Quilt Retreats – Our Latest Retreat and Planning Tips

Earlier this year some friends invited me to join in on their quilt retreats.  We all actually used to work at the same company but didn’t know each other as quilters while there…or started quilting after leaving that company and finding more time!

The group did one retreat just over a year ago in Santa Fe but decided to try a different place for the next retreat (I didn’t make the Santa Fe event).  The new place is an Air B&B in the mountains just east of Albuquerque.  It is a nice mix of being out of town and in the mountains so you feel like you are getting away, but is actually pretty close to home.  At this point we’ve done 3 retreats in 2018 – March, June, and mid-October.

We’ve had a great time all three times this year.  It is so nice to get away for a long weekend to the cool mountains, chat with friends, and sew sew sew.  I thought I’d write this post to show photos from our most recent retreat and share some retreat preparation tips while I’m at it.

It seems that the conventional wisdom on quilt retreat locations is that either you can find a place that has great sleeping arrangements or a great sewing space.  Our place has a great sewing space, and kind of ok sleeping arrangements.  Here are some photos of the main floor and our sewing space:



The big great room where we set up our table and sewing machines is right next to the kitchen:

we use the island as a cutting table, and it works quite nicely!

This time in October we only had 4  people, but if we have more the dining room table can be set up as another sewing station.

We made a lot of progress this retreat on a lot of projects.  Here is Kim’s Halloween Muertos quilt (thanks to Charlene for the photo):


This is the first row of Denise’s awesome Penguin Ugly Christmas Sweater Quilt.  She decided to do a quilt-as-you-go (again Charlene’s photo – we were trying to be sneaky while holding it):


I finished two tops – my Blueberry Park Orange Peels:


and my 2018 Summer Sampler (that’s me up there, and Kim’s hands!  🙂 ):


Our place has a loft that is perfect for photos!

I also started work on some Alison Glass rainbow spinning star blocks:



In terms of preparation, I will share my thoughts…but please know that at this point I am pretty committed to doing both quilt retreats and sew days with my quilt guild.  As such I have made some investments that are really not necessary, but have been great additions.

First, I bought an Eversewn Charlotte sewing machine that is very lightweight and easy to carry along to events.  The Charlotte costs about $230, has many features, and sews very nicely.  I also made a bag for my Charlotte (I wrote about it here).  I keep my bag ready with my Charlotte and extra extension cords so it is quick to grab and go.

I found two great things at Costco – my 6′ foldable table and my desk lamp.  The table is a necessity for retreats and gives a ton of work space.  Since it folds up I can store it in the garage when I’m not using it, and I can very easily throw it in my car when I need to take it with me.  As for the lamp, the first few retreats I didn’t take an extra lamp with me, but I found this one at Costco for about $30 so I thought it would be a good addition.  It has USB ports to plug in phones/tablets and has a fan.  A fan!  At first I thought the fan was unnecessary, but I have to say I actually used the fan quite a bit and loved having it:


I also got these two awesome things – my mini iron and a combo cutting mat/ironing board:


With that, this is my packing/preparation list for our retreats:

  1. Irons – small and big (small for piecing, big for quilt tops as they get larger)
  2. Starch and water bottles (I use a dry iron and spritz the fabric with water if I need to)
  3. Cutting/ironing mat
  4. Notebook and pens for sketching
  5. Pins
  6. Table
  7. Power strip
  8. Extension cords
  9. Sewing machine needles
  10. Sewing Machine
  11. Lamp
  12. Rulers – I usually bring a few – 6.5″ sq, 6″x12″, 12.5″ sq, and 6.5″x24″
  13. Rotary cutter (and extra blades)
  14. Thread catcher

Note that our place has a big ironing board already there, and other people in my group bring larger cutting mats that we all share.

I also make a list of the projects I want to bring.  Even with my list, it seems like I always forget something and I always bring way too many things to work on!  This past retreat Charlene had to run me back into town to meet up with my husband who brought me my forgotten fabric.  They are both great people who have the right set of priorities!  🙂

We’ve already planned all of the dates for 2019, and our next retreat is in mid-January.  I already can’t wait!


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