Packing for a quilt retreat – Pack with a Purpose or Wing it?

I didn’t attend sleep away camp as a child, or live in a dorm in college – so the concept of a sleep away quilt event was something I was completely unfamiliar with when I went to my first weekend several years ago. It was not fancy, but it was a wonderful entry into the comraderie, the silliness (?) that is part and parcel with the quilt retreat weekend. I submit exhibit A

– the ‘trophy’ that was blinged up and presented to someone for something or other at one of the first retreats I ever went on with my guild. Each successive retreat, something is added to it – A crown, a sash – and it becomes a game to see which unknowing person winds up with it next.

I’m probably tempting fate to publish this a week before we leave. Keep a good thought.

Just this morning, I got the latest in several emails about next weekend – what to pack, what not to forget. Then I received a phone call from a friend on the way to her springtime getaway.  She packed this morning and headed out – resting assured that she has most of what she needs (power cord comes to my mind, ask me how I know) and that whatever she forgets, someone most likely has.  It’s amazing how many almost complete quilt shops can be found at a retreat in someone’s bags.

We have the sewing equipment down to a science, but sometimes, it’s the very basics that you forget about.   I have two different prescriptions for my disposable contact lenses.  They are the first thing to go into the my luggage for the weekend – I’ve had one weekend with mis-matched prescriptions and I will never have another.

There have been years when I have brought literally every UFO I could find, some years when I came at the last minute and grabbed whatever was handy.  Some years, I got alot done, some years, not so much. One year I slept because I badly needed to. This year, I have taken a more objective viewpoint to what I’m taking…

I have the luxury of having a travel machine that I take with me to each retreat – on Sunday, I’ll actually take it out and make sure I have everything – power cords, feet, book, the attachable light that hooks onto it.  Wow, I’m living large here – avoiding the mid-morning en-route panic that sets in…yes, the foot pedal  must be in the bag…where else would it be?

I have found that piecing works best for me at these kinds of events…I machine quilt  (badly, but I keep trying) on a large bed machine that I do not take with me for these weekends.  That narrows the possible projects down.  I have several deadline pieces (when don’t I is the question?)…and one of them might come with me -but all I have to do is finish the binding, so that won’t last long.  Paper piecing is difficult for me because I find that I do way too much moving between the machine, the iron and the cutting station when I’m at home…so that project probably won’t be useful for this.

I could bring with me any number of the half finished projects (charity, bags, baby) that are stacked up and waiting for work – or I could (wait for it!) pull something out of the Bucket List quilt folder to work on.


Three and a half days of glorious, uninterupted time to play.  The possibilities are endless – as long as I can make a decision and a plan.   My friends who get the most creatively accomplished on weekends such as this pre-cut and pre-package their materials to a degree that I just don’t seem to have the genetic capacity to do.

Did I mention that the Lake Shore series was born at a retreat?


That was my classic box o’ fabric weekend, when I threw everything into a plastic tub amd took it with me for the weekend.  Maybe I should go with what’s working for me.

Stay tuned.

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