My Top Ten Tips for Sewing on the Road

I’m a member of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild, and they have a fabulous arrangement for members to sew together once a month at Fabric Depot, a huge store with a huge classroom. I love sewing with friends… the creative energy and the exchange of help and ideas is so great to be a part of.

Packing for mobile sewing can be daunting (especially when we do it at the last minute), so I’ve assembled another group of tips for