How to Host a Great Quilt Retreat

I attended a super fun quilting retreat this weekend, put on my my local quilting guild, Desert Quilters of Nevada. I’ve been attending their annual retreat nearly every year for the past 13 years. (I know how long it’s been because I met my BQF – Best Quilting Friend – Stacy there when we were both expecting our sons who are now 13!)

Scrappy Trip Along

Stacy and Her American Jane Scrappy Trip Along

I got to thinking about why I attend each year and what makes it just so darn fun, so I thought I would compile a list of what makes it “sew” special!

(1) Be sure there’s plenty of room for everyone who wants to attend.

Our guild consists of over 400 members and about 25% of them attend the retreat each year. The retreat committee does a wonderful job of finding large enough venues to host 100+ people in a comfortable setting.

Retreat Room

This was just the left side of the room – we had twice this much space!

We were in a large permanent tent structure with plenty of room. It was industrial looking and got a little chilly in the evenings, but the committe cozied up the place with plenty of colorful quilts.

(2) Keep the costs reasonable!

We are in Las Vegas and the retreat was held about an hour outside of town so it was a quick and easy drive. The 3 day event cost $150 to attend plus $50 per night for a hotel. There was an additional fee of $10-$20 per class, but only if you wanted to take one. All of the classes were taught by guild members (like me!) to keep the costs down. The teachers were paid for their classes based on how many students signed up.

2013 Retreat Teachers

2013 Retreat Teachers

(3) Serve Yummy Food

We were treated to 2 breakfasts, lunches and dinners as part of the retreat. The food was good yet inexpensive. Water and juice were the main beverages, with plenty of desserts to choose from. Many of the attendees came up a day or two early and were on their own for food until the retreat officially began, but there were plenty of reasonable places to eat nearby.


Chicken and Fish for Dinner on Saturday Night

(4) Give away fun door prizes.

Every single attendee received a swag bag and each person won a stack of fabrics, books, or notions as door prizes throughout the event. In addition, the adorable table centerpieces were given away as grand prizes at the close of the event.


Quilt and Doll Centerpieces

After attending so many retreats, I finally won a mini quilt as a prize. Quilters love winning quilts, especially when someone else makes them!


Mini Quilt Prize

(5) Offer fun classes.

I taught my Charming Chevrons quilt and was so amazed at all the color variations my students came up with. Their styles varied from modern to traditional and they all did a fantastic job sewing their blocks together! I’m sure many of them will go on to be award winners at our upcoming quilt show in the spring.

Chevron Quilts

Charming Chevrons Students

(6) Allow for plenty of open sewing time.

Although classes were offered throughout the entire retreat, many chose to have open sewing time the whole weekend. We were able to start early and sew until late, in between eating, chatting and hanging out.


Hand Embroidered Stitchery

Many people enjoyed doing their own thing, like my friend Sherri. She’s really into silk ribbon embellishment and hand embroidery work. She didn’t even bring a machine! Instead, sat and stitched by hand the entire weekend.

Dresden Plates

Dresden Plate Blocks

Two retreat-goers sitting right next to each other were working on Dresden plate blocks in different sizes. Aren’t they just the cutest?

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and I can’t wait to do it again next year!

28 thoughts on “How to Host a Great Quilt Retreat

  1. Marcia says:

    I haven’t been to a retreat yet but there are 3 locations close by, 2 at church camps and one at a YMCA camp where they have retreats a couple of times a year. When I finally get to that part of my bucket list I’ll check to see if the checklist was followed!!

  2. Susan Scott says:

    Ifi money were no object I would love to spend a week In Kauai quilting with my bff. What a delight it would be to see the beautiful Hawaiian fabrics, to enjoy the flora and fauna, learn some new techniques and sew in a beautiful setting.
    Susan from Vancouver, WA

  3. dezertsuz says:

    Thanks for this report and the photos. I’ve never been to a retreat that large, but I agree with everything you said, even for smaller groups.

  4. Connie Pietrala says:

    I got home Sunday afternoon from a 4 day retreat our Kalamazoo guild has each year- it was great fun as usual. It is held in a small town in Indiana called Shipshewana. About 95 people and there are at least 5 quilt shops in a 15 mile area. Fun, food,and fabric- what more can a girl want.

  5. Анна says:

    Криста,здравствуйте! Я живу в России, в Сибирском Федеральном округе в городе,где нет клуба любителей пэчворка и квилтинга. И когда я читаю ваши отчеты о совместных мероприятиях, то радуюсь за вас всех и немножечко завидую вам. Спасибо за подробную информацию. Воспользуйтесь Гугл переводчиком, чтоб прочесть мое письмо. С уважением Анна.

  6. Colleen says:

    Wow what fun! You have a great group. Im going to my first sleepover retreat Oct 31 in the mts., I m so excited! The group is about 25 people who have been going for years . I know some of them and was excited to be asked when spots opened.

  7. Allison says:

    Loved hearing your tips about a fabulous retreat. I couldn’t agree with you more about all your tips. I’m on the committee for the Utah Quilt Festival this year, and our event is just next week. We have a guild from LV come every year.

  8. Lesley says:

    It sounds like a fabulous time! Love the idea of everyone going home with something! I am very impressed with the prices…very reasonable. Were there vendors set up there as well?

  9. Kandy says:

    Awesome, it sounds like tons of fun. I have never been to an event where I sew with other ladies. The closest thing to any of that is just attending a quilt show. :-/. Last night I did sign up for Sew & Quilt Expo in Overland Park KS. I signed on for 5 classes… I thought it was pretty pricy for the classes and daily(2 days) attendance it was $298. If my husband growls about it u will just have to tell him that its a Christmas gift for me. 😉
    The mini quilt you won is cute. And your charm chevrons look terrific. Everyone in your class did super.

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