My Wish List of Unique Quilting Classes, Quilting Workshops, Quilting Retreats and Quilting Holidays to Inspire Your Next Creative Adventure

Over the years, I have amassed a wish list of quilting classes, quilting workshops, quilting retreats and quilting holidays that combine both great instruction and inspiring destinations.

my list of quilitng classes, quilting retreats, quilting workshops and quilting holidays

Last Updated on 01/04/23 by Rose Palmer

For me, attending a quilting class or workshop is as much about the location as it is about the quality of the quilting instruction – it has to have both.

I have been fortunate to be able to attend a few of the programs on my list below. This list keeps growing though as I discover even more interesting options. Looks like there will have to be more traveling and quilting in my future.

My List of Quilting Classes, Quilting Retreats, Quilting Workshops and Quilting Holidays

Alegre Retreat – Gateway, Colorado

If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at making an art quilt, this is the right program to learn. Once a year, for five class days, the Gateways Canyon Resort hosts renowned fiber artist instructors that will help to bring out your best creativity. Surrounded by the impressive red rock geology of western Colorado while staying in a luxurious comfort, the setting will be surely inspire as well as relax.

Arena Travel Stitchtopia Craft Holidays – locations throughout Europe

British tour company Arena Travel offers a variety of craft and textile oriented tours through their Stitchtopia Craft Holidays, including patchwork and quilting oriented itineraries in Europe and beyond.

Their itiniraries to exotic destinations like Morocco, Prague, and Uzbekistan combine ample quilting instruction from well known designers with local sightseeing tours and premium accommodations. Use of Bernina sewing machines is included which means you don’t have to haul yours around the globe. This quilting holiday  is definitely on my “soon to do” wish list.

Empty Spools Seminars – Pacific Grove, California

For five sessions from Feb through April, Empty Spools Seminars brings in top quilting industry instructors to the Asilomar conference center located on the Monterey Peninsula in California. During each six day session, a dozen teachers provide classes and presentations in a variety of techniques  that span traditional quilting, paper piecing, art quilts and much more. I loved my experience with Empty Spools Seminars and look forward to attending again. Accommodations are in historic Arts and Crafts buildings from the early 20th century and the delicious meals use local and seasonal ingredients. And best of all, you are only steps away from gorgeous Pacific Ocean beach sunsets.

Asilomar State Beach sunset
Pacific Ocean sunset views from the Asilomar State Beach

Gee’s Bend Quilting Retreats  – Canton, Mississippi

If you’ve admired the unique quilts produced by the generations of women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, you can take a class with two of them and make your own Gee’s Bend inspired quilt. The 5 day program includes instruction, lodging and all meals. Quilting retreats are offered numerous times throughout the year.

Hudson River Valley Art Workshops – Greenville, New York

Both the fiber arts workshops and the included lodging are in the Greenville Arms 1889 Inn, situated on 6 acres of idyllic and inspirational grounds in the Hudson Valley of New York state. Most rooms feature unique quilts which will also be sure to inspire. Workshops here lean more toward the art quilt category as befits a setting that has been welcoming and instructing artists since 1982.

Madeline Island School of the Arts – Madeline Island, Wisconsin  and Tucson, Arizona

The Madeline Island School of the Arts is considered to be one of the top 5 arts and crafts schools in the US and offers writing, painting, and photography classes along with quilting classes. During the summer months, the programs take place in northern Wisconsin on Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior.

Accommodations and studio buildings have been custom designed with these workshops in mind. During the winter months, the programs are offered at the highly rated Tanque Verde Ranch in Arizona, just outside of Saguaro National Park. Quilting classes range from the the newest techniques for art quilts to paper piecing to new approaches for traditional piecing.

Mercersburg Inn Bed and Breakfast – Mercersburg, Pennsylvania

Quilting retreats at the Mercersburg Inn are the perfect mix of wonderful accommodations, delicious meals and a relaxing quilting environment. A number of times throughout the year you can choose to attend  a variety of quilting classes that focus on one quilt pattern.

Each of the rooms in this historic restored Georgian Mansion is beautifully appointed with luxurious linens and featherbeds. Meals are served in the on site restaurant and offer a delicious seasonally inspired menu. I loved my experience here a few years ago when I attended a class to make a blooming nine patch quilt design. I am looking forward to going back again soon.

My luxuriously appointed room at the Mercersburg Inn

Missouri Star Quilt company – Hamilton, Missouri

Missouri Star Quilt company is well known for its founder Jenny Doan and her quilt pattern you tube videos. The company has expanded to also included quilting retreats at their designated Retreat Center in Hamilton, Missouri. A large number and variety of classes are offered all year, including longarm quilting instruction. The program includes shared dormitory style accommodations at the retreat center and all meals.

