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How about a sewing vacation to spark your creativity?

The beautiful Sand Box at Beachcomers Haven.

The beautiful Sand Box at Beachcomers Haven.

Photo: JoAnn Roe, Bellingham, Washington

For a passionate sewer, a sewing vacation would be like receiving a very special gift. When Alyce Thomson, owner of a small inn on the Oregon Coast, realized that many motel/hotel managers were less than happy with the residue created by sewing groups, she filled the gap herself. At her Beachcombers Haven between Lincoln City and Newport, Oregon, she created a large room known as the "Sand Box" constructed specifically to house visiting sewing and quilting groups. A low-key operation, the facility is now gaining renown.

Where else can groups (ideally around 25 people) enjoy sewing and chatting while looking out at the crashing waves of the beach directly below the Beachcomber -- or be able to work early in the morning or late at night in the Sand Box without disturbing people who are trying to sleep?

Alyce got the idea of creating a specialized meeting room when she, a veteran sewer, was at a group gathering in Irvine, California. “We had to stop sewing in late afternoon, just when we were dying to try out some new techniques we had learned. I thought, hey, I could invite them to my Beachcomber Inn for three or four days at a time. We called ourselves Sew Much Fun and 12 to 15 of us met every November thereafter. But then I had to move all the furniture out of one inn room each year to accommodate the group. My husband grew tired of providing the muscle, as did I.”

After a conference with a local architect, Alyce merged four carports to create the handicapped accessible Sand Box. It's equipped with every sewing necessity, including cutting boards, large windows and bright overhead lighting. Since the groups bring their own machines, there are plenty of electrical hook-ups. A bathroom and small kitchen meant only for snacks (no food except catered food is provided by the inn) are provided. Comfortable rolling chairs and wide ironing boards complete the efficient setup. "And no more moving furniture out of a unit every time a group wants to come!"

Loosely structured sewing and quilting groups as well as more organized groups have all used the facility with great success. A typical meeting lasts about five days, and all guests have their own bedrooms for quiet time and privacy. The early birds and night owls can enter the Sand Box any time, as each guest has her own key. They can safely leave their machines and materials in the room, if they wish.

A sewer typically works about three hours in the morning and again in the afternoon. Then she may explore the town for good restaurants or walk on the hard, sand beach for awhile. Often a group brings food, fixes and shares it. A catering company, Oregon Coast Catering, is available, too. Manager Kris Knudsen says, “There is a lot of camaraderie. Some of the women spend the afternoon shopping or sightseeing. They make their own schedules and go back to their own rooms, as they wish. It’s a perfect vacation spot with beach activities, glass blowing shops, dune buggy rides for the adventurous, and even golf—all sandwiched between hours of sewing and chatting with others. There are hot tubs and a deck above the Sand Box as well.”

Alyce herself is just a benign host. She leaves the guests to their own devices or mingles freely, if she feels that’s what they want. She still likes to sew but, instead of creating garments as she once did, now she creates placemats, napkins, or wall hangings and usually gives them away. As she says, “I stopped sewing for my grandchildren when the age of blue jeans and tee shirts came along.” 

Courtesy of JoAnn Roe, Bellingham, Washington
 

amm April M. Mohr, contributor
Posted on Oct 12th, 2010 in sewing

Comments (15)

SharonKerbs SharonKerbs writes: I have found a wonderful sewing instructor that takes a small group of students to the Monteray, CA shore for a 3,4,or 7 day sewing vacation. Jane is an expert instructor and specializes in clothing design and fitting. We love to go to her retreats. I travel from Wisconsin to join her twice a year. See http://www.janefosterdesign.com
Posted: 1:48 pm on October 26th

pmmcphee pmmcphee writes: A couple weeks ago I attended a sewing retreat at Sewing Workshop in Topeka, KS. Thursday night was a trunk show of their patterns using the fabrics they have available for sale. Friday through Sunday were sewing days (they provided the sewing machines and sergers, if needed) interspersed with sewing tutorials by Linda Lee and Cathy Davis. It was an awesome retreat, and I came home with two new garments, lots of great fabrics, and an arsenal of sewing tips. Ah, and I met some wonderful sewists from all over the United States. You can find more info about upcoming retreats on Sewing Workshop's Web site (www.sewingworkshop.com). I highly recommend it.

Paula McPhee
Kensington, MD
Posted: 8:15 am on October 23rd

Sewmarguerite Sewmarguerite writes: Sewing retreats are a wonderful way to get inspired and get something done!! Being around a group of creative women is so much fun. I have a sewing school in Nashville, Tennessee and have ongoing classes and host seeing retreats. Marguerite's Sewing School at www.sew-cool.com. come sew with me! Fitting is our specialty.
Posted: 6:58 pm on October 21st

PamOK PamOK writes: Lake City Minnesota has a wonderful place called Dragonfly Dreams Retreat Center. It's in the historical home of the first physician in Lake City. There are two large gathering rooms on the main floor with tables and great lighting, includes a kitchen, dining room and bedrooms with twin beds. The owner is wonderful.
Posted: 12:12 am on October 19th

sewinspirational sewinspirational writes: sewinspirational: Hi from 'down-under' Australia. This sewing vacation article has finally inspired me to join in the chat.

