Retreat Memories

I’ve always loved going to retreats – for a variety of reasons.  There are some obvious things to mention that I like about retreats – meeting new people, seeing old friends return, and getting to do something that is different from my daily routine.  Those are all things to enjoy, and I think most people who attend the retreats would consider them accurate.

But there’s also a certain something that’s hard to define that sets an event like this apart.  For lack of a better way to describe it, I’ll call it energy although that’s not quite right.  It’s the excitement of being with other creative minds, working toward a common goal, and letting the ideas and suggestions flow.  It’s sharing knowledge with someone new to the craft, and listening to stories from a veteran crafter that remind you of your own adventures in quilting.  It’s laughter as we are all able to put the cares of a regular day behind us – no one is going to be able to come into this ‘secret sewing place’ to bug you.  And there is freedom as well, in knowing that you won’t get interrupted by the TV, the dog, or ANY of your family members who need you.  There’s also the joy of knowing that your needs will be met, you don’t have to stop to cook – someone else will do that, you don’t have to clean the dishes, again that’s for someone else to do, okay we do have to clean our fabric messes up!  So – we’ll call it energy but know that it is so much more….

I took some pictures of the retreat at Hebron – to show everyone what I mean.   But, I have to admit, there weren’t very many pictures taken.  (I was having too much fun and forgot to get out the camera!)  Perhaps I’ll have some more pictures after the retreats this fall.

Sewing Time

Sewing Time

Here you see a shot of a quiet time at the retreat, everyone is at their sewing machines – and look!  Not only is there plenty of room to work in, but we didn’t have to clean the kid’s homework off the table before we got started!



It works!  Here’s a shot of a block going together and starting to reveal it’s secrets.  We were working on kaleidoscope blocks in this retreat, so it was a real treat as we started to see the pattern evolve.  In the background you can see the fat quarters that were available for purchase for those who needed a little something ‘extra’ for their quilt.

Finished Blocks

Finished Blocks

We all felt that WOW! of accomplishment as we finished our blocks.  And as you can see here, the smiles were big and bright!

As I said before – I’ll try to get some more pictures this fall, but if you have attended one of my retreats in the past and have pictures to share, feel free to email to me and I’ll get them posted.  Just remember, if any of your fellow retreat participants are in the picture, we have to have their permission to post it!
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing

FREE Pattern – Easter Placemat #2

Well it’s March, spring is coming (or so we are told, but I know that’s hard to believe in some parts of the country), and Easter is just around the corner. You all seemed to enjoy my Easter placemats with the fabric yo-yos so much, that I thought you might like a different idea to use this Easter.

Easter often means family, and plenty of young children. And what do young children mean? Messes!
Here are some placemats that the kids will love to use, and that will help you contain the mess. The silverware pocket will be a fun added element for the small ones, who can help to set their own place at the table. You may even continue to use these throughout the spring!

Easter Placemats

Materials (will yield set of four placemats):

  • 2/3 yds – center fabric (bunny print)
  • 1 fat quarter – accent fabric one (green polka dot)
  • 1 fat quarter – accent fabric two (yellow stripe)
  • 1/8 yd – muslin (to make bunny faces)
  • 1/8 yd – green fabric (carrot stems)
  • ¼ yd – orange fabric (carrots)
  • 1 yd – fusible web
  • 1 yd – fabric backing
  • 1 yd – batting
  • Optional: Scrap pink fabric (inside ears), Scrap black fabric (eyes and nose)

As usual with any project where you are uncertain of the fabric contents, wash and dry all of your fabrics before you get started – this will help prevent shrinkage later on.


For each of the four placemats you will need, 11”x 13” piece of center fabric (bunny print), 4½” x 13” piece of each of the two accent fabrics (green polka dot and yellow stripe).
These three pieces are sewn together using a ¼” seam allowance, the accent fabrics are on either side of the center fabric.  Note: If you want, you could use a single accent fabric – and sew it on either side of the center fabric.

You will also need to cut two bunny faces, one carrot top, and two carrots for each placemat. Please see the attached pattern for the bunny faces and carrots.  Pattern Link & Placemat Line Drawing

Draw the carrot top and bunny faces onto the paper backing of your fusible webbing, then attach to the appropriate fabric (muslin for bunnies and green for carrot top), before cutting the fabric to size.

For carrots, draw the shape directly onto your orange fabric, and stack two pieces of fabric with right sides together. You will sew the two carrot pieces together all the way around the shape, then cut a slit in the center of one carrot, trim the excess fabric away (leaving 1/8” all the way around), and turn the piece right side out. This will finish the edges of the carrot and make it very slightly 3-D in appearance.

Fuse bunny faces and carrot tops to the placemats, using the instructions for your fusible webbing. Then stitch around each element with black embroidery thread in a decorative blanket stitch. Stitch the carrots onto the placemat backing in the same manner – except for the TOP of the carrot. Leave the top of the carrot open to make this into a pocket for silverware. Note: to complete the look of this, I blanket-stitched that area too, but did not sew through to the back of the placemat – just through the carrot.
You might be tempted to skip the blanket stitch and just sew down the appliqué pieces with your sewing machine – but looking at this picture, you can see how much the blanket stitch really finishes this project off.

Complete the accents for the bunnies with fabric (pink for inside ears and a small bit of black fabric for eyes and nose) or you can embroider these elements on. I used a small bit of fabric paint to add blush to the bunnies’ cheeks. You could use buttons for the eyes and nose if you wanted (and don’t mind a slightly lumpy placemat). Another fun idea would be to add a bow-tie to one bunny, and a bow on the ear of the other (Mr. & Mrs. Bunny). After finishing this project, it occurred to me that a green napkin would make a great carrot top! What other personal touches come to your mind?


After you have finished all your appliqué and embellishments, it’s time to finish off the project – with batting, backing and binding. I used the same fabric as the center of my placemat as the binding, but if you wanted to use a coordinating purchased binding that would be fine as well.

How Fun!

How Fun!

Have fun with this, and if you make one, send me a picture – I love showing different ideas for the same project!
Sheila Reinke, Heart of Sewing