Bag Making Retreat for Beginners

The Black Swan, 21 High Street, Marton,
Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, DN21 5AH

10th to 12th May, 2024

7th to 9th June, 2024

26th to 28th April, 2024  FULLY BOOKED

Near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire

If you’re a beginner bag maker, this Retreat is perfect for you. A whole weekend to immerse yourself in fabrics, stabiliser, professional techniques and tips to boost your confidence and your skills. Hopefully, there’ll be a lot of chat and laughter too!

**This retreat is a little different from many others in that making a bag isn’t the point of the weekend, although you will indeed make one. The focus is on learning new transferable techniques and skills that you will be able to use on so many bags you make in the future.

We have our own ‘Retreat Suite’ of rooms, including a spacious, light and airy sewing room which is equipped with a display screen so everyone can easily see demonstrations from a working viewpoint. We also have our own bathroom and kitchen facilities. If you wish, you are free to continue work after dinner and until as late (or early!) as you like.

You will need to bring your own sewing machine, fabric scissors and any other favourite sewing tools, but everything else is provided.

Come and join us in the exclusive Facebook group Bag Makers Retreat at https://www.facebook.com/groups/bagmakersretreat/ for all the latest retreat info, chat, gossip and more, plus a chance to meet other like-minded folks. 

If you have dietary requirements, please tell me before you book, so I can be sure we can meet your needs.

All meal main courses are included in the retreat fee, as are Saturday and Sunday lunches and breakfasts. Starters, desserts and drinks with meals are not included but the meals are so huge you probably won’t want starters and desserts anyway!! Tea and coffee is available whenever you need, but you do have to make it yourself! 

If you’d like to stay an extra night or two, maybe to arrive on Thursday or leave on Monday if you have a long drive, let me know and I’ll check availability with our host.

If you’d prefer to travel by train, we are happy to ferry you to and from the station, just ask.

Please aim to arrive no later than 2pm as we have a lot of pattern cutting and fabric choosing to get through on Friday!


The fun starts here as you arrive at your weekend home-from-home – a beautifully refurbished, 4-star 18th century coaching inn with all the comforts you would expect. You’ll have time to settle into your own delightfully comfortable en-suite room which has all the anticipated little luxuries,  before an introductory get-together with me and your companions in the sewing room at 2pm.

You’ll be given your own copy of the bag pattern, which is very beginner- and domestic machine-friendly but which will incorporate a lot of features and techniques that are also in much more complex designs, making this an excellent springboard to any bag you want to make.

Then you can wallow in the plentiful stash of fabrics to choose from, including some of my exclusive feature panel prints which aren’t available anywhere else. All the materials, interfacing, stabiliser, threads and bag hardware you need are supplied. As soon as you’re ready, you can start preparing and cutting out your pattern and some of the bag pieces so we can hit the ground running in the morning.

After a superbly-cooked and substantial evening meal at around 6pm or so, you are welcome to continue working in the sewing room or to simply relax and chat there before bed.


After an excellent breakfast, we can really start work adding to and adapting your bag pattern. You’ll work at your own pace from around 9am with no pressure – I want your weekend to be fun and not stressful! We will walk through the techniques together and I will be there the whole time to answer questions and troubleshoot any tricky bits.

You’ll also have the chance to try sewing with faux leather , if you haven’t already, and we’ll explore ways and techniques to use and apply rivets. 

Refreshments are freely available all day and you can take a break whenever you wish. A light lunch (with homemade cake!!) is also provided and we’ll have a short break in the middle of the day.

The rest of the day will be similar to Friday – sewing, dinner at 6ish and more sewing if you wish to before bed. Do feel free to have a walk or just sit outside for a breather if the weather is kind.


How can it be Sunday already??

Breakfast over, we’ll get back to work. You will need to allow a few minutes to pack and check out of your room, as it has to be made ready for Monday’s guests. Apart from that, it’s uninterrupted sewing (with refreshments and lunch breaks!) until your bag is finished. We’ll be heading off for lunch at 12.30pm or so. We have the sewing room for the rest of the day.  If you don’t quite get done, there’s absolutely no need to worry as you’ll easily be able to complete your bag at home. If you finish earlier feel free to head home whenever you’re ready.

