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?).
(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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You really are the best.
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!
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