Starting out last Tuesday, we loaded up and started on our journey - making two stops before arriving at the hotel in Fremont, NE. As we traveled down the interstate through Omaha (on the way to our first destination), we spotted AccuQuilt's brand new home offices...how could any quilter miss this new colorful sign?!
Our first stop was in Omaha at Country Sampler Quilt Shop - this shop never disappoints, so I knew it had to be on our short list of destinations. This shop has a lovely inviting layout and a nice selection of gifts, as well. Knowing we had a week of quilt shopping ahead, I was a good girl and only made a few fabric purchases - and I had a particular project(s) in mind.
We then headed down the road to The Quilted Moose in Gretna, NE...I just adore this shop - with over 6,000 bolts of fabric, it is a treasure trove! This shop can be almost overwhelming...and it took me three trips around to see as much as possible. I did pick up an amazing assortment of fabrics at this stop - things I had not seen elsewhere....and was able to pick up some retired fabric that will be great for sewing needlework accessories for my Etsy shop.
Tuesday evening we enjoyed a fun "Welcome" event for the retreat that was conveniently held at the hotel. Historic Fremont, NE rolled out the red carpet and had lovely goodie bags for us from many of the downtown merchants...we got the scoop on where to eat lunch/dinner...we got all sorts of coupons...a local map...and there were even a few gifts in the bag, including a large pair of scissors, nail polish, scrapbooking paper, and a cookie from Alotta Brownies Bakery (who also provided delicious refreshments for this event!). The hospitality of the downtown Fremont merchants was incredible - they made our visit extra special - great customer service and friendly faces were found throughout the downtown area....even the mayor of Fremont stopped by and said hello before the first day of the retreat started!
Wednesday morning it was time for the two-day retreat to begin at Country Traditions - and to say I was impressed would be an understatement! The owners and staff at Country Traditions are incredible - every single detail was thought through - every need taken care of - everyone had a smile...and the customer service was impeccable...in fact, the best quilt shop service/experience I have EVER had...and the shop itself is "to die for" - a huge selection, organized, clean, and decorated beautifully - I was blown away! If you are able to make a trip to the area - GO - you will definitely not be disappointed - in fact, I am thrilled I am only 2 1/2 hours away, because I will be making this road trip again and again. Inside this beautifully renovated turn-of-the-century building you will find over 7,000 bolts of fabric, a HUGE assortment of books/patterns/notions and even some home décor items spread throughout - the store has 14 foot ceilings, original wood flooring, exposed ceiling beams and antique light fixtures (that provide amazing light)...it is no wonder this is the first shop to be featured three times in Quilt Sampler Magazine! Upstairs is a HUGE renovated ballroom that is the perfect for a large classroom and lecture area. There were sixty-five quilters in attendance and we had ample room for all the events and happenings. Tables were set up around the perimeter of the ginormous room for each attendee and their sewing machine (and also throughout an overlooking "penthouse" level)...AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutters were placed in rows down the center aisles (and in the front of the room was shelving with every single AccuQuilt GO! die at our disposal for cutting any shape you could possibly want or need!)...ironing stations were strategically placed throughout...there was a lovely snack and beverage station set-up...and a large seating area for all group events and lectures...plus there is an entire long-arm room...it is truly an incredible space! It was a relaxing, creative environment to spend two days of quilting and learning...and I am already hoping to attend the events next year. Happiness and enthusiasm are contagious and this stellar quilt shop is overflowing with these wonderful attributes...
For lunch and dinner we were given vouchers for local downtown restaurants and we were able to choose where we wanted to go - how cool is that?! The places we chose to visit all had wonderful food and fun atmospheres - I would go to any/all of them again. Our first day, we chose to have lunch at Irv's Deli across the street - then for dinner (on the advice of adorable Scott at Country Traditions) we went to J's Steakhouse....we wanted a good gourmet salad - and this place did not disappoint - the salad was incredible, the staff kind and accommodating, and I was even able to enjoy a good glass of red wine. Thursday we had lunch at Alotta Brownies - wonderful wrap sandwiches and special iced teas....and the dessert cases were filled with some of the most beautiful baked goods I have seen. I even found a cupcake with a sugary owl decorating the top - we thoroughly enjoyed this special spot where the food and desserts were delicious and the owner was super friendly and exuberant - and she even let me take photos. After the barn unveiling on Friday, we had a lovely Italian meal with a great group of quilters at Andy's on First - the food was good, the company was great, and we even got a glimpse at "Angry Andy" as he pulled out of the parking lot.
Finally, I will end today's post with a photo of some of the goodies we brought home from the Country Traditions AccuQuilt GO! Retreat - the gifts were so incredible and generous! We were given our retreat t-shirts in cute AccuQuilt GO! Mini Totes...then, throughout the retreat we received: the latest Quilt Sampler Magazine (Spring/Summer 2012) featuring Country Traditions, a special handmade pincushion put together by the shop staff (each one was unique and different), a stained glass quilt block, a USB thumb drive with ALL the AccuQuilt GO! free patterns...and (drum roll, please) an AccuQuilt GO! Baby Fabric Cutter (was that ever an exciting moment - shouting, clapping, and even tears filled the room - and now, I have twin GO! Baby fabric cutters)!! We also received an ADORABLE exclusive retreat die ("Cute Car" - taken from the retreat logo/t-shirt - a fun little VW Bug style car die) and a coordinating cutting mat...there was a little delay and the die is being shipped to us, so it is not in the photograph...but we were able to see it and play with the one they had in the shop...plus, we received a project pattern for this special retreat die.
I managed to do quite a bit of shopping while I was at Country Traditions (shocker!) - and I even picked up four new AccuQuilt GO! dies (I know it is a sickness - I am so addicted) to bring home...and a kit for "Blossoms in the Garden" - the pattern Country Traditions featured in Quilt Sampler magazine (it is so beautiful in person!).
...and believe it or not, I managed to do quite a bit of sewing on my retreat project...I was working on Alex Anderson's "GO! Star Delight" project - I completed all the four patch blocks, all of the flying geese, and managed to piece one complete star block - plus 75% of the other fifteen star blocks. I am hoping to have the top pieced in the next week and I will share it with you here...
The retreat was such a delight - I met the most wonderful new quilting friends, enjoyed a very creative and enthusiastic atmosphere, did quite a bit of quilting, savored delicious food, and did a nice amount of shopping - it truly was incredible - a huge thank you to AccuQuilt, Country Traditions, all the attendees, and everyone who voted for my winning quilt block....you made this a trip of a lifetime - it was a SUPER fun and inspiring experience!
Tomorrow, I will share my visit to AccuQuilt's new offices in Omaha, NE...and the Barn Quilt Unveiling Event...where I was able to meet Alex Anderson!