I have been to visit Oregon, many times, on Sewing Vacations to Pati Palmers Sewing Vacations in Portland. See www.palmerpletsch.com.

Next year (Feb/March 2011) I am bringing 40 enthusiastic fashion sewers from the Australian Sewing Guild to the North/West USA to visit the Puyallup Sewing & Stitchery Show and beautiful Oregon. I hope we get to meet a lot of fabulous American sewers.

But, if you really want a sewing/textile vacation with like-minded women look at www.sewinspirationalevents.com.au for fantastic tours in Australia, Bali, Vietnam, Cambodia, Italy etc. etc...

The textile focused holidays are fantastic fun and I have met so many good friends, learnt heaps and enjoyed every minute of every trip.
Posted: 7:42 pm on October 18th

starzoe starzoe writes: Oh WOW! Just the place for a mini vacation....and I am just across the strait in B.C. Am going to check this out for sure.
Posted: 7:36 pm on October 18th

greenbp greenbp writes: Wow! I wish we had something like that in Tennessee. What a neat way to vacation.
Posted: 7:19 pm on October 18th

Heirloom_Sewer Heirloom_Sewer writes: I attended two wonderful 4 day sewing retreats offered by Debbie Glenn, who teaches Advanced Construction at Martha Pullen's School of Art Fashion. She offer's these twice a year (fall & spring) and upon request in her beautiful hometown of Aiken, SC. Her unique techniques have revolutionized how I approach sewing & improved my results. Cost includes all kits, meals, noon time outings, and lovely guest accommodations at the small private golf course community hotel in her neighborhood. Visit http://www.loveandstitches.com/school.htm for more information.
Posted: 7:02 pm on October 18th

lizzyredwill lizzyredwill writes: I think this is such a neat idea! My husband goes off with his buddies to play golf for a week and this would be a perfect vacation for me to do with my friends! I've read a popular fiction series about a quilt camp but never dreamed there really were places to go and do crafts or sewing! Thanks so much for sharing the info.
Posted: 6:44 pm on October 18th

dressed2atee dressed2atee writes: Hi, I'm the President of the Maryland Chapter of the American Sewing Guild. We started a 4-day sewing retreat four years ago and last year it grew to 5 days! It's like a sewing slumber party. We bring our machines and whatever projects we want to work on. We have it at the New Windsor Conference Center, New Windsor, MD. We get 10 delicious meals and have loads of fun!!!!!! There's a Quilt Guild that meets there too.
Posted: 6:38 pm on October 18th

elainegood elainegood writes: http://www.quiltersgardenonline.com/retreat-center.htm
Last week some friends and I went here for a fun, economical retreat! It's in North Central Illinois.
Posted: 6:30 pm on October 18th

SueC56 SueC56 writes: Nice to know these kinds of places exist. I'll have to consider that next time I'm thinking about a vacation. I bet an internet search will stir up a number of places like this. Cool!

Sue
Posted: 11:04 pm on October 15th

amm amm writes: To respond to CHL:
Beachcombers Haven is something that came to my attention, and I thought a sewing vacation was a wonderful concept that I wanted to share with the Threads online readers. Click on the link in the blog if you're interested in pricing or other information. Their website has lots of information. It was the only place of its kind I had ever heard of. Since reading your comment, I did some additional research and found two other locations that also sound interesting: The Stitching Studio in Austin, Texas, http://www.austinstitchingstudio.com/main.htm and
The Craftin' Cabin in Edgerton, Wisconsin, http://www.craftincabin.com/the_lakeview.htm. Although both of these places also sound awesome, it appears The Stiching Studio is geared for daytime-only visitors. The Craftin' Cabin does accommodate overnight visitors, but appears to focus on crafting rather than sewing.

If you are aware of another sewing vacation destination, please share the information with us all!
Posted: 2:00 pm on October 14th

smyoker smyoker writes: interesting article and a great idea!!!! i found all the information i needed by just google-ing 'beachcomers haven oregon'
Posted: 8:33 am on October 13th

Ceeayche Ceeayche writes: Soooo. Is this an advertisement that this facility is available for rent for outside groups-- if so where is the contact information/prices? Is this the only facility of its type in the US? Is this the only destination sewing location? The article claims it is getting renown... why, by whom? I'm confused about the purpose of this article.
Posted: 6:16 am on October 13th

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