47 women travel 2-3 hours to the Franciscan Retreat House in Maine with their sewing machines in tow; along with bags and buckets of fabric and supplies. The gymnasium is transformed into a creative space with design boards 10 feet tall waiting to display the talent of these women.
I just returned from 4 days at the Franciscan Retreat House. Many people ask me why I attend retreats such as this, when I can sew almost every day in my studio. The answer is simple.
- Quilting is about community.
- Quilters sew many items for charity.
- By quilting with others your creative juices flow in new directions.
- Learning tips and techniques from others can be time saving and priceless.
- Walking along the beach and dining with friends is a nice change of pace.
Each quilter came with several projects to work on. I came with my list:
- Labyrinth Quilt
- 2 charity blocks
- baby quilt for Gifford Hospital in Randolph, VT
- My new Moose pattern
- Designing a quilt with 20 bowtie 4-patch blocks
- Embroider on a t-shirt
- Gather recipes to send to my daughter who is living in a townhouse this year at college and will be cooking for herself and her suite-mates.
Yes, my list is always longer than I have time to accomplish. I like to bring a variety of projects, because I need to be in the right mood to do some of my least favorite tasks.
I did sew the Labyrinth Quilt first. It was very mechanical. The trick to success for this pattern is to choose 4 fabrics with distinct tones. The pattern suggested black, grey and white. Since I do not use those colors often, I choose a Stonehenge red/purple/blue as my dark fabric. Then I chose a medium purple, light pink and pale blue for the other fabrics. In the construction, I didn’t draw a single line on any fabric. I used the Sew Easy guide designed by Sara at http://www.sewtogether.net.
When quilting this quilt, it was important to think about your pressing plan- even if you are sending the quilt out to a longarm quilter. Also, I wanted the quilt to extend over the pillows of a queen bed, so I didn’t follow the cutting instructions precisely. I made the top border much larger than the bottom and sides.
I did stop after the top was done. Not the fun begins for me. I will think about how I want to quilt it and what color threads to use…..and what color backing to look for at the quilt shops I pass on the journey home.
Next was a couple of blocks for a scrappy charity quilt. These blocks will be sewn together with others to make a twin size quilt for someone affected by fire. There are a lot of house/chimney fires in Vermont every winter. When people are displaced from their homes, they are given a quit to help comfort them.
My mother made several blocks and ran out of lattice fabric. She passed the blocks to me. I was able to make a baby quilt top to finish at home and give to the Gifford Hospital in Vermont. Every baby born there is given a quilt. The Delectable Mountain Quilt Guild has made over 200 quilts so far.
The week before the retreat I had a dream about a bright moose quilt made with mostly Kaffe Fassett fabrics on a Micheal Miller Fairy Frost background. I drew the moose. I went to Staples to have them enlarge my drawing. I fused Mistyfuse to the back of several fabrics and drew the outline of my large moose on the background fabric which I found at Hen House Fabrics in White River Junction, VT on my way to the retreat. It is not Micheal Miller’s Fairy Frost, but very similar. It will work! And it was on sale! YIPPIE!
I also designed a quilt to use my mother’s bowtie blocks. I decided to wait until I got home to sew these blocks with my featherweight sewing machine. Many quilters came to the retreat with tiny featherweight sewing machines in Sew Ezi tables. I was inspired to get my featherweight out of it’s box and sew with it at home. I’ll let you know in my next blog post how that went.
I learned a lot at the retreat. There were no formal classes, but in just wondering around the gymnasium I saw lots of people working with wool. Some use the whip stitch to fasten each piece to the background fabric. Others use the buttonhole stitch. I also saw that some people sew wool onto wool backgrounds and others use drapery weight fabric. Other sew wool onto cotton flannel fabric. This is another reason I like to go to retreats. I learn to stretch the boundaries of every project.
There is a large store called, Camp Wool in Kennebunk, ME. I purchased a kit. I opened it at home, not wanting to start a new project with so many projects I brought with me. Now that I’m home, I read the directions and am writing my own directions of all the changes I am going to make along the way. I’ll blog on that project too in the near future…
I learned that fabric that is washed is easier to adhere to Mistyfuse than fabric that is not.
I also enjoyed eating lobster with friends. After all, I was in Maine! The meals were delicious. I promised myself I wouldn’t over eat, and I stuck to that promise. I must admit that I enjoyed an ice cream for lunch at 2pm on the first day. It was too late to eat a full lunch, so I skipped the salad and stuck with dessert only.
I enjoyed walk along the ocean one morning with a friend. Inhaling the fresh sea air was invigorating. I felt happy, alive, and blessed.
I gathered some recipes to send to my daughter at school.
I enjoyed going to Mass at the chapel Sunday morning with another quilter. Praise God!
I look forward to going on retreat again next year. If you have the opportunity, go! Be open to inspiration from others. You never know what talent you have to share with others. Being in community lifts me up and reminds me how important it is to disrupt my “normal” schedule and take time to celebrate time with my quilting friends. I’ve often said that quilting is like breathing for me. It is a daily necessity.