Sewing at Thirkelow - bliss in the Derbyshire Peak District.

Sewing retreats take many forms so it's always worth researching what your experience might be like. Some are residential and others aren't, some have workshops, challenges, etc, whilst others are take your own machine and project and sew whilst enjoying the company of others.

I'm lucky to be less than an hours drive from Thireklow, a purpose built facility just south of Buxton, in the Derbyshire Peak district and close to the Staffordshire Moorlands. It's only a few minutes out of Buxton, yet feels remote and away from the stresses of everyday life.

In the last 2 months I feel privileged to have been twice. One a retreat with sewing friends and the other to teach a 2/3 day course on pattern fitting.

Thirkelow has 5 en-suite rooms, one is downstairs with adaptive facilities, a large dining room with a fully equipped kitchen and a huge space for sewing that has it's own lounge area with facilities to make refreshments. There's also a small lounge that has a sofa bed, but no en-suite facilities.

This year(2022) Esther - @Thirkelow - has run 2 types of fully catered events when the rooms can be booked as single, twin or double.

  • Taught courses like the one I was privileged to teach. Each has a specific topic such as beginners garment making, sewing knits, Bra Making, Pattern Fitting etc.

  • Bring your own project and sew in the company of others. These sessions don't have a course tutor and are a great way of engaging with other makers with varying interests and experience.

One of the outstanding things is the food! It feels like it's in constant supply! Make your own breakfast from a wide range of options, often followed by a mid morning break with cake, before a lunch that I might consider to be my main meal! Esther then creates a hearty 2 course evening meal.....she can accommodate various dietary needs.

The other way to sew at Thirkelow is to book the whole building as a B&B and do your own catering. This is what I did with my SewOver50 friends. We first met at Love sewing magazine back in November 2018 for a photo shoot. Some knew each other in real life, but most of us only via Instagram. We travelled from Scotland, South Wales, the Midlands and the Home Counties, met up for lunch and then into a hectic afternoon at Love Sewing. We set up a Whatsapp group and agreed we'd meet again in April 2020 at Thirkelow. Most of met at the SewOver50 meetup in West Hampstead not realising what was about to happen....after numerous postponements we eventually arrived at Thirkelow at the end of April 2022....

On arrival everyone was amazed at what Thirkelow had to offer and we had such an amazing time the 10 of us have rebooked the same dates for next year.....well actually 4 nights rather than three and we've pencilled in for 2024 as well!

We all took our own machines and 2 overlockers. Some of us took projects we'd already cut out and others used the dining tables to cut out. The room is equipped with irons and ironing boards and loads of natural light. Yes, we shared twin rooms, but that wasn't a problem when you know the people you're with. How much you sew, what you make and when is up to you.

Food was another significant feature... we bought way too much, partly because we had no idea how much we needed and how to met our various dietary needs. We booked a Sainsbury's delivery which really helped with car sharing along with all our stuff. We know better next time... There's also outdoor tables and a BBQ looking out down the beginnings of the River Dove.

The environment is as much a part of the experience as the facilities. Look out of the windows at the local wildlife.... for us it was lambing time and every day the fields were fuller and we met a lovely young foal whilst out walking, spotted hares and skylarks. If you like to walk there's loads of opportunities straight out of the door in both directions. We stuck to 2/3 mile walks, often early in the morning and before our evening meal...but it's not essential to have an amazing experience.

Whether you go on your own or with friends I'm sure you'll enjoy the company of other makers, sharing ideas, tips and perhaps be inspired to try something new.

For more information and pictures take a look at the website

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