So I’ve been thinking recently, after chatting with a friend, and seeing the spring crop of retreats pop up around IG and blog land, what is it that would attract you to a sewing retreat?  I’ve been lucky enough to attend a number of retreats both in Europe and the US, with a variety of sizes, timeframes and formats, and whilst I enjoyed them all, some would attract me back again more than others.

I’m being totally nosy here, so I’ll offer up some options for discussion, then there’s a wee survey at the end.  Obviously all the FAL Q1 stats have got me addicted to number crunching ;o)

Let’s Talk Size

Sometimes you want to meet a ton of new people, to absorb as many new things as you can, and sometimes it’s nice to just meet up with a few people, old friends, or soon to be old friends, where you can get to know people much better.

Do you want a mass gathering like at Fat Quarterly Retreat, or Sewing Summit (now ended) with say 200 odd attendees?

goodbye FQR
Photo borrowed from Kerry on the FQR Flickr Group

Or do you want something smaller and more intimate, such as Patchwork In The Peaks with under 15 attendees?

Or maybe even something in the middle, like the Stitch Gathering, which had 60 attendees last year?

The Stitch Gathering Modern Quilt Retreat Edinburgh 2013
Borrowed from Jo on the SG Flickr Group

How Long Do You Want To Escape For?

Time matters, whether you have a full time job or a full time family, and your ability to escape can have many dependencies on it, from available holiday days at work, to child care cover.  If it’s a once a year treat though, are you willing to work round these things, or is it frankly impossible to bend from the norm? (no judgements here BTW!)

Do you want to escape for a day, like the Stitch Gathering?  It ran from 9-5-ish

Or maybe a weekend, like the first FQR was?  That ran Friday night to Sunday afternoon

Perhaps you want to push the boat out for a long weekend, like Peaks, which ran from Thursday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime?

Does Location Matter?

I’ve drooled a bit over some of the locations that our North American cousins have been enjoying recently – islands, cabins in the mountains and more, but how remote would you like to be?

FQR, Sewing Summit, the Stitch Gathering, and the big MQG events take place in big cities, within hotels or conference facilities, so do you want to head off to the big smoke?

Or would you like the peace and tranquility of somewhere like Peaks, in a beautiful location? (bear optional)

Do You Want To Learn Things?

All the retreats I’ve attended have had a certain element of teaching, some formal, some not, but I know that there are retreats where people go to just sew whatever they like, uninterrupted, for a few days.

Would you like structured classes where you split up into groups and have to book into a timetable, like at FQR or Sewing Summit?

Or maybe you’d like to learn something all together, like at Peaks?

Perhaps you’d like a mixture of class time and ‘own sew’ time?

Maybe you’d like it to be entirely your own time?

What Kind Of Learning Would You Like?

I’ve attended retreats where there have been hands on classes only, and ones which were a mixture of hands on and lectures on things such as improving your blog, or how to choose colours which go together.  Some classes have been all about sewing, while others have covered working with fabrics in other ways, or even crochet and knitting.

Would you prefer hands on classes only?

A mixture of hands on and lectures?

Just a little quick learning thing dotted about during your own making?

Optional classes?

Class Subjects

The subject of classes has proved somewhat controversial at some events, where some have wanted sewing only, and others were happy to sit through colour theory and photography, so what would you prefer?

Would you want sewing only?

Possibly a mixture of techniques?

Maybe some theory would be okay?


This is another of the potentially thorny subjects, and of course in a way is dependent on the location of the retreat, but if the retreat lasts for longer than a day, you are going to have to stay somewhere.

Would you like to stay in the same building as your work area/classrooms?

Are you happy to find something for yourself, potentially cheaper and further away?

Food, Glorious Food

We all need to eat, but in days where dietary restrictions are growing, and the cost of food is growing too, how would you prefer to be fed while you’re away?

Fully catered, breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Partial catering – say lunch and maybe an optional dinner?

Exclusively eating out?

Taking it in turns to cook?

And Finally, The Extras

Some of the best things about retreats are the goodie bags that are often supplied, but I’ve also seen retreats where massages, manicures, jacuzzis and more are offered as optional extras.  Do you consider a retreat to be a place to spoil yourself completely and indulge in the extras, or is the simple act of sewing reward enough for you?

Do you want goodie bags all the way?

Or maybe class supplies provided in favour of a slightly smaller goody bag?

Perhaps all of the above along with all the spa therapies that can be thrown in?

On To The Poll

All the questions will allow you to choose multiple answers, I’m curious to see what you pick :o)

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Now I will set some expectations here, I’m afraid I’m not about to announce next week that I’m running a retreat anywhere, and nor is my friend.  I’d love to be able to one day, but in the meantime I will just have to satisfy myself with visiting those run by others!  Thanks for playing along :o)