Sewing Conferences- Sign Me Up! You Coming Too?

With the Sewing Summit around the corner, I’m pondering what entices people to attend sewing retreats and conferences. What is it that makes you pack your bags and say “Let’s go!”

The Sewing Summit

I went to the Sewing Summit last year and had a grand time. I enjoyed the classes but mostly I had a ball hanging out with my blogging buddies and meeting them in real life for the first time.

To see all the pictures and read about the trip, click here

In a world where we’re so connected and up to date on what our friends are doing the minute they are working on it, meeting in person, face-to-face, and voice-to-voice is special.  It gives those fabulous creations, personal stories, and creative and funny musings on their blogs a whole new meaning.

For me, going to the Sewing Summit last year was also a chance to connect with all the friends I had made online that shared my passion for sewing. Plus it was FUN! I’m not going to lie- being on a weekend away, without kids and mommy duties was pretty great too.

I’ll be sitting the SS out this year. They sold out of all 250 tickets in one day which is SUPER awesome for Erin. I’m so excited for her and the success and buzz that the Sewing Summit is generating. I am sure it will be tons of fun again this year. Y’all blog about it and let me know, OK?  I have several friends that will be there, some as teachers, some as students, and I know they will have a great time. I’ll be there in spirit!

Actually, I’ll be at my 20th high school reunion- woah! At the time of SS sign ups I had no idea when the reunion would be, so perhaps it is meant to be. The reunion will be fun- I promise to blog about that and take pictures too.  20 years already! 

I had hoped to get to QuiltCon this year as well. I really wanted to go but the price just wasn’t in the budget. It’s not a cheap trip! I hope to get there next year. The classes and lectures offered seem amazing and the amount of talent that will be there kinda blows my mind.

Then I saw that Faith, Jeni, Heather and Brenda were hosting Quilt Camp in Michigan in December. FUN! Too bad Michigan is no where near NC.  Seems that quilt retreats/conferences are popping up all over.

So, what I want to know is what draws you to sewing conferences and retreats?
The cost is a factor for everyone I imagine, but what makes you want to go? And if you can afford it, what makes you sign up?

Is it the people?
The location?
The classes offered?

If you go, do you want to learn something new? Do you want to be challenged or do you want to relax, chat and have time to sew together? Or both?

Would you be interested even if there weren’t BIG name designers in attendance?

Do you go because it is a small setting where you get to really know the people and bond with new friends or do you want it to be a big group setting where you have larger classes where you learn something with a more academic, lecture approach?

Is it more enticing to have a retreat or a conference and can it be both?

What would make you say “YES, I want to go to that!” and plunk down your hard-earned money?

I’ve been kicking around some ideas and would love hear to hear your thoughts on the questions above. Really, I’m all ears. Spill it. :)

Then go pop on over to see Nicke at Kiss Kiss Quilt to check out her scrappy stash! 4 more days until the Scrappy Stash Quilt-Along gets under way!



  1. 1


    I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to either go with me (my oldest) or stay home for a weekend alone with their dad. My youngest is turning 2 in December and hasn’t been fully weaned yet, so that puts a damper on extended time away from home.

    I would love to go to a retreat or a conference. I’d love to see new fabrics, take the zipper or interfacing class, or just sew for a weekend for hours at a time at a bed and breakfast. I’d love to do any of it! Plus, I’ve never been to SLC so I’d like to check that off my list, too.

  2. 3


    I went to FQ Retreat in London this year (I live in the UK), I went because the thought of a sewing retreat was paradise. Fortunately I stayed at my brothers otherwise the cost of the hotel on top of ticket and travel would have made it impossible. Location was great, classes were wonderful although I didn’t really think about that when I booked so I guess it was meeting with other bloggers and like-minded people. It was a big deal for me to leave my 3 children (youngest was 2.5) but it was fine and definitely worth it! The thought of big name designers was irrelevant and they are just normal human beings really, I was in Lu Summers class so I know!!
    Tickets for FQ retreat July 2013 go on sale this wkd not sure what I will do, price has doubled (but 1st time round I think they were trying to gauge interest etc so is probably justified), so…would be gutted to miss it.

  3. 4


    I want to mingle with the people! I’m not going to Sewing Summit, but maybe one day. My mom & sister & I talked about going next year, but the frenzy about it already this year, something tells me it won’t happen. I’d love to take classes from some of my favorite bloggers as well as meet everyone.

