The definition of “retreat” is very interesting. It can mean both “an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable” or “a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director”. (from

We’ll be working on a Mariner’s Compass similar to this one. I’ve added extra points here (the blue ones).

Quilting retreats seem to cover both instances, as we get to leave behind our everyday cares (which may or may not be terribly disagreeable, ha!) and, as a group, learn more about quilting. I’m very excited to be going on a retreat this weekend where I’ll be teaching two classes! First we’ll work on screen printing, then have fun designing and making asymmetric Mariner’s Compasses. As you can imagine, I’ve made very detailed supply lists for both classes. That will cover much of what I’m packing, but of course, being away from my home, I’ll need lots of other things as well.

This little piece shows a variety of screen printed, dyed, and painted fabrics. Fun! ©Diane Rusin Doran

Here are a few supplies that I consider “must haves” for any retreat:

An extension for my sewing machine, or, even better, my SewEzi table. I have very short legs, and when my machine is up on a table it’s hard for me to be in a comfortable sewing position.

Layers of clothing. We’re kind of in a transitional season here, but I can easily see where we might be comfortable in short or long sleeves. I’ll definitely bring a sweater or sweatshirt.

My camera! (Of course I take that everywhere.)

An extension cord with multiple outlets.

Prescriptions and analgesics.

Extra bobbins and pre-wound bobbins.

A seam ripper.

A small paper bag and masking tape for disposing of thread tails and fabric trimmings.

The sewing machine I have now has fabulous lighting, but in the past I definitely brought a portable Ott light. There’s no such thing as too much light!

Diet Coke, my primary vice.

Whenever I teach or lecture I make sure to bring along copies of MQU to give as prizes.

Lots of other quilters have also thought about what’s important to bring along. Check out some of the great ideas that Diane Knott has  on her blog. The Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild also has a great list.

What do you consider essential when you go on a retreat?

I love locust leaves. These were created with a very simple screen printing technique that produces the faux shadow.

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