everything you need to know before you go
Have you been in a quilting workshop or at a quilt retreat and realize you just sewed your last two blocks together backwards? Out comes Jack the seam ripper. But wait. Jack’s not there! You left him at home. Yes, it happens to us all. Me especially. That’s why I decided to put together a list of all the things you’ll need at your next quilt retreat so nothing (not even Jack) gets left behind.
quilting supplies list
So you’ve just signed up for an amazing quilt retreat. Now comes the most important question: “What do I pack?!”
In most cases, the best way to figure out what you need to take with you on a quilt retreat is to check with the host. Depending on the type of Quilt Retreat, when you register, the host should provide you with a complete list of what they do and don’t provide. If it is a project-based quilt retreat, there should also be a complete supply list provided as well.
No matter if the quilt retreat is workshop based or a UFO marathon, there’s a few basic quilting supplies you’ll want to double check are safely packed and ready to go.
- Sewing Machine
- Cutting Mat
- Rotary Cutter
- 6″ x 24″ Ruler
- Square Ruler(s)
- Quarter Inch Ruler
- Fabric Scissors
- Seam Ripper
- Thread + Extra Thread
- Fabric Marking Pens
- Quilting Pins
- Seam Gauge
- Tape Measure
- Extra Bobbins
- Extra Needles
- Any Specialty Rulers for your Project
- Sewing Machine Screwdriver
- Sewing Machine Cleaning Brush
- Iron (if not provide by host)
- Small Craft Iron
Of course it goes without saying, even though I’m gonna say it anyway, be sure to pack all the fabric required for each of your planned quilt projects. In fact, add more than you think you’ll need, just in case.
PRO TIP: Start your packing lists at least 1-2 weeks in advance. That way you won’t be rushed and will have plenty of time to double and triple check nothing is forgotten.
Personal items packing list
In addition to your quilting supplies, there are a few key things you’ll want to verify with the quilting retreat host to round out your suitcase contents. Here is a list of questions you can ask your quilt retreat host:
- Will the bed linens be provided? (Some retreat centers require you to bring your own)
- Will there be cutting stations set up for use?
- Will there be plenty of full-size irons and ironing boards available?
- How much sewing space will be available? (one person to a table or sharing?)
- What type of sewing chairs will we be using? (you may want to bring a tushy or back pillow)
- What meals and/or snacks will be provided?
- What other amenities are available on the grounds of the retreat center/ facility?
A good quilt retreat host should be able to answer all of these questions for you as well as any others you may have. This way, you’ll be well prepared to have everything you’ll need once you arrive.
PRO TIP: Be sure to write your name on all of your quilting supplies and personal items so there’s no confusion if items get shared or moved around. This way all the supplies you brought with you also make it safely back home.
Transporting your supplies
Now let’s talk about transportation of supplies. You will need to bring a lot of supplies to really enjoy your relaxing quilt retreat. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than having nearly a full day left in the retreat and you’ve just finished the only project you brought. That’s why I now bring more projects than I even think I can finish, because when you have zero interruptions, you’d be amazed at what you can accomplish!
Lots of supplies means lots of bags. Well, sort of. First, if the quilt retreat does not provide sewing machines for you to use, get yourself a good suitcase for your personal sewing machine. If possible, I highly recommend taking a nice smaller, lighter weight sewing machine that you can use specifically for travel. I have an old Brother sewing machine that I’ve had for years. It’s a workhorse, small enough to travel with, but strong enough to get through just about any quilt project.
PRO TIP: Whichever machine you use to start one project, use the same machine to finish it. Many machines have slightly different settings for the ¼ inch mark as well as timing, etc. so your blocks may be completely different if sewn on different machines.
Next, get comfortable with stuffing your sewing machine. Ok, I totally just made a sewing machine sound like a turkey. Not my intention, but here we are. Basically, in order to make use of all available space, I like to stuff my fabric and other items in and around my sewing machine inside its suitcase. You can stuff everything from batting to your notion kits to basting spray. If it fits… well, you know.
PRO TIP: If you have more than one set of quilting supplies, you can keep one set stored with your travel sewing machine. That way, when your next sewing travel opportunity arrives, you’ll already be nearly packed and ready to go.
Finally, your personal bag. I treat this one like I do my carry-on bags for airline travel. Pack super comfy clothes (lots of sewing, yes?), only what you NEED, and make sure to roll your clothes to save space. It’s likely you will not be leaving the quilting retreat location until it’s time to head home. So be sure to bring clothes that you’d normally wear to sit around and sew all day.
However, I should mention that you will be sewing around other humans and there is the possibility of heading to a restaurant and/or a local quilt shop once or twice, so make sure you have at least one pair of real shoes and don’t forget to put on pants. Ok, that one may just be a reminder for me.
Whether you’re headed for a local quilt retreat with your quilting bee or a week long quilting retreat on the other side of the world, knowing what to pack (and what not to pack) will help make your next quilt retreat the best quilt adventure yet!
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