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Quilt Journeys Writing Retreat

A Four-Day, In-Person Writing Retreat With Quiltfolk


June 13-16, 2024

On Location @ Quiltfolk Studios in Winterset, Iowa + The International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska

Maximum Enrollment: 32 students

Already registered? Click here to access the exclusive materials and resources available to you in the Attendee Hub!


  • Welcome gifts: Quilt Journeys-themed notebook, tote, writing pen, and fashionable, wearable pin. 
  • A pre-retreat “Meet and Greet” via Zoom on May 16, from 4 – 5:30 p.m. PDT, with instructors and fellow participants.
  • A four-day writing retreat on location at Quiltfolk Studios in Winterset, Iowa, with three experienced writing instructors!
  • A day trip via chartered coach to the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska, with VIP tours.
  • Breakfast pastries and coffee each morning and catered lunches each afternoon.
  • Admission to a private showing of The Bridges of Madison County at the historic Iowa Theater.
  • Thursday evening cocktail reception at the Iowa Quilt Museum to welcome fellow storytellers and kick off the fun-filled weekend.
  • A Sunday evening farewell reception at Winterset Livery to celebrate our writing pieces and time together.
  • Resource binder: Quiltfolk articles, sample essays, writing prompts, tips, etc.

Not Included:

  • Participants are responsible for covering their own travel costs, lodging, and additional meals, etc. A list of recommendations is included in the Attendee Hub, to which you will have free access upon enrollment.

An Immersive Writing Experience in Winterset, Iowa

Quiltfolk’s inaugural, four-day writing retreat—taking place June 13-16, 2024, on location at our brick-and-mortar studio, located on the second floor of the beautiful Iowa Quilt Museum in Winterset, Iowa, with one day spent at the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska—offers participants the time and space to explore and enjoy their passion for quilts using words and story.

With guidance from professional writers Mary Fons and Frances O’Roark Dowell, both published authors and quilters themselves, and Lauren DeLuca, a writer and copy editor at Quiltfolk and a former university-level writing instructor, you’ll have the opportunity to write about your quilting journey over the course of the four-day, in-person retreat. You might explore your experience as a quiltmaker, delve into how quilting has gotten you through a difficult time, or dig into what a particular quilt has meant to you. No prior writing experience is required—anyone is welcome to join!

Program Details (Click Below to Expand)

June 13 - 16, 2024

Thursday, 5 - 9:30 p.m. CDT: Welcome Reception at the Iowa Quilt Museum + (Optional) Private Viewing of The Bridges of Madison County at the Iowa Theater 

Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. CDT: Writing Day I + Solo Evening Time

Saturday, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. CDT: Day Trip to the International Quilt Museum + Solo Writing Time

Sunday, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. CDT: Writing Day II + Farewell Reception at Winterset Livery

A more detailed schedule is available in the Attendee Hub, to which you will have access upon enrolling.

On Saturday, we are going beyond Winterset to embark on an inspirational day trip (via chartered coach) to the award-winning International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. Here, you’ll be treated to a VIP guided tour, a peek into the collections rooms, and a catered lunch in the museum’s stunning atrium. Your instructors will lead you through a few creative writing exercises, using the museum’s rare quilts as inspiration, but you will also be free to browse and write during your solo time.

Mary Fons is a writer, editor, and livestreamer who specializes in quilt history and the life of quilts in popular culture. Her livestream broadcast, Quilt Nerd, airs twice a week on Twitch.

Since 2016, Mary has worked in various capacities at Quiltfolk, serving as editor of Quiltfolk magazine (2017-2021), and contributes currently as a writer and online workshop instructor. In 2023, she became the creative director behind the Quiltfolk Foundry project. Prior to that, Mary was editor and creative director of Quilty magazine, and developed, produced, and hosted more than 250 episodes of Quilty, a how-to show for beginner quilters on YouTube with combined views in the millions. On television, Mary hosted or co-hosted Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting on PBS alongside her mother, Marianne Fons. She is the author of Make & Love Quilts: Scrap Quilts for the 21st Century (C&T/StashBooks) and Dear Quilty (F&W Media). She has served as a columnist for Quilts, Inc., and her articles on quilt history and culture have appeared in publications such as Quiltfolk, Blanket Statements, Curated Quilts, Modern Patchwork, and Love of Quilting, among others.

