Our First Retreat Away from Home

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We are taking our Retreats on the road in the hope that more people will be able to enjoy a weekend away and some time for themselves just sewing and chilling.

Cornwall here we come!

We have been trying to find a venue for our first retreat away from home and I think we have really come up with a humdinger!

Hendra Barns is not only beautiful it’s easy to find, and has everything we were looking for in a venue. It is set in the stunning Cornish countryside halfway between Newquay and Truro so you get the best of all worlds.

The accommodation is split into 3 areas, Hendra Barn, The Old Coach House and Little Hendra. All the rooms are different, some are have an en suite and some shared bathrooms, so they are all priced accordingly. Hendra Barn is the largest so we will all eat there together, but all of the other locations have their own kitchens so you can make your own coffee or tea just how you like, and relaxing lounge spaces too.

Hendra Barn
The Old Coach House
Little Hendra

Hendra Barn has 3 double rooms (one with an en suite) and that is also where CL and I will be based. The Old Coach House has 2 double (one with an en suite) and a Twin room. And Little Hendra has one double and a twin room.

It is just the perfect place to relax and surround your self with nature and sewing machines!

Looking after yourself

In a hectic and busy world we often end up at the bottom of the list of people we look after. But if you’ve ever been on a plane and listened to the safety talk from the cabin crew we are told to put on our own oxygen masks first before helping anyone else. Having some time just for you, to re-energise yourself and find your focus is incredibly precious. And doing it with like-minded people who enjoy sewing as much as you do makes a huge difference.

Grief can take care if itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.

Mark Twain

Not only can we share what we know we can learn from each other too. We have written more about why we have chosen to make it a residential retreat and what you can hopefully gain from it in another blog.

What to look forward to

Well apart from the stunning location and the fabulous accommodation and catering what can you look forward to when joining us?

Hendra Barns has provided us with an excellent sewing studio space in their function Barn that we will fully equip with sewing machines, overlockers, cutting tables and pressing stations. You can choose to bring your own machines if you prefer to work on something more familiar. Sometimes it’s just easier to use your own machines and we can help you set those up when you arrive on the Thursday evening.

Making what you want to wear

One of the things I really love about our Retreats is the freedom you have to make exactly what you want to. Unlike some who give a prescriptive list of what you are allowed to make, we are happy for you to bring along whatever project you want to work on. We will give you an idea of the types of things you’ll be able to achieve during the time we have together to give you an idea as to the projects you may wish to bring.

The wealth of expertise and experience Claire-Louise and I have means you can ask us anything. You can bring any project you are working on for help and advice. Obviously there are particular patterns that are more suited to a Retreat than others. You may want to consider bringing something that you can make up fairly quickly so you have that sense of achievement in getting something finished. Equally feel free to bring along something a bit more complex that you might need help and support with on particular techniques or the fit, but you’re not worried about finishing.

Making the Clothes you want to wear

Helping YOU make the clothes YOU want to wear.

But really it’s all about helping you to make the clothes you want to wear. If you need help fitting or with specific techniques or processes, you’ll have the time and space to work through any issues or projects with expert help and tuition on hand if you need it. So you may want to nail the fit on that pair of trousers you’ve been wanting to make for ages. Or have a go on an overlocker and whizz up a Bianca coat before working on a couple of other projects. Or perhaps you want some space to cut a few projects out and then decide which to make – the choice is yours!

Take your sewing up to the next level.

There will be help and guidance on the machines when required and also we will be running a  few Masterclass Demonstrations on some key processes we know are the ones people find tricky. If there is something you are really keen to cover, just let us know and we can include it in the Retreat. We will even be bringing some of the Sew Me Something Haberdashery with us in case you need any emergency supplies. But if you would like any of our fabrics for the projects you want to make up over the weekend you can always place an order online and we will bring it with us for you. So it’ll be at the Retreat ready and waiting for you.

This Retreat really will give you time to focus and relax.

