It’s a good thing, really. I truly enjoy going to retreats.
After becoming a professional quilter/quilt maker, it took me over a year to go to a retreat. My first group was small, and it became my favorite place: Heavenleigh Escape. This place is in the boonies. Bad cell reception, iffy wifi, pigs, horses, donkeys, cats, puppies, you name it. C O U N T R Y. And I loved every minute of it.
So much so that I went back there the next time I retreated, and honestly, despite what anyone else says about the other amazing places in DFW (there are A LOT of them), this will ALWAYS be my first choice.
I used to bring tubs and tubs of fabric, figuring I was unsure of what I would want to work on, so I should bring all the stuff I MIGHT want to work on. As my retreat savvy grew, my ratio began to change. Now I bring significantly more food than fabric. Ha ha. BUT I do now WHAT EXACTLY to bring with respect to my UFO’s (unfinished objects).
I have had the opportunity to attend four retreats this year. The one before the last was impromptu. It was held up north in the boonies, and they claimed to have tools for the quilters for cutting and ironing, as well as a store attached to the retreat center. They did indeed have all that, but the cutting boards were so worn and the cutting blades so dull that it was really hard to do a good job cutting anything. There was only one ironing station, so that was a bottleneck as well.
This taught me to never assume what would be available at retreat. I am not one to bring along my own cutting mat and ruler and itty bitty ironing pad and mini iron, so instead, I make advanced preparations so I can be productive anyway, despite the conditions I walk into.
The last retreat was in Scottsdale AZ, so I had to rent a machine and fly my stuff out. So I absolutely had be prepared for anything. I had no idea what the conditions would be, how many people would be there, the number of cutting or ironing stations. But I knew, if I showed up with my projects mostly precut, I would be able to keep sewing and do my ironing when the station was open, without it stopping my progress altogether.
So I went through my scraps and pictures torn from magazines of quilts I wanted to make the week prior to going, and matched them up. If I needed 2.5″ squares, I precut my squares and strips in advance. If I needed other sizes, I cut those too, and stuck them in a ziplock bag with the photo so I’d know what went with what.
In the end, this resulted in amazing productivity. During both retreats I got a TON of work done. Now I need to put a lot of borders on and get some stuff quilted!
With this pattern, I cut everything in advance so I had enough for 3 quilt tops. Each block has fairy frost background and the ugliest scraps I could find as the concentric circles. I had time the week before retreat to sew on the circles and trim the backside, but not to lay out and assemble them into tops. This one above was extra, so it might end up a wall hanging or a table topper or a pillow.
The two above will be charity quilts, because they were basically near assembled when given to me. The blocks themselves were done, and with the 64 patch I finished the last block, found some sashing I liked and finished it. The iguana blocks were done, so they just needed putting together. Thanks Diane W. for the scraps – someone will enjoy these gifts when I get around to quilting them!!
The top one was scrap Japanese print fabrics in various sized triangles that I trimmed to one size and offset with the tan, then sashed in black between the triangles and around them. I like the end result. The black and batik squares were put together in strips of 5 squares. So I figured this was ready to become a table runner, I just needed to add a few squares so they were every other and each row was the same length. I found the borders from fabric I had at retreat with me, so this one just needs quilting!
My second attempt at hand embroidery, I changed his legs a little bit. He just needs a frame now!
I learned to make fabric postcards at my retreat too, so I made three!!!
These two were made entirely of batik scraps. I cut them prior to retreat and when I showed up I could just sew and sew. They went together quickly and easily!
The photo of this kit in the magazine showed pinks and greens, but I wanted to use browns and reds, and already had some squares in those colors cut up. So I cut some additional strips and had enough to make a pretty big quilt. I did have to adjust at retreat because I didn’t have enough for the quilt I had planned to make – this was due to my failure to look at the size of the quilt in the photo. I had to shave off a row and a column. I think this one is plenty big.
I brought this stack of fat quarters (I think I had 6 or 7), with the flower fabric being the tie in that all the other fabrics matched. I cut them into 4″ x 10″ blocks and sewed them together. Boom. Took maybe three hours for this quilt to be cut and finished!
And finally this beauty. I actually wasn’t sure what I would do and decided AT retreat. I had brought a bunch of black scraps, knowing I would base a lot of projects at this particular retreat with blacks, so I could use them in a number of ways. Based on the number of squares I had, doing the setting looked best this way (rather than an offset looking diamond). Yesterday I added borders and quilted it and I LOVE how it turned out!
What can I say? I love my job. Sometimes I need to quilt, and sometimes I need to sew.