Mary has worked as a quilt consultant on various media projects, including Sesame Workshop® (2022-2023). She serves on the board of the International Quilt Museum at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the American Quilt Study Group, and lectures across the country at universities and major quilt events such as QuiltCon. She holds a BA in theater from the University of Iowa and an MFA in writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Mary was born in a small town in Iowa, but she lives in Chicago (and sometimes in London) with her husband, Eric.


Frances O’Roark Dowell first combined her love of storytelling and quiltmaking in her 2016 novel Birds in the Air, followed by the short story collection, Margaret Goes Modern. In 2018, she created the Quilt Fiction podcast, where she posted chapters of a novel-in-progress, Friendship Album, 1933. These days, the Quilt Fiction podcast features monthly author interviews, novel excerpts, and short fiction. Frances also writes about quilts for magazines such as Quiltfolk, Quilting Arts, QuiltCon Magazine, Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting, and Curated Quilts. The print version of Friendship Album, 1933, and its sequel, Friendship Album: Forget Me Not, will be published in the summer of 2024. 

Frances has an MFA in creative writing/poetry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has published over 20 books for young readers with Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, including the Edgar Award-winning Dovey Coe, the bestselling Secret Language of Girls series, and Shooting the Moon, a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book and winner of the Christopher award, which is given to works of art and literature that “affirm the highest values of the human spirit.” She has been teaching creative writing workshops for over a decade. Frances lives (and makes quilts) in Durham, NC, with her husband Clifton and her elderly Cockapoo, Travis. She has sent two grown sons out into the world, and they seem to be doing just fine so far.


Lauren DeLuca has been a writer and copy editor at Quiltfolk since 2020. She has worked alongside Mary Fons in various capacities and served as the primary copy editor for Quiltfolk Life: Volume One, Quiltfolk issues 16-20, and the second edition of Roderick Kiracofe’s book Unconventional & Unexpected, American Quilts Below the Radar, 1950-2000. She currently focuses her time on writing and editing marketing content, Quiltfolk Journal posts, and more!

Lauren received a BA in English from the University of California, Riverside, and an MA in English from San Diego State University. As a first-generation college graduate, she is passionate about simplifying the often-intimidating writing process to make it more approachable to others. She believes that writing about personal experiences is one of the best ways to learn and grow as a writer. (She especially enjoys nerding out over proofreading and grammar.) Lauren has taught university-level writing, reading, literature, and rhetoric to both native English speakers and to those for whom English is a second language at the University of California, Riverside; Miramar Community College; San Diego State University; and George Fox University’s Adult Degree Program. 

Lauren lives in Oregon with her husband and two young sons. She aspires to write and publish a book of her own one day.

By the end of the retreat, you will have crafted a piece of writing that expresses what’s important to you about quilts and your life as a quiltmaker. You’ll also have the tools and skills you need to keep writing long after the retreat is over. 

No prior writing experience is required—anyone is welcome to join!

Please note that this inspirational, historic building was built in 1879. Unfortunately, there is no elevator, and the second-floor studio is only accessible via stairs. We sincerely apologize if you are unable to attend due to the building’s structural limitations, and we would like to reassure you that we hope to host future writing retreats with more accessibility in the near future.

The Right Time to Write Your Story Is Now. Register Today!

Even if you have never considered yourself a “writer,” there is no doubt that you have a story worth sharing. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you can compose when you are in the perfect setting, guided by fellow storytellers who will cheer you on every step of the way! The Quilt Journeys Writing Retreat is any quilter’s dream come true. Trust us when we say that you don’t want to miss joining this special cohort of writers and makers who will surely be part of Quiltfolk history.

Quilt Journeys is limited to 32 students. Click below to secure your spot!

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