There will be plenty of tea coffee and cakes to keep you sewing throughout the weekend and a fabulous wholesome and delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner each day too.

This time around we are introducing a more meditative element to the Retreats with Amy Williams from Next Wave Yoga. Amy is based in Cornwall and runs retreats herself. In fact Claire-Louise and I went on one last May and it was amazing! Amy will be leading a guided contemplation walk in the peaceful and calming countryside and some gentle yoga to help stretch out those tired muscles at the end of a day sewing. Both are purely optional of course but will certainly add to your whole sense of well being over the weekend.

What’s included in the Sewing Retreat….

  • A cuppa and cake on arrival
  • Help to set up your sewing machines if you’ve brought your own
  • Help to make your sewing plans for the weekend using our sewing planner
  • Use of all the sewing machines, overlockers and equipment from 9am to 6pm over the 3 days of the retreat
  • Hand delivered Sew Me Something orders of fabric and haberdashery
  • Expert help and advice on all your sewing projects
  • Expert help and advice on fitting and pattern alterations
  • Masterclass demonstrations
  • All your meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as plenty or tea coffee and cakes to keep you going
  • Comfortable bedrooms for four nights
  • Guided contemplation walks and a yoga session each day

I am so excited about what a fantastic weekend this is going to be. I have tried to create the type of retreat I would love to go on myself. Don’t worry if you are thinking of coming on your own you will soon make friends and we will do all we can to look after you and make you welcome.

This is what some of our past Retreat Attendees have said about joining us. . . .

“Very enjoyable. Venue excellent. 
Jules and CL were fantastic. So patient, attentive and professional. As well and warm fun and friendly.
Have left with a pattern block that fits!!
Invaluable! I’m delighted!” Susan

“Great weekend! Learned loads! The trousers I made were great and fit perfectly. I just wish I’d had time to finish the Agnes top too. 
CL and Jules were so calm and knowledgeable – amazing mentors! Thank you for a great weekend.” Ruth

“There was a great atmosphere and the venue was lovely. Excellent support from both Jules and CL, and huge thanks to both. I learnt a lot of techniques which I wanted to learn. Thank you both for your calm expertise and generosity.” Kate

Join us for a fabulous weekend

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The are a very limited number of places on the Cornish Retreat. this time

Only 10 places

are available, so that means plenty of 1:1 time with CL and me.

So I can guarantee you will leave the Sewing Retreat knowing more than you did when you arrived.  

We can’t wait to host the next Retreat, it is going to be wonderful and I can’t wait to see you there.

Jules x

Book your place on The September Sewing Retreat HERE. And the Cornish Retreat in October HERE

What it is a Sewing Retreat?.

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So what’s all the fuss about?

Our Sewing Retreats are a few days to sew, chat, make friends, learn, fit, practice, perfect and just chill. All in beautiful surroundings. Because let’s face it we all need a little bit of time out just for ourselves sometimes and we will certainly provide that for you while you stay with us. As well as help you to improve your sewing and fitting too.

We have looked at various locations for our retreats as, although we have a new large studio just outside the town centre, we need a bit more space with some accommodation on site. So we have been using a few of the larger hotels in and around Stratford to help us run the retreats. The next Retreat in September is in the beautiful Stratford Park Hotel and we shall be sewing in their amazing Barn. It also has it’s own 18 hole par 72 championship golf course. So if you play – bring your clubs!

Stratford Park Hotel and Golf Club

The Stratford Park Hotel has provided us with an excellent sewing studio space in their Barn that we will fully equip with sewing machines, overlockers, cutting tables and pressing stations. But you can choose to bring your own machines if you prefer to work on something more familiar.

The Barn at the Stratford Park Hotel

The few days we have together are a proper Retreat, and that distinction is really important. You can read more about what a retreat is in another of our Blogs.

We are also taking our Retreats on the road to allow more people to join us for a bit of a treat. We have the Cornish Retreat coming up in October and you can read more about that in another blog. We are also planning others around the country too. More news on those later!

