Advice for a Retreat Newbie?

I finished up cutting the rest of the pieces for my, My Blue Heaven quilt.  If you haven’t guessed, Yes….I am making My Blue Heaven in red.  It’s been my favorite color for forever so I thought it might be a good choice.

I might have to cut a few more strips as my daughter Kelli was home this weekend and would squeal, “Oh, I don’t have this print.”  I’d say grab a strip and gradually my box got a little emptier.  That’s okay…it’s all in the fun.


I am cutting and getting ready for Bonnie Hunter from Quiltville to come to IOWA to do a workshop on My Blue Heaven and her Pineapple quilt.

It’s a bit of a trek for me to travel ( about 3-4 hours) but, I am really inspired by Bonnie’s patterns, her scrap system and use of stash fabric…so I thought I would give it a try.  My daughter Kelli is coming with so it should be a fun weekend…she’s always a hoot!

We have never been to a retreat.  I’ve been to VERY few quilting classes.  I’m just not a social bug that way.  Any advice from you seasoned retreaters on what I need or don’t need?

15 thoughts on “Advice for a Retreat Newbie?”

  1. I’m so happy you get to go for Bonnie’s workshop! I did the Pineapple quilt with her a few years ago and love it! You really can put your not so favorites in the mix and it still turns out wonderful.

    I always take a bed pillow for my chair at a retreat. You don’t know the chairs there and the odds are, they won’t be comfy. Take an extra light for your work space. I have a desk/folding Ott light that travels well. An extra extension cord can help out too. Then if you have a special food you really, really like take that. Either for your bedtime snack or during the afternoon if you need something to tide you over. I don’t eat sugar so the bowls of candy that others share didn’t work for me.

    You will have SO much fun and I’m so glad your daughter gets to go with you!

  2. I’m with you on the class part! I’ve taken only a couple and have never been on a retreat! Bonnie’s classes do sound fun and I love her quilts! I can’t wait to see how you liked it and show off your new red quilt!!

  3. Oh how lucky you are!!! Good advice from Joyce, for me the extra light is a must have.
    Make yourself a check list of must have things you use while sewing at home. If you have 2 of anything, put it in a take along tool box. Then when it’s time to pack, you will know what you want to have with you.
    Can’t wait to see your red quilt!

  4. You will be so glad you took Bonnie’s workshop. I took it in the fall and even though I’ve been quilting for thirty years I learned lots of time-saving tips. Plus I loved seeing Bonnie’s quilts in person. She is a master of scrap use and really inspiring. Don’t forget to take her books to be autographed if you have them.
    Also a new blade for your rotary cutter and the specialty rulers Bonnie recommends are a big help.

  5. Joyce is correct, the chairs are always the wrong height, not comfortable, etc. I know a lady who always brings her sewing chair with her. :) I have even thought about it since I have a truck, but haven’t tried it yet.
    The lighting is never as good as it is at home.
    The biggest issue we have at our retreats is, there are 40 women and everyone has a different temperature preference. if you tend get cold make sure you take socks and a sweater (yes even in the summer) and if you tend to be warm natured, make sure you have very light clothing. Shorts, tanks tops and maybe a fan. No one is ever happy with the temp.
    Extra needles and rotary blades
    label everything!

  6. Lucky you! I heard Bonnie speak a few weeks ago in Texas. It was so much fun to hear her and see her quilts in person. Sounds like a great time, especially being able to share the fun with your DD.
    I am from Iowa, too, but have lived in Texas for the last 20 years. I enjoy reading your blog for all the quilty stuff but also that Iowa connection! :-)

  7. First of all, red is AWESOME!!! Second, it’s good that you are cutting things ahead of time. Don’t waste time at a retreat cutting pieces for a project. Take at least two spools of thread and extra bobbins, pins, etc.; a small cutting matt and 28mm cutter if you have one so you can trim at your station. Be prepared to share (at least we always do); lots of eating and have fun!!!!! Sleep deprivation is also a given :o)

  8. I’m packing for a Retreat that starts tomorrow. A getaway with a group of friends where we work on our own projects. Winding extra bobbins is always a time saver and marking all you tools is a must. It can be helpful when packing up if you take a list of the tools you are taking. We love to share, but it is easy to forget what we brought and shared at time to go home. If you have room for a portable pressing station such as a heavy tv tray with padding and a small travel iron, that can save a lot of time and steps. Most of all have fun! Visit some with others and make new friends!

  9. You may want to buy some transparent address labels, print your name on them and label your rulers, cutting mat and scissors/nippers. I pack a placemat to put under my machine – it cuts the noise & vibration, masking tape (in case you need to hold down your extension cord), a switched multi-plug outlet and a bag for scraps. Make a checklist and put it with your machine so you pack what you need and can check before you go home. Relax and you’ll have a great time.

  10. Best of all, pack your own wonderful sense of humor!
    Bring extra batteries for your camera to record everything to show us here later on.
    Explain to your daughter, Kelli, that you both should reach out to others rather than to just socialize with each other. But make sure somebody there takes some pictures of you and Kelli together.
    Have a ball!
    Vic in NH

  11. so jealous!! A retreat is a long way from my future- but I am inspired by Bonnie Hunt- if only I could get that organized- the thought of cutting larger scraps into strips makes me cringe- what if I needed them??? yeah right!

  12. So jealous…I am planning to travel to see Bonnie in Jan 2013 (yes I have checked her schedule and that is when she finally gets close to me!) and my advice is take it all! SMILE! Can’t wait to hear all about it…don’t forget the camera!

  13. Lucky you going to Bonnie Hunter workshop, it would be a bit of a hike for me to come…..New Zealand is just a bit bit far to pop over! Have a fabulous time.

  14. An Ott Light! Also, I usually take a tiny folding table like this:
    It’s small enough to not be cumbersome, light enough to pack and travel well, and big enough to place a pressing mat on, place a small cutting mat on a trim, sew on if the table is too high as it’s height is adjustable (my mom does!). Or simply use as an extra little work space as retreats can sometimes be very compact! This one at Wal Mart is quite expensive (priced wrong I would think)….I paid $20 for mine at Menards. My dad put casters on the bottom of my mom’s so she can push it around her studio at home. You’ll love it so much you’ll “need” another one!

  15. I like to precut my projects before I leave for a retreat. I tend to make fewer mistakes at home. Bring several projects so that you don’t get bored with just one. Bring snacks and drink that you enjoy. SewCalGal has a checklist on her blog that is helpful when packing. Bring an extension cord. I like to bring my own sewing chair for a week long retreat. It’s fun to bring items to giveaway if you no longer need them. Have a wonderful time!

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