Tuesday, 5 June 2012

frantically pressing rewind

The Fat Quarterly London retreat was just over year in planning. It was hard work (especially for Tacha who did the bulk of the organising), and I was convinced that 5 complete nobodies (that's us) with no experience of event planning (I didn't even have a proper wedding), who just fancied hanging out with a heap of other people that they spoke to on the interweb would end up making a right Royal mess of it (see my nod to the Jubilee weekend coincidence? Clever, huh?).

calm before the storm
(the main hall before the crowds arrived - it looks like a lecture hall!)

I was entirely convinced that something would go wrong, that something really major had been forgotten, or wouldn't happen (like the sewing machines not turning up, or the electric blowing because of all the machines being used at once).

suspicious people


I was also even more convinced nobody would have fun - and that was my biggest fear, that after a year of stressing amongst ourselves and promising nobody gets left out, nobody gets left behind (Like in Lilo and Stitch) there would be clearly defined and separated groups that had no intention of mixing. I had nightmares about it, sleepless nights and actual palpitations from panicking that we weren't good enough to do this, and we were idiots for even trying.

the winning iron woman team

I'm so glad I was wrong. Not even a little bit wrong, but so far from the truth it's like the North and South pole.
Firstly - everyone looked amazingly happy, and there was laughter constantly and squealing and excited chatter and huge grinning faces that you can't fake
Secondly - everyone told me how much fun they were having, and could we do it again next year (yes we can)
Thirdly - I completely underestimated how much we, as the FQ team, would enjoy ourselves. I think we all did.

jelly roll racers

As a group this was the first time we were all together in one room - that's the main official 5 of Tacha, Brioni, John, Lynne and me, but also our additional unofficial members of Lucie and Mandy. Last year Tach, Brioni, and me went to festival of quilts, alongside Mandy and Lucie. We had a hella good time. For the past 4 quilt markets at least 3 of us have been, and we have had even more hella good times. I didn't think we could actually top those good times with times that are so good they go off the scale of enjoyment. I can't even tell you how much off the scale hella good time enjoyment we had. The only way I can probably explain is this - I don't get emotional, I am not a crier (apart from about animals that are hurt or children that are sick), but I ended up being the first to cry after everyone had gone and we were packing away, and starting everyone else off, and I couldn't stop. I was doing the big gaspy sobs (like a child does) and snotting everywhere. It's not a good sight. Thankfully there are no photos.

perfect purses

This weekend was the most amazing experience I have ever had. I'm not exaggerating - I didn't realise what an amazing group of followers and supporters we have. I didn't realise what this event meant to people, and how unique it was in the UK scene. I didn't think we were capable of it, I didn't think it would be as successful. But, wow - I was wrong.

Hadley made me a tiny constellation block

So thank you, to everyone that came, that spent their money to attend something we had organised. Without you this would have been nothing, and for that we are humbled, we are grateful and we feel honoured to be part of your community.

iron woman quilts display

You really are the best.

Liberty Lifestyle fabrics came to hang out

I also need to thank our sponsors - Moda, Robert Kaufman, Aurifil, Oakshott, Abakhan and Korbond for help with filling the goodie bags. Sizzix for coming and demonstrating their products, Liberty Lifestyle Fabrics for hanging out and donating a gorgeous liberty print bag and fabrics to everyone to use, and Tom from Pfaff for dropping off and collecting 20 sewing machines for us to use. Another huge thank you to the staff at Baden Powell House conference centre, who were just brilliant and so helpful and happy the whole time. I also must thank everyone that has paid for an ad in the retreat special issue (out soon!) which is the first time we will have had adverts in an issue of our e-zine, but because of these ads we were able to keep ticket prices right down to an absolute minimum (something we were all very conscious of doing).

Roll on next year! I can't wait to do it all over again!








61 comments:

Judith, Belfast said...

We had complete faith in you guys! Awesome w/e, and if there isn't another one in 2013, I'll be sending the heavies round! Be v.proud. Jxo

Rachel said...

It was fabulous, Katy, I'm just sad I couldn't stay for the Sunday. I'm already saving my pennies so that I can come for the whole weekend next year!
R x

Lynne (Lily's Quilts) said...

OMG what a fabulous post. I'm holding it together this morning but this might get me snotting again

ScissorsandThread said...

It was a fabulous weekend, really loved it and can't wait for next year.

Laura Taylor said...

YOU really are the best xxx

Reene@Nellie's Niceties said...

Reading this made me tearful and I wasn't there! You lot are fab and none of you seem to realise just how amazing you are. Can't wait to meet you all in person :-)

Sarah Pings said...

Kudos. Karma.

Justine said...

Oh Lord I'm bawling again. It was the best weekend ever. FQ gang are the best. Period.