Amongst loads of other hints and tips, you’ll learn  –

  • Interfacings – what to use and not to use
  • Using stabilisers – which is best and why
  • How to create a zipped pocket the pro way
  • Adding a recessed zipper main closure to almost any bag
  • Installing hardware
  • Incorporating a built-in key fob
  • Installing a rectangular  base
  • Sewing the bag together and topstitching
  • A sneaky way of getting your bag right-sides-out without ugly seams!
  • An easy way to add a zipper pull without tools
  • Working with different types of rivet machine
  • Faux leather on a domestic machine

You’ll have handouts on all the techniques to take home.

And I hope you have a lot of fun and make new friends while you learn!! 

I never abandon my students at the end of the course so if you get stuck on anything at home, you are welcome to give me a shout on Messenger and we’ll sort out your problem together.

The not-so-small print

Book your place using the simple booking system below – just click on your choice of dates and go from there. The full price is £395.00. The deposit of £60 is non-refundable if you cancel but can, however, be credited towards a future retreat booked within the next 6 months. It is completely refundable if I or the venue cancel. The booking page only shows the Friday, but the course is running until Sunday.

The balance of £335.00 is payable by approx 6 weeks before the retreat date and payment instructions will be sent to you in good time. Cancellations 4 weeks or less before the retreat date can only be refunded if someone on the waiting list can come instead.

*Don’t worry that your booking confirmation may be headed Unicorn Studios –  it’s just the site that I’ve run my booking system from for years… it’s not a scam!! *

Rated 4.9 out of 5
4.9 out of 5 stars (based on 7 reviews)
Very good14%

Fantastic return retreat

Rated 5.0 out of 5

This is the second time I have attended Ann’s weekend retreats as I enjoyed the first one so much. As with the 1st one I learnt so much as Ann has so many techniques to share, she is very patient and works with each individual at their own pace.

The new sewing studio is a great room, well lit and the facilities are perfect.

I’m sure I will be returning….

Tracey Bingham

Bag Making Retreat March 2024

Rated 5.0 out of 5

Fabulous retreat with Ann and some other lovely ladies. Ann is so knowledgeable – I picked her brains loads! She is very generous with her time and help as needed. We had some delicious fabrics to choose from. The work room is light and airy, easy access to the Loo and hot drinks. The Black Swan is a lovely place to stop – we were made very welcome and had some lovely breakfasts and lunch – and the pub across the road gave us some fabulous evening meals.

Linda Cope

Had a great time!

Rated 5.0 out of 5

I went to Ann’s retreat in October (2023). It was a great weekend spent with other like-minded people. Overall, I had a really lovely time. Ann was a great teacher, the others in my group were lovely, and the hosting venue couldn’t do more for you if they tried. Absolutely worth the money and would definitely recommend. Will (hopefully!) be booking to go on another one ????????

Dan Gower

Response from Artisanne Bags

Thank you and it would be great to see you again Dan – maybe for the leather one if I can get it together ????

Great weekend

Rated 4.0 out of 5

I had a fab time at the retreat in October. The venue was lovely, and nothing was too much trouble for our hosts. All the attendees were great, and there was a lot of laughter and banter between us all and Ann, who taught us and I learnt loads! The only reason I havent given it 5 stars is that it was the first retreat, with 8 of us and the room was not very big, so there wasn’t much room for each of us and some of us felt a little cramped. However, I understand that Ann is only booking 6 on each retreat now which I’m sure is much better. I can highly recommend Ann’s retreats.

Pip Haynes

Response from Artisanne Bags

You’re quite right Pip. It was the first time at the new venue and I did miscalculate the space a bit. I have taken the feedback comments on board and reduced the number to 6, as you say, which is a much better fit.

Excellent teacher and venue

Rated 5.0 out of 5

I Had a fabulous retreat with Ann who helped me at my speed! I Loved it so much – I’ve re-booked and Ann will happily help me with some specific areas I want to work on – I can’t wait!!

Linda Cope