UKQU has a fantastic range of quilting experts from around the country who, once a year, gather together for the ‘Bloggerati Retreat’. The one this year is due shortly in November and we are certainly looking forward to it.

Which brings me onto my plan to write a few Blogs on retreats. (Sewing ones obviously, although yoga, fitness, golf or spa retreats would be lovely too!) Which ones are out there, how to organise one for yourselves and what to take with you. So let’s, for this time, look at the sort of retreats you might be tempted to join.

Sewing Retreat in full swing

The Bloggerati Retreat was first held last year and we luckily had a willing volunteer who offered to organise it for us. (A big thank you, Jonathan!) He knew of a place that suited our needs and was able to host almost 30 sewers who attended. Jonathan had discovered the location when he attended a retreat organised by Judi Mendelssohn, a wonderful quilter, previous editor to British Patchwork and Quilting magazine and owner of P&Q Tours. If you fancy an actual ‘holiday’ then certainly check out their website as they have some fabulous journeys around the world but also have some UK retreats that might interest you with some experienced quilters such as Lynne Edwards, Barbara Chainey and Vivien Finch along with Judi herself.

A simple Google search, ‘sewing retreat’, came up with many options. Some retreats include workshops, although you usually buy your own materials, and some are for you to undertake your own projects or ideas. There are many that incorporate full board, others just provide accommodation and tuition and you need to source your own meals. Some are situated in hotels, with a dedicated room for sewing, some are held at bed and breakfasts or holiday cottages with self-catering options.

Some of the quilts made

Talk on Quilts for Care Leavers

I recently organised one at a local prestigious golf course, The Rolls of Monmouth, which was perfect for what we needed. I’ll go into that a little more on my next blog but there are certainly retreats out there for every pocket and choice of accommodation.

There are retreats which are for two nights, over a weekend, but there are also plenty I found that are mid-week and cover three or four days. Some of these actually tag onto some of the popular quilt shows, such as the Festival of Quilts, to extend your show experience and put into practice all the inspiration that you have picked up from the shows.

So, how do you choose? First, select your budget. Some of these retreats are fabulous but can work out quite costly. If you are happy to share a room, this can bring down the price a little rather than paying a single supplement. Better still, invite a friend to go with you! Then think about the length of time you have to spare. As I work I tend to go for the weekend options but if you are not confined, or are happy to take some annual leave, then the mid-weeks ones can be a good choice. Then we come to the project or workshops. Do you want tuition or are you simply looking for some sewing time? I would suggest researching the tutors to see if there are some that you would love to spend time learning from. If there is a particular technique you would like to master then a retreat is a wonderful way of getting to grips with it whilst having an expert on hand for any questions.

Sewing retreats can be a fabulous way to learn a new technique, make a project you have been keen to get started on or simply spend some quality time sewing without the usual distractions. Not only this but you can make some wonderful new friends who share your hobby and passion. Go on, treat yourself.