Flying Blind... said...

Touché - sobbing alert!!
Get you back later xxx

Collette said...

I wasn't there and I feel tearful ! lol great photos and so glad that it surpassed all your expectations and that all your worries were unfounded! Exceptional organisation and I really must attend next year for sure.

Spoolhardy Girl said...

I so enjoyed reading all the tweets and seeing all the pictures of this amazing event. It gets me SO excited for Sewing Summit I can't even tell you! Congratulations, FQ kids! Job WELL WELL done!

Nicole Follow the White Bunny said...

It was perfect: the venue, the classes, all the people there. Most of all I loved the relaxed atmosphere and chatting to people. You all did a great job!

Lorraine said...

Sounds incredible Katy , well done all of you .... Oz next ....??

Cass said...

Sounds fantastic, I'm looking forward to our Sew It Together annual get together this weekend.

Kathie said...

Congratulations to you all, you really deserve it. Couldn't make this year but hope to be there next year.

trash said...

Damn! If I had stayed longer I could hv taken the snotting photographs ;-D

verykerryberry said...

It was so much more than anyone imagined it could beI felt so proud to be a little part of it and to be able to teach and take part. Blogging and sewing can be so solitary, even isolating, but at the retreat everyone was part of a greater whole.

Allegory said...

Watching the photos and everything unfold on Twitter, I want to go so very badly next year. Must convince the Mister that a Retreat across the ocean isn't "too far to travel"

Isisjem said...

Brill post. I didn't get to go to the retreat this year but I'm excited to hear that yes you'll be doing it again next year. I also can't wait to go buy the retreat issue of FQ.

Dorothee said...

I would love to attend next year's retreat. Keeping my eyes peeled for the date and hoping that I will be available!

grendelskin said...

So glad it all went beautifully, I thought it would! You guys ROCK.

Liz DandeliondD said...

So glad it went so well. I'm gutted I didn't make it because I got ill but very happy to see I will get a second chance next year.
xxxx

Archie the wonder dog said...

I think you've seriously underestimated just how talented (and how loved and admired) all you FQly people are - I think we'd follow you anywhere! It's so lovely to be a part of such a great community - it doesn't matter that I've never met any of you (I feel as though I have!) and I think of you as friends I sew with and the support, camaraderie, welcoming friendly faces/comments to newcomers and generosity that is shared by our community is a truly remarkable thing. Thank you, all of you...I feel blessed to know you xx

Now, go and put your feet up, you must be exhausted!

Sue Bone said...

I can't wait for the e-zine so I can make your purse. It was so difficult to choose just four classes.

Leanne said...

Truly, it was a most excellent time, thank you!

Shevvy said...

Thank you thank you thank you. Being in such a wonderful group of like minded people was really fantastic.

Claire Jain said...

It sounds like it was a magical success! Congratulations :-)

Lizzie Allen said...

Thanks for making me cry again!!! Fab w/e.
Ps I will send you a piccie or 2 of my quilt when it's done just to shut you up :-P

diane said...

what a beautiful, heartfelt post. There has not been one criticism of this fabulous event...oh except that I was not there, but next year , look out! I'll be there!

Judith said...

Next time have a little bit more faith Katy ! You guys did a great job and i loved every moment of it.

Blueberry Park said...

well i'm glad i'm not having to organise our event again next year, but delighted to be able to attend yours...PG...Please g-d, as my Grandma would say ;-)

Catherine said...

The FQ team put in so much hard work - added with the fact that you are all immensley talented and lovely, thats why it was so succesful. I had such a great time and can't wait for next year

Sarah Watson said...

Oh my gosh those pictures are greeeat! I love the coin purses! Looks like a great time. Would have been a good excuse for a trip!

The Sewing Directory said...

It was brilliant Katy, you guys did such a good job. Sorry me and Jenna were so busy gossiping we didn't finish our purses. I think next year you need to have a day for just gossiping then a day of teaching lol.

Very excited to hear there will be another one. Will start saving for the hotel now so I can stay over and have more than just a few hours next time :-)

Annabella said...

Oh so wish I sould have been there...next year perhaps. Everyone has said how amazing it was.

Clare said...

I really really hope I can make it next year. If I start planning now and combine it with a family visit I may be able to.

lu summers said...

ohhhhh....next retreat you HAVE to have sponsorship from mooncup.com!

Nanette Merrill said...

I read every word. I've been wondering how this went and sad I'm not a traveler and would never dream of going that far for anything. I'm so happy for you that it all worked out and worked out SSEWWW WELLL! Good times. I'm sure.

Cherie said...

