Telephone: 01297 20068

South West Quilters hold their Retreat during the last week in January each year at the Dolphin Hotel in Beer in South Devon. It is a Grade II listed building and is a family run Hotel. The Workshop is held in the Function Room, which we hire for our use alone for the five days. The Retreat runs from Sunday afternoon through till the following Friday afternoon, and the cost includes Bed & Breakfast at the Hotel and the tuition during the five days.

For the evenings we also have use of a very pretty cottage situated opposite the hotel carpark where we gather after the workshop has finished for the day, around an open fire, and indulge in afternoon tea and homemade cake, and discuss where we will eat for that evening – sometimes a pub, sometimes a takeaway, sometimes a bistro. We then return to the cottage for a glass of wine and natter etc. before retiring.

Beer is a very pretty fishing village, and as part of the Jurassic coast, there are many walks along the cliffs in both directions, and deep sea fishing provides fresh fish regularly available for purchase (for when you leave) from the beach shop.

For more information go to

2017 Retreat at Beer

Date: Sunday 22nd January to Friday 27th January 2017.
The tutor for next year’s retreat is Jan Hassard.
Many of us have admired the pieces created by members of South West Quilters and printed in our magazine after they have attended one of Jan’s one-day workshops, I know I thoroughly enjoyed one of these days creating a very colourful Strata Dreams.
The project for our 2017 retreat will be Jan’s new design for 2016, Colour Wave and Spirals. The latest workshop in Jan’s popular series of illusional designs. This design uses quick piecing techniques with sparkling colours spiralling against a dark background to create an exciting art quilt, wall hanging or table centre piece. This design won Jan the Judge’s Choice Award at Quilts UK. Do look at Jan’s website to see her amazing collection of vibrant and dazzling patterns.

Whilst there is a background colour, the rest of the quilt will make use of all those scrap pieces of fabric you have hidden between those fat quarters. Perhaps the choice can be from that collection of hand dyed fabrics you made at a SWQ workshop and never used, or from a stash of batik pieces left over from an appliqué class – or simply bright patterned colourful fabric that just cries out to be used for this dramatic project. Whatever choice is made, Jan will ensure we all finish off with a piece we are very proud to have created.

On to practical matters, the retreat commences around Sunday teatime when we can enjoy Jean’s famous cream tea and meet our fellow quilters in the cottage along the road from the hotel. Sunday evening starts with dinner after which we meet our tutor and learn about the week ahead. The retreat finishes on Friday afternoon, after a fun morning tutored by “one of us”!

The residential booking form is available here in Word and PDF formats, and places will be given in order of application. Any questions please contact me.
Joan Collings

2016 Retreat in Beer, South Devon

Date: Sunday 17th January to Friday 22nd January 2016

The day of leaving for the retreat arrives at last, requirements list checked, rechecked and car packed. The journey involved weather of all sorts, typical British day. Arrived safely, unlike some who had an encounter with sheep. Checked into the hotel and unpacked. Set up my workspace, and then time to relax before dinner at the hotel and then an introduction to what we going to achieve this week.
Kathryn showed examples of her work which were inspiring, even Professor Brian Cox and Isaac Newton got a mention! Her work was stunning, but Kathryn made you feel it was achievable. We were all going to attempt a landscape from our chosen picture, thankfully no expectation of an exact copy.

After a lovely breakfast we arrived in the function room from 9.30 am. Some were a little apprehensive about the project as it is a new technique for us.
Katherine assessed our pictures individually and then we were away cutting 3/4 inch strips then applying them to our spray glued wadding from sky downwards. Pictures started to appear with varying results. Lunch at the cottage then we started sewing the strips down in the afternoon. Drinks at the cottage before a really good meal at the Anchor Inn then back to the cottage for drinks games and quizzes. Prizes for the winners (no comment!)

After our usual generous breakfast we gathered to continue stitching strips of fabric onto wadding to form the background to our landscapes. People with smaller pictures were ready for the next stage so Kathryn showed us all some of her favourite techniques to embellish our work. Using a rotary cutter we learnt how to make confetti (for flowers, leaves etc.) by slashing scraps of material to varying sizes. This was then scattered onto our backgrounds, overlaid with organza, tulle or bridal veil and stitched into place. Tree trunks, people etc. were made using free form applique. Previously bonded scraps were rotary cut, applied and stitched into place. Fibres were then added and couched to finish off. Our landscapes really did come to life at this stage!