We are not prescriptive or restrictive.

One of the special aspects of our Retreats is we are not prescriptive in any way. This means we will not give you a restricted list of specific patterns you can only make on the Retreat. But we will give you an idea of what’s achievable during the time we have.

The wealth of expertise and experience Claire-Louise and I have means you can ask us anything. You can bring any project you are working on for help and advice. Obviously there are particular patterns that are more suited to a Retreat than others. You may want to consider bringing something that you can make up fairly quickly so you have that sense of achievement in getting something finished. Equally feel free to bring along something a bit more complex that you might need help with on particular techniques or the fit, but you’re not worried about finishing.

Making the Clothes you want to wear

Helping YOU make the clothes YOU want to wear.

But really it’s all about helping you to make the clothes you want to wear. If you need help fitting or with specific techniques or processes, you’ll have the time and space to work through any issues or projects with expert help and tuition on hand if you need it. So you may want to nail the fit on that pair of trousers you’ve been wanting to make for ages. Or have a go on an overlocker and whizz up a Bianca coat before working on a couple of other projects. Or perhaps you want some space to cut a few projects out and then decide which to make – the choice is yours!

Take your sewing up to the next level.

There will be help and guidance on the machines when required and also we will be running a  few Masterclass Demonstrations on some key processes we know are the ones people find tricky. If there is something you are really keen to cover, just let us know and we can include it in the Retreat

This Retreat really will give you time to focus and relax.

There will be plenty of tea coffee and cakes to keep you sewing throughout the weekend and a fabulous wholesome and delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner too.

This time around we are introducing a more meditative element to the Retreats and you will be able to take part in a guided contemplation walk in the peaceful and calming countryside or some gentle yoga to help stretch out those tired muscles at the end of a day sewing. Both are purely optional of course but will certainly add to your whole sense of well being over the weekend.

What’s included in the Sewing Retreat….

  • A cuppa and cake on arrival
  • Help to make your sewing plans for the weekend using our sewing planner
  • Use of all the sewing machines, overlockers and equipment from 9am to 6pm over the 3 days of the retreat
  • A chance to visit Sew Me Something to stock up on sewing supplies
  • Expert help and advice on all your sewing projects
  • Expert help and advice on fitting and pattern alterations
  • Masterclass demonstrations
  • All your meals, breakfast lunch and dinner as well as plenty or tea coffee and cakes to keep you going
  • Comfortable bedrooms for three nights
  • Guided contemplation walks and a yoga session each day

I am so excited about what a great weekend this is going to be. Don’t worry if you are thinking of coming on your own you will soon make friends and we will do all we can to look after you and make you welcome.

This is what some of our past Retreat Attendees have said about joining us. . . .

“Very enjoyable. Venue excellent. 
Jules and CL were fantastic. So patient, attentive and professional. As well and warm fun and friendly.
Have left with a pattern block that fits!!
Invaluable! I’m delighted!” Susan

“Great weekend! Learned loads! The trousers I made were great and fit perfectly. I just wish I’d had time to finish the Agnes top too. 
CL and Jules were so calm and knowledgeable – amazing mentors! Thank you for a great weekend.” Ruth

“There was a great atmosphere and the venue was lovely. Excellent support from both Jules and CL, and huge thanks to both. I learnt a lot of techniques which I wanted to learn. Thank you both for your calm expertise and generosity.” Kate

Join us for a fabulous weekend

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We deliberately keep the participant numbers small to make sure that all those that join us get a really good chunk of tutor time if they need it.

So I can guarantee you will leave the Sewing Retreat knowing more than you did when you arrived.  

We can’t wait to host the next Retreat, it is going to be wonderful and I can’t wait to see you there.

Jules x

Book your place on The September Sewing Retreat HERE. And the Cornish Retreat in October HERE

The Sewing Retreat – What it’s all about.

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Our Sewing Retreats are proving to be rather popular, in fact the May Retreat in Stratford upon Avon sold out inside a week.

