Conquering Fears at a Retreat…

Conquering Fears at a Retreat…

From the Fearless files…

I always think of a retreat as an chance to immerse myself in my creative side, which admittedly doesn’t get the chance to come out and play as often as I’d like. I was away at my annual 4 days weekend last month, and I embraced that idea wholeheartedly. Although I overpacked (to a comical degree), I really only worked on one project…my Dream Big Panel. It’s done, and handing in it’s place of honor in my sewing room. It looks good if you apply the galloping horse at 20 feet test to it…and I do. I can see every flaw, every oops, everything that I will work on and improve. Maybe you’ll eventually see my next panel…but this one is one for me.


A lot of my projects are gifted or donated, or just put aside. This one isn’t, and I take a few moments with her every morning. For a year (seriously??), it was pinned to a corner of my design wall, waiting for me to finish working on her. A whole, solid year. I never made the time – or the sewjo – to complete it until the retreat. I finally earned my membership card to team Quilt it to Death.

Fear. Fear stopped me, stole time from me, stole missed opportunities from me. I let the fear that I didn’t have the skill (or the talent) dodge me at every turn, until I’d had enough with being stuck, enough with being a coward, enough with feeling like I was an imposter. I had taken a class with a nationally known teacher a while back, and one of the things that came out of that was that I needed to not be afraid to suck at it. And I dove in.

Sketching ideas

One of the first things I did (once I unloaded a stupid amount of crap from my car), was to sit with a cup of tea, a sketchbook, and a sharpie. Something that I had been encouraged to do before…but the fear kept me from it. I found it relaxing to just slip into creative mode. I sketched, drank a little (possibly switching to an adult beverage), and sketched some more. I popped over to Pinterest for ideas, and more motifs began to fill the page. And I began to feel exhausted. So on night one, with my machine still sitting boxed up, I went off to bed – and slept like a baby.

Day two arrived, and after coffee and a good breakfast, I was back with the sketchpad. I am a morning creative…I find my best plans get made, my best thinking gets done in the morning. It was a light crew, so I set up my workspace, came to terms that I had ridiculously overpacked, and returned to more sketches. Eventually, the sketches gave way to the practice piece, and eventually, I came to take a good hard look at the panel (and to plan my attack).

And three and a half days later…It was mostly done. It took me that long because it was a slow process, and because I began to enjoy the process and just play. These panels are great places to showcase your skills, and I had come into it with the idea that each motif had to be unique. Um, no it didn’t…and out came the ruler feet and the pounce pad, and some more structured sections began to emerge. It was the first time in a long time that I had had fun stitching…and each time I stood back and looked at it, I had a smile on my face.

I was also physically tired, and so I packed up and came home. As pleased as I was – and as surprised as my husband was – I came home to a packed schedule, and almost one more whole week went by before I finished it. One obstacle I hadn’t figured out was the border and the binding, until someone pointed out that my favorite binding technique – a flange – could be adapted to this. And Voila…she lives in my sewing space. Her name is Tersal…named after the two biggest cheerleaders a girl could ask for.

So, in closing I have two questions for you…

Over/under that I overpack next year?

How can I cheer you on…we’re in for some rough times ahead, and being a creative person with an outlet can help you out a lot. So what kind of help can I offer you? It’s time to pay it forward.



3 comments on “Conquering Fears at a Retreat…
  1. Karen says:

    Looks wonderful, I am truely impressed. You say you used a panel – was this a pre printed design that you quilted on? If so, could you please tell me where to find such a thing?

    • PatchPearl says:

      Hi Karen – yes, it’s one of the Dream Big Panels by Hoffman. I’m sure that your local shops there can help you find it, or Amazon has them. They come in several color ways.

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