2024 Textile Tours, Workshops, and ExposLearn about global traditions and elevate your skills
In recent years, people spent months or longer at home. Those of us with textile-based hobbies were often able to indulge in more time than usual perfecting or taking up sewing, knitting, weaving, and other arts. It’s hard to complain about that. Now, though, many of us are feeling the urge to get out of the house and see the world—or at least cover a radius larger than our backyard or block. In the new year, why not combine your love of textiles with your wanderlust? Plan a vacation that deepens your understanding of fabric history or teaches you new techniques.
We’ve compiled a list of opportunities, far and wide, that will entice you. Whether you want to roam and observe, or take intensive or beginner hands-on classes, there are options. The programs that follow vary in price and location, so you can choose your own adventure.*
The best inspiration sometimes comes with a change of scenery, so cultivate creativity beyond the walls of your craft room, and meet fellow fabric lovers in the process.
Workshops and retreats
Develop new skills in a new environment with in-person classes. Some of these options are available through virtual instruction as well.
Travel back in time. Historical dress enthusiasts, hold onto your brimmed hats. Burnley & Trowbridge, a Williamsburg, Virginia, company focused on researching and reproducing authentic period garments, has a number of offerings to help refine your skills. Past in-person workshops have covered 18th-century gowns, research theory for historical dress, and tatting. Workshops range from $85 to $295. Online classes on constructing 18th-century stays, a support garment, are also available, as are free video-based sew-alongs for shifts, petticoats, dressing gowns, and more, should you prefer a more independent approach. BurnleyAndTrowbridge.com
Big Easy couture. Papermaple Studio, a sewing school and atelier in the French Quarter of New Orleans, has a range of classes and workshops designed to help sewers advance their skills. In the coming year, owner Leisa Stanton has booked classes on couture jackets and skirts; working with Marfy patterns; and three separate couture tailoring workshops, taught by bespoke tailor Thomas von Nordheim, a visiting instructor (October 7 to 22). Classes are in a lush, chandeliered space. PapermapleStudio.com
East Sussex studio life. For those with more open-ended goals, Merchant & Mills, a company well known for its patterns and based in historic Rye, England, has four- and five-night retreats. You can work on your projects, whether a garment or piece for your home, under the guidance of expert sewists. You’ll work above the atelier’s shop in an open, light-filled studio, and sleep a two-minute walk away, in a cozy, well-appointed space just a couple of miles from the ocean. Retreats start at $1,535 and run throughout 2024. MerchantAndMills.com
Off to school. Learn stencil work, patternmaking, and construction to create textured garments during three- and five-day workshops ($1,998 and $3,998) on the airy grounds of The Factory, part of Alabama Chanin’s The School of Making in Florence, Alabama, or book your own event for a group of 12, in-person and online. Virtual instruction and workshops focused on hand sewing and embroidery are also available. AlabamaChanin.com
Back to Kansas. Linda Lee’s Sew Kansas workshops ($850 for three full days and an evening), hosted at her fully equipped studio in Topeka, include lessons on fitting and sewing techniques, with a trunk show of Linda’s garments and opportunities to shop from her selection of fabrics. The small group setting allows for plenty of personalized attention. SewingWorkshop.com
Embroidery, embellishment, and weaving
British tradition. Explore just about any aspect of embroidery—metalwork, beadwork, shading, historical stitching, and more—at any skill level, through the Royal School of Needlework, based in southwest London, with courses elsewhere. Consider ancient or nué techniques in Bath, a course in canvaswork at the Hampton Court Palace location, or canvas shading in Bristol (each about £150). Many classes and spots are available. If a trip to Britain isn’t in the cards, choose from courses available online. Royal-Needlework.org.uk
Enchanting adornment. Rae Cumbie and Carrie Emerson organize an annual retreat to a medieval village near Toulouse, France, where attendees can experiment with a range of surface design techniques. Plus there are visits to markets, shops, and museums in the area—all providing inspiration for the items you’ll make in the studio. Next year’s retreat (about $3,000) will be July 17 to 24. FitForArtPatterns.com
Textile island. Started in 1979, the Sievers School of Fiber Arts allows you to get away from it all and delve into your craft on Washington Island, Wisconsin. Beginners can work on a floor loom or experiment with Navajo weaving techniques, while intermediate weavers can try Scandinavian styles, boundweave, or rag rugs. Classes are $285 to $680. Reasonably priced dormitory housing and scholarships are available. SieversSchool.com
Textile island, west. Head to one of the most beautiful places in the United States, Whidbey Island in Washington, where beginning weavers can try their hand at designing and drafting, warping looms, and sample weaving at The Weavers’ School in Coupeville. A second class, for intermediate and advanced weavers, goes deeper into the weaving structures. A one-week class is $595, and 2024 registration is open. Lodging with stunning views is available nearby at extra cost. WeaversSchool.com
Experimental weaves. At Weaver House, a bright, cheerful weaving studio and shop in Philadelphia, enthusiasts at any level can sign up for workshops focused on project planning and drafting, and weaving on rigid heddle, floor, and frame looms, planned through January 2024. Join in person—$85 for a two-hour class to $635 for a three-day experimental techniques workshop—or sign up for a virtual class ($55). WeaverHouseCo.com
Tours and travel
Discover the threads that tie us together as you explore new cultures through their textiles. Some of these tours double as working retreats, so you can try your hand at a range of inspiring techniques.
