- First...and I have learned this the hard way...begin to pack and prepare for your trip at least a few days in advance (a week is better)! I was up late into the evening last week cutting fabrics for a project I wanted to take. I should have done that earlier!
- Separate projects into easy-to-take bins or project bags (project bags pack easier when space is a consideration). I had a couple of hand sewing projects in these project bags and packed my machine sewing projects in fabric bins.
- Do a basic run-through of your sewing machine before packing it up. Clean the lint from the bobbin case and oil your machine. This is especially important if you have a travel machine you only use occasionally.
- Change the needle in your machine.
- Fill plenty of bobbins so you don't have to spend precious retreat sewing time doing that. It's also good to take along some of your colored bobbins. While you might not need them for machine work...they are great to have if you are doing any applique' or hand work so that you have a bigger selection of colors to choose from. It's much easier to travel with bobbins than spools!
- Change the blade on your rotary cutter. I've learned this from experience, too! And...take an extra rotary blade along.
- Bring the extra feet for your machine. I also keep spare needles in the case with the specialty feet.
- Pack as many of your sewing notions as you can into a bag or container (I love my Sew Together bag for this). I have scissors, small rulers, paper piecing supplies, marking pencils, pins and needles in here. My rotary cutter fits in here as well!
- Take a small travel iron and pressing station if possible. I absolutely love my Rowenta DA1560 Travel-Ready Compact Steam Iron with 200-Hole Stainless Steel Soleplate, 1000-Watt, Purple. I've had it several years now and it's going strong. You can use it with steam or without. I know there are newer, smaller models available now, but honestly, some of the students had those smaller irons in my classes last week, and I still thought this iron was the best.
I actually purchased this new ironing board on this retreat. I thought it was a terrific size for classes and retreats, and I believe I'll be using it at home as well. I plan to put it on the table next to my machine so I can do small pressing jobs without getting up!
This handy ironing board was made from two pieces of pressed wood which are a good weight so the board is sturdy. Insul Bright was placed on top with a heavy canvas cover which was stapled on the bottom of the top board. I'm so excited to use this!
While at the retreat I also purchased this Portable LED Desk Lamp Bright Light Reading Night Travel Battery USB Laptop. One of the shops was selling them, and I believe she sold every one she brought. Hotel lighting is often terrible...especially at night, and the ability of this little light to shine exactly where I needed it was wonderful. It's also nice because can be operated by battery or by plugging into the USB port on your phone charger.
- Iron your fabric before the retreat. This is especially important if you are using fat quarter or fat eighth bundles for your sewing. Who wants to spend precious retreat time at the ironing board?
- Cut out as many of your projects as possible. I was so happy I had done this this week...I really was able to spend nearly all of my time sewing!
- Be sure to bring extras of the fabrics you are using including extra yardage of your background fabrics. I was missing a 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" square for one of my projects. Luckily, my roommate had brought along some of the same fabric so I didn't need to stop working on that.
- Bring a thread catcher. Sometimes there aren't enough trash cans in the hotel room if you have more than one person sewing. It's also a good idea to have your own for the classroom space.
- Bring scissors for paper. This is a lesson I just learned. I was doing a bit of freezer paper applique' and would have had to use my good scissors if my roommate hadn't had a pair of paper scissors!
- Bring a mat to set your machine on. It will help keep your machine from vibrating/wobbling on those plastic retreat tables.
- Bring something extra to work on. If you have everything pre-cut, prepared, and ready to go you will be surprised at how much you can get accomplished. I actually wished I had brought one more project this week!
On the last night of my retreat I decided to do a little reading in the most recent issue of American Patchwork & Quilting that arrived right before I left. There is a terrific article inside on packing for a sewing retreat. There is also a terrific packing list you can download and print. Those editors at the magazine thought of everything on this list!
I had a wonderful time last week. I always meet the most amazing women at quilt retreats: women who have struggles and challenges, women who have exciting lives and every day lives, and women who are in every stage of life. The bond of quilting just seems to make us all come together in friendship as we work on projects, visit, and learn from one another. There really is nothing better than a quilt retreat. You may stay up late and get up early, but you come home refreshed, inspired, and ready to quilt!
It never got above freezing during the four days I was at the retreat, but the beautiful snow and crisp blue skies in contrast with the pines was absolutely incredible.
Thanks so much for stopping by!