Monday, November 21, 2022

My Experience at Sew Brimfield Quilting Retreat

I've been home from the Sew Brimfield retreat for two weeks; I owe you a report.  In a nutshell:  It was loads of fun!

I drove from my home in New Jersey to the retreat location near Leesburg, Virginia.  Packed and ready to load the car with my small-ish suitcase of clothes, sewing machine, tote bag of "swaps" (more on that later), big tote bag full of my projects and supplies, and my new cutting mat carrier.  

The retreat was held at the National Conference Center, a facility built by Xerox as a training center.  It is huge, with 900+ guest rooms and lots of meeting rooms and worked well for this retreat.  One thing I especially liked was that the rooms are mostly single rooms so each retreat participant had her own which I appreciated as it meant I did not need to find a friend to go with me nor room with someone I didn't know.  I forgot to take a photo of my room; it was small but comfortable, with a full size bed, a big desk and desk chair, night stand, small dresser to unpack into, small closet, and bathroom.  Very comfortable but not luxurious.  Of course, I spent most of the time in...

our big meeting room where all the sewing magic happened.  We each had our own station with a sturdy table, desk chair, and electric outlets.  There were several stations for ironing (irons provided by Oliso) and cutting (mats and rotary cutters provided - I never used the mat and rulers I brought along).  There was an adjacent space we used for demos and classes (all optional) and a smaller room that housed the Brimfield Awakening pop-up shop.  We ate meals in a separate dining room also used by other groups at the conference center.

There were about 65 participants, women of all ages, united by our love of this hobby.  It meant we had plenty to talk about!

I primarily worked on a project inspired by a quilt made by The Pattern Basket that I saw on Instagram.  She used her pattern called Confetti Cake but I made a similar design in the past with some success, Lori Holt's Great Granny Squared, so I stuck with that pattern.  I cut the squares smaller and added an additional round.   I cut everything at home before I went to the retreat, then used my design boards to lay out each block and sew it together.

Here's the ironing station, with Oliso iron, at the retreat.  I really liked the irons, was going to buy one until I found out the price!  Maybe someday.

With nearly three days of sewing while someone else cooked my meals, I was able to finish all the blocks for this quilt.  

I also spent a few hours working on Dot Dot Dot, my long term project that involves a lot of hand work.

A big part of the retreat was meeting the other women.  In real life, I know only a few women who quilt so it was fun to talk to others and see their projects.  I met two women who live not-too-far from me and belong to a local chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild so I am thinking of going to one of their meetings to see how it is.  

The retreat organizers, Nisha and Kim of Brimfield Awakening, gave us a lot of swag.   

I especially like the Stash N Store because it holds a number of tools upright in a narrow space.  I'm thinking of getting a small one to hold makeup brushes.  We learned how to make the pincushion using two charm squares and two buttons.

The retreat also had an optional swap to participate in.  If you wanted to be in it, you filled out a questionnaire of your likes, dislikes, interests then were given a participant to provide three swap items for.  (We got this information in July so had time to figure out what to make or buy.)  I was assigned Kathy with a "K" and from the questionnaire I could tell we have a lot in common;  we both like antiques and vintage and share some of the same favorite fabric designers like French General.  

For the first night's exchange, I made her a pincushion using some linen and an old doily (but forgot to take a picture of it).  For the second night, I made some sachets filled with dried lavender and gave her a vintage embroidered linen cutlery holder.  

For the third night, I made the Lola zipper pouch using the pattern by Sotak and French General fabric.   (I highly recommend the pattern.  I've made three and find them pretty easy.)

Kristen from Delaware had me as her partner.  I mentioned my love of Corgis in the questionnaire and she came through with a Corgi pencil holder and some pens on the first night and a clear zipper bag full of little treasures on the second night.  Then the third night was the fabric bucket, Laundry Basket Quilts charm pack, and the set of rainbow colored plastic boxes in a holder.  I plan to use it to hold my English paper piecing templates and papers.  What is funny is that the day before, I noticed a similar gizmo on the work station of Wendy, sitting next to Kristen, and was quizzing her about it because I wanted one.  Wendy's came from Daiso, a Japanese dollar store that I've been to in California but I don't think we have one in New Jersey.  Kristen overheard and while at this point I did not know she was my partner (it was a secret until the third night), she knew she had "done good."

So that's my report on Sew Brimfield.  If you get a chance to go on a quilt retreat, I urge you to take it.  I really couldn't make time for one when I was employed full time but am so glad I did this one.  I lost some of my quilting mojo over the summer and felt stalled on my projects but regained the enthusiasm with the retreat and my granny square quilt is almost finished.  Of course, I will be naming it Sew Brimfield.

photo signature_zps7mcw44cc.png