BERNINA Sterling Retreat #1 – March 2015

It's a Sterling Life on Berkeley Square

It’s a Sterling Life on Berkeley Square

Last Monday saw me flying to Chicago to teach the first of six BERNINA Sterling Retreats at the BERNINA Creative Center in Aurora, IL.  Attendance at this retreat is one of the privileges offered to owners of the gorgeous BERNINA 880 Sterling Edition sewing and embroidery machine. On day one, taught by one of the BERNINA educators, students learn how to use the machine and play with a lot of the special features. On days two and three, taught by me (select dates only!), students learn how to use the tools that come specially packaged with the machine. In the process they create Abundance Avenue #3, one of the houses on the “It’s a Sterling Life on Berkeley Square” quilt, featuring embroidered applique, needle punch, stumpwork and crystal works.

BERNINA Head Office, Aurora, ILWhen I showed up at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix at 6am on Monday morning for my 8am flight, I checked my suitcase only to be told at best my flight was going to be delayed, at worst cancelled. Fortunately for me (and for the 25 students already in Aurora waiting for me) we were only delayed for an hour … for which I am incredibly grateful as so many people were not getting where they needed to go.

The Sterling Team at BERNINAI am going to be teaching six of the Sterling Retreats this year. A group of the BERNINA Educators are going to be out and about teaching the retreat in various stores. They are all featured here, from left to right:

Kay Hickman; Debbie Cacciamani; Nina McVeigh; Me!; Susan Fears (the amazing organizer behind the retreat, the genie who made me feel that my every wish was her command); Debbi Lashbrook; Sylvain Bergeron and Connie Fanders.


There’s nothing quite like looking out over a classroom of happy students!

Sterling RetreatSterling Retreat at the BERNINA Creative Center

There’s also nothing like looking out over a classroom full of BERNINA 880 embroidery machines, each one busy stitching with AURIfil Cotton Mako 50 weight thread – my favorite thread!  A big shout out of “Thanks” to Alex and Elena at AURIfil for  supplying the thread for all of the Sterling Retreats being held at the BERNINA Creative Center!

Here are some of the houses that were built during this first retreat:

The first house to be finished by Deb

The first house to be finished by Deb

Teresa's House

Teresa’s House

Sylvain's House

Sylvain’s House

Judy's House

Judy’s House

Ready to go home

Ready to go home

I’ll be back at the BERNINA Creative Center five more times this year. I can’t wait to meet you if you’re going to be there for a BERNINA Sterling Retreat on one of the following dates:

  • May 4-6, 2015
  • June 15-17, 2015
  • August 18-20, 2015
  • September 21-23, 2015
  • November 9-11, 2015
Beautiful Students at the first BERNINA Sterling Retreat

My Beautiful Students at the first BERNINA Sterling Retreat!



  1. Counting the days to the May 4-6 session!

  2. I can hardly wait until May! I get to go to the next retreat. It looks like fun,fun, fun. I hope the spring flowers are out and the snow has all melted. I am a warm weather girl. I have seen enough of the cold here in Texas this year. The house looks great and look forward to learning more about my 880! See you then.

  3. Jacquelin Calvert

    I’ll be at the one Sept 21-23. Looking forward to meeting you there, and am hoping Debbie Lashbrook will also be at that one!

  4. Wouah!… Very lucky with Bernina. I love the Sewing machines especially the Bernina.

  5. Hi, Sarah: The seminar sounds great. Where can I find the information for each upcoming retreat? I’m definitely interested.
    Regards, Maria.

    • Hi Maria,
      At the moment, you need to have purchased a BERNINA 880 Sterling Edition machine to be able to attend the retreat. Having said that, there are going to be a few happening at stores across the country. I will see what I can do to get a list of dates and places.

  6. Trudie vd Westhuizen

    Good day Sarah. I bought a Bernina 750QE and wanted to know if the Sterling Life Berkeley Square houses (designs) are available and what is the price of it because I have contacted South Africa’s head office and they could not help me. Kind regards Trudie

    • Hi Trudie,
      If you click on the Contact Us menu item and send me an email I can help you with that!
      Sarah 🙂

  7. Hi,
    I have an 880 but not a sterling 880, can I still attend a retreat?? I am also wondering where the other retreats will be held?? Places and dates pleas.


    • Hi Juel,
      If you don’t have a Sterling Edition B880 then you can’t attend a retreat at the Creative Center – but – you can attend one held in a store. Right now I don’t have a list of dates and places but if you send me an email (click on the Contact Us menu item) and I will see what I can find out for you.
      Sarah 🙂

  8. I live in Australia. Is there anything like this over here? I live in the country and don’t have access to a dealer or classes and am trying to teach myself. Can you help in suggesting books or other ways to try and get the value of this expensive machine B880 SE that I have owned for a couple of months. I have trouble threading the top tension and also getting the tension correct. Love the ordinary stitching but not that happy with the embroidery. I have owned Pfaff top of the line for over 20 years so am familiar and comfortable with embroidery.

    • Hi Peggy,
      Kay from Adelaide South Australia here. Otto and Penny’s sewing centre in Adelaide is where I have been dealing with for many years. I bought my 880 SE in November. I have had Berninas’ for ever over 18 I think. Please email me if you like

  9. Hi Sarah, I am trying to add my own text to the Sterling Life label you created with the blank center and have no idea how to do this in Paintworks. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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