Sewing and quilting
Global quilting. Heidi Parkes’s 2023 tour of French textiles, centered on creating a travel diary quilt, may be sold out, but she has more planned for 2024. Join the waiting list to explore Tokyo, Niigata, and Kyoto in Japan from April 7 to 20, which includes stops at a thread factory, a silk weaving center, needle shop, and the Shibori Museum ($7,959). From May 11 to 19, a London tour allows you to take embroidery courses, tour the sights—even see a West End show—and create a travel quilt. And from September 4 to 14, you can explore the French countryside and Paris, or remain exclusively in Paris from September 18 to 29. Both feature a workshop with an haute couture embroiderer, flea market and haberdashery visits, and museum and sightseeing tickets. For those who’d like something closer to home, retreats in Hawaii and the American Southwest are also being planned. Workshops online and in Wisconsin are available, too. HeidiParkes.com
Explore Vietnam. A six-day tour from TextileSeekers starts in Hanoi, the architecturally striking capital of Vietnam, where you’ll visit antique stores and the studio of an artisan weaver. Then you’ll head north, to Mai Chau, in the mountains, home to the Ban Lac people, to observe silk-making and the creation of natural dyes, dive Explore Vietnam. A six-day tour from TextileSeekers starts in Hanoi, the architecturally striking capital of Vietnam, where you’ll visit antique stores and the studio of an artisan weaver. Then you’ll head north, to Mai Chau, in the mountains, home to the Ban Lac people, to observe silk-making and the creation of natural dyes, dive deep into the weaving traditions of the Tay tribes, and try batik drawing. Dates for 2024 are still in the works, and the group has a trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, planned for November. Follow @textileseekers on Instagram for more announcements. TextileSeekers.com
Korean artistry. On textile artist Youngmin Lee’s 10-day Korea Textile Tour ($3,950), you will see museums and galleries, visit artist studios, partake in workshops, and have the opportunity to try on hanbok, traditional Korean clothing. Dates for 2024 are May 13 to 23 and October 7 to 17, though they may change depending on the number of participants. YoungminLee.com
Paris fashion and design. Spend seven days in the City of Light with ParisTilton Tours, where you’ll hear lectures from fashion historians, visit studios and markets, and tour fabric stores, plus the city itself. This women-only trip focuses largely on design, but it’s also a good fit for sewists (starts at $7,850). Dates for a spring 2024 trip are to be announced soon. ParisTilton.com
Essence of Italy. Find out what makes Italian textiles and style so special. Couture specialist Helen Haughey leads an 11-day tour to Florence, Rome, and Milan, where an intimate group of participants will learn about Italian fashion, visit artisan studios, sample local cuisine and wines, and shop for fabrics. The 2024 tour is February 29 to March 10. HelenHaugheyDesigns.com
London and Paris. Trips to London and Paris by Susan Khalje, a Threads contributing editor, are legendary. Museum visits, couture shops and boutiques, expert lectures, entrée to designer ateliers, hands-on classes in embroidery and passementerie, and elegant teas are only some of the experiences offered in her ambitiously curated tours. Paris, 2024 ($9,250), is March 17 to 25 and November 3 to 11. Check her website for updates on London opportunities. SusanKhalje.com
Navajo textiles and more. Loom Dancer Weaving Odysseys specializes in weaving-specific tours: The 2024 calendar is still being built out, with a study of Navajo textiles in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona (April 22 to May 2, 2024, $3,195) and an exploration of southern Africa, in the works, LoomDancerOdysseys.com. Or head to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Loom Dancers has its intimate fiber art retreat. There, you can take a tapestry weaving seminar (November 1 to 8, 2023, $1,895) or book a semiprivate weaving tour. LoomDancerSantaFe.com
Cross-cultural artistry. Learn about backstrap weaving, natural dyeing, basket weaving, and even candle making from local artisans, between visits to local art and design studios, during an eight-day excursion in Oaxaca, Mexico ($3,400). Spots are available for December excursions. Future trips include natural dyes and block printing in India, embroidery and sailing off the coast of Panama, and weaving in the mountains of Colombia. Each offers a chance for thoughtful cross-cultural exchange, and grants are available, as part of Thread Caravan’s inclusivity program. ThreadCaravan.com
Knit in Iceland. Among its many charms, Iceland is known for its jaw-dropping natural beauty and its cozy knits. Revel in both on an all-inclusive weeklong retreat from the knit designer and author Hélène Magnússon. Prices start around $2,000. Booking is open for 2024 tours like knitting and snow-shoeing, hiking and knitting with the puffins, and hiking and knitting under the midnight sun. But if counting stitches among the fjord remains a dream, Magnússon offers Icelandic patterns and yarn for purchase on her website. IcelandicKnitter.com
Wool intensive. Head to remote, beautiful Shetland, the northernmost point of the United Kingdom, to watch every part of the yarn-making process: caring for sheep, sorting and grading yarn, and finally an invitation to the Sandnes spinning mill. Shetland Wool Adventures offers five-day tours, where you can get to know the region’s history, see Norse settlements, and take knitting master classes with the island’s tutors. Some even feature hikes. Each features a goodie bag, with knitting materials, a project bag and lots of tea and cake. The company can also curate a custom tour for you on request. ShetlandWoolAdventures.com
Expos are like the tasting menu of travel. You’ll find a full assortment of exhibitions, classes, trunk shows, and friendly textile mavens at any of these expos.