National Quilt Museum – Paducah, Kentucky

There is no better place to be inspired when it comes to quilting than the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky. Besides the many beautiful quilts that the museum preserves and exhibits, its mission is to also educate. You will find a variety of programs for both adults and youths of all ages scheduled throughout the year, taught by some of the best quilt artists in the industry.

Paducah has also been designated a UNESCO Creativity City which I visited a few years ago for the annual AQS Quilt Week. You can read my story about my pilgrimage to Paducah.

A quilt display at the National Quilt Museum

Patchwork and Quilting Holiday, Gartmore House – Gartmore, Scotland

Quilting classes in a historic 18th century manor house located in the midst of a national park in Scotland – yes please! The Gartmore House offers many different types of crafting classes including patchwork and quilting programs.

The fee includes 5 nights accomodations and all meals. You can choose to do one of the projects offered or bring your own UFOs or works in progress. Sewing machines are available for rent if you do not want to bring your own. This one is definitely on my “soon to do” wish list.

Quilting by the Lake  – Syracuse, New York

Over the course of two weeks, Quilting by the Lake offers 2,3 or 5 day classes that are sure to inspire your fiber art creativity. Internationally renowned textile artist from all over the globe guide students through a variety of artistic exercises and creative design processes that should leave all quilters feeling much more confident about producing an art quilt.

Quilting in Vermont – Stron House Inn, Vergennes, Vermont

The Strong House Inn is a lovely Bed and Breakfast that offers a diverse array of quilting retreats and classes all year. You can take a course to make a specific quilt pattern or take advantage of one of their “Bring Your Own Project” retreats.

Quilting on the Beach – Hawaii

Quilting in Hawaii – what could be better. For six days each year you can attend a quilting retreat in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. The program offers flexibility so you can choose which quilting class to take part in each day. All this and beach time with palm trees and warm ocean breezes. I will surely want to attend next winter.

Quilt Seminars at Sea – quilting cruise

Quilting while cruising combines the best of both worlds. Quilt Seminars at Sea offer ocean and river cruises to destinations all over the globe. Their programs center around quilting workshops during free time on the ships, allowing plenty of time for sightseeing while in port.

Quilting cruises to Alaska are very popular, as is quilting in Alaska. Each of the main cruise ship ports in Alaska have great quilt shops to explore.

Alaska cruise into Glacier Bay National Park
Alaska cruise into Glacier Bay National Park

Quiltworx – Kalispell, Montana

If you are a fan of Judy Niemeyer’s intricate paper pieced patterns, you can learn from the master herself while attending a Quiltworx retreat at the company’s training center and headquarters in Kalispell, Montana. There you’ll also be less than an hour away from the eastern entrance of Glacier National Park, one of the most beautiful national parks in the US.

As I discovered on my Quiltworx retreat, this was also a chance to get a glimpse of the design and production process involved in producing a signature Quiltworx pattern.

Taking a Quiltworx quilting class
One of the many Quiltworx quilt designs I saw at the trunk show that was part of the Quiltworx retreat

Shipshewana Quilt Retreat  – Shipshewana, Indiana

Four times throughout the year, you have a chance to get away for a very long weekend of quilting in the heart of Amish country in Shipshewana, Indian. Retreats are scheduled each year in February, April, August and November and give you five days of sewing time from Wednesday through Sunday.

The retreat’s focus is primarily on sewing time for your own projects, but a few times a year they also bring in well known instructors who offer classes. If you are visiting the area in the summer, be sure to also check out the Quilt Gardens in Elkhart, Indiana like I did.

Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show – Sisters, Oregon

The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show may only last one day, but there are a week of classes and other programs that take place beforehand. A cadre of the industry’s best instructors offer classes that span many quilting techniques. This is a great way to experience beautiful central Oregon while building up the anticipation for this unique outdoor quilt show. If you are planning a visit, make sure to also read about my tips for visiting the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.

Putting up some of the quilts at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show

Other options for quilting classes, retreats and workshops:

  • Local quilting guilds often schedule retreats for their members
  • Most of the major quilt shows also include classes and workshops
  • Most quilt shops also offer classes and some also organize retreats
  • Look at your favorite professional quilter’s and quilt instructor’s website to see where she/he will be teaching in the upcoming year

If you know of other great quilting programs that I should include on this list, I would love to hear from you. Please e-mail me at


Other quilting related stories you may enjoy:

What it was like to take a quilting class with Kaffee Fassett: Making a Kaffee Fassett Quilt: Taking a Class With the Master of Glorious Color

Expereince the story behind the quilt barn trail outside of Portland, Oregon: Legacy, History, and Community connect on the Tualatin Valley Quilt Barn Trail

Use this inspiration for making your quilt backs interesting: 18 Ideas for a Unique Pieced Quilt Back


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