Finished Quilts

Monday, 9 March 2015

Another weekender....

...but not a bag!  A much better weekender, which involved sewing, cake, lashings of tea, chat, laughing and more food.  A sewing retreat weekender!  Huzzah!

Nearly a year ago, the Stitching Together ladies mused on organising a weekend away dedicated to sewing.  9 months (and 1 impregnation) later and we were packing up Hannah's roof rack and heading to Norfolk on a Friday and staying until Sunday.  The venue was a B&B called the Old Bakery in Hindolveston run by a lovely couple Alison and Mike.  Alison is a quilter and so, as well as the usual B&B clientèle, she offers quilting/sewing retreats and workshops.  We made what, in retrospect, was a school girl error of stopping for lunch on the way because if there was one constant over the weekend, it was food!

Anyway, my usual approach to retreats is to pack erratically and wing it.  This time I had a plan and actually planned for the plan. I was going to FIGHT THE FEAR and make a chuffing dress already.  Yep, my dressmaking demons would be tackled head on by making the Mortmain dress from Gather Kits which is marked suitable for"ambitious beginners!"  I'd bought the pattern and fabric (from the Village Haberdashery) last August....

directional print fabric, you nutter!
As usual, I need to make things a little trickier so I decided to buy some slippy dippy fabric to fully line the dress too.  Matching thread and metal teeth zip joined the dressmakers carbon paper and other various tools.  I even took an old sheet that Tanya had given me to make a toile.  People - I was taking this seriously!

So we arrived just after 2pm and were immediately offered coffee, tea and two choices of home made cake (delish).  Then it was unpacking, setting up and sewing.  We were staying in the holiday cottage but were given full run of two big rooms in the main house for our sewing activities.

thanks for the photo, H
We sewed until 7, where we were served an amazing two course dinner, with a trio of desserts...

all using local or home grown ingredients
Then it was back to work, for another couple of hours or so.  My sewing yodas were on hand when I had a big wobble - "follow the pattern, you must" (thank you Hannah!) - and to help with great hints (Lizzie!).  At the end of day 1, I had made my toile and realised that the size 16 fitted me perfectly - no FBA needed thank goodness.

Day 2 started a two course breakfast! Thank the Lord I had roomy troosers!  Then a full day's sewing, interrupted only by Alison bringing refreshments and cake, a two course lunch and two course dinner...

chocolate trio
By the end of the day, I have made two more dresses - the outer dress and lining version, all french seamed to within an inch of existence....

unlined and unzipped but extremely satisfying
Check out the pattern alignment of the top and skirt - a happy accident :)

Day 3 and another two course breakfast.  And we had to get as much done as we could before lunch at 1pm (with elevenses included of course!).

This is where things started to go a little awry. I think it may have been that croissant after the american pancakes.  Anyway, see that squint zipper ^^^^^  That took me three hours to put in and it was all wrong. And the bottom of the zip on the right hand side as you look at the photo is all queer too and the waistband doesn't line up. But on the plus side, I am loving the fit across the back, if you excuse the dodgy posture.

The others were more productive...

simply awesome cross stitch by Hannah

and Hannah's foxy quilt top

a maternity dress for Lizzie (and a skirt for her Nancy)

an adorable baby quilt by Tanya (along with cushion covers)
However, by then we had run out of time and I had run out of patience, having bent two needles in the zip inserting process. So it was a quick pack up and tidy around, then lunch (more cake, obvs.) and packing the car.  Big hugs to Alison (with plans to return!) and we were off, never to eat again.... well, not for a while anyway.

A brilliant focussed weekend, with lovely stitchy friends hosted by a fab couple.  If your interest has been piqued by the Simply Solids Sew-in Retreat in September, I would say go for it. The chance to have dedicated sewing time to focus solely on what you want to do, with no pressure to attend classes, is a brilliant opportunity.  You will be with people who will help and support you and vice versa.  I can't guarantee that you will be able to eat your own body weight in cake though..... Or head of to Mike and Alison's in Norfolk and take your elasticated waistbands!

I was hoping to show off my finished frock by now but after breaking 4 (FOUR) more needles and the dress nearly getting flung out the the window along with the sewing machine and my sanity, the zip is still not fitted.  But I did have a Eureka moment this morning on the drive to work - use a different type of needle, stupid!  So that's the plan (and a not exposed zip either).  Watch this space for my first fully finished frock......


  1. Woo hoo!! Zip trials aside, the dress looks fab! I'm very jealous of your sewing weekend away. It's good to have moral support on hand. And cake, of course ;) XXXX

  2. dress will be fab, ditching exposed zip will help :-)

  3. Oh it sounds totally wonderful, especially the being catered for bit! Glad you had a great time, and a shame Norfolk is so far from me!

  4. Sounds like you had a great time - except for that stupid zipper!! I'm glad you aren't going for an exposed zipper - the dress is much too feminine for that!!! Can't wait to see you modeling the finished dress!!!

  5. That looks like a fabulous weekend and your dress is gorgeous!

  6. ooooo I did enjoy reading this blog post - a lovely reminder of how much fun we had. let's get this zip sorted for you, and have you stepping out in that frock in no time xx

  7. Sounds like a fab weekend .... Food looks delish and the dress too.

  8. Gosh, I'm so jealous of your wonderful weekend away ( and all the food obvs). Hope you get the zip cracked, the dress suits you!