The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Fun and Productive Quilt Retreat

Have you been dabbling with the idea of hosting your own quilting retreat? 

They can be such a fun way to make new quilty friends and try something new, but how do you plan a quilt retreat? 

We will discuss this topic in FULL in the post and go over all the nitty gritty details so you can feel confident when you go to host your first or next quilting retreat with ease. 

What Is a Quilt Retreat?

Before we jump into any details, let’s go over the basics. A quilt retreat is a gathering of quilters to sew, learn, and fellowship together. The quilters can have varying skill levels, or you can specify a specific skill level for your attendees. 

Also, you can choose a specific quilt pattern that everyone sews, or you can have everyone pick their pattern. Often, the importance isn’t the actual quilt pattern or project that everyone is working on, but the friendships and connections created when quilters get together and share their love for the craft. 

A quilt retreat can be a few hours or several days. That will heavily depend on your attendees’ schedules and what you would like to commit to. We’ll discuss this more later in this post. 

Why You Should Plan a Quilting Retreat

Like most gatherings, it’s always best to have a plan. For quilting retreats, your schedule can be as structured or fluid as you would like, but as the host, it’s essential to put a plan in place.

Here are a few reasons why planning a retreat is important.

  • Retreats bring all kinds of people together. 
  • A retreat can be an excellent way to teach a specific technique.
  • Friendships blossom at quilt retreats. 
  • Retreats are perfect for making quilts for a cause or charity. 

What to Expect at a Quilting Retreat? 

Whether you are the host or an attendee of a quilting retreat, it’s probably a good idea to know what you can expect from one of these unique quilt gatherings.

Every quilt retreat is a little different, but here is a fun list of things you can expect from these retreats.

  • Trunk Show: This is when quilters show off their quilts. This can be a pattern designer or a guest quilter that you arrange to come for part of the retreat. 
  • Vendors: Some retreats will have local quilt shops with various patterns, fabrics, and notions your attendees can shop through. 
  • Group Discussions: You could use group discussions as an icebreaker session or have a teaching session. Quilting has many different styles and techniques; it could be super fun to hear different opinions on various topics like fabric selection or favorite quilt blocks. 
  • Sewing Time: A huge reason we do quilt retreats is to sew, right? You should expect several hours a day dedicated to sewing and quilting. 
  • Yummy Food: It’s no secret that sharing a meal with others is a great way to make lasting connections, and many retreats supply daily meals. If you have any food allergies or preferences, I highly recommend letting the retreat host know so they can accommodate you. I should also point out that some retreats are hosted in rental homes where you have access to a kitchen and will expect to supply your own food. Every retreat is different, but your host will tell you what to expect before arriving. 
  • Classes: Some retreats will offer classes on different techniques or patterns. 
  • Group Activities: Other than sewing, some retreats also arrange for other activities like a spa day, shopping, hiking, yoga, and other fun group activities. This could be a fun way to try something new or pamper yourself!
  • Accommodations: For many retreats, group rooms are the preferred way to rent an Air B&B or hotel room. If you prefer to have your own room, most retreats will let you know if that option is available. 

Quilt Retreat 101: The Ultimate Guide to Planning the Perfect Quilting Retreat 

Now that you know a bit about what to expect, let’s dive deep into how to plan the perfect quilt retreat for your attendees. With this guide, you can set your plan in motion and have fun along the way. 

Step One: Choose the Group Size

Arguably, the most crucial step is to know how many people you want to host before you do anything else. Do you want a small, intimate group of 5-10 people? Or do you want to open the doors to your entire social media following and have 100+ people sign up? 

Once you’ve narrowed down how many people you want to attend, you can figure out WHO to invite. Do you want it to be your close quilting friends? Your social media following? Customers? Your local quilt guild?

Step Two: How Long Should a Quilt Retreat Last?

The length of your retreat will depend on the schedules of your guests and what you want to accomplish during your time together. Many people work and may only be able to be gone for two or three days. 

This is certainly something you need to consider when planning your retreat. A typical quilt retreat is around four days long. This gives everyone plenty of time to get to know each other, make a significant dent in their quilt project, and have fun together. 