That's so awesome it was a huge success. It's been fun actually seeing all the updates and how each person felt about the experience.
I'll be waiting patiently for next years to be announced. Forget my parents I'll be coming!! =D

I'm having a giveaway on my blog. Feel free to stop by and enter (if you haven't already) =D
http://ibescheraldine.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/official-150th-post-giveaway.html

Amys Crafty Shenanigans said...

I had no idea this was the first retreat you guys had organised - wow!! My previous job was a Product & Events Coordinator and I used to organise weekend conferences/events for 150-250 people and I must say that you guys DID A FANTASTIC JOB!!! Every detail was amazing and it was structured but casual - it was simply amazing!! And yes, jelly bean pouch pockets and boobie chocolate tunic will return next year, or maybe something new? ;)

{Pink Stitches} said...

Fantastic photos and thanks for an amazing weekend!! Definitely going to have a go at those frame purses - was very jealous all weekend!
Looking forward to next year!!

susan said...

You guys did a stellar job. We all would not have had such a good time if you hadn't set the tone for the weekend. Many, many thanks!

Julie @ Jaybird Quilts said...

save me a spot for next year. it's time i come visit you! :-)

rashida said...

Oh wow, it looked like you all had such a great time! I'm so happy that it all came together so nicely!!

Katy Cameron said...

A fab time was had by all, well done on pulling it all together, you all looked terribly posed and professional (well, most of the time ;o) ) Next year, dairy free snacks, promise!

Pétra said...

I am so glad you had such a great time and successful event I am sure next year's will be even better. I can't wait to see you at Sewing Summit!

CathyK said...

I am so glad that things went well! It is so hard to put an event on...so many fears creep into the brain!!! Obviously your fears were unfounded! Good job!

Anita said...

Great post and I guess there was a lot of crying going on by a lot of people :) Love the coin purses, can you tell me what pattern it is? Thanks for sharing your great experience, which I wasn't across the water :)

Run Quilt Knit Write said...

It was just BRILLIANT Katy - I loved every minute of it!!! (And will definitely be back for more!) Your class was excellent (if a bit short) - and thank you so much for letting me stalk you till the purse was finished! All in the all a big pat on the back and a large glass of champagne are called for I think. You all really excelled yourselves - you have no idea how much!!

Dianne Neale said...

God I thought I was a worrier. We had a brilliant time and you all were sooooo clever for sorting it all out. Thanks again (for the nth time!)

Live a Colorful Life said...

It sounds amazing! My best friend and I have been talking about a trip to the UK. Maybe we should plan it around the next FQR!

bearpaw said...

I can't believe you were nervous about it - that never came across and it all went with out a hitch! I had such a lovely time, when I got back to my best friends house and told her all about it and showed her what I had made and all the cool stuff I got she decided she would come with me next year! So I think you will have twice as many people wanting to come! It was great to meet you, thanks so much for all your hard work and really looking forward to seeing you all again next summer. xx

Laura said...

Sounds amazing. In fact, we won't even try to pull off an aussie version down under. We'll stick with sewing themed cocktails in Bali.

Paloma said...

I wonder if you even will get to read my comment, any way: a big congrats to you and your friends. Looks like you did a great job!! I wish I was able to attend the retreat too, hopefully I'll get to meet you all someday. A big hug to you!!

amy smart said...

Awww. Hooray! Congrats! What a fabulous post. I'm SO happy that it went so well. You are all the bomb. Did the Queen drop by? Because clearly this was the best part of the whole Jubilee weekend, was it not??

tusen said...

Congratulations! I knew it would be great. My one big regret is that I couldn't be there, but next time, I hope.
And it the meantime I enjoy reading all the retreat posts so much.

Lynne (Lily's Quilts) said...

just re-read this and blubbing all over again

Nicky said...

To say we had a great time is an understatement! I just want that community to keep rolling on - it was that which made it such a great event and you set that tone early on John!

Can't wait for next year! Will have to though...I may have done 100 purses by then Katy - love them!

Deborah said...

When you said you teared up and got all snotty crier-y, then *I* started to tear up and get that tingly feeling around my eyes, and I didn't even go!! Next year, I will be the very first in line--it was my husband's birthday that weekend, and we thought we'd go together and he could do London while I did sewing, but then he had another commitment and...well, you know how that goes. But on the Sat of the retreat, when you were all tweeting and I was all sigh-ing, he looked at me and said, "We made the wrong choice. You totally should have gone. That was dumb." And it was: dumb. Next year--for sure!! So glad it was an amazing time, so glad your fears were unfounded (but not surprised, I knew it would rock), and SO glad you're planning to do it again!! Yayyyy!

Tacha said...

bugger - now I'm crying again.

MulticoloredPieces said...

Just like to congratulate you for the event--I've read about it in numerous other blogs--all express great joy! I want to come next year and meet everybody!
best from Tunisia,
nadia

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