We enjoyed an excellent evening meal at The Seafood Platter followed by a session at the cottage making chickens. We hand stitched, prodded, stuffed and embellished our little brood amid much laughter. Each one was named and exhibited ready for judging.
Rosemary Darby

Kathryn’s last morning with us and we packed lot in. Kathryn gave us some hints and tips on enhancing our work. We pinned them all up to compare and have photographs taken. Then Kathryn showed us how to square up our finished quilt and mount on canvas or add a backing. I think Kathryn was quite sorry to have to leave at lunchtime. During the afternoon some of us drove to Zoe’s shop at Thimblestitch in Honiton to buy more thread, fabric and equipment before carrying on sewing until 6 pm. Our evening was spent completing a flower decoration to enhance Friday’s project.

We struggled on without tuition to try and complete our quilts and were surprise how much we remembered as they all came together. We had a couple of escapees who yomped over the cliffs for exercise and the local shops attracted a couple more but after another delicious meal at the Dolphin an evening of games and fun was enjoyed by all, even if there was some cheating to get a prize.

Friday morning came around far too quickly.
We packed our bags and after our last breakfast together we went into the sewing room for Jean and Jenny to show us all how to make "a tooly". Some of us had never heard of this and it turned out to be a clever little fold out case, which stores your rulers, rotary cutters pens pencils all together and stands on the table so everything is close at hand. But also closes so you can take it to class. During one of the evenings at the cottage during the retreat, Jean had taught us how to make fabric flowers. These flowers had pride of place on the front of tooly.
At lunchtime, it was time to pack up the machines and say goodbye. We all had a wonderful time with lots of laughter and learnt so much as well.
Claire and Share

2015 Retreat in Beer, South Devon

Date: Sunday 25th January to Friday 31st January 2015


Sunday dawned bright with sun and anticipation. We arrived gradually as the afternoon passed. Greetings with old friends and new faces to make friends with. After a lovely (huge) meal at the hotel, Anja “wowed” us with quilts and designs. Then we had to decide what we were going to do. Some went to bed happy, some scratching their heads!
Sarah R.


After our briefing yesterday we were off. Anja gave us very helpful and instructive demonstrations and we were soon drawing, then cutting and after more instructions piecing together. Comments around the room proved we were either succeeding or we needed help. Anja systematically worked the room and patiently helped those who needed it or praised and encouraged those who were coping. Lunch was spent relaxing in comfortable Lavender Cottage. The afternoon flew by as we built up our designs. Learning by our mistakes, mercifully few, and soon expertly corrected by Anja. 4 o’clock came and went as we were all so engrossed but eventually we all dragged ourselves away to prepare for the evening. We gathered at The Anchor for dinner which was enjoyed by all. The remainder of the evening was filled with quizzes at Lavender Cottage, truly taxing to the brain especially fuelled by wine a very mellow evening before we all left for our beds.
Avril Cook


After breakfast we started our sewing work again continuing from Monday. Anja gave us a talk on adding applique to our foundation piecing, mentioning tracing and lining up our work, her preferred sewing machine needle and thread and demonstrated the stitch to use and the best way to machine sharp points. After this the members making book covers practised their applique while those of us doing larger cushions or quilts continued with our foundation piecing. At lunch time we all went up to the cottage for Jean’s delicious vegetable soup and cakes donated by other members.
On Monday Jean had given each of us some small pieces of material with instructions to sew it for Tuesday evening. After our meal at the hotel we went up to the cottage and each made a pincushion (while enjoying a glass of wine). Sandra rounded off the evening reading a selection of funny stories to much laughter.


On the first day I texted my family “this is going to be fun”. It certainly has been, so much laughter mixed with a constant flow of help and information from our lovely tutor Anja – the lesson today was on Sexy Curves! Anja, with her endless patience sorted out a multitude of my ‘newbie’ problems, and a panel may at last get finished. Our evenings in the cottage have been a hoot. Can’t wait for next year.
Mary and Lee

Wednesday was our half day off – what do quilters do on a day off – go to a quilt shop of course!


Thursday was a day of companionable sewing, of sharing and lending, gentle chatter and impromptu show and tell. Conversation was interrupted by bursts of laughter every now and then. Jean announced “I’m too sexy for my swirls”. Anja would have been proud of her.
The afternoon was quieter, sewing machines hummed as we worked with determination to finish our projects. By 4.30 we all had something to show for our efforts and our work was displayed on a long table for everyone to see.
After dinner we made our way to the lounge bar for a pub quiz. Amazing how competitive quilters can be. Lots of fun and laughter, and we retired happily to our rooms at the end of the evening.
Jan Purrett.