Step Three: Location Location Location!

It is extremely important to choose WHERE you want to host your retreat before you start making any definite plans. This will depend on a few factors.

  1. How many people do you plan to invite?
  2. Do you want to host someplace near your local area?
  3. What time of year?
  4. What will the weather be like?
  5. Do you want the location to be all-inclusive? (lodging, food, room for sewing)

After answering these questions, check the area where you want to host your quilting retreat and find appropriate venues. Ask yourself these questions for each possible venue:

  • What is the price per person (assuming your max number of people sign up?)
  • Are there single rooms available? Price?
  • Do they have special group pricing?
  • What are the amenities?
  • If renting a home, how many rooms/beds are available?
  • Does it have a full kitchen?
  • What are the closest restaurants?
  • Does the house have a security system? (You want your guests to feel safe.)
  • Is it easy for my attendees to find food and other necessities if unavailable at the chosen location?
  • Does the venue have sufficient space and electricity for tables and sewing machines?
  • Does the venue have tables you can rent? If so, how many and how much do they charge?

Step Four: Transportation

If you plan to have some out-of-towners join your retreat, you need to decide if you want to offer transportation for them. You can also check if your chosen hotel has shuttles to and from nearby airports. 

You can always rent a large vehicle to transport everyone together; remember, that will be an extra expense. If you have a smaller group, you can coordinate with everyone to share car space if everyone needs to go somewhere like a restaurant or extra outing. 

Step Five: What’s the Vibe?

This step is sometimes overlooked, but it’s a significant consideration. What do you want, the vibe or atmosphere during the quilt retreat? 

Do you want it to be upbeat and playful? Or maybe you want a calm, relaxing vibe for your guests? Location can play a huge role in setting the “mood”  or intention for quilting weekends, and I highly recommend giving it some serious thought in your planning. 

Step Six: What Should the Project Be?

There are so many possibilities regarding what the focal project should be for a quilting retreat.

You can have everyone bring their WIP (work in progress) projects, choose a specific pattern for everyone to make, make a few blocks that you sew together to make a quilt top for someone special, or a mixture of these options.

If you choose to have everyone work on a particular project, you need to send them a detailed supplies list so they bring everything they need. 

I lean more towards allowing everyone to bring whatever projects they want to a quilt retreat. The gathering together and quality time you spend with like-minded quilters is just as important as the sewing. Plus, everyone has different tastes and skill levels, so it might be tricky to pick a project everyone would like. 

Step Seven: Choosing Other Activities or Entertainment

The extra activities you choose will rely heavily on the retreat’s location. For example, if you are near the mountains, wouldn’t it be amazing to go for a leisurely hike to get inspired by nature? 

On the other hand, if you are in a big city, you could take everyone to a museum or art exhibit. And, of course, visit any quilt shops nearby! Here are a few other unique ideas for your quilt retreat attendees.

  • Game night: have everyone bring their favorite board games.
  • Movie night: Make popcorn and other fun snacks and host a cozy movie night to watch a classic.
  • Theater or Show: How fun would it be to get all dolled up and see a play or musical? 
  • Spa Day: Take everyone to a spa to get pampered from head to toe.
  • Nail Art: A spa day can be expensive, but how about hiring a nail artist to come to your location to give everyone simple manicures between sewing and gabbing? Sounds like fun to me!
  • Zoo Day: Who doesn’t love animals? A trip to the zoo could be a fun excursion for everyone, especially after sitting for a few days sewing. 
  • Cocktail Hour: To help everyone wind down after a long day, bring them to a nice bar where they can order their favorite beverage. Bonus if the hotel you choose has a bar connected to it. 
  • Skills Class: Choose from all kinds of classes like pottery, cooking, knitting, or painting, to name a few. An extra skills class will inspire and help your attendees on their creative journeys. 

Step Eight: Meals and Dining

First, you need to decide if you want to be in charge of choosing restaurants and meal planning. It’s entirely up to you and what you are comfortable with. 