    We are going to Quiltcon, though we’re not taking any classes unfortunately. We go to the Houston Int’l Quilt Festival every year (blogging about that today actually!), but mostly for the SHOPPING! It’s so big that I think it’d be hard to meet people, but I’d be thrilled with if we could make it happen.

    Big name designers would be icing on the cake, but definitely not a requirement. I really just want to meet and hang out with like minded regular folks, the ones that I follow on their blogs, Instagram, Flickr, etc.

    We’ve been tossing around the idea of finding a retreat, but it’s hard to find one that’s our style. It’d be so nice to just hide away and sew all weekend with no responsibilities. Did you know there are quilting CRUISES?

  4. 5


    I live in Houston so we go to the quilt festival every year, but I have never been to a retreat or have ever taken a quilt class. This year one of my sewing goals was to attend a retreat or take a quilt cruise so I could meet others and learn something.

    I jumped at the chance to go to Quiltcon, maybe without looking at the finance of it. Now I see that it will cost quite a bit, so iI look at it as my spring vacation. I do want to learn new things and that is how I chose my 3 classes. I also think I want to see more modern fabric in person( and buy some too). It is so hard for me to buy fabric over the Internet without touching it. My LQS are all traditional.

    Meeting other bloggers I hope will be fun too (kinda shy).

    I am still thinking about a quilt cruise if I could find one with a modern edge and the price is right.

  5. 6


    I have never been to a retreat or conference but I would love to attend one! With crazy amounts of school loans, we just can’t afford a “quilt” trip. But I would love the chance to meet all of the amazing people that I have been so blessed to know through the blogging community. Maybe someday, until then I will live vicariously through all of the pictures and posts!

  6. 7


    I really wanted to go to Sewing Summit this year but missed out too. It is definitely not going to happen in 2013. It certainly would be easier if this or something just like it was closer…on the east coast.

  7. 8


    For me, I don’t really like the sound of a “conference”. Sounds like work . . . when I worked I always had to attend conferences and they never were much fun. I like the sound of a retreat sooooo much better. Less pressure. More fun. And I’m in DIRE NEED of one. To connect with people and be creative?? Sign me up !

  8. 9


    Things have a way of working out – have fun at your 20th.

    Even though I’m giddy with excitement about taking classes and lectures from Rock Stars and going to Sewing Summit is a HUGE deal for me… I’d totally want to attend a gathering that was lower key.

    A chance to meet, hang out and create in person with virtual friends and strangers is why I jumped on it. Having the classes included in the price was helpful.

    I’ve never been on a retreat and am chairing our MQGs first because I think (or hope) that it will be a special time of making memories. Budget minded is important and allows broader attendance.

    I’d love to know what you’ve got in mind, can I twist your arm to hold it in Northern California?!

  9. 10


    I would absolutely love to attend any of these sewing events. The chance to learn and sew with other people who are excited about it sounds heavenly. At this point, it would be difficult to leave my three girls, but more than anything we just can’t afford the cost of airfare, hotels, conference fees, and spending money. Maybe someday…

  10. 11


    I’m going to Quiltcon this spring and am so excited! I really had to pull some strings to make it work– I’ll have to bring my now 2 month old daughter, but my mom decided to fly with me to watch her while I do workshops. For me, it’s both about the learning and seeing people who I just get to chat with through blogs and Flickr. Living in Alaska can be very isolating. So I have to expect to spend a lot of money to fly out to do things. While Quiltcon is sure to be awesome, I don’t know if it can top a small retreat I went to outside of vancouver last year that my friend krista put on. It was so great to meet friends and spend a whole four days just sewing like mad. It’s recharging.

  11. 12


    I like going to meet and connect with the people I know through blogging. Big names do not draw me, they actually intimidate me. Cost is always a factor, but I weigh the benefits and the experience and make my decision that way. Hands on sewing is nice, but more chatting and smaller projects, like hand sewing or learning a new skill like knitting or embroidery are more fun for me. If you plan something I will be there…it’s all in the timing!

  12. 13


    I am really a very quiet, home body. I’ve been to Houston’s festival a couple of times….but I went with family and turned it into a holiday. Retreats are fun….I go with friends for a quick weekend get away.

    It is ultimately the people that draw me out.