So what’s all the fuss about?

The weekend is a chance to sew, chat, make friends, learn, fit, practice, perfect and just chill. All in luxury surroundings. Because let’s face it we all need a little bit of pampering sometimes and we can certainly provide some sewing pampering and support here!

We have looked at various locations for our retreats as, although we have a new large studio just outside the town centre, we need a bit more space with some accommodation on site. So we are using a couple of the larger hotels in Stratford to help us run the retreats. Having said that we are also thinking about moving the retreats further North and South to allow more people to join us for a bit of a treat.

The hotels have provided us with an excellent sewing studio space that we will fully equip with sewing machines, overlockers, cutting tables and pressing stations. But you can choose to bring your own machines if you prefer to work on something more familiar.

The Sew Me Something Sewing Retreat

The weekend is a Retreat, and that distinction is really important. You can read more about what a retreat is in another of our Blogs. But really it’s all about helping you to make the clothes you want to wear. If you need help fitting or with specific techniques or processes, you’ll have the time and space to work through any issues or projects with expert help and tuition on hand if you need it. So you may want to nail the fit on that pair of trousers you’ve been wanting to make for ages. Or have a go on an overlocker and whizz up a Bianca coat before working on a couple of other projects. Or perhaps you want some space to cut a few projects out and then decide which to make – the choice is yours!

I know there’s a camera in my face but I’m going to ignore it!

We are not going to give you a list of patterns to work from, but we will give you an idea of what’s achievable during the time we have.

There will be help and guidance on the machines when required and also we will be running a  few Masterclass Demonstrations on some key processes we know are the ones people find tricky.

So this Retreat really will move your sewing up to the next level as well as give you time to focus and relax.

There will be plenty of tea coffee and cakes to keep you sewing throughout the weekend and a gourmet restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner too.

When you’re not sewing you can relax using the hotel facilities including gym, swimming pool, sauna and steam room to ease away any residual sewing tension.

(Yes that is a pun :-))

What’s included in the Sewing Retreat….

  • A cuppa and cake on arrival
  • Help to make your sewing plans for the weekend using our sewing planner
  • Use of all the sewing machines, overlockers and equipment from 9am to 6pm.
  • A chance to visit Sew Me Something to stock up on sewing supplies
  • Expert help and advice on all your sewing projects
  • Expert help and advice on fitting and pattern alterations
  • Masterclass demonstrations
  • Lunch and dinner on Friday
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday
  • Breakfast and lunch on Sunday
  • Comfortable bedrooms for three nights
  • Use of all the hotel facilities including swimming pool, sauna, steam room and gym

To be honest I have tried to create the kind of weekend I would love to go on myself. And you will certainly get plenty of Bang for your Buck during the time you have with us.

This is going to be the Ultimate Sewing Retreat, and I am so excited about what a great weekend this is going to be. Don’t worry if you are thinking of coming on your own you will soon make friends and we will do all we can to look after you and make you welcome.

This is what some of our past Retreat Attendees have said about joining us. . . .

“Very enjoyable. Venue excellent. 
Jules and CL were fantastic. So patient, attentive and professional. As well and warm fun and friendly.
Have left with a pattern block that fits!!
Invaluable! I’m delighted!” Susan

“Great weekend! Learned loads! The trousers I made were great and fit perfectly. I just wish I’d had time to finish the Agnes top too. 
CL and Jules were so calm and knowledgeable – amazing mentors! Thank you for a great weekend.” Ruth

“There was a great atmosphere and the venue was lovely. Excellent support from both Jules and CL, and huge thanks to both. I learnt a lot of techniques which I wanted to learn. Thank you both for your calm expertise and generosity.” Kate

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We deliberately keep the participant numbers small to make sure that all those that join us get a really good chunk of tutor time if they need it.

So I can guarantee you will leave the Sewing Retreat knowing more than you did when you arrived.  

We can’t wait to host the next Retreat, it is going to be wonderful and I can’t wait to see you there.

