My "sewing room" is in our basement. Part of the basement is unfinished, cement floors and not very bright, while the other part, albeit small, is well lit, has a half bath attached and... is where the washer and dryer live. When cleaned up it's a pretty functional place. My cutting table sits in the unfinished part of the basement. A large, industrial repurposed drafting table, illuminated by an industrial hanging light which reminds me of the type of brightly lit area where a spy might be interrogated by his or her foe, deprived of sleep and water. But hey, it works for rotry cutting.
My sewing machines, ironing and fabric are in the finished part of the basement which also serves as the laundry separating area at times and it really messes with my creative mojo. When laundry is out of the way (done) and the space is uncluttered (is that even possible for a quilter) it frees up space in my mind to work. I don't know why that is but it is true for me.
The only problem is that I am away from ... well everything. My Fiance, when home, is upstairs so I have to run up and down to share my progress, check on dinner, say hello to my dogs, answer the door if need be... on and on. I get lonely down there too. I don't necessarily want to be bothered by all of the goings on but I just want to have someone to relate to while sewing and quilting.
A couple of months ago some of my quilting family gathered for a sew-along at one friends house in Florida. One traveled from Georgia, another from Virginia. Members of our little group followed along via Facebook messenger and a few video chats. It was wonderful to see the camaraderie and watch as their creations unfolded and each was cheered on by their sewing sister. Pictures posted of them working out the quilting math, choosing fabrics and being crazy. I rejoiced for them and secretly wished it were summer so I could have joined them.
On the way home one of my quilting sisters messaged me to ask about having our own sew-along... a mini retreat. I actually live closer to her than our friend in Florida, but don't have the luxary of time at the moment. I never even thought of asking her to drive up to my home because I thought it would be an inconvenience. Apparently it was not. She invited herself up and we picked a weekend in the very near future and our Sewing Hollow Retreat (The name given to my basement sewing retreat) was now afoot. I was glad she did the inviting because I knew it was not an inconvenience to her! Had I realized this sooner I would have had 10 retreats by now!
I secured a substitute for Friday so I could have three full days of sewing. Denise, Moon Dawg, arrived at 5 p.m. having survived the DC traffic and 95 north. God Bless her! She also brought her amazing hometown BBQ, beans and coleslaw, the best I've ever had. Having her pull ito my driveway was like watching Santa Clause arrive on Christmas. But instead of the ususal gifts, I received the gift of company.
We began with a plan. While catching up in the living room we hatched our plan of attack. Moonie wanted to work on Secret Sister Gifts for her upcoming retreats. This girl is busy! She has FOUR upcoming retreats in the near future and in all of them she participates in Secret Sister Swaps. She likes to make her gifts as much as possible and add little gadgets and notions as well. Quilters are very generous and love sharing the items they have learned to make or that they love. But, still, she had a lot of gifts to make. I wanted to finish my Darth Vader Quilt top and make a few things for my April Swap. Yes, April!!! I'm a little behind. They don't sound like lofty goals but let me tell you. When two sewing friends gather together for the first time it is a flurry of talking, giggling, staying up way too late and sometimes a glass of wine or two. Okay Three! Needess to say, we didn't finish everything we set out to finish but the camaraderie, the exchange of ideas, the sharing of ideas and fabric made for an amazing three day weekend for this vintage kinda girl!
Moving forward I would say that having a plan is definitely a must when having an at-home retreat with a friend/friends. After checking in with Moonie before finishing this post we both came up with a checklist of sorts to follow when having an at-home retreat:
1. Have a plan.
2. Have a plan B.
3. Snacks and beverages.
4. Internet and computer handy for quick reference.
5. Set up two ironing stations. I set up a small rotary mat and ironing station on a cart next to Moon Dawg's sewing area.
6. Be prepared to not sleep at all.
If you haven't had a friend over to sew with I hope you will soon. It was very rewarding, bonding and just plain fun! Our next Sewing Hollow Retreat will be in July. Our plan.... to prepare for our Crafty Gemini Sewing Retreat in August. Yep. We have to prep the pattern for a bag making class and sew up swap sistr gifts. I can't wait.
Pictures of our crazy antics and the Darth Vader Quilt top. Still needs borders and sandwiched. I'm not showing Moon Dawg's work because it was for her secret sister swap and its a secret!
The picture of the Darth Vader Quilt was taken in my classroom because I needed to hang it up. I didn't have enough wall space in my Sewing Hollow.