Quilt Retreats

Quilting Sisters, Part II

This post continues yesterday’s post Quilting Sisters, Part I, sharing the story of how I ended up part of a group of quilters based out of California, Oregon and Washington.

We left off with Judy and I meeting Linda and Lisa at the Oasis Resort Quilt and Cast retreat. Linda lives in Oregon is one of those people you meet and immediately love. She is a retired 2nd grade teacher and she must have been the most wonderful teacher imaginable. A truly warm, kind and authentic person. Lisa lives in California and is a brilliant woman, a veterinarian and Renaissance woman of many talents besides quilting. We immediately connected and became friends.

In addition to Linda and Lisa, I met other cool quilters including my friend Joan, however only Lisa and Linda became part of our regular quilt retreat group.

The retreat was also open to quilters who did not bring their husband for the “cast” part of the retreat. Judy and I attended the retreat without our husbands once or twice also (the cost of the quilting part of the retreat was significantly less than the guided fly fishing part of the retreat).

Beyond “Quilt and Cast”

Eventually we stopped going to the Quilt & Cast retreat due to significant increasing fees for the husbands to participate in the guided Deschutes river fishing. Also interest in the quilting retreat part of the Quilt and Cast retreat was waning.

Peggy, who ran the quilting retreat part of the Quilt & Cast retreat started her own retreat with Linda and for a couple of years we attended those retreats.

Eventually Peggy and Linda gave up their quilt retreat business and we began attending a quilting retreat in Vancouver, WA run by a lovely woman Cathy and her husband:

At some point Lisa, who attended the new Peggy & Linda retreats, invited her close California friends Debra and Kathy. Kathy is originally from NY like myself and actually grew up in a town next to the town I grew up! So there was an automatic connection.

Since I had moved to Central Oregon, Judy felt it was time to lure another friend into quilting and convince our mutual Seattle friend, Barb to start quilting (Judy is very convincing!)

Birth of the Jelly Rollers

A jelly roll is a 42 piece collection of pre-cut 2.5 inch quilting fabric strips and are very popular among quilters (for the non quilters reading this). In the late 2000s to early 2010s jelly rolls were gaining huge popularity with quilters. Numerous jelly roll fabric collections and books with patterns on creating quilts made with jelly rolls were flooding the market.

Our gathering of quilters at the retreat hosted by Cathy in Vancouver, WA were obsessed with jelly rolls in the late 2000s. At one of the retreats at Cathy’s we decided to develop a core closed retreating group that would always attend an annual quilt retreat in May each year. Additional members could only be added by group approval (several of us had past experiences with attending quilt retreats with quilters with “challenging personalities”). We would call our group the Jelly Rollers!

A “Jelly Roll” (photo credit: Missouri Star Quilt Co.)

Cathy stopped hosting retreats and referred our group of retreaters to another woman in the Vancouver area, Nancy. Nancy’s Sew N Go Retreat became the new permanent home for our annual May retreat.

Sew N Go Retreat Classroom (Photo credit: Sew N Go)

After moving to Nancy’s Sew N Go retreat, Dana started attending and became a regular member of the Jelly Rollers. Dana was voted in as she grew up with Judy’s daughter and is an unofficially adopted daughter of Judy’s. Like Linda, she is one of those people you meet and immediately adore.

Dana is another person like Barb and myself that Judy convinced to start quilting. We tease Judy that she makes her friends start quilting whether they wanted to or not – ha!

Near the time of creating the Jelly Rollers, “Jelly Roll Races” (a way to make a quick quilt top with one jelly roll in an hour or so) were popular and we used to jokingly make that the initiation requirement for joining – complete a “Jelly Roll Race”.

Other Retreats

Some of the Jelly Rollers attend other retreats together during the year in California and in Washington. I used to attend another retreat with most of the other Jelly Rollers in Monroe, Washington but the sleeping accommodations are like dorm rooms with thin walls and I have trouble sleeping. When I do not sleep, I do not enjoy retreats.

Also this retreat had a lot of additional people I did not know and occasionally there were quilting retreat attendees with “challenging personalities“.

