Quilt Retreat Series Part 1: What kind of retreat is best for me?

Over the next several weeks, I will be exploring many aspects of attending a Quilt Retreat (or any crafty retreat really).
You can start at the beginning of the series here at the Intro.

This week I wanted to cover the different kinds of retreats I have heard about or come across in my research to find the perfect retreat for me.

1. The Friend's house
        Probably the least amount of prep and possibly one of the most fun retreats.  Is a couple of local friends crowding into one of their studios, living rooms, or basements to sew for the day.  I think this is considered a retreat even if it is just for the day, because it gives you an excuse to ignore all your other responsibilities.  The dishes, the kids, the latest episode of Game of Thrones. You get to visit and have fun together and accomplish some sewing too.  My experience with these retreats always involved specialty coffees and some fast food lunch.  Such a good time!

2. The Guild Retreat
          I have never been on a guild retreat before.  I was only a member of a guild for a short time before I moved and haven't joined another.  This seems to be the most common type of retreat.  And I can completely understand why.  It gives the group a chance to pool their resources and spend a few days together in a different location.  Maybe a beach house, or a lodge in the country, or even just a hotel meeting room a few towns away.  Chances are, you know quite a few people in the guild and don't mind rooming with them or chatting the night away.

3. The Shop Retreat
          There are quite a few quilt shops that sponsor their own retreats, either in a venue at their shop or somewhere nearby.  The majority of retreats I have attended would be of this variety.  They can range anywhere from a few people to 75 or so.  My personal favorite is about 30 people.  Plenty of new friends, yet not overwhelming.  I have not been to one of these alone though, I usually have one or two people travelling with me.  These are fun because you will often get a decent discount at the shop.  *woot!*

4.  Small but adventurous
          I don't know if this should be a category of its own, but it didn't fit anywhere else.  I am not sure how common they are, but it was the first kind of retreat I went to.  The particular retreat I went to was a cabin in the woods near Glacier National Park.  It was a cluster of cabins that was usually used for tourists, but would occasionally rent to groups of 4-8 people.  There were 4 of us and 2 others, plus the owner and daughter joined us.  It was interesting.  It was a small setting, but only having a couple of people that were not with our group made for a little bit of awkwardness.  A good positive though was being able to take a stroll through the beautiful woods surrounding the cabin.

Another way to separate the different styles of retreats when making your choice is by location.  How far do you want to travel is a question to ask yourself here.

 1.  Hotel
          A lot of retreats are held at hotels in one city or another.  Some people travel to these because of the hosts or classes.  Others attend because they are local.  At these, there is usually the option of having your own room.  However, many hotels have "quiet hours" and quilting late at night or early in the morning would not be possible.

2.  Cabin/Beach House/Lodge
          These venues are chosen because of the atmosphere.  They are frequently surrounded by beautiful views and a bit of privacy.  Some have single rooms, others are dorm style or shared rooms.  Most often it is the entire building that is rented and most that I have seen advertise that you can quilt the entire night through if you so desire.

3. Cruise ship
          I have not been on a quilting cruise, but I know they are a thing.  The ones I have seen have classes/teachers as well as docking ports to shop and take a break.  I honestly don't know much more about them.  It sounds interesting though.

Finally, you need to ask yourself about amenities of the retreat.  Each one will be completely different from the next and this is a good time to explore different things, you may find you enjoy something new.

1. Kits and Classes
          Some retreats will be very structured and have specific projects to work on or a full line-up of classes to take.  If you are looking to increase your skill set or learn from the pros, this would be a good choice.

2. Meals and Snacks
          I have not yet been to a retreat where I was responsible for my own meals.  Of the two I have been to, one was home-made simple meals and the other was a catered buffet style.  The upcoming retreat we will be responsible for feeding ourselves, but the lodge has 2 kitchens for us to use.  Not all places will have that and you may need to plan on eating out.  Things to think about are:  coffee, snacks, is alcohol allowed, nearby grocery stores.  Many times, quilters will share the meal responsibilities and each handle a meal during their stay.  This include clean-up too.  If you don't want to have to think about any of that, make sure the meals are included with your stay.

3.  Privacy
          This one is completely personal preference, but a very important thing to consider when booking a retreat.  How much privacy do you feel comfortable with?  Do you need your own sleeping quarters?  Do you mind sharing with one or two others?  How about 20 in dorm style rooms?  Then you have to consider bathrooms as well.  You cannot assume that everyone will have their own bathroom unless you are staying in a hotel.

Well, there are a few things to think about when booking your quilt retreat.  Sorry for the long post with no photos.  :)
Do you have anything to add?


  1. This is a great way to give us all something to ponder and consider. The distance to travel, and the cost, and the accommodation if away from home would be my major concerns. There is a 2 day retreat in the small town where I live, during July, hand applique, paper piecing and embroidery for a bag, and on the blog it says you will probably not get the bag completed. Cost, $370, which includes morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and one dinner, and to stay the accommodation is extra. $60 per night, including continental breakfast. Single bedrooms and shared bathrooms, at a local girl's college, over the school holidays. requirements are extra, and no refund unless they can find a replacement. So for many quilters or those who stitch, this is a big factor. Kits, meals ,and privacy, you have listed everything we would need to think about. I hope your retreat is everything you would want, and hope for.

  2. I've been on several reteats...friend's lake house, guild retreats, and a more national type retreat settings, like Sewtopia. You've brought up some good points, like location, price, the teacher, the project, meals, etc. You just have to weigh all the factors and determine the best fit!


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