agree with me, there are simply not enough retreats to make the avid quilter happy.

How To Host An At-Home Quilt Retreat

 

Retreats sponsored by local quilt guilds and shops, while reasonably priced, are not plentiful. One can usually find some remote, scenic mountain locations where quilt retreats are held, but frequently they are not close to home, are limited in dates or space, and sometimes can be a little ‘rustic’ for the average, slightly-over-30 quilter. Destination retreats at the beach or on a cruise ship are heavenly to imagine, but may not be affordable for many of us or we might not be able to justify the impact on our 401ks or grocery budgets!

looking

 

Frankly, I just need more than one or two retreats a year. Like most of us, I don’t have as much time to sew on a weekly basis as I’d like so a retreat is just what I need to really crank out some projects. Even if I can find the time to sew, I cannot always coordinate my free time with that of my quilting buddies. I really do love sewing with a like-minded friend. A number of years ago, I decided to do something about my need for more quilt retreats!

Quilting Retreat Directory

Quilt Retreat Directory

 

It so happened that right about that time, my mother-in-law, also a quilter, was coming to visit for a long weekend. Perfect! I sent a quick text message telling her to plan on a quilting weekend and to pack accordingly. On a whim, I also invited my sister-in-law and a couple of friends to pack up their PJs, sewing machines and UFOs, and come join us for the weekend. They were thrilled with the thought of an impromptu “mini-retreat”! After a quick scrub of bathrooms and having put fresh sheets on each bed and blow-up mattress in my home, I went to work clearing out all non-quilt-related items from my living and dining room surfaces. With all of four leaves inserted in the dining room table, I moved sewing machines, ironing boards, cutting mats, lamps, power strips and bags of tools and notions from my sewing room into the two rooms. Batting pinned to the dining room drapes made an ideal design wall. Our sewing space was coming together nicely!

woman

 

FOOD! What about food?! I searched the internet for some easy CrockPot recipes and hit the grocery store for chocolate, bottled water, smoothie and sandwich makings, snacks, easy meal ingredients and, did I mention CHOCOLATE? As a born hostess, I was inclined to want to make sure that my house was in perfect condition and that my guests would have plenty of delicious, nutritious, and easy food and drink choices. I did, however, keep reminding myself that this weekend was about quilting, not about the condition of my house or about serving fancy meals. I also had to keep in mind that for the model of an in-home retreat to work, I had to minimize the effort and expense so that we could repeat the event often without too much of a burden on any one of us.

food

 

The weekend went off without a hitch. The five of us sewed, laughed, relaxed, and shared quilt tips and experiences all weekend, at almost no cost. We started each day with coffee, chatting, flipping through quilt magazines, and a light, easy breakfast. In between periods of sewing and producing beautiful things, we visited a couple of local quilt shops, took advantage of coupons at a local craft and sewing store, and grabbed takeout salads. We shared ideas and helped each other figure out design and fabric choice dilemmas. One of the ladies was ready to baste her quilt. How much more quickly it went for her with all of us helping flatten layers and pin them together – as my Nana used to say, “Many hands make light work.” I felt slightly bad for my husband that he saw so little of his mom on her visit, but not too bad! She took occasional breaks from sewing and kept him company talking, watching TV, or working crossword puzzles together. When I asked him if he felt slighted by me monopolizing his mother and making the weekend into a “quilting event”, he said “Not at all! I really enjoyed listening to you ladies talking and laughing. It sounded like you had such a great time.” I was happy to hear that as I was already planning our next at-home retreat!

success

 

Here are a few thoughts on hosting your own at-home quilt retreat:

  • Coordinate sleeping arrangements, making sure to accommodate for any special needs of your guests.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time; get the shopping and prep work done before the sewing weekend begins.
  • Food – Keep it simple, quick, inexpensive, and yummy.
  • Consider having your guests each bring a meal or some snacks to share to reduce expenses.
  • If possible, keep some of the machines, lamps, or irons on a different electrical circuit so you don’t waste time resetting circuit breakers.
  • Have plenty of lighting. If necessary, ask your guests to bring a lamp or tabletop light.
  • Try to schedule your at-home retreat to correspond with a local quilt show or fun workshop or class.
  • Confirm the working hours of local quilt shops to allow for getting your guests out of the house for a field trip.
  • Make sure the washer and dryer are clear! After shopping, your guests may want to wash their fabric purchases so they can get started with their project(s) right away.
  • Set out some of your quilting books and magazines to provide your guests with inspiration.
  • Have you and your guests try to get plenty of rest the week before the retreat. After all, who comes to a retreat to sleep!
  • If you have children, perhaps see if they can spend the weekend with friends or relatives. If this is not possible, make sure your spouse is prepared to keep them busy so you and your guests can focus on sewing.
  • Suggest your guests bring show-and-tell and maybe even unused fabrics or magazines to share.
tip

 

So, the next time you feel the urge to escape and quilt to your heart’s content but can’t find a retreat that suits you, call some friends, clear out a room, pop up some card tables, set up your sewing equipment, tell the husband he is on his own for meals, and retreat-in-place!

Quilting Retreat Facilities

Quilt Retreat Facilities

 

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Glossary

Batting
The layer in the middle of a quilt sandwich between the Top and Backing layers consisting of wool, polyester, blends, silk, or cotton.

Same As: Stuffing, Filling, Wadding, Filler
Design Wall
Any wall where you can position quilt blocks, then step back to view the layout at a distance. Quilters often hang batting or plain white flannel on their design walls, because quilt blocks and other components stick to it easily without pinning. Heavier commercial design walls are available.
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
Notions
Small sewing supplies such as pins, scissors, rulers, seam ripper, and so on.
Sandwich
Traditional description of a quilt: a sandwich consisting of a Quilt Top, Batting (filling), and a Backing.
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