By Maggie Colpus, Event Co-ordinator

Pineapple Patchwork – 25-26 February 2023 – Emma Randall and Valerie Nesbitt – Hogs Back Hotel & Spa

What makes a group of ladies (and one gentleman!) travel great distances at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning?  The first sewing weekend of 2023, that’s what.

A small group started their weekend early by staying at their own expense on the Friday evening and enjoying the hotel spa and pool.  We had dinner together so we could all relax and make some friends before the class started at 10 a.m on Saturday.


Everyone else started to arrive from about 8.45 a.m on Saturday so they could settle in and set out their work stations, and enjoy the coffee and Danish pastries before the class started.

The Park Suite is a lovely room with plenty of natural daylight.  It also allows everyone to have their own work station and personal space

Our tutors Emma Randall and Val Nesbitt introduced themselves and Steve Barton (our CEO) who was joining us for the weekend as a student using a sewing machine for the first time (he usually hand quilts!).  They then explained the project for the weekend – Pineapple Patchwork.  There were three different designs to choose from. Emma went through them to the group, giving everyone their relevant instructions for their chosen design, and a very useful Pineapple ruler which was included in the cost of the retreat.

With everyone back at their work stations it was heads down choosing the relevant fabrics for their design. After a while everyone was very busy with their rotary cutters, and it was quite a while before the machines were engaged and the background chatter started.  Throughout the day Emma and Val stopped at each work station offering advice and assistance.

Beverages were on tap all day which allowed everyone to take a break when they wanted one, with biscuits and pastries frequently replenished.

After a light lunch everyone was back at the machines, stopping only to stretch their legs, get a drink or take a break away from the machines in the adjacent foyer.   Our students love being in this relaxed and informal environment, sewing at their own pace.

Although the class officially finished at 4 pm, Val and Emma stayed for an extra hour or so to offer further advice and assistance.  As we had arranged an early dinner, the majority of the class stayed to complete another stage of their work.  Of course, with an early dinner the evening was still young, so many took advantage and went back to the sewing room for a few more hours – and they were still able to go to bed at a reasonable time. Although a few did end up in the bar until quite late.


After a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast it was back in the sewing room, although some had been sewing early before having breakfast.

Having stopped for lunch it was back to the classroom to get work to a stage where it could be finished at home, in the local group, or even come back to another retreat and finish it in the sewing corner.

Before we knew it was tea and cake time, and almost the end of a lovely weekend, with everyone making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, plenty of laughter, sharing of ideas, and thinking of future weekends.

And for those of you that are interested Steve made four blocks!!

Check out the pictures from the weekend.

Here’s what the students had to say about the Pineapple Patchwork Weekend

“As always, a great weekend, friendly atmosphere, and well organised by Maggie, Val and Emma, you all made it a fab weekend and look forward to seeing you all again.”

“Very friendly weekend, Emma is great fun and an excellent teacher.”

“My first weekend, everyone was very friendly and welcoming in a nice relaxed environment.”

“The tutoring and advising were incredible.  Just the right balance of instruction and room for me to do my own thing. Can’t say enough about the wonderful people who attended. Very much a coming together of like-minded people who have carved out a bit of sewing me time – – with no phones, no family, nothing but sewing early in the morning, late into the night and socialising with others during breaks. It was my first time, and I felt very at ease and welcomed by everyone.”

“Very enjoyable weekend and look forward to doing another at some point.”

How to book a place at a retreat

Come and join us and escape for the weekend at one of our upcoming retreats – you’ll find full details here.  For any questions, just click on the Contact Us button.

You can also pre-register your interest for any of our retreats. Just email

Here’s what coming up:

Quilting Weekend: Double Frenzy – make TWO quilts at the same time with Sarah Soward and Terry Summerfield, 25-26 March 2023 at New Place Hotel, Shirrell Heath, Hampshire

Embroidery Weekend: Introduction to Machine Embroidery (Stitched Pictures) with Dionne Swift,
22-23 April 2023 at New Place Hotel, Shirrell Heath, Hampshire

Embroidery Weekend: Introduction to Goldwork with Wendy Mansfield,
13-14 May 2023 at New Place Hotel, Shirrell Heath, Hampshire

Patchwork & Quilting Weekend: Use a Template to Create Snail’s Trails with Andy and Jo of Crafty-UK, 23 -24 Sept 2023 The Hogs Back Hotel & Spa, Farnham, Surrey

Quilting Weekend: Quilt as you go Sampler Quilt with Sarah Soward and Terry Summerfield or BYO to Val’s Sewing Corner, 14-15 Oct 2023 at New Place Hotel, Shirrell Heath, Hampshire

Quilting Weekend: Applique and Free Motion Quilting (Delphine Brooks Highland Cow Pattern) with Anita Birtles, 28 -29 Oct 2023 at The Hog’s Back Hotel & Spa, Farnham, Surrey

Quilting Weekend: Make it Celtic with Angela Madden, 18-19 Nov 2023 at New Place Hotel, Shirrell Heath, Hampshire

You are always welcome to join us in the sewing corner as a day or residential student on all our weekends if you don’t fancy booking on the class offered and you’d simply like a little sewing me time. You can finish your UFO’s or even start a new project without interruptions. The day student option is subject to availability. Please get in touch if you are interested.