  13. 14


    Jennifer, I think we should have something here in NC! We have some gorgeous options in the mountains, don’t you think? I personally don’t need for there to be “big names” but it would be fun to meet some bloggers I regularly follow and we have some great ones right here. You, Nicole at Mama Love Quilts, etc. It seems like everything I’ve seen requires a plane ride for us on the east cost which ups the costs considerably!

  14. 15


    I am not a big crowd person. I like low-key retreats, a dozen or so in a cabin somewhere, with lots of “craft time”. (Or a few dozen spread between cabins). I like the informal approach, where we look at each others stuff and say “hey – how’d you do that?!!”. That’s where I’d go. Big names don’t really draw me, I would hate to think that someone on the other side of cyberspace, even one who is amazingly talented, would get a prize for being “most idolized”. Even with talent, we’re all just people, right? That and the fact that I just don’t have a pile of money to spend keep me home for the most part.

  15. 16


    Well I did the first FQR this year, and am also doing Sewing Summit, one being over 400 miles away and the other 4,000 miles away, so neither of them cheap trips, but I think SS will be a once in a lifetime for me, or at least a once in every few years (maybe I’ll try a different one next time, work my way round ;o) )

    With FQR it was a chance to meet up with my European (and Canadian and Aussie) buddies – all of Brit Bee, both last year and this year were there, which was really special. For SS, when I signed up for this year, it had been arranged as an entire trip with Laura from Needles, Pins and Baking Tins and Laura from Quokka Quilts before tickets had gone on sale, and at the time QuiltCon hadn’t been announced when we arranged it all. We had all been drawn by the amazing blog posts we saw last year after the event and wanted in on the action!

    Learning wise, in both cases I looked at the classes and decided what was most useful for me to learn, which in the case of Sewing Summit happened to be more lecture based, while FQR was almost entirely hands on. I like to learn new tips and tricks, both for actually sewing things, and for related things such as colour/fabric choices, design etc.

    The social aspect is also a draw, and to be honest at SS I’m envisaging my time being spent much like it was at FQR outside class time, chatting, eating, drinking, having fun with friends, and not particularly sewing.

    To be honest I don’t know all the ‘big names’ so I might not entirely appreciate if the event was full of them ;o) As long as the person in question can clearly demonstrate an excellent skill, technique, whatever, I’m not bothered how ‘big’ they are.

    I’m a kind of drifter in social settings, so I love large groups where I can talk to loads of different people throughout. I do photography retreats with some friends, but that is entirely on a small budget, if I’m spending the cash I want lots of potential entertainment people wise ;o)

  16. 17


    I am a loner so I have never been to a conference that wasn’t required by work. I have been to day retreats for quilting by myself. I truly enjoyed them. Because I’m new to quilting, there is always someone to stop by and offer suggestions. Quilters are really nice and generous with both expertise and friendship. Cost is a factor but sometimes it is worth it. My “only” is out of state and my husband works shift-work so sometimes a day retreat is just the ticket to get me out among the living! I honestly LOVE classes on a specific topic. Three hours to learn about one thing is perfect for me. Have a great day.

  17. 18


    Jennifer, I am with Paige. I know there are lots of quilters here in NC and on this side of the country. I read about so many out west and up north, that sometimes I feel left out and isolated. Going to a small-ish retreat would be wonderful. For me it is partially the cost that decides, and therefore, I haven’t ever been. I would love to sit and chat with people I know over the internet and share some of our quilts and stuff. A bit of technique or a class or project would be great. I love learning new things and I love spending time with other quilters. I have only ever taken a few one or two session classes here at my LQS, but I loved being with other quilters. I do feel a bit odd about one thing and that is when I look at your pictures from SS last year I feel so old. Most of you lovely quilty bloggers could be my daughters. Anyway, that’s my 2 cents. If you are planning something, I would be excited to know what.

  18. 19


    I’m glad to see you’re on it already!!! I’m going to Quiltcon and am very excited, but a smallish retreat with my online friends would be much more intimate and less intimidating. I think if you could find a comfortable setting and roll meals and lodging all into one reasonable price (like our Michigan friends have done), you’d have lots of takers.