It's Friday already, we can't believe how quickly the week has gone. After breakfast and vacating our rooms everyone gathered for the last time in the function room for a workshop by Sandra Scott. Great fun was had making small gift boxes. We never knew that so much laughter could be caused by a three ply serviette, pva glue, an elastic band, a plastic drinks bottle with a waist and a hair dryer. Just when you thought the fun was over, a mix up between coffee and glue added to the fun.
After that, sadly it was time to clear up and say goodbye to all our new friends, we would thoroughly recommend applying next year as this has been a wonderful experience. We learnt so much this week both from Anya Townrow and from the other quilters. Everyone sends a big thank you to the organisers.
Happy quilting Claire and Share

2014 Retreat in Beer, South Devon

With Amanda Hall from Monkey Buttons
[existing photos**]

What a way to start a week of sewing. We gathered in Beer on Sunday afternoon and while eating Jean’s homemade scones and clotted cream we chatted with old and new retreaters. Supper in the Dolphin Hotel was followed by our tutor Amanda's talk and show and tell of her lovely bags and quilts. We had been given a choice of bags to make during the week.

Monday started by collecting bag patterns and kits for those who ordered them. We were the Southern Bell Girls and the Daisy Bag Ladies! By the end of the day we were well on our way with our first bags.

Tuesday dawned bright and sunny. All the retreaters and our tutor Amanda were refreshed and looking forward to another day of bag making challenges. We were all kept busy with cutting, layering and wonky quilting. Foundation piecing, buttonholes and much more. However by the end of the afternoon bags were taking shape. In the evening we had a delicious meal at the Anchor Inn followed by evening entertainment back at the cottage.

The day started with us all trying to complete our bags under Amanda’s tuition....or at least one! Suddenly it was midday so it was time to thank Amanda and wish her farewell. She was happy to have a photocall with our (mostly unfinished) bags. After lunch several of us made a quick visit to Thimblestitch, a new shop in Honiton with lovely fabrics, threads and a delightful little dog! Zoe the owner and member of SWQ awaited us with tea, coffee and walnut cake! After making our purchases we returned to Beer and walked along the beach collecting driftwood and shells. We went to The Seafood Platter for dinner, most of us having Moules et Frittes and a sumptuous dessert. The evening was rounded off with a glass of wine and a quiz at the cottage.

Amanda has gone and we retreaters are trying to remember without panicking all the instructions and tips she told us in order to complete our bags.
During the morning with guidance from the experienced we overcame disasters of straps cut too short, decisions were made to bind or to over-sew, to “Daisy” or not to “Daisy” and worst: a sewing machine that refused to sew.
Eventually just before lunch the cry of “finished” was heard as the first bag was proudly waved in the air accompanied with applause.
The afternoon sped along and by tea time there was a whole baggage of bags to be admired, not to mention some of us new retreaters feeling quite proud of ourselves!

The last day of our retreat in Beer saw us gathered around Denise making Orchid Brooches. Concentration was intense as we cut out, gathered and folded our fabrics in an attempt to make something resembling Denise's beautifully formed example. The end result was gratifying. A colourful array of orchid brooches, Cymbidium or Slipper, according to taste.

A perfect end to my first quilt retreat. Thank you SWQ.


Sunday 27th -30th January


The day dawned fine and warm - a great relief after the snow and ice of the previous week. Team leaders met at Lavender Cottage and then made the workroom ready for all the Retreaters. There were 15 in all. 3 non resident, 3 in the cottage and 9 in the hotel plus the tutor Katherine Guerrier.

After a cream tea welcome all went their own way until supper time at the Dolphin. Much Oohing and Aaahing over the scallops and fresh fish which seemed to be on other peoples plates. Later we adjourned to the cottage where over a glass of wine both Katherine and Jean gave a short run don on the delights to be anticipated.

A rainbow of scraps appeared of all shapes and sizes - some of them a meter square!!!
Katherine showed us how to construct houses from strips, with doors with porches, windows with glazing bars, and trees from Flying Geese blocks. Until we had mastered the concept there were some very funny shaped houses. Joan eventually had a house with three trees in a sloping field next to her house block.

After a busy day, we met at the cottage for a glass of wine before supper at the Anchor to taste their £5 meals. Evening entertainment at the cottage was a quilting related quiz.

We were shown how to make filler blocks - pinwheels and star blocks. Pinwheels were skewed and stars were distorted. All made with half square triangles. We also made a landscape block by cutting curves and stitching several together. As the little "deli" was closed that day we had home made soup and freshly baked bread at lunchtime
Supper was again at the Anchor and after wards at the cottage for a Bingo session. Katherine was delighted to win twice.