I seem to be a beacon for strange people to want to befriend, so this is not always the best environment for me. I ended up trying to courteous to needy and strange people and they stick to me like glue for the whole retreat!  My quilting sister Lisa is also a beacon for strange people and has shared interesting stories of “unique” individuals who have unsolicitedly attached themselves to her at quilt retreats.

I truly enjoy attending quilt retreats with people I know, it is a safer and more comfortable experience for me.

For those of you with experience with attending quilt retreats, I would be interested to hear in the Comments section your thoughts on quilting retreats – meeting strangers vs. quilting with established friends.

Friends for Life

We are at least in our 4th or 5th year as a formal group. Keeping our core group of annual quilt retreaters together has strengthened our bonds and we do many thoughtful things for one another.

A couple years ago, we put names in a hat and whichever name you picked, you had a year to make that person a lap quilt. Many of the quilters in the group never had anyone make a quilt for them. This exchange  was a way to further connect us and to ensure every quilter has the experience of having someone make a quilt for them rather than they just make quilts for others.

It was very awesome during the following year’s retreat when we surprised the person whose named we picked the previous year with their lap quilt!

In addition to that special quilt exchange a couple years ago, Judy made a special quilt for Lisa last year and at this year’s retreat, Lisa surprised Judy with a machine embroidered “crazy quilt”, the featured photo on this post:

Embroidered quilt by Lisa M.

Although we do not see each other often, we have a strong connection to each other and stay frequently in touch. We are like a family sewn together special thread!

Next post I will continue with adventures and experiences from the annual Quilt Retreat!

12 thoughts on “Quilting Sisters, Part II”

  1. Thank you! I went with the one I recognized but if I had the space it would have fun to have picked up the other vintage sewing machines too as a art for my studio!


  2. Oh my, your new Singer is beautiful! I hope you make many happy quilts together!

    I attended a retreat once. It didn’t work for me, for a variety of reasons. It’s sort of like, I always love really short hair on other people, and occasionally I go crazy and get my hair cut quite short. And I hate it. I often think it would be fun to go to a retreat, but when I think about how I actually like to work, I know it’s not for me. 🙂

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  3. Your commentary on the sisterhood of jelly rollers was fun to read! I love seeing not only the projects being created at SewNGo but the friendships that are so special during the retreats! It would be fun to stop by when you are there again next May!

    I have gone to several CCQ guild retreats … it’s a great way to meet a variety of quilters! Some become friends and others go by the wayside. As long as I have good roommates I seem to be able to overlook the challenging personalities. Prayer for a good attitude helps.

    The antique SINGER is a great accessory for your studio, a have that sits on top of a cupboard displaying fabric fabric!😊

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    1. Thanks so much for reading Suzi and for your comments! You are right about retreats – after all if I had not attended retreats with people I did not know, I would have never met those in the group that would eventually become our Jelly Roller group! Our group is making a special return in October to Nancy’s retreat (we realized that once a year is not enough), so stop by and see us then!


  4. Hahaha! I love the red dog–at this distance!!! My most regular retreat is with the same 3 close friends. We rent a house together and there isn’t room to add anybody else, so it’s very safe socially. I need to go to more diverse retreats, but don’t have the time. And I KNOW what you mean about attracting “challenging” people. Is it because we’re health care providers?

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    1. We have never met challenging people in health care…ha! Yes I said that in jest! You might be right, outside of work I have low patience for challenging people – ha! That sounds like a very cool retreat with a couple cool friends and renting a house! 🙂


  5. I’ve been to a variety of retreats. For the most part I’ve found them to be a great place to meet new people and learn about the plethora of techniques, projects and fabrics I never would have stumbled onto on my own. It’s not unusual for me to go alone because I simply don’t have any friends so no matter who I meet they always start out as strangers. There are those who I will thankfully never see again and those that I find inspiring and a joy to be around. No need to make apologies for purchasing the Singer Sewing machine. It’s absolutely gorgeous! The painted floral pattern is so striking. Too bad they don’t embellish sewing machines like that any more. How wonderful that you have provided the machine with a new home. I’m certain you will love having it.

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  6. Hi Cindy – the antique sewing machine was quite the find and I learned from Elena @ Vintage Sewing Machines that the electricity was an add on, like on the 1950s, and this circa 1910 sewing machine was originally hand crank! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on quilt retreats!


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