Book your place on The Sewing Retreat HERE.

See you there! x

The Next Sewing Retreat and What’s Going to be Different

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Now the dust has settled from the last Sewing Retreat we’ve had a good think about what was successful and how we can improve things.

It was another fabulous weekend with some wonderful ladies making things to fit them and that they want to wear. We have already seen some of them back for more workshops too.

 

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Your feedback from the last two retreats has given us food for thought and we have decided to make some changes.

Save the Date for the Next Retreat

7th February – 10th February

Places are limited

 

Firstly we have changed venue. The next retreat in February will be at the glorious Stratford Manor Hotel. This beautiful hotel is just on the edge of Stratford on the Warwick Road, not far from the M40 turn off and a short taxi ride from Stratford upon Avon Station. It has all of the amenities we need including super comfy beds, lots of plug sockets, a pool and spa, where you can choose to book a treatment after a long day on your sewing machine. (It really does pay to do some stretches at the end of the day and a massage will definitely help!) It also has beautiful grounds to explore to get some fresh air and clear your head if you need a bit of headspace too. This is a RETREAT after all.

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We have also included an extra night at the hotel. Several of our past Retreaters did indeed arrive a day early and most others said how useful this would be; to be able to travel at leisure and be ready to start the next day.

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So for the next retreat in February you can arrive anytime you like on Thursday and check in Thursday evening. You can book dinner at the hotel separately or even go for a bit of a wander around Stratford upon Avon. If you’ve chosen to bring your own sewing machine you can unload everything and set up ready to start afresh on Friday morning.

 

Bit of planning was one of the things that cropped up after reviewing the chats we’ve had with the previous Retreaters, deciding what projects to make beforehand will really help you get more out of the weekend. So we will be letting you know what you should be able to achieve during the time we have and suggesting some patterns or projects you may like to consider. It’s better to have a couple of smaller quick and easy makes as well as something more meaty. We will be sending you out some handy checklists and ‘things to think about’ before you arrive to help you get the most out of the time we have together.

 

We have also decided to include some designated tutorial spots. Where we can demonstrate specific techniques and show you how to sew particular processes. Over the last two retreats there have been several people working on similar projects that needed support on the same things, like concealed zips or particular fitting techniques. So it makes sense to be able to cover those as a whole group, or even two smaller groups, at specific times over the weekend. That way you will be equipped to tackle more independently, but know we are there to help if you need us. You can let us know in advance if there is something you would like us to cover.

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And lastly but I think most importantly we have decide to reduce the numbers. Now there are only 12 places. This means you will have much more 1:1 time with both of us and we will all feel part of a whole group of lovely individuals who are just nuts about sewing and creating a handmade wardrobe of clothes we really want to wear.

This, I feel, is really what the weekend is all about. It’s a bit of time away from everything else spent with people who get what sewing your own clothes means to us as individuals. It is a retreat from the world , albeit temporarily, and a bit more than just a workshop.

We do appreciate there is a cost attached to this weekend so we have made it easier to pay in installments. A deposit of £220 will secure you place and then two further payments will cover the balance.

Book Your Place NOW!

So you can come and join us for a wonderful weekend where you will improve your sewing, and that’s guaranteed!

Remember there are only 12 places and we have a waiting list from the last one too. So book early to make sure you can join us.

See you soon.

Jules x

 

Why a Retreat is All or Nothing

Sewing Retreat Feb 2018 Web Images-0020I have been asked, more than once, regarding our own Sewing Retreat if people “could just come along for the sewing bit without the accommodation or meals?”.

Maybe they live too close to Stratford to warrant staying somewhere else, or would prefer to not to stay overnight, whatever the reason it’s a perfectly valid question. And I could say ‘yes come and join us”.

But that would be missing the point. This weekend is a retreat, albeit a sewing retreat, but a retreat nonetheless.

Retreats, regardless of whether it happens to be a sewing retreat, a yoga retreat or even a religious retreat, are different from a normal workshop environment. Everyone is together for the duration of the retreat and separate from their normal lives.