We only had the tutor until lunchtime but she ensured that we had grasped all that we had been taught and as a finale showed us how to make a Flying Friendship Star. She left us after lunch to return home, but I'm sure she enjoyed her stay as much as we appreciated her company. The afternoon was designated free time - some stayed and sewed - some went walking. some wet shopping and one person went home to bake a chocolate cake!!! The evening entertainment was a quiz entitled "In the pantry".

This was the catch up day. Everyone putting what they had learned into practice. Some amazing blocks appeared and I can see some great quilts emerging from this Retreat. The afternoon was interrupted by tea and chocolate cake and that evening after a pre-dinner glass of wine we had our farewell dinner at the Dolphin with a "Housey Housey" Pin cushion making session with Jenny.
Jean Bartlett

The Friday workshop at the retreat with Jean was a joy! we had been saving all our snippings during the week and already had bags full gathered by Desira at the Dorset workshops through the year. We sprinkled theses snippings with gay abandon to creae quite amazing Bluebell Wood landscapes. Great fun was had by all and the results were stunning. I can truly recommend this workshop.
Maggie Howell

2012 Retreat at Beer

22nd/29th January 2012
[3 photos]

Marlene Chaffey came to the SWQ Retreat 2012 to teach us her methods of turning a favourite scene or building from a photograph or picture, into a beautiful and very personal wall hanging. Hand painting, crayons, hand stitching, machine piecing and Bondawebbing were just a few of the techniques we used. The roomy and light function room at the Dolphin Hotel was our workroom for the week and where warm, comfortable rooms accommodated most of our ladies, for bed and breakfast.

On the first evening, Marlene showed us her beautiful quilts and explained what we were going to do for the rest of the week. She taught us on Monday and Tuesday and we brought our pieces of work to a stage that enabled her to proceed teaching again on Thursday. Wednesday afternoon, we chose either to continue to work or take a break by going out to refresh our minds.

A cottage close by, was the social hub where we enjoyed wine, cream teas, home-made cakes and soup but most of all, the fun and friendship of all who attended. Each evening a 'glamorous assistant' came forward with some form of entertainment. This was absolutely appreciated by all and everybody contributed with ideas, fun, jokes and laughter and every evening turned out to be absolutely hilarious. This year we took advantage of wonderful meals, together, at two local eateries, The Anchor and The Dolphin. Fresh local fish took pride of place, at very reasonable prices.

Relaxing ... um ... NO!
Educational ... we learn what we wish to learn (or are capable of taking in)
enTertainment ... oh yes, nothing so funny as quilters (who have had a glass or two)
Reminisce ... catching up with old friends, whilst making new (noise levels can be quite high)
Edibles ... far too many and far too delicious (no calories for one week only)
Aimiable ... everyone is a friend who has come with the idea of having fun (you think they are ladies?)
TRY IT NEXT YEAR ... You know it makes sense


Student’s comments of the Retreat 2011 with Angela Madden

Please pass on to everyone involved in the organisation of the retreat, my thanks for all their hard work in the organisation of the week.

This was my third attendance and so far the best! It was all fun and so enjoyable. Angela was a really lovely tutor, and shared so many tips and tricks with us. Well done to you all, I certainly appreciated my week.

The retreat committee did a splendid job organising everything to perfection, and much planning had gone in to making it such a success.

We learnt a great deal. We now know how to use our index finger especially on the rotary cutter. It is important to use the right type and size of cutter for each individual hand shape!!
Then came the dreaded Bondaweb, which surprise, surprise we now love. Thanks to furniture polish and magic non-stick baking liner.

Needles and fabric density is also important, how to purchase, take time to choose. “Do not get steamed up” “All will then be Okey Dokey” Quoting our teacher. Angela made learning easy and fun with much hilarity ringing out over Beer. A good time was had by all.

We met Angela on Sunday evening at dinner and afterwards at the cottage we used for lunching and evening entertainment!!! Quizzes etc. Angela gave us some idea of what we would be doing over the next 2.5 days under her tutorage. Simple machine appliqué using bondaweb and freezer paper!!

Angela showed us how to stabilize bondaweb so that it did not fall apart before one was ready to cut it. We also found out why our requirements list included wax polish, an oven Teflon sheet and kitchen roll……….but no housework thank you. The time flew by and we were having such fun with plenty of chatter and laughter. Lunch came and went, and then it was back to work? We were each given a pattern of a tulip, “a very easy piece” said Angela! Later we were able to choose a flower pattern of our own choice from Angela’s book “Beautiful Blooms”. Four o’clock came and went, we were all so engrossed. It was nearly the end of a very busy and absorbing day.

