Quilting AND Retirement?

Hard to believe that retirement from being a public school teacher is less than 3 years away.

There’s been much discussion in our house lately about what retirement might look like. Of course, hubby’s cancer can reappear at any time, but as he’s moved to longer intervals between check-ups, he’s been more willing to think about the future.

The biggies as a couple:

  1. Where will we live?
  2. Will we buy an RV?
  3. When to end full-time employment?

All of those are important, BUT…the quilter in me is wondering:

  1. How big will my quilting space be in our next home?
  2. What equipment will I need if I do quilt in an RV?
  3. What type of quilt projects do I plan to do?

(1) My future sewing space is likely to be a small bedroom in our next house, rather than the expansive space I currently have. This is totally fine as I spend most of my time sewing in a small alcove or outside on the porch anyway.

(2) RV quilting appears to be much like packing for a retreat or sewing class. I think I’m in good shape here! Depending on how much travel we do, it might be worth duplicating my day-to-day sewing basket to make a dedicated travel/class version so I quit borrowing supplies from my main sewing basket! Several members of the RV Quilters FB group also recommend cutting and bagging all projects before you hit the road. Most plan for one main project like a throw size quilt plus 2-3 smaller projects like a pillow, table runner, potholders, etc. Some sort of handwork project (embroidery, appliqué, knitting or crocheting) was also recommended.

(3) Retirement will be a time to explore art quilting, landscape quilts and any sewing techniques that interest me (serger, heirloom, garment sewing). I plan to participate in as much sewing/quilting destination travel as possible in the early years of retirement. I envision making many throw/lap size quilts for charity that I will quilt myself, but larger quilts will continue to go to the longarmer.

Then there’s the other question…how much fabric and supply stash do I need as we transition into retirement?

There seems to be two schools of thought on this subject: (a) retirement = poverty, so you’d better buy everything you can while you’re still working and (b) I earned it, so I’m going to spend whatever I want because I deserve it (said the 80 year old who purchased the TOL Bernina machine – you go girl!).

I’m somewhere between the two.

I realize it’s still at least two years away, but here’s my thinking:

  • Moving to a smaller house will mean less room for my stuff.
  • More isn’t necessarily better. Routine stash maintenance is a must. I visited a couple of estate sales recently in search of additional chairs to go with my dining set. One house had an entire basement stuffed with every crafting project/supply known to man. Much of it was old and smelled like it, too! Overwhelming.


  1. All loose fabrics into color coded bins with small bits cut to size for scrap baskets.
  2. Lori Holt project fabrics in separate containers.
  3. Like precuts stored together.
  4. Thread reduced to 2 bins (quilting and other).
  5. Leftover batting cut to 10″x10″ and 15″x20″ sizes.
  6. Sewing supplies and tools sorted and stored in appropriate, labeled bins.

Action plan:

  1. Match up backing fabric to each UFO top hanging on my rack.
  2. Incorporate fabrics currently in 6 drawer plastic organizer into existing color coded bins in closet. Re-home any fabric that doesn’t pass the test (used in the past 12 months, love it or kid-theme).
  3. Sort threads into quilting bin and other bin. Purge all rayon embroidery spools and non-neutral cones of serger thread.
  4. Sell vintage Elna Carina.
  5. Consolidate basic crafting supplies into one double satchel art bin.
  6. Assess next steps.

It’s funny how things have shifted over the past 30 years. When bought my first home, I basically started with very little in the way of sewing equipment. The stash and supplies grew over the years. As I head toward retirement, I find myself getting back to an “expanded basic” status highly desirable.:-)

One thought on “Quilting AND Retirement?

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and plans for quilting in retirement. I’m only a few years away as well and have been thinking about all these things but I haven’t really made a plan. This post has given me the motivation to get one started! 🙂

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