Preparing for a Sewing Retreat – A Beginner’s Point of View

Facts from my life.

I have a full time corporate job.  It’s pretty cool.  I work with  great people that have become wonderful friends and mentors.  It’s not 40-hour a week job.  It requires a bit more.  Sometimes I have conference calls at 11 pm to Singapore.  Sometimes I answer email from the UK at 4 am.  But with anything it requires balance.  And I have good balance there.

I have a part-time job. I burn a different type of energy at Times Ten Cellars than I burn at my corporate job.  I get to be loud laughing, wine pouring, fun Nisha.  And seriously, it doesn’t hurt that I love wine.  Working there, gives me life.  That’s the only way I can describe it.  I’m only there once a week.  But it takes a big chunk of my Saturdays.

I have a big family.  I’m active in my local sewing guild.  If you follow my Instagram you know I love fine dinning.  I tell you this not to complain, but to explain why the idea of a sewing retreat appeals to me. I very rarely, if ever, get to spend a dedicated stretch of time sewing.  If I do it’s usually on a Sunday, but even then, the time is fractured.  I run errands that day and cook when I’m trying to be healthy.  That isn’t very often. (LOL!)

When I heard about my ASG’s sewing retreat, I was all in.  3 days of uninterrupted sewing time.  Sew, Sew, Sew … all the day long.  Day 2 – repeat.  Day 3 – repeat.  Go home. The thought is so very appealing.

I get to have my first retreat experience from two sides.  I’m part of the event planning team, and I get to attend as a participant.

The planning part was pretty easy.  Securing a location and logistics emailing the participants. Well, there was a bit more involved, but once I got those things done, I could focus on being a participant.

As a participant, it’s a whole other ball game.   The retreat is this coming weekend.  Should I just pack up my whole sewing room?  Bring all my patterns?  Pack most of my fabric?  That thought was a bit overwhelming.  I pictured myself spending most of my time trying to organize and dig through boxes to find things.  Not a very productive use of my three days.  I needed a plan.  I started where I usually start when making a plan.  I made a list of the things I believed I needed to consider while planning.

  • Sewing Room
  • Sewing Projects
  • Required Tools & Equipment
  • Packing List

Sewing Room

Sewing Community

Since I’d never been to a sewing retreat, I googled to see what other people’s experiences were.  One thing I found was a lot of people didn’t know what type of sewing environment they would be in.  For example:  How much sewing space would each person have?  Are irons and ironing boards on site, or should they be packed?  Since I was also retreat planner this clued me in on the fact that I needed to communicate exactly what people would have at their disposal.

For this retreat we planned 2-6ft tables for each sewist.  There are also three designated cutting areas.  We’ll have 16 attendees at this retreat, and we resolved the iron/ironing board issue by requesting volunteers bring them.  We’ll have a total of 7 irons and ironing boards to share between all of the sewists.

I don’t have 12 feet of work space when I sew at home so I’m excited at the opportunity to really spread out and work.  With this bit of information I also know I’ll be able to have my sewing machine and serger up ready to sew and I won’t have to bother with moving my machines around.

I did know that I would need to bring extension cords and a surge protector.  And wireless access is always a bonus, that way if I needed to access techniques online, I can do it.

Sewing Projects

Selecting my projects was probably the most challenging part of the planning process.  As I mentioned in my 2015 post I need to be more purposeful in what I sew.  Adding clothing that will go into rotation and will be worn often.

I started out by going through all of my patterns … pulling out the ones I felt would be the most interesting to sew.  I ended up with about 25 patterns.  Next I needed to identify which of those patterns I could sew using the fabric in my stash.  With my self-imposed budget restrictions for fabric, there would be no new fabric purchases for retreat.  That reduced the number of patterns by half.


Whoo Hoo!  I was more than half-way there!  All that was left for me to do was select the pattern and fabrics I wanted to sew the most.  That left me with about 6 projects.  A bit aggressive for me.  And I wonder how far I’ll get on them.  I’m a slow sewer.  Even slower when in a social situation.  But at least I’m covered if my Super Hero Sewist Powers activate during retreat.

Required Tools & Equipment

Once I had patterns and fabric, I went through the detailed instructions of each to make a list of the notions and the tools or equipment I would need.  Zipper foot.  Edge foot.  Bias tape.  Buttons.  Etc.  At the end of this exercise, I had two lists.  The first was my shopping list for notions.  The second my tools and equipment packing list.


I wanted to be purposeful when packing.  After purchasing my notions I packaged the pattern, fabric, and notions all together.


Now when I’m moving from project to project, everything is there in place.


Packing List

Honestly I found several different packing lists on the web.  But they were missing one or more of the items that I would need for my retreat.  I ended up putting  together the Blue Sunday Blog Retreat Packing List.  It’s a list of personal items and sewing items.  I distributed it to our retreat participants, I hope it was helpful to them.  It definitely helped me stay organized.

Now I’m off to my very first sewing retreat.  I’m so very excited.  A bonus to being part of the planning team is I already know what’s in the goodie bags!  (LOL!)


I’ll definitely let you know how efficient this planning process was, and if it paid off.  Have you ever been to a sewing retreat?  What was your experience?

3 responses to “Preparing for a Sewing Retreat – A Beginner’s Point of View

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