Monday, February 8, 2016

Tips for Quilt Retreats

Happy Monday! Over the weekend I returned home from a fantastic quilt retreat I attend each year in beautiful Bryce Canyon, Utah. As I was preparing to attend and while I was at the event I thought often of things that are good to keep in mind when preparing to attend a quilt retreat.


 I wrote down a few of my thoughts as I went along, and I hope they can be of

good use to you! So here goes...
  •   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. 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!


  • 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!



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 much 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 something extra. 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!

20 comments:

Hildy said...

Great tips thanks for sharing!

Charlene S said...

Thank you for sharing! I love your picture of the mountains.

pickinstitchin said...

Paper scissors! I hadn't thought of that. Great idea.

Needled Mom said...

Thanks so much for all of the great tips.

Little Quiltsong said...

Great Tips! Love the little ironing board you made!

Robby H. said...

Some great ideas that seem 'obvious' except when your mind is busy with lots of details getting ready to be away from home. And I got a couple of things to add to my "birthday wishlist" which will make hubby happy.

Algodão Tão Doce said...

Amei conhecer o seu blog, já fiquei por aqui!!!Achei maravilhoso!!!
Visite-me:http://algodaotaodoce.blogspot.com.br/
Siga-me e pegue o meu selinho!!!

Obrigada.

Beijos Marie.

bonran said...

Great tips! I wish I had this before I went to my first retreat in October! Hotel lighting is terrible!

Karen said...

This would make a great Craftsy blog post. One thing I would add to the list is double and triple check that you have packed your foot pedal for your machine!

Mary Ann said...

I love going to retreats. Thanks for the tips and I just bought that magazine. Enjoy reading your blog.

Lara B. said...

Hi Sherri! It sounds like you had the most wonderful time and that is good to hear. Wow you sure are well organized! thank you for the great tips.

Jan Richardson said...

Thank you for the great tips!!

grammajudyb said...

Great ideas! I have a traveling bag packed with mostly duplicates of all notions, ie seam ripper, needles, bobbins, scissors, etc. Then all I have to remember is project instructions, fabric and specific notions, like zippers, buttons and such. Love that battery operated light. I'm going to keep an eye out for that one.

Helen L said...

Good ideas: I forgot my extra feet the last time I went to a retreat and it would have been nice to have the open toe foot for one of the things I wanted to do. And I agree that paper scissors are usually helpful. Pretty much, anything you need to sew with at home, you'll need while you're away! :-) And you will always forget something!! And your comment about starting to pack a few days early: priceless!!! I've spent too many nights up way too late preping for a trip!! Glad you had fun! Your picture is just beautiful! Hugs, H

Dobieslady1 said...

I have never been on a quilt retreat and thoroughly enjoyed reading your tips!! Hope to find a friend to go on one with me so that we can enjoy the time together and support each other in this journey!! God Bless You!!

Bari Jo said...

any idea where we could get the ironing board you posted a picture of? I appreciated the tip on the iron, too! Thank you!!!

Isaura Badillo said...

I love all your tips! Where could provide info on those darling (yet useful) project bags you posted here?? Thanks!

Helen L said...

And I finally figured out how to join Instagram and am following you there: Yay!!! :-)

Carla said...

Great tips! I'll have to share with my gals going on retreat in March.
Thanks for sharing

SewCaring said...

I'd add one more thing to your wonderful list. A power strip. With multiple machines, lights and little irons that everyone brings it's been my experience that outlets are at a premium. Pack the extra strip, keep it in the car if you wish, but have one. Your table mates will adore you1

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