2020 Retreat with Brenda Thomas

Another very special retreat, I think my report each year starts with words that suggest it was yet another fantastic retreat.

So what does happen at one of South West Quilters’ Retreat in Beer each January? The week’s itinerary may be nearly identical, but the finer detail makes it different every year. Fixed events include the welcoming cream tea, the glass of wine and/or after dinner, (or non-alcoholic if preferred), an unending supply of hot drinks and biscuits throughout the day, fun and games each evening after dinner. Different but still recurring is a Tutor that introduces their work on the first evening, giving everyone one night to try and decide what they might like to create, and at the end of the week, as a complete change of tempo, a small project that can be made in the workroom in a couple of hours. This item might be personally “useful” or it might be made with the aim of giving it to a charity. Added to these events are the small hand sewing projects on a couple of evening that are led by one of the students.

The tutor this year was Brenda Thomas who inspired us all with her pictorial pieces, many recreating photographs she had taken of town and village views around the west country. Brenda introduced us to techniques many of us had never used before. Working directly on to felt, starting at the top and putting decorative quilting on that first piece of fabric, often the sky, before progressing down the picture stage by stage in the same way. This quilting, nearly always free motion, was performed with invisible thread in the bobbin and often free motion using the zig-zag stitch. That zig zag stitch really made an impressive difference, very useful to some of us who couldn’t ensure a smooth flow to create a fine line!! Following this method, meant the whole of the background was finished and a picture well on the way to completion before Brenda left us Wednesday lunchtime. Once the main part of the picture was complete, adding extras like boats, balloons and a dog or cat enabled several students to take a completed picture home.

Joan Collings

Retreat with Abbie Anne Searle

It was brilliant to be in Beer again this year to take part in the retreat with Abbie Anne Searle as the tutor. A brilliant a never tiring tutor who was in the workroom straight after breakfast and didn’t leave until just before dinner. Thank you Abbie for being such a fun and generous tutor.

I, along with many others, were a little hesitant about the first day which was to be our painting day, although I had met Abbie at Malvern who assured me none of us were to be worried or concerned about our artistic ability to paint. Abbie was of course correct, we all managed to create some kind of landscape on Monday, but more of that when you read the in-depth diary in the next issue. Abbie was also confident that we were going to be able to achieve more than a painted landscape in the week – and of course she was correct, she was a tutor and experienced at coping with various levels of competency in colour selection as well as machining. We were taught her method of reverse applique and were spoilt with the choice of designs that she brought with her that we were to try and reproduce. More details in the diary next issue.

But as always the retreat is not only a week full of sewing, sometimes with frowns on our faces, it includes the social times too, getting to know each other better. Going for walks along the cliff path to Seaton or just along the beachfront in Beer to stretch legs and relax shoulders which have become a little rounded! Plus of course exchanging stories, experiences and tips and very important much laughter while dining as a group in different locations or playing games or trying a small craft project in the cottage each evening.

Overall, Beer provides the perfect location and combined with a fantastic tutor and students that all are determined to have an enjoyable week, we do have a great time. Some (not all!!!) of the fun and success we all have will be detailed in the diary in the next issue, so watch this space.

Joan Collings

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