What To Pack For a Sew-In or Quilt Retreat

The Quilt Rambler on the road – always packed for the next adventure

I dearly love sewing/quilting with my friends. Sew-ins and quilt retreats are, well, sew much fun! There’s the opportunity to work on old projects (UFO’s), new projects, and sometimes a quick trip to a local shop to purchase more fabric for an impromptu project! I thought I’d share a few tips and thoughts for your next quilting adventure including a PDF checklist for you to download free.

Sew-In or Retreat?

The location and whether or not it’s a “stay in your own bed” sort of adventure or staying at a retreat center makes a difference in how you pack. Generally, sew-ins are day trips where you just bring your sewing gear and projects to work on for the day (or multiple days) but return to the comforts of your own bed in the evening. Whereas quilt retreats are usually multiple days at a host location that provides both a sewing area, sleeping area and either a kitchen facility or have meals provided.

Questions to Ask Concerning Facilities


If it’s a sew-in with the guild or at a friend’s house you will generally need to plan to bring your own food or call out. Our guild has monthly sew-ins at a community center that offers a refrigerator and microwave. Each quilter brings her own brown bag. I’ve hosted sew-ins in The Quilt Rambler studio and we have planned a pot-luck menu to share.

If you are going to a retreat location you will need to ask the event planner if the host facility offers meals, if each quilter will be “fending for herself”, or if there will be coordinated meals with specific items to bring and/or will there be meals out on the town.

Basic Needs

Whether it’s a retreat or a sew-in you will need to bring your basic sewing supplies – but if you are packing for overnight accommodations you need to know if bedding, towels, blow dryers are provided. Personally, I always bring my own pillow!

You can never have too many power strips

Regardless of the type of event, it’s always a good thing to ask if the facility will have extension cords, a cutting mat, ironing station and irons. Our guild supplies these things for our monthly sew-ins and most retreat centers will have these basic items also, but it’s always best to ask


What to Pack For a Successful Sewing Experience

My motto is to bring more than what I think I will need. Remember, my family calls me a “just-in-caser” due to the fact I bring things just in case I might need them! But seriously it has been my experience to bring more projects than what I think I can possibly do in the allotted time – you never know what “mood” you may be in – do you want to sew something simple, work on that complex project that needs serious dedication of time, or are you needing help from fellow quilters on a pattern that has stumped you? Having multiple choices keeps the options open just in case you get tired of one project and want to skip on over to another one or just in case you forgot something needed for that project – this is why it’s a good idea to list your projects ahead of time making sure you have all the special supplies needed for each one you will be bringing. And don’t forget to bring a little “egg money” to go shopping for a new project just in case your friend has an idea and she wants you to collaborate on a quilt!

The Quilt Rambler’s Sew-In/Retreat Checklist

I’ve put together a simple checklist that you can download by clicking on the highlighted link below (not the photo) – I hope you will find it useful. Permission to share in its original format – if you include in a publication I would appreciate if you shared the link to this blog post.

 Sew In_Retreat_checklist_TheQuiltRambler


Why Go On A Quilting Retreat or Attend a Sew In?

Okay, maybe this is an oversimplified question or one that really doesn’t even need to be asked. But in searching through old photos for this post I ran across some really good collages of my quilting friends from past adventures and thought this a perfect opportunity to show the joy in sharing my quilting passion with my quilting friends. I hope you will have the opportunity to quilt with friends and that my checklist will prove to be of value.

Galveston Island Quilters Guild Annual Sew-In (2015)


Retreat with friends (2015)
My quilting friends would make a great quilt don’t you think!


This is Karen Overton, The Quilt Rambler, recognizing that it’s been way too long since I’ve joined friends for a quilting adventure!














5 thoughts on “What To Pack For a Sew-In or Quilt Retreat

  1. Roseanne says:

    Hi Karen! I haven’t been to a sew-in or a retreat, although I used to go to similar events for scrapbooking and loved them. I guess it’s much easier to just pack a bag of paper and photos than a sewing machine, etc. I definitely agree with the tip of bring more than you think you can get done! You just never know what you’ll feel inspired to work on when surrounded with friends and new friends.
    Happy Saturday! ~smile~ Roseanne

    • TheQuiltRambler says:

      Yep, it isn’t for the faint of heart to pack up all that sewing gear! I prefer multiple day sew-ins where I can leave my things, go home to my own bed, and return in the morning to do it all again verse one day sew-ins – so much moving time cutting into my sewing time! Of course, when I go to a retreat I have been known to totally fill up the back of my vehicle with loads and loads of projects. Once I brought my entire drawer system full of my scrap fabrics and fat quarter collection because I wasn’t sure what I would need as I worked on building an orphan block quilt (My colorful Past – previous blog post). My girlfriend Shirley asked if she could go shopping in my car Happy Saturday to you too Roseanne!

  2. Gloria says:

    Your check list is right on target. I would put emphasis on bring a sweater as well as a small personal fan; you just never know!! I’ve made so many wonderful friends at quilt retreats. I must admit that I spend too much time visiting but a girl has got to laugh and talk ????. One other suggestion is to precut you blocks/fabrics if at all possible. Then you have more time to sew if that is your mission. I’m just like you, I bring everything, just in case. That’s why my retreat name is Gadget Girl. Have a great weekend. g

    • TheQuiltRambler says:

      I agree 100% that the temp can change from needing a sweater to needing a fan! And yes, socialization is a very important part of our retreats.

      A good point about having everything precut – reduces the chance of leaving some fabric at home (focused concentration also means fewer errors in cutting) and does make for more sewing time.

      – it’s been too long since we’ve been on a retreat together – I miss my “quilt until 2 AM buddy!” we sure do laugh and talk a lot and somehow manage to get some quilts finished too!

  3. Brenda says:

    It’s been a long time since I attended a quilt retreat, but I enjoyed the ones I have attended. I always take a sweater as I am usually the one cold person in the room! LOL

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