You can always make a meal itinerary, and whoever wants to join you can, but some people like to have the option to go off on their own for meals, which is fine. 

If you have a large budget and are hosting in an Air B&B, you could hire a chef to cook meals for your attendees. Or your guests could be responsible for their own meals. 

If you plan a meal itinerary, it’s crucial to determine if your attendees have food restrictions or preferences like gluten-free or vegan. This way, you can plan accordingly so they don’t feel left out of the group during mealtime. 

Step Nine: Sending Out the Invitations

It’s finally time. You’ve created your perfect itinerary; your plan is perfect. Now you have to make the announcement and send out the invites. You can do this in a few ways, and it will depend on WHO you want to invite.

Obviously, if you just want to invite your girlfriends, you probably have their phone numbers, and you can quickly call them. But let’s say you want to open the invitation to a larger audience. 

You can email your email list, make a social media post, or call your local quilt guild. It’s really going to depend on WHO your audience is and how you usually communicate with them. 

I recommend making a post or sending an email a few weeks before you want to send out the official announcement to let your people know what you are planning on and allow them to join a specific email list for the quilt retreat. That will also give you an idea of how many people are interested in a retreat. 

Then, when you are ready to make an official announcement, you can send out an email or private message to only the people who are actually interested in your retreat. 

Quilt Retreat Packing List 

Here is an example of a detailed packing list you should send to your attendees so they come prepared. 

  • Quilt pattern
  • All necessary fabrics for your chosen quilt pattern
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing machine pedal and power cord
  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Ruler (any specific one you need for your project)
  • Marking tool
  • Bobbins
  • Extra needles
  • Notebook and pen
  • Pins (or clips)
  • Comfy clothes and shoes
  • Other clothes (for specific activities you choose like workout clothes for hiking or dressy outfit for a night out on the town)
  • Toiletries 
  • Medications and supplements
  • Phone charger
  • Earbuds and charger if you like to sew “in the zone.”

Quilt Retreat Gift Ideas 

It’s fun to get unique gifts at events like this that you can look at and think back to that fun moment. Here are a few fun gift ideas that you can use for your quilt retreat gift bag.

  1. Quilt Journal

Here is a 105-page journal that you can use to keep track of your different quilt projects. There are sections where you can mark when you start a project, the fabric used when you finish the project, and a small sketching area. This would make a lovely gift for your attendees to use during the retreat and after. 

2. Quilter Keychain

This beautiful keychain features a sewing machine, quilt block, scissors charm, and a charm that says, “Beautiful things come together one stitch at a time.” Any quilter would love to receive this special gift. 

  1. Personalized Seam Ripper

How cool would it be to have custom engraved seam rippers made for all your attendees with the name and year of your quilt retreat? This is a fantastic idea that your guests will cherish forever. 

  1. Sewing Notion Socks

As quilters, we like pretty much anything with sewing notions on them, including socks! This would be a cute addition to a gift bag for your quilt retreat attendees. They look comfy, too!

  1. Funny T-Shirt

Quilters love t-shirts, and this shirt is bound to be a winning. It says, “I enjoy romantic walks through the fabric store.” And it’s true; we do! Everyone would immediately put this shirt on.

  1. Charm Bracelet

This sweet charm bracelet has similar charms to the keychain and would look lovely on a quilter’s wrist. The charm on this bracelet says, “Blessed are the piecemakers.”

  1. Quilting Clips

You can never have too many quilting clips, am I right? This cute little Peter Rabbit tin holds 95 quilting clips that your attendees can use for years. There are two types of clips included in this pack. 

  1. Quilter Zipper Pouch

This adorable zipper pouch is practical and cute with its fun design and spacious pocket. Your guests can keep all their notions in this pouch when they aren’t using them. The bag says, “When life gives you scraps, make quilts!”

Final Thoughts

I hope this guide helps you when you are planning your quilt retreats in the future. These retreats can potentially create lifelong friendships and memories between quilters that will be cherished for years. 

Planning for your next quilt retreat? Read this ultimate guide in this blog post and have fun with your planning!