We had supper at the Anchor Inn then wandered back to the cottage for a quiz and much discussion about the day. Angela is so encouraging and as she said to us “if it’s not fun, why do it”. We did have plenty of both over the next few days. So much information was freely given we were overwhelmed. Thank you Angela for being an excellent tutor.

Sustained by a nights sleep, a walk on Beer’s beautiful beach and a hearty English breakfast, it was back into the workshop at 10am. Angela started by reading out her very witty poem, written by her about her time with us, it bought back tears and laughter. We had written a letter to her extolling her virtues and skills as a tutor. Beautiful blooms were now appearing on the display wall. We were, of course, all now experts in handling and applying bondaweb! Some were wavy bordering and quilting already- the rest laboured on with Angela’s advice being cheerily given, along with tips on threads, backgrounds and contrasts.

Angela’s workshop was finalised with demonstrations of her tools for perfect plaits and circles. We were shown all her quilts with varied ways of quilting and backgrounds and borders finishing with how to achieve a perfect mitred binding.

After lunch with Angela we were sorry to say goodbye to her.

The entertainment in the evenings at the cottage caused much hilarity and thank you to those that took the time to “walk the extra mile” to make our time at the retreat.

Maggie’s mini workshop was making cot quilts for the local premature baby unit. Maggie showed us quilts already made and ideas on what is appropriate for the unit. Many thanks Maggie, keep up the good work. It rounded off a very busy, enjoyable and happy week.

A Teacher’s Ode to the Beer Retreat 2011

Three cheers for the quilters in Beer,
Sincere thanks for inviting me here.
I’ve just had a ball
Whilst teaching you all,
And just hope my techniques are now clear.

We started with fears over “strips”
And “Bondaweb” caused a few flips,
Then the number of “bits”
Made some folk have fits
But they calmed down once fed upon chips.

We toiled through 2 days and a half,
Punctuated by many a laugh,
And the flowers soon appeared,
Despite all they feared,
As they sewed down the Appliqué path.

Wine helped evenings sparkle and fizz,
Poor tired brains sprang to life with a quiz
The meals were a treat
And so much did l eat
It took nothing to send me to zzzzzzzzz

There’s so much to commend SWQ’s
Cakes, soups, chocs and tri-coloured booze,
With their planning sublime
So fast went my time,
In a rainbow of bright “fabric hues”

Then they noticed one problem l’d caught,
And my efforts to stop made me fraught.
I’d say “Okey Dokey”
To more than one “folkie”
These words peppered all that l’d taught

We passed parcels in time with the news
Quoted sayings and imbibed yet more booze,
From Olympics to Michael,
And how we recycled,
We all shared and expressed heart-felt views.

So now here’s to the rest of your week,
My thanks to you all l will speak,
May you blossom and bloom
In this January gloom.
(When l’ve gone please don’t end “up the creek”)

Angela Madden. 30th Jan 2011
Poet, Quilt Teacher and “rock Chick”
“Okey Dokey”
I’m off to sing my Karaoke!

RETREAT in Beer, Devon 2010
Bonded Impressions with Barbara Weeks

Fabulous, wonderful and just brilliant! 16 of us have just spent a super 5 days together, stitching and laughing in equal measures, plus the odd glass of wine in the evening!

Barbara was with us until Wednesday lunchtime, showing us how to experiment putting colour on paper then painting silk to our own colour scheme, including some batik, using hot wax on the silk before painting. We then started to create our pieces using the inspiration picture we had brought with us and the silk we had been painting the day before. By the Wednesday morning we had all made progress producing wonderful pieces of art, and Barbara demonstrated various ways of finishing the edges.

Barbara had a tough challenge keeping 16 of us in order, but she is a wonderful Tutor and rose to the occasion magnificently!

Wednesday afternoon was ‘time off’ but of course some of the ladies continued to stitch in the Workroom. Thursday was spent all day stitching/quilting our masterpieces – some were finished by the end of the day!

Friday we made little Treasure Boxes with a pattern from the Quilting Arts Magazine published in Winter 2005.

Hopefully the ladies will bring their finished pieces to the AGM in May to create a stunning Exhibition of their work, together with the little Treasure Boxes.

Finally, on a personal note, as my term as Retreat Co-ordinator comes to an end at the AGM, the ladies got together and during our last evening, presented me with the biggest bouquet of flowers I have ever seen, and a lovely card they had all signed.

Talk about tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat …..!

Next year we have Angela Madden as our Tutor. I don’t yet know what she will be doing, but I do know it will be great fun, and everyone will have a wonderful time. BOOK EARLY!

Val Thomas
Retreat Co-ordinator