myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

FQ Retreat 2013 – I’m back!

I have been away at the 2nd Fat Quaterly Retreat in a very hot London. This is my 2nd year too and I have to say that, though I loved it last year, this year was even better. In fact I would say I enjoyed it loads more than last year due to feeling much more relaxed as I knew more people and knew what to expect. I think everyone, including the FQ team and teachers felt more relaxed and that improved the whole event.

So I have a big jumble of photos to show you.
Of course I didn’t remember to get my camera out till Saturday afternoon so there are no shots here of the talk at Liberty (slightly mad but very informative and with amazing cookies), the meal out on Friday night with 37 other retreaters (the hottest restaurant ever but wondeful company and food), Show and Tell and general hanging out on the terrace on Friday eve (chatting to the lovely Alex Veronelli from Aurifil), or any of my actual classes (though I will be showing you the results).
My photo diary starts above with a lovely shot of Sarah, Julie and Carol as we enjoy a very chilled afternoon’s sewing on the terrace. Sarah, Julie and I had all finished early tabletop sessions, Carol was bunking off from her Foundation Piecing class!

This is Saturday evening and we have all just finished our Sample Swap. This was one of the most exciting moments of the whole weekend (thanks for organising it Trash!), as I think you can see by our faces. I was so lucky to be in a group with Di (all the way from California!), Krista (all the way from British Columbia!) and Sonia (from much closer to home!). You can see what I got in a bit.

After a takeaway and pub quiz on the terrace we all went back to the main hall for the Quilt Market. This was a great idea and full of fabulous, tempting stuff. I tried very hard to be good but eventually succumbed to the fabric lust (even though I have a shop full of fabric here!), you can see what I bought very soon (be patient these photos are in a weird order!).

Sunday morning, I have just finished my last tabletop class with Ruth (who is looking very tired in this photo!) and am doing a bit more hand quilting on my improv piece whilst chatting to Teresa and others. Suddenly I realise it is nearly time to go home so I race around taking more photos in the hall…

Lu’s hand quilting class,

Looking over to John’s class in the corner,

Lovely Mandy at Brioni’s Cathedral Window class. Now it’s time to go!

These are the fantastic ladies who shared my ‘dorm’ for the weekend. We were staying at the Baden Powell centre itself on the floor above the classrooms in basically hostel rooms. Our room had 4 bunk beds (me on the top bunk), no air conditioning and no hot water (though a cold shower was all I wanted in the circumstances!) Still we muddled along and the windows opened quite wide and the traffic noise drowned out any snoring that was occurring (only joking ladies, nobody snored!), and really the only problem was how to get off the top bunk with a modicum of dignity!
From left, Mandy, me, Marg, Sue and Sonia – my roomies! It was lovely to be able to spend time with old friends, Marg and Mandy, and meet new friends, Sue and Sonia.

Me and Sarah, we sat next to each other in the FMQ class and really clicked. Lovely to meet you Sarah! I am looking a bit manic in this last photo – it really is time to go!

Phew! Back at home yesterday I unpacked and documented everything I brought back.

Pyjama pants made in Kerry’s class on Friday afternoon. This was a really good class and I felt I gained back some dressmaking confidence back after not making any clothes for decades. I finished the pants in the class all except for the hems which I finished on the train back home. They are made from David Walker needlecord with a Riley Blake orange flower dot for the tie. Thank you Kerry for being such a great teacher as always.

I was so looking forward to the Improv class with Lu Summers on Saturday morning and it didn’t disappoint! There were 2 classrooms full of sewers, and I had such a fun time sewing with Julie, Emily and Leanne in what we thought was the remedial class, but what Lu kept telling us was the clever class!

I loved doing the improv, it was right up my street, and Lu was SO FUNNY! She should really do stand-up, she had me laughing all morning and learning at the same time. I got my mini finished and tacked it up in the afternoon after Trudi’s very informative FMQ tabletop session. Trudi shared all her tips and techniques and totally changed the way I am going to tackle FMQing in the future, another very useful class. I started hand quilting the Improv mini in Lu’s trademark ‘Kantha’ style during the afternoon on the terrace (see top photo).

And here is my sample swap goodies! The sweet little crochet heart is from Sonia, the amazing zippered tidy is from Di (so useful!), and that adorable house tape measure holder is from Krista. I totally lucked out – thanks ladies!

One last class, this is Trapunto with Ruth Singer on Sunday morning. I have never tackled this before but it is a very interesting technique and it’s so much easier to learn something new when somebody actually shows you how to do it rather than with a book or muddling along on your own. Here is the little trapunto sampler I made.

And here is my Quilt Market Stash – 2 amazing Alexander Henry FQ, a half metre of a very kitsch Japanese fabric from the Eternal Maker, along with a cute little Red Riding Hood wooden button, and 2 fat eighths of Liberty tana lawn from Jo, A Life in Lists.

And here’s what I won in the raffle! I big gift bag of haberdashery from Korbond! Endlessly useful stuff for my sewing room. We also got a fab goody bag filled with more Korbond habby, aurifil thread, fabric from The Eternal Maker, Art Gallery Fabrics, Riley Blake, Makower and Moda! Thanks to all the sponsors for supporting this event. And a huge thank you to the FQ team and teachers for hosting such a wonderful weekend.
I am now even more excited about my own little retreat in August – roll on Sunday 25th!


  1. Great post, only now I'm back and looking through everyones photos do I realise that there were other people there from out do good stitches circle – grr! Sorry I didn't get to meet you, Sarah x

  2. Your retreat is going to be fabulous. You've the London experience to know how to get everyone chatting and enjoying (plus I think half of them know each other already) and great teachers. So glad you had such a great weekend. You scored on the swap front too!

  3. Still can't believe I was lucky enough to get one of your fabulous little dolls! And I love your Improv (I thought *I* was in the clever class πŸ˜‰ ?!) and the hand-quilting is fabulous!!!

  4. Had no doubt you would have more fun than last year…it's inevitable!:) Lovely photo of the bunkmates!

    Also what's cool it you got to meet Di…we were at Sew South together this past March, she taught the framed clutch class…loads of fun!:)
    Can't wait for next month!!:)

  5. I'm surprised Sarah didn't meet you, I could have introduced you since I saw you both for decent periods of time over the weekend (and I was car sharing with Sarah)

  6. looks like I missed a treat Jo. Glad you had a brillinat time and cant wait to hear all about it first hand.Just unpacking too then will crack on for the festival show x

  7. It was so lovely to meet you Jo, and I loved reading your account and seeing your photos, although I am looking a bit ropey in that last one – that's what a weekend of sewing and drinking does to me lol! I wish you all the best with your Retreat, and I can't wait to hear all about it. (I'll be there next year, fingers crossed πŸ˜‰

  8. So glad to have discovered your blog! I went to the FQ retreat too, I remember seeing you but didn't chat unfortunately *must get over shyness!* Glad you had a fun weekend! your improv looks amazing! Great fabric purchases too πŸ™‚ Jessie, xo

  9. It was such a pleasure to meet you Jo, and even more so to be the lucky recipient of one of your gorgeous Liberty Matryoshka dolls!!! I love her so much. Thank you for sharing your work. I wish I could attend your retreat, too!

  10. Hi Jo, it was great wasn't it! I was really nervous and I don't think I could have hoped for better roomies. I'm sure the Stitch Gathering will be brilliant πŸ™‚

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