It was one of those trips where I was driving to Las Cruces NM from Tucson AZ for work. That is when I first heard about a Quilting Cruise. I was listening to the Modern Sewciety Podcast, which I love. Stephanie Kendron was going to go to Alaska on one. I was left thinking about what they were and how they would fit into my life. My main thought… Being trapped on a boat with nowhere to go and nothing to do, other than quilt… That is amazing!!!
I say this with humor and simplifying it to almost nothing. Cruise boats are amazing!! Full of life, entertainment, and things to do. I went on one when I was a teenager (or maybe even younger) so my perception might be a little off. It was a family reunion.
And to get a full picture, you have to know that I am the 82nd grandchild on my dad’s side. When I say family reunion, I mean great big party! Family, fun, food, sun, and adventure. That is what they are to me. The thing that stands out the most to me is escargot. My brother had me taste them without me knowing that they are snails. Yes. That is right. I have eaten a snail. What do you do!! You just roll with it. Right!! He is six years older than me and being the youngest I generally soak in all the attention I can get.
On the very day I was listening to the podcast “the Quilt Cruise” was added to my bucket list. I hadn’t had a bucket list until that moment. I still don’t have anything else on it. But I know I wanted to go on one. Last year, Stitchin Heaven got in touch with me and asked me to teach on a Quilt Cruise. I was thinking… What!!! It blew my mind. You guys, this is happening!!
Stitchin Heaven is a wonderful quilt shop in Texas that carries a variety of fabrics by Free Spirit, Art Gallery, Moda and more. I bought the fabrics below from them and plan to make a quilt coat out of my Terracotta Fiori Quilt. But it is only the flying geese that will show and not the flowers. What will I line the coat with?? This incredible whale fabric. I forgot to mention, it is the Terracotta Fiori Quilt pattern that I will be teaching on the Quilt Cruise. Stitchin Heaven has a lot going on. Block of the month projects, Classes, Retreats throughout the year and Quilting Cruises throughout the year. Basically, something for everyone.
I have invited Deb Luttrell from Stitchin Heaven to tell us more about her shop and all about the Quilting Cruise.
Grab yourself a cup of coffee and let’s chat.
Deb, thank you so much for talking with me. I am so happy to have you here. So, I have to know, how long have you quilted and what was your first project??
D: I started quilting around 1994. When my son was born in 1985, I bought all the stuff to make a quilt for his nursery, but I ended up having someone else make it because I would not figure it out! LOL I started sewing when I was 13 so I thought “Making a quilt? No sweat!” of course no lessons at this point so I was clueless.
I love that even though you didn’t finish it, it is a finished project.
What is your favorite color, and does it dominate your stash?
D: My favorite color is probably yellow, but I would not say it dominates my stash. I have a rainbow of color in my sewing room and all kinds of fabric styles.
Do you have a themed fabric that you collect??
D: I love Tula Pink and probably have more of her collections than any other. Love Allison Glass. But I also love Paula Barnes and Pam Buda and Betsy Chutchian. I go from one end of the spectrum to the other.
I too have A LOT of Tula fabrics, mine are in special bins.
What brought you to the point where you decided to open a quilt shop?
D: I picked up quilting when I worked in Corporate America and traveled a great deal so I would take my little applique hearts on my trips. As most everyone who quilts, I always thought it would be cool to own a fabric store. It was not until I quit my job and we moved to the country that I acted on it. And to be honest, I did it out of boredom and the need to be busy.
I feel like your corporate traveling might have set you up for your love of retreat style events.
Where is your shop located?
D: We are located in the sleepy little east Texas town of Quitman, population 1800.
How long has Stitchin Heaven been in business?
D: Since 1996
What a great year! Not to age me but that is the year I graduated high school.
When did you start hosting retreats?
D: We started a couple of years after we opened. Our first retreats we had were called Camp Quilt S’more and our guests stayed at a local kids campground. We would have “big name teachers” at the store to give the classes and then people could go back to the campground and sew.
How fun!! I can picture it in my mind. S’mores and quilty friends. How perfect.
What is Land Ahoy??
