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What types of projects work best at a retreat?

The short answer is any project you want to work on!  There are a few things to consider when deciding which projects to bring along.  How is the retreat set up? Will there be enough cutting tables available? How many irons?  Will you have a design wall to work on? Will you be able to concentrate on a complicated set of instructions?  The good news is that at Koosa Mountain Lodge, you will have a good number of cutting tables, irons, and design walls.  However, you will still have other considerations.

When I go to a retreat, I like to have a variety of projects in different stages to work on.  I always try to bring at least one project that is already cut out and ready to sew. I like to be able to start sewing as soon as my machine is set up.  I don’t want to have to wait for a cutting table to be open in order to begin a project. I also don’t want to take up an entire cutting table for the time it takes to cut out an entire project.   Most people need to use a cutting table occasionally to trim up a block or to cut a few pieces, so I always feel bad when I monopolize the cutting area for long periods of time. Having at least one project ready to sew means I can start sewing right away.

Another consideration is the complexity of the project you are making.  I find it is a good idea to at least have one project I am familiar with and can make without having to concentrate a lot.  One of the wonderful things about a retreat is the group of people you are attending with, but one of the challenges is the group of people may be more interesting than your projects!  It’s a good idea to have a project you can work on despite being distracted. It’s usually best to leave the detailed projects for your sewing time at home. My “go to” projects are either scrappy or have a lot of pieces that can be chain pieced.  

One exception to this rule is a project that your fellow guest can help you with.  Are you struggling with a certain pattern that your friend knows by heart? A retreat may be a good time to enlist your friend’s help with a project that has you stumped.  

When I’m at a retreat, I can only work on the projects I’ve brought along.  In my sewing room, I have so many possible projects that I sometimes work on several in one day, never really accomplishing anything.  By bringing just a few projects along, it’s easier for me to stay focused and complete an entire project before moving on to the next. The limited number of projects is a perfect opportunity for me to finish UFOs.  I have a large, embarrassingly large, number of UFOs. Some of them are beautiful patterns with lovely fabric, but an overwhelming number of pieces. They are projects I want to do, but I just sort of ran out of steam while working on them.  These are perfect to bring along on a retreat.  

For the retreat I am currently attending, I brought along a bin of scraps that range in size from 5 to 15”.  I know Koosa Mountain Lodge has an Accuquilter with a wide variety of cutting dies. I’m using this opportunity to iron my scraps and cut them into useable sizes.  This weekend I’m concentrating on 2 ½” strips and 5” squares, with a few 2 ½” squares depending on the size of the scrap. I’ve already made a dent in the bin of scraps, and I will go home with fabric I can then organize by color and size.  I’ve found some really great scrappy patterns that use 2 ½’ strips and others that use 5” squares. 

When you are getting ready for your retreat, my advice is to bring a project you can do mindlessly, projects that your friends can assist you with, projects where an Accuquilter will save you cutting time, and projects that have turned into UFOs you just haven’t finished because of distractions in your sewing room.