My First Quilt Retreat: Great Fun & New Friends!

My First Quilt Retreat: Great Fun & New Friends!

Last weekend I traveled to Florala, Alabama for my very first quilt retreat. I was nervous and excited all at the same time, including about the drive to Alabama. The drive ended up being not as bad as I let my anxiety tell me it would be, and the weekend was definitely worth the drive.

Map of Florala, Alabama showing Lake Jackson.

Florala is right on the border of Florida and Alabama, hence the name of the town. We stayed at the Camellia Palms Retreat Center which is right on Lake Jackson. I love that the lake is half in Alabama and half in Florida!

The front of the Camellia Palms Retreat Center home.

Here’s the Camellia Palms Retreat Center where we stayed. It has multiple bedrooms to accommodate different size retreats. It was perfect for our group of 8!

These were the first pictures I took of the retreat center when I first arrived.

The retreat was put together by Bonnie Kempke, the founder of the Cutie Quilters Facebook Group. Once she knew I was going to be attending, she asked if I would help teach a foundation paper piecing class. I was so honored and excited to share my love of FPP with everyone at the retreat!

Thursday – Day One

I honestly didn’t know what to expect, since I had never been to a quilt retreat before. The first day we got to know each other, and just worked on unpacking our belongings and sewing items and set up our sewing stations. The main sewing room had room for all 8 of us, and has a few design walls. The dining room also had high tables set up with cutting mats. The main room also had room for Bonnie to set up a Cutie Breeze with the new Little Rebel! It was great that everyone had a chance to play with the Little Rebel and try it out!

We had a great first day meal from Board in Birmingham. They make charcuterie boards to go, and they even made my box vegan and it was so yummy!! I, of course, totally forgot to take a picture of it, but everyone shared their pics with me, and gave me permission to share them! Here’s what a regular charcuterie box looked like.

A charcuterie board in a to go container.

Friday – Day Two

The next day, Friday, we all got to working on a project Bonnie put together for us. These June Tailor Sophie bags. She provided the QAYG kits, and the fabric for them too! It was a great way to get everyone ready for learning Foundation Paper Piecing, since QAYG uses the flip and stitch method, which is very similar to FPP. Here’s everyone showing off their bags!

I had brought a pattern to work on, and for some reason I was DETERMINED I was going to get it done while I was there…. yeah, I realized about half way through the day Friday that wasn’t going to happen! But I still worked on the FPP pattern I brought with me, even though I knew I wasn’t going to finish it.

Friday afternoon the owner of the retreat center came by to do a pop-up shop for us. It was nice to go through the fabrics available, and I even bought some stickers for my machine! I’ll be honest, most of my quilting/sewing stuff is still packed, so I’ll have to share a picture of my machine at a later date! I’ve determined it is way past time to re-organize my space, and now that a lot of my stuff is still in a suitcase is the perfect time!

Friday night before dinner, we were talking about FPP and I shared my half finished Colour My World quilt top (pattern by Wendy Williams). I love this pattern so much, and was so pleased that everyone else liked it was well! I think I have made a few converts to FPP, and at least one person said they want to make this pattern too!! I’m thinking I might have to make a second one, so I can sew along with her. Plus I really like this pattern as I can use up my scraps!

Halfway done Colour My World quilt top.

Saturday – Day Three

Saturday was our last full day at the retreat, and was the day that I was teaching the FPP technique to everyone. It was so much fun and I thought I did pretty well for my first time EVER teaching a class! Everyone seemed to enjoy learning about FPP, and we had fun helping each other to figure it out.

That afternoon, we took a walking trip to a local indoor flea market called The Warehouse Market Mall. It had some interesting things for sale. I bought a few children’s books for my son, and a large tin to hold my sewing notions. It’s a really big cookie tin! We also took a bunch of touristy pictures. We had a lot of fun!

Our last night at the retreat we played another round of the fat quarter game that we had played every night at the retreat. It was SOOOOOO MUCH FUN!! You throw a fat quarter into the kitty in the middle of the table, and keep the 5 others you brought with you. Bonnie had these cool dice, a set of 3. When you roll the dice, depending on what it says you either get to take a FQ from the kitty, hold (meaning do nothing), or trade a FQ with the person to your left, right or in front of you.

For a group of ladies that treat fabric like gold, it was a riot to see who swapped what FQ, and who tried to figure out a way to get the FQ they really wanted. We laughed so hard every night while we played the game!

Getting Ready to Leave

After dinner and the game we all started packing up our stuff and getting ready to leave Sunday morning. It was sad to leave, but I’m so excited to have met these wonderful ladies, who I will definitely keep in touch with, and go to my 2nd quilt retreat next year!

Meals by Chef Annie!

Bonnie did such a good job planning our retreat. Not only did we have fun, learn something, and get two patterns and projects to work on…. we had a CHEF!! We didn’t have to cook or figure out one meal!! Chef Annie was amazing and also made sure I had vegan meals all ready for me! The worst part was realizing once I got home I had to start cooking for myself again! Here’s a bunch of food pictures, and pics of Chef Annie!

More pictures!

If you have a chance to go to a retreat I would definitely recommend it!

Don’t forget I’m going to be holding a Zoom call to discuss the 2024 Temperature Quilt Along on Saturday, April 20th at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time. If you would like to join me, sign up here!

Thanks and happy quilting!

2 thoughts on “My First Quilt Retreat: Great Fun & New Friends!

  1. Loved my first quilt retreat too, Didi! You were a big part of the fun and learning! I hope we can do it again soon!

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