D: Land Ahoy came about because during the pandemic our cruises were cancelled. Instead of crying buckets of tears, I decided to try something new and offer a cruise-style retreat in a hotel. The first year we hosted retreats in Orlando, Nashville, Ft. Worth, Las Vegas, and San Diego
What a great pivot!! I think that is a sign of a true entrepreneur. It is so important to keep on trying. I like to say I am just throwing thing at the wall to see what sticks.
How often do you host them?
D: In 2021 and 2022 we offered about 6 Land Ahoy events but now that cruising is back, we will be offering 2-3 a year.
What is a Quilting Cruise?
D: A quilting cruise is a trip of a lifetime to many people. We cruise exclusively with Royal Caribbean to all destinations that originate from the US. These include Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Panama, and Hawaii. We bring BERNINA sewing machines onboard, contract 2 world-class quilting instructors to each teach a project, and we have classes on our days at sea. Our sewing room onboard the ship is open 24/7 so there is really no restriction on the amount of time a guest can sew. There is no laundry to do, no kids to care for, no cooking to do. Just fun sewing and being with friends. What could be better?
Wow. I am so humbled to be included in this. I can’t wait to experience it.
How often do you host them?
D: In 2023 we will host about 16 cruises.
That is incredible!! I am amazed by your drive. That alone is a full-time job.
What kinds of things are included in the vacation package you purchase?
D: The cruise package includes:
- Pre-cruise communication from Stitchin‘ Heaven Travel
- SHAG Bag (Stitchin’ Heaven Amazing Gifts) valued at over $100 including an exclusive cruise shirt
- Your own dedicated sewing space for the duration of the cruise
- Optional pre-cut Sail ‘n Sew fabric kits
- Every quilting guest can take all the classes offered
- The classroom is open 24/7 for plenty of free time sewing!
- Premier thread provided for onboard projects
- Demonstrations of the latest quilting and sewing products
- Classroom support from Stitchin’ Heaven Staff
- Full-size irons and ironing stations will be available in each classroom
- Post cruise guest contact list and group photo will be provided
- A BONUS Grab’ n Go project for our Fun Times Day at Sea
- Prizes, surprises, and a boatload of fun!
There are two quilt classes. What if I want to learn both? What if I want to only learn one?
D: You can do both, one, or you might want to do none and bring a project from home.
What is the class schedule?? What if someone misses a class because they needed to do something else that day?
D: The class schedule is set but we encourage people to do what they want to do because it is THEIR cruise. None of our projects are so complex that someone can’t figure it out if they miss a class. Teachers are around on port days and in the evenings and are always happy to give extra help if needed.
Whenever I go out of town for a board meeting, and I can drive, I bring my sewing machine. Can I bring my featherweight and sew in my room??
D: Yes, you can, and we actually have done that. However, the rooms are small and you cannot have an extension cord in your room or an iron so those things should be considered. But with our sewing room open 24/7, there is really no need for you to sew in your room.
Good to know. I will be leaving mine at home, but I might be in the quilting room most of the night.
What do you do when the ship docks at a port?
D: It’s up to you! You can go ashore, take an excursion, or you may want to stay onboard and sew.
What is your favorite thing to do on the boat??
D: The Spa, of course!
Oh that sounds amazing!! I might have to try that.
Do you have to leave the boat on a Quilting Cruise?
D: Only at disembarkation! We have lots of guests who never leave the “ship” the entire week.
What if you decided to go by yourself and you don’t know what to do in the city we are docked at??
D: Most every port has a city tour that you can book through Royal Caribbean. This is a nice way to see the area in a safe environment.
Are there medical centers or doctors on board?
D: Absolutely! Each ship has a medical clinic onboard with very good doctors.
What type of covid protocols are in place? Does that include a cleaning protocol?
D: Yes of course! The best thing is to look on the Royal Caribbean website for all the details. It is quite extensive. I feel safer on a cruise ship than many other places.
Here is a link to that. It is so nice to know that they will be keeping us safe.
Here is my Cruise schedule and YouTube video.
Deb, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. I am a little guy, so I am humbled and propelled forward with this motivation. It has moved me to start teaching locally.