Thursday, December 7, 2023

‘Happy Happens Here': Quilt retreat becomes haven for companionships


Since 2014, a local quilt retreat has been providing a safe haven for women to come together to sew, quilt and scrapbook, all while staying in a relaxing and peaceful home away from home.

Patti’s Last Resort, located at 6495 Smokey Hill Court in Acton, features three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a large crafting area with 12 tables and chairs, and an onsite quilt shop.

“We seat 12 people. We can sleep 14, but we only have 12 chairs and tables out,” said co-owner Patti Carey. “If they’re hand embroiderers, that’s usually not a problem because they can both fit at one table, but when ladies come here, they bring their whole sewing room with them, and they just spend the weekend crafting.”

Each bedroom contains four beds — with the option of using two trundle beds for two additional guests — and an attached bathroom with color-coded towels. One bathroom features a shower only, one is a shower/bath combo and one is ADA (Americans with Disabilities) compliant with a shower.

"We get a lot of women that are elderly, and I mean, a typical age for a retreater I'd say is probably 55 to 80 for our clientele age,” Carey said.

The kitchen is fully equipped with appliances, as well as an under-the-cabinet ice maker, Keurig coffee maker, and a small instant pot. Dinnerware and utensils are provided for guests to cook their own meals.

There are several design walls in the crafting room where guests can hang their finished quilts, along with a cutting station and two pressing stations. Crafters can also take their projects outside on the spacious patio that overlooks a wooded area.

“My back porch has always been a transformation,” Carey said. “My son died six years ago, and so my sister-in-law and her son made me this garden and put a plaque up there and everything, so it's pleasant out here; it's quiet, you know, nice.”

The loss of Carey’s son hit her hard, but the calmness, serenity and unity that Patti’s Last Resort provided aided in her healing, thus solidifying the retreat as a “safe place” in her mind.

“A lot of people that lose their spouse, or a child, they seem to come here, and they feel like this is a healing place. It's really weird, but we hear it all the time. People are like, ‘We just love it here and it's just so homey.’ It feels like you're with friends in your own home. It doesn't feel like you're at a business,” Carey said. “This place has kind of become a haven for people that need companionship, and that was one thing that we really wanted was to make sure that everybody felt good when they came here, that they can leave their troubles outside and come in here and have a good time, so it's become that.”

Carey started Patti’s Last Resort with her longtime friend of 20 years, Olivia Baron. The pair had previously worked together at a quilt shop.

“We've always wanted to do something together, some kind of a business,” Carey said. “2013 was our (Hood County) tornado. I worked with Mission Granbury and I was also a first responder. My house is right through the woods, and there was a tornado coming right at us. I'm fearing for my life, I've got my dogs and my husband in the bathroom, and we're all hunkered down. Well, it turned right before it got here, and it went and got another neighborhood. But I woke up the next morning, and I just knew I had to do something — I just didn't know what.”

The idea finally came to her when she, Baron and some of their friends went to a quilting retreat at another location a short while later and had a great time.

“We said, ‘This is so nice. We wish we could do this more often,’ and one of us said, ‘We need to build a retreat center.’ That was August 2013, and that was the weekend we solidified that we were going to do it,” Carey said.

Of course, running a quilting business with a friend may “seam” like a dream come true, but it’s not always buttons and bows for the pair.

In fact, to protect their friendship, Carey and Baron actually had to come up with a code word they could use when one of them gets stressed out and says something they don’t mean.

“Being friends, I said, ‘You know, we can't let this business get in the way of our friendship so let's get a code word, so if one of us gets out of line, we'll do our code word, and we'll know that we just crossed the line,’” Carey said. “We came up with ‘Bob,’ so that way, if one of us did go a little bit too far, we could just say, ‘Oh, is ‘Bob’ here?’ We're like two peas in a pod, so if one of us is stupid, we're both stupid. Our brains think alike in a lot of ways, but we've had fun; it's been good.”

Luckily “Bob” has only come into play a few times in the seven-and-a-half years that Patti’s Last Resort has been active.

“We’ve worked with each other, we’ve held each other up and we’ve carried each other,” Carey said.

The flat rate for a stay at Patti’s Last Resort is $400 per night, with guests renting the entire three-bedroom/three-bathroom house during their stay. A two-night minimum stay is required, but most guests stay for an average of three days. Occasionally the resort has had up to nine bookings in one month.

“We stay really busy. They get here and they don’t leave,” Carey said, with a laugh. “When we built it, we wanted small to begin with. We want to be able to talk to our people and know when they’re here. There are some retreats that house 30-35 people and it’s just too impersonal. Here, we get a chance to see the customers, talk to them and sit with them, and we just like that size; it works great for us.”

Every Monday, Patti’s Last Resort hosts a Happy Hour Sit ‘N Sew from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. For $5 a day, guests can bring their lunch and their sewing project for some mingling and project fun. Guests can also arrive early and stay late to receive a discount on regularly priced merchandise (four-hour minimum).

The on-site quilt shop is open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. The quilt shop sells items like fabric, notions, gifts, patterns and sewing tools like rotary cutters, mats, scissors and pins. Retreaters will also receive a 20% discount on regularly priced merchandise in the quilt shop during their stay.

Carey’s goal for the new year is to give Patti’s Last Resort a “new look” by redecorating the shop, putting up new curtains and decorations and trying to start 2022 with a “fresh outlook.”

“Our motto is ‘Happy Happens Here.’ It's just such a great feeling when you get a full group of women here, but when that classroom is going on too, you can hear laughter coming from both sides. It touches your heart. It's like, ‘I succeeded,’” Carey added. “We did what we wanted to do, which was to make a place for women to come and be happy. This is a healing place. We've done this together.”

For more information about Patti’s Last Resort, or to sign up for a retreat or class, visit online, or call 817-326-3287.