Texas-sized quilting. The largest annual quilt show in the United States, the International Quilt Festival runs this year from November 2 to 5. Arrive a couple of days early and swing by the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, Texas, about an hour and a half from Houston. (Museum admission starts at $8.) Choose from hundreds of festival classes and lectures, from $12, plus a $60 enrollment fee that includes show admission, pin, and program. Otherwise, daily festival admission is $15 for adults. Quilts.com/quilt-festival
Modern quilting. From February 22 to 25, Quiltcon, billed as the world’s largest modern quilting event, will be in Raleigh, North Carolina. Explore the expo grounds, watch demos, or admire the artistry at the Quilt Show. (Better yet, enter your best work by October 31, the deadline.) A four-day pass is $45, and a one-day ticket is $15. Conquer wonky edges in a half-day session ($120), learn traditional Korean techniques, or get started in Japanese sashiko stitching ($240) in full-day sessions. Take in lectures ($18) on Anna Williams, Rosie Lee Tompkins, and Yvonne Wells, prolific 20th-century African-American quilters, or on modern quilts from around the world. Members of the Modern Quilt Guild are eligible for discounts. QuiltCon.com
Stitching variety. It’s never too early to start thinking about the Sewing & Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, Washington, February 29 to March 3. Shop discounted fabrics and notions, take classes, and enjoy light entertainment. Full details have not yet been announced, but 2023 courses covered Brazilian embroidery, boro (Japanese patching and stitching) and stitching mug rugs with Indian kantha hand-stitching techniques, among myriad topics. SewExpo.com
Traveling show. Let the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo come to you, or at least close. Events featuring classes, workshops, shopping, and shows will be in or near Atlanta (March 7 to 9), Lakeland, Florida (March 14 to 16) and Cleveland (April 18 to 20); check the website for more listings across the country in the summer and fall of 2024. Offerings vary by location, and admission starts at $8. SewingExpo.com
Sheep and friends. Each October, you can go deep with the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (2024 location to be announced). Meant to show the entire breadth of natural fibers, this expo includes llama, goat, and sheep shows, and workshops on caring for livestock. Bring your spinning wheel and spin and sample wools of the Pacific Northwest, experiment with dyeing, learn pin loom weaving, try new knitting techniques, or even get started in rug hooking and punch needle. Admission is free. For those who love to rough it, tent and RV camping is available. OregonFlockAndFiberFestival.com
Museums and galleries
Find your inspiration in exhibits of textiles and garments at museums worldwide. Before you travel, visit FashionAndTextileMuseums.com for listings near your destination.
Explore downtown Toronto. Swing by Chinatown, visit the Art Gallery of Ontario, and then pop by the Textile Museum of Canada, a modest museum that boasts a permanent collection of 15,000 items from around the world, going as far back as 100 CE. Current exhibitions look at migration and a collection of traditionally crafted pandemic masks. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, in Canadian dollars. TextileMuseum.ca
Albers’s experiments. Among the many legacies that Black Mountain College left in American art is the work of its weaving program, founded by Anni Albers. From September 29, 2023 to January 6, Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in Asheville, North Carolina, puts the program front and center, with Weaving at Black Mountain College: Anni Albers, Trude Guermonprez, and Their Students, the first exhibition focused on the experimental art college’s textile arts. Admission is free, with a suggested donation. BlackMountainCollege.org/weaving
Midcentury wovens. Dorothy Liebes collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright. She earned the title of Mother of Modern Weaving. Her “Liebes look”—colorful, complex textiles speckled with metallics—helped define a midcentury era of textiles. And yet, Liebes is not a household name. Learn about her work at A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes, at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, through February 4. Tickets are $9 to $15. CooperHewitt.org
Quilts in the Northeast. Lowell, Massachusetts, is home to the New England Quilt Museum, where you’ll always find exhibitions worth lingering over. From historical quilts to modern examples, the museum draws from its own collection and loans to trace a wide range of themes and trends. Tickets cost $9. NEQM.org
Storytelling in Quilts. Catch What That Quilt Knows About Me, an exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum in New York through Oct. 29, 2023. Featuring 35 quilts ranging from the 19th to the 21th century, the exhibit focuses on quilts that tell a greater story of their makers and their lives. Free. FolkArtMuseum.org/exhibitions
- Listed events and prices are subject to change.
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