Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to participate in a Quiltworx Retreat on Flathead Lake, Montana, near Kalispell. It was a relaxing week with lots of instruction, lots of food and lots of sewing.
The Quiltworx tag line is “Teaching the world to paper piece”. Judy Niemeyer, creator and owner of Quiltworx, has made a lifelong career of designing and selling intricate and beautiful paper pieced quilt patterns. Many quilters have used her patterns to develop award winning competition quilt designs. Now, you can also attend a retreat led by her in a home developed specifically for teaching a retreat group in her techniques.
As a passionate traveler, the location of the Quiltworx company and retreat location on Flatheat Lake, near Kalispell, Montana, is, in my opinion, one of its greatest assets. Kalispell is a half hour outside the entrance to Glacier National Park and is also the closest airport gateway to both the National Park and to Quiltworx.
The retreat house is a big home that has been converted specifically for quilting retreats. There are four bedrooms that accommodate up to ten people in single beds. If you are not attending with someone you know, then you will need to be comfortable sharing a bedroom with a complete stranger, as well as sharing the three bathrooms with others.
The whole house is decorated with many examples of Quiltworx quilts – on all the beds, on the walls, and on display in the common living and dining area. They are a great inspiration for various color schemes as well as providing marketing samples for purchasing more patterns.
The sewing area on the lowest level is large and well equipped to house 10-12 students. Most ladies brought their own sewing machines though you can rent one for the week if you want. At the class I attended, the level of previous experience with Judy’s patterns ranged from none to having previously completed many designs already. Regardless of the level of expertise, Judy spent four mornings with the group, providing detailed instructions on her specific techniques and tips needed to make the intricate Quiltworx patterns. In the afternoons, one of her certified instructors was present and available for help and provide more instruction as needed. The last day of the retreat was a free sew day, or sightseeing day if you so chose.
All the meals during the class were included and were catered in. The food was good and there was a lot of it. Water and tea were always available and also included, but sodas, beer and wine were not and were paid for on the honor system.
There was a lot of sew time each day, but if you needed a break, a few shopping excursions were also scheduled. Kalispell supports two independent and unique quilt shops: The Quilt Gallery and Glacier Quilts. Both shops are well stocked with the Judy Niemeyer patterns, with her fabric lines as well as with a very wide selection of other fabrics and patterns. There was also a Quiltworx shopping opportunity where you could purchase their patterns from their warehouse at a discount. The week started with a trunk show, showcasing many quilts with the latest Quiltworx patterns and fabrics which was a great inspiration for future projects.
After the quilt class I spent a few days in nearby Glacier National Park and Waterton National Park. Then, because I had to make a flight connection in Seattle, I also spent some time sightseeing in the Seattle area as well. Being able to combine the quilt class with such great travel experiences really made for a fantastic vacation.
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