Friday, May 14, 2010

Quilt Retreat: The perfect get-away!

Does this photo look vaguely familiar to you?
If so, you've been on a Quilt Retreat! They all have a lot in common, regardless of the location: many brands of sewing machines, piles of fabric, and busy, busy quilters!

How many tote bags does it take to go on a Retreat?
Let's see...that's five, plus an Ott Light in a little bag.
By the time I was done, there were nine tote bags and I loaded most of them into a laundry basket for convenience sake.
I like to organize projects by tote bag, and took several with me. But my "packing" fell into such dis-organization that I had a couple tote bags devoted to stuff that I kept forgetting to put in another bag!
Not to mention two sewing machines (well, I might need a spare if one doesn'twork...) and a large suitcase.
This Retreat started on Sunday afternoon and went until after lunch on Thursday, adding up to four days!
Fortunately, the Quilt Mobile was more than enough room for both my excessive packing and all of Cherry-Cherry's things, too!
My guild decided to have a Spring Retreat because some couldn't go to the usual November Retreat. The place we head for is about two hours away, right across the road from Silver Springs near Ocala (Florida).
The Christian Conference Center is a camp, and not the motel-style accomodations some people like. But it saves money (for fabric!) and it's so beautiful there....
We stay in cabins that can sleep eight, but only use the bunks on "ground level".
When the beds are made with our own sheets, etc. and each has a quilt, it looks nice and homey here.The bathrooms have double everything, so it's actually easier than sharing a motel room!
We sew in the auditorium, eat in the spacious dining room, and leave the comfy lounge for hand sewing & relaxing.
That TV is for an evening movie distractions here! We come to sew and maybe take a nap. "Whatever you want to do" is the motto! The building keys don't get much use...often the last quilter up all night is leaving at the same time the early risers are coming in!
Everyone gets a big table, and there are extra tables for laying out a large project like the blue One-Block-Wonder. Basting a table runner is a quick job when you have a nice space.
What fun it is to see all the projects going on! Newbies and experienced quilters share with one another for a healthy dose of inspiration all around. This is the Kooky Star pattern I taught for the guild in January (based on a number of ideas, especially Gwen Marston's Liberated Stars). She finished it with a border of small stars on different color backgrounds...another fantastic charity quilt!
The array of equipment, I mean brought! Retreat is amazing! What a wonderful way to learn about machines, lights, special tables, irons and even chairs!
I discovered that a good office chair will fit into the Quilt Mobile along with Cherry-Cherry's & my supplies. That's beacause I had to bring one back home when you-know-who-you-are left it behind!
We don't plan too many extra activities for Retreat, but many people like a block drawing of some kind. These are pink/red flowers fused on black & white blocks. If you made 4, your name went in the drawing 5 times. Blocks were grouped into batches of 12 and we had enough for four drawings, plus one "mini" of nine blocks!
The brown blocks are one of Cherry-Cherry's projects, from a Brenda Henning book about using Bali Pops (sort of a flat jelly-roll, if you get the drift). Batiks....yummm!
Here's the work area we had:
I'd like to claim that blue project in the back, but let's face it...I am not going to be making a "Bella Bella" style quilt (based on the marble tiled floors of Italy). That was class last year in the guild. It's fun to see classwork spanning several years and finally getting done!
Our theme was "Spring Cleaning", and I can't think of a better way to do that than to leave home! Most of the quilters brought UFOs to work on. I brought one of my favorites: the President's blocks I received in 1993!
First I sewed them together:
The blocks are signature stars, and did not end up being the same. When I realized that, I set myself a challenge to sash the blocks with a different fabric on each side but matching the color of the star. The fabrics all had to come out of my stash and not repeat...and I did it! Then the project went into a box for 17 years. Now the blocks are together and have a little black & white border:
I refused to go fabric shopping on Retreat (though it is a popular activity!) so the top came home for border fabric. I have to "go shopping in my stash" for that to complete the challenge...I probably have even more to choose from 17 years later!
Another project was making Mile-A-Minute blocks. That's my favorite "brainless" sewing. The hard part for me is finally throwing away scraps! But I did end up with 40 blocks. Here are just nine of them:

I had my lap-top with EQ6 on it and played with some arrangements. I also "made" Cherry- Cherry's Christmas quilt while she was still sewing it, earning me the "Smartie-pants" moniker yet again. I can hardly wait for EQ7 to come out next month!
I did have another project, the one I actually sewed first. I was so proud that it used fabric I had collected years ago but don't need for a quilt now.

WARNING! This means you, Cherry-Cherry! And anyone with a delicate constitution.
Scroll fast to the end!

It was supposed to be a dinosaur quilt, but my son is almost 27 and doesn't need one  now! So I made a bunch of pillowcases:

They are folded in half...the green dinos are flannel! I think some little boys will like them, but this did lead to a very important insight about Retreats....

From now on, I shall try to bring non-ugly fabric projects when sewing in a group setting.
But I am thrilled to have used a bag of fabric that was taking up floor space in my closet!


Pat said...

Nice pics from your Retreat, Sunnie. It sure was productive for you -- completing a 17 year old UFO! Bravo, Bravo, Sunnie! First for completing it and Second for mentioning how long you stored this one!

Let's see -- 5 blocks x 7 blocks = 35 blocks requiring 4 different fabrics with colors pulled from fabric in block for sashing = 140 sashing fabrics. Oh, Sunnie, I want to see your stash!

I like the dinosaur pillowcases! I know some little boys are really going to think they are cool.


Anonymous said...

Love the retreat report! Thank you, Sunnie!

Are the pillow case instructions online somewhere?


Sunnie said...

Visit here for the pillowcase project:

This article also has the link for the One Million Pillowcases site that has lots of free patterns.
IMHO, making French seams is the best construction for any of these cases, which will be given to many people,of all ages, who are need of comfort ...and also the pillowcases can be used to carry personal items besides a pillow!

Anonymous said...

Great work, Sunnie, even if I did have to look at all that ugly fabric. And I'm sure you do have a fabulous stash and that I haven't seen even a fraction of it yet!