In any social/educational event, it's important to make everyone feel comfortable and genuinely welcome. You will want to choose a class that appeals to all of your participants and allows as much time for visiting and relaxation as you want to incorporate in your retreat. Sometimes your project is built around a special event. At the Bridal Quilting Bees, we make queen-size quilt tops, to be professionally machine quilted after the event (and before the wedding, when possible.) Baby Bees are, obviously, for making baby quilts. Comemmorative quilts are made for anniversaries, departing friends, reunions, or other occasions. Sometimes the event is a workshop or retreat for a specific group of women - a quilt guild, family, church group, for example - and you have more flexibility in deciding what you want to learn or do. Some events are even planned just for the purpose of learning to quilt or make a certain quilt! I have a variety of options for easy and challenging quilt projects. You can see some of them on the Classes page. It's important to consider the needs, abilities and resources of your participating members. Most projects require the use of rotary cutting equipment and sewing machines, but there are some handwork possibilities, too. I am available for advance consultation with the organizer of the event, to discuss class options suitable for your group and assisting with the other preparations.
Location, Location, Location
The single most important part of planning your event is finding the right facility. Your group will have specific needs, but there are some general things to consider in the selection. If you are planning a one-day workshop, your participants will not want to travel far from home. You have more flexibility if they are spending the night at the facility. If it is not easy to find, you will want to provide a map with directions. Be sure to tell them where to park and which doors to use, if it is a large building. See if they can unload at the door and then park their cars. Find out if they will have to pay for parking. Is it in a safe neighborhood? Is the parking lot well-lit? Check in advance to make sure that the facility is fully accessible to your elderly or handicapped participants. If you are not providing meals, are there restaurants nearby?
It is very difficult to host a quilting class in a private home. It's much easier and more friendly if all of the participants can work together in one large room. Good lighting is essential. You will need one long table for every two or three quilters, plus three or four extra tables for cutting and other purposes. Comfortable chairs are SUCH a blessing. If you don't have them, be sure to let people know in advance and they can bring pillows. Within this working room, you will want some floor or wall space for laying out the pieces of the quilt - just to look at it and make adjustments if necessary. You will need many electrical outlets. If you are using extension cords, find out if you can use plastic or duct tape to secure them to the floor so people don't trip over them. You can operate a dozen sewing machines on a regular electrical circuit but probably only one iron. This is something you will need to cover with the right person at the facility. You might need to run heavy duty extension cords from the kitchen if the rest of the building is not wired for it.
If meals will be served, it is best to have a completely separate area for that, with preparation and eating spaces. It's good to keep the food on-site and ready to eat so the ladies don't lose much quilting time. If necessary, check on the availability of a kitchen with a refrigerator, stove and kitchen sink. They may have plates and utensils available if you do not want to use disposable items. Do they allow outside catering or food provided by your ladies?
If you have scheduled non-working times (for general conversation, relaxation, study, or anything that won't be done at a work or eating table), OR if you have ladies who will be attending but not working at sewing machines, you will want to have comfortable armchairs and couches (rather than the more upright chairs used for machine work.) It's pleasant to have them arranged in conversational groupings, and make sure that there is good lighting if people will be reading or doing handwork. An area like this is not strictly necessary, of course, but it really is an excellent thing for the longer retreats. Are there outdoor areas available for sitting or strolling?
If you have to leave the building, will it be locked up or supervised while you are absent? Can you get a key? If you are spending the night or going out for meals, the room with all of the sewing machines and other equipment needs to be secure.
Restrooms should be clean, adequate in number and conveniently located.
If you are hosting an overnight retreat, the sleeping accommodations should be close to the work area and easy to get to. Whether your beds are in private homes, hotel rooms, or dormitories, it's important to know what supplies (sheets, towels) the ladies will need to bring with them. Ask about shower and bathroom facilities and pass the information on to your participants. Again, check on accessibility for anyone who may need help getting around. When the ladies wake up, where can they get coffee? Will they go directly to breakfast within the facility or out to eat? Can they get into the sewing room?
See exactly what services are included in the cost of your facility. Will you have assistance in setting up? How much of the cleanup will you be responsible for? Will they provide trash cans, liners, brooms, vacuum cleaners, rags, etc? Where should you put the trash? Will there be someone available who can answer questions about the use of the facility? Where do you check in when you arrive? To whom do you return keys and check out?
The important thing about the food is that there should be enough of it. Otherwise, you can plan the meals to suit your own needs. It is best if you don't have to leave the building and drive elsewhere to eat. You can have the meals catered and served to you on nice plates with real silverware, or you can serve deli sandwiches and potato salad on paper plates. Ladies can bring food to share or their own bagged lunch (check on the availability of refrigerators for storage!). It's best to get volunteers or paid helpers to be in charge of setting up the meals and cleaning up afterward so the rest of the ladies can spend their time sewing.
The food itself should be something non-greasy, so there is no chance of it staining the quilt fabrics. Accidents happen! Water should be readily available throughout the event, but coffee should really not be allowed near the work tables. If they are going to drink soda, only permit bottles with caps - not cups or cans.
Snacks are good, but they must be "clean." Dry candies like Skittles or jelly beans, or veggies like carrot sticks, are a better choice than m&m's, crackers, nuts, or other potentially greasy or staining foods. Cheese cubes could be served with toothpicks. Keep a container of wet wipes near by just in case fingers do get dirty.
Do you hear the voice of experience here?
Things to BringParticipants will be provided with a supply list in advance, and they will be responsible for their own equipment. The event coordinator will need to be prepared with several additional items. For most projects, you will want one iron and ironing board for every four quilters. Bring extension cords and tape if necessary. It is very helpful to have one wastebasket for each table. Please use name tags! Even if you all know each other, it would be a special favor to me. Bring Sharpie markers. Kleenex and wet wipes. Bandaids. A digital camera. You may need to make signs to direct people to the right room, so bring paper and tape.
Every event is different, and we can discuss schedules by telephone or email. If you are expecting other teachers or speakers, we will want to coordinate our plans. For the average one-day workshop, I would expect to begin around 9 a.m., be actively teaching for about 3 hours, break for lunch and maybe a program, and then continue teaching for another 4 or 5 hours. At an overnight retreat, depending on the arrangements for meals, we would probably get everything set up and have an introduction to the project, eat dinner, have devotions or other program if applicable, and then sew for 3 or 4 hours. The next day, we would start after an early breakfast and sew until about 10 am, take a break for devotions or another activity, sew for another couple of hours, have lunch and a speaker/devotions/program and then return to sewing for another 3 or 4 hours. Those are just examples, and I am very flexible. I try to keep everyone comfortable by taking breaks from sewing to eat or visit or just move around.
The ParticipantsMy fees are flat rates, and my travel expenses will be the same no matter how many people attend the class, so it is to your advantage to enroll more participants and spread the expense among them. If your facility can accommodate them comfortably, I can teach up to 25 students. I need a final count at least a week before the event, in order to be sure I have printed enough handouts and patterns.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31