The word retreat is derived from the Latin verb retractus which means –  “to pull back”.

So a retreat is a place where you pull back from the world.

This is perhaps the main reason for going on a retreat.

But here are 10 reason why I think retreats are important and different to normal workshops.

They help you to:

  1.   Pull Back

This is a strategic retreat. Almost in a military sense, and sometimes, as with all military campaigns a strategic withdrawal gives us time to reassess.

Pulling back from life allows us the time and space to gain a new perspective, you can re-group, and re-energise.

Gather your forces and refocus your energy onto something you love. You can find new inspiration and then put that into action.

Just getting away from it all; life, work, families, gives you the time you need to focus on what inspires you.

 

  1.   Find Space

Space can mean time. Time away from all the constraints and interruptions we face on a daily basis.

A whole block of time, not just dipping your toe into a bit of ‘me time’, but a whole chunk of free time to yourself.

More time than you would spend in a normal workshop.

Time to fully immerse yourself in what you are doing.

You might find that you need a bit of clear head space to work out why things aren’t working a well as you’d hoped. What alterations you need to do to a specific pattern for example.

Or you may literally need space to cut out fabric for certain projects.

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  1.  Be Inspired

Having that head space allows you the freedom to focus on what excites and inspires you.

We are all creative in our own ways and finding the time and space away from everything else allows you to alter your thinking and find new ways to reignite those sparks of creativity.

Spending time with other people who love doing what you do and seeing what they  make can install a renewed vigour into your own sewing too.

 

  1.  Listen

What do you hear? Hopefully you can hear yourself at last above the hubbub of daily life.

What do you enjoy doing, making, reading? On a retreat there will be others willing to listen to you too.

You may even find others worth listening to. And their stories may enlighten and inspire you in your own sewing practice.

 

  1.  Detox

Everyone needs to unload, clean out and empty their mental desktop.

You will leave a retreat lightened, clearer, recharged, refreshed, and better equipped to deal with any sewing or fitting issues that crops up.

Because you will have a new perspective on how to deal with the problems you arrived with.

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  1. Lose The Fear

So many times I have heard people say “Oh I don’t make anything with zips in” or “I avoid buttonholes”.  

Being fearful of trying something outside your comfort zone is perfectly normal.

But being in the safe and supportive environment of a retreat with expert tuition will allow you to learn to overcome those fears through practicing and making mistakes.

It’s only sewing! Make friends with your unpicker.

 

  1.  Remember Who You Are

In our daily life we are so many things to so many people, wife, husband, parent, child, friend, lover.

We need to be reminded that we are also individuals.

You can ditch all the other roles you have and just focus on being a better dressmaker, sewist or sewer. What ever you prefer to describe yourself as.

 

  1. Find your Tribe

We are all the same yet all different too.

On a retreat you will meet people who, like you, find joy in creating sewn projects.

You don’t have to justify your stash of fabric or vintage patterns. The seriousness of which is taken as a given.

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  1. Help others

When you take time away from your life, those in your life get time away from you too.

This brings appreciation. They realize what it’s like when you’re not around, to work, cook, clean, love them.

Without you taking up your usual place, people will shift their roles to fill that space and life takes on a new shape. Life is actually different when you return and you are free to take up a new space within it.

This is growth.

 

  1. Establish a Routine

Trying to find time to sew in an already busy daily schedule can be very hard. If you have a space at home to leave everything out and setup it’s much easier, but if you don’t making time and space can be nigh on impossible.

Listening and learning from others will help you understand how you can fit time into your own life back at home.

Establishing ways of working on a retreat is much easier as you are encouraged by the example of others.

You go back home and re-establish your life in a new way to accommodate your sewing.

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Retreats are important because people have time to spend on themselves and leave rested, happier, clearer and having learnt new skills and techniques.

Who doesn’t want some of that?

You can join us on our next Sewing Retreat in August