Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My First Quilting Retreat

I just came back from my first weekend quilting retreat, with the NYC Metro Mod Quilt Guild. I'm not an official member yet; I attended two meetings this spring and plan to join officially in the fall, when they recommence. Nevertheless when they announced the retreat plans I signed up right away because I didn't want to miss the opportunity to get to know this community of crafters.

The retreat was held at the Ladore Camp, Retreat and Conference Center in Waymart, PA, about a three hour ride from NYC. Lots of people carpooled and I traveled with four other quilters, three of whom live in my neighborhood in Queens (the driver is from Manhattan). We left on Friday morning and arrived mid-afternoon after a nice ride including lunch in Stradsbourg PA, a pretty town with a fabric store right on main street.
My finished quilt top
Since this was my first retreat I made a number of misjudgements when it came to packing and equipment. I didn't bring my extended sewing table or have a decent ironing station, so next time I need to remember the table, which is just a plastic surface with little legs that attaches to my sewing machine and gives me a larger flat surface to sew on. And I need to find (or buy) a sew-and-press station, which again is a small surface with a cutting mat on one side and a soft pressing surface on the other, and a travel iron to go with all that. I have a small iron designed for applique, which I did bring and use, but my improvised pressing surface was insufficient to my needs and the iron was adequate but not really that great.
My worktable at dinnertime on Friday
I also did not bring enough work to do. I brought a small quilt to put together; I had pieced the blocks and sashing strips in advance, and just needed to assemble them. This turned out to be roughly three hours or work, which would seem like a lot stretched out over a couple of days of sewing time at home but went by very quickly indeed when I had nothing else to do but sew. I finished early Saturday morning and then had exactly nothing to do afterwards.

Selections from the scrap tables
Which was a blessing and a curse. The weekend included several group activities starting with a scrap challenge where we took a paper bag filled with scraps and had to come up with something in 45 minutes; I made two blocks which I later combined into a long piece perfect for purse making. I also spent time experimenting with the generous scrap pile up for grabs and trying out some of those tutorials I'd been saving on Pinterest forever. And I did some reading, and since the weather was glorious I did a lot of that outside.
This is what I ended up making from the scrap challenge. It's the perfect size to be made into a small purse using the Clobird Fallon pattern, available on Etsy and Craftsy. I have made several bags with this pattern before- it works great.

I also stitched a label for the "Where are my dragons?" quilt.

Next time though I'd bring more work because it really wasn't a nice feeling to be struggling to fill the time.
We also did a Yankee swap (I came home with a gag gift for my husband), a raffle of handmade items and a block lotto, which I did not win but to which I contributed one of the blocks I made from Pinterest tutorials over the weekend. The doll pictured above was my contribution to the raffle.

And of course I got the chance to meet lots of quilters in my guild, which was the main reason for going in the first place. And that was the best part! I would love to do another retreat this winter but I'm going to plan things a little differently!

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