Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Retreat Reflections

Retreats are the in thing nowadays. You can go to a scrapbooking retreat, a spiritual retreat, a nature retreat or any number of others. But quilting retreats are the best. Over the years I’ve attended many, from very informal with just a handful of people to very organized with 40 or more quilters. They are all fun because you are quilting, creating, and enjoying the company of other quilters.

Our quilt guild has had an annual retreat for the past 10 years. The first few years it was held at Camp Cedar Glen near Julian and the Cleveland National Forest northeast of San Diego. The camp was beautiful with rustic cabins, huge pines and a big lodge building where we shared communal meals and set up our sewing room. After a few years, the retreat was moved to Vina de Lestonnac in Temecula, which is a retreat center run by an order of nuns. Nice facility, more like a hotel, and surrounded by wineries. I have also attended a couple of retreats organized by the Tall Mouse, a craft store in Orange County. It was held at a hotel with a big room for quilting. The staff of the Tall Mouse presented mini-classes and a couple of projects. The smaller retreats I have been to include my quilting mini-group going to Rosarito Beach, Mexico (Anna’s beach house) to enjoy sewing and a glass or two of wine while listening to the waves and watching the dolphins surf. A group of friends and family also rented a big house in the mountains in Idyllwild a couple of times for several days of quilting. It was great walking around town, enjoying the mountain atmosphere, the crisp cool days, & hot cider. Another year we rented a condo in Oceanside near the beach. That one was a little cramped, but as usual we had fun. We ate on the deck overlooking the ocean, walked on the pier and sewed our little hearts out.

This past weekend my sister, my daughter and I got together for a little family quilting retreat at my sister’s home in Orange County. We arrived Friday afternoon loaded with sewing machines and all the other paraphernalia we require for our craft, as well as all the projects we were hoping to work on or complete. All those racing sewing machines work up a real appetite, so we had a delicious lasagna and salad for dinner. I worked on making backings for several quilt tops to get them off my UFO list and a flannel top that needed borders and some appliqué. My daughter, Kecia, worked on a jelly roll pattern making a couple hundred flying geese. And my sister, Leslie, worked on Cozy Quilt Shop’s Block of the Month and started an “I Can’t Believe It’s a Sweatshirt” jacket. We sewed each night until midnight or so, watching old and new movies as we sewed.

On Saturday the marathon continued, but my niece stopped by so we took a break for a fabric run to M & L Fabrics in Anaheim and lunch at Olive Garden. Then it was back to work. Kecia cut out her Cozy Block of the Month, but instead of one block, she made three—with more fabric to spare! Leslie worked on her jacket and I worked on a Nana’s Garden quilt I started at least 7 or 8 years ago at a guild workshop. More food, more sewing, more movies, more fun.

Emma and my sister, Leslie, and Emma with her potholder.
Sunday dawned cloudy and cool with a forecast of rain. Not problem for us. I worked on a batik stained glass style quilt project that was started some years ago as a project for my quilting class. Kecia worked on another jelly roll pattern, Akimbo, which sets the blocks akimbo or in a twist and turn orientation. Leslie finished the patchwork on her jacket and I showed her how to cut blocks for a Stack ‘N Whack quilt. Leslie’s daughter and granddaughter, Emma (age 11), stopped by and Emma was really interested in all our activity and decided she’d like to make her dad a pot holder. I had brought my little Brother backup machine so the three of us gave her her first quilting lessons—covering some simple basic principles like sewing an accurate quarter-inch seam, proper pressing techniques, safe rotary cutting, and pinning for accurate piecing. She was very diligent, listening and following directions, and her pot holder came out great! Her dad will love it. Hopefully, we can nurture her interest and encourage her to attend future retreats. We need her to carry on the family quilting tradition.
Kecia's projects--Akimbo & 3 Blocks of the Month (2 closeups).

Leslie's projects-Stack 'n Whack blocks, Cozy Block of the Month & ICBIAS jacket
Sunday night ended our sewing sojourn, but we had a surprise treat. My daughter left for home a couple miles away about 11:30 pm, and on her way she decided to stop at the newest night hot spot in Garden Grove, M & M Donuts. This donut shop is open from 10 pm to about 9 or 10 am, depending on when they run out of donuts. It is famous for their blueberry donuts and on Saturday nights there are about a hundred people there waiting for donuts. (Yeah, we wondered what they were putting in those donuts, too.) She had to wait 15 minutes for a fresh batch of hot, blueberry donuts and then she stopped back at my sister’s to deliver the warm treats to us. I can testify they are the most delicious donuts I have eaten in years, and no unusual ingredients other than maybe the blueberries!
Tops I worked on-flannel w/applique, batik stained glass, & Nana's Garden
Whatever the locale and cost, quilting retreats are great fun and opportunities to spend blocks of quality time quilting with friends and/or family . They are highly recommended at least once or twice a year for your quilting health.


  1. Hi Karen, I am a co-worker and friend of Leslie's. You have a beautiful blog! Really enjoyed the photos and your writing about your retreat. Thank you! Leanne

  2. Hi Karen, I love the stained glass quilt. Is there a pattern for it?