  19. 20


    I’ve done quilting retreats, to sew an d get on, but this year FQR in London was the opportunity to meet up with all the members of the Brit Bee and meet up with Bloggy friends and make new ones. The classes are about what skills or techniques I could try out, cost was just about manageable, and who knows, maybe one day ill get to SS. It’s all about the people, fun and friendship :)

  20. 21


    Definitely the people, and coming home with a few pretty makes and skills is a bonus. Not sure I could sit through many ‘talks’ though.
    I’ll be in the queue for Fat Quarterly Retreat tickets tomorrow x

  21. 22


    Another chime in for a retreat in NC! The Triangle Modern Quilt Guild is doing a retreat to the coast this year, but it’s a small #. I’d definitely attend one in NC

  22. 23


    Small group retreats are my favorite. I have organized several. 12-14 quilters sharing a giant sewing room. Some sew til all hours others sew awhile, chat awhile. Lots of projects get done, ideas get generated, everyone shares ideas & resources. I take classes at shops & shows retreats are to sew, rest & rejuvenate.

  23. 24


    You asked so many questions. I’m close by to you- Charleston, SC area. We have a new MQG and have at least eight members headed to QuiltCon. We are looking at the conference as our speaker, class, lecture, shopping, meeting bloggers, etc. all rolled into one. We all vary in what we are doing but most are doing a mix of lectures, classes and shopping as well as socializing. Quilters of SC has had a fall retreat for years and I have been able to attend most of them. There are a mix of vendors, classes (some half day, some full day, some full weekend) as well as several classrooms devoted to BYOP or bring your own project. I have done almost all variations with mixed success! I don’t have to have big name teachers but would love to have a Modern Retreat of sorts closer to home. E-mail me if you have more questions. I don’t think attending QuiltCon will be an every year thing:(

  24. 25


    I fourth the sentiment to hold something in NC/ east coast! I’m in Richmond,Va and I would love to find folks with similar interests for a retreat ( something like quilt camp would be awesome) to spend time sewing on personal projects for a change! Also, sewing is much more fun with company! If you are thinking of planning something, sign me up for the planning committee- I would be happy to help!

  25. 26


    I’m in Atlanta and every airline in the world flies through here, so access is great and we DO need one of these in the South. I’m going to SS and taking good notes :-) Most looking forward to meeting people in “real” life that I only know online!

  26. 27


    Hey Darcy, not every airline in the world flies to Atlanta. Jet Blue does not! We just moved here from Austin and have lots of Jet Blue points…….but no way to use them. :(

    But onto another note, I go to conferences for the people. Classes are a bonus, but its the people that draw me in. And not the big names either. I would rather get to know someone in a less of a mob scene, someone who could be the next big name, rather than have the huge venues that support big names. And big names usually mean big price tags. They can ask a large fee to speak and some don’t even teach anymore. I think thats great for them, but I could buy a lot of fabric for that money (everything is broken down to yards of fabric for me, kind of like converting to Euros or something)

    I went to sewing summit last year and had a blast, developed friendships that have endured and just expanded my creative side. It was refreshing and enlightening and energizing. I’m going again this year and I’m teaching!! I can’t wait!!

  27. 28


    Wow! That’s a lot of questions! :-) I live in north Louisiana and we seem to have NOTHING in the way of sewing retreats. There are a few quilting retreats with quilt guilds. I like the idea of quilting with friends where all we’re doing is visiting with friends and sewing.

    But if I’m paying and traveling, I want to know I will learn something new or improve my skills, so who is teaching is important to me. I think of crafty people as fun, so I expect a lot of laughing and hands on learning.

    Quilt Con will be my FIRST convention, so I’m super excited and nervous. The great array of teachers and skills being taught made it worth the cost for me. (And it is pricy.)

  28. 30


    Yes, yes-NC!! I too feel like all the big events are far away-and cost is certainly an important factor for me. Last year I combined birthday and Christmas gifts to go to Summit, and this year I’m doing the same for Quilt Con. It is very pricey- it feels extravagant for me to go and I don’t expect it to be a yearly thing (unless location changes) for me. I would love a low key hang out with people kind of retreat. My favorite parts about Summit was hanging out with people and chatting. Getting a few things done/learned was icing on the cake, but it really was about hanging out with the people! (And trading/buying fabric-always fabric).

  29. 31


    I would love to attend a retreat and hope that it could be for all levels, as I’m a beginner. But would love to be around others that share a passion for sewing, fabric and quilting. NC is a little far away, but am willing to pay/travel for just the right atmosphere and group! Would like to go to a retreat that i can get lots out of and learn lots of new things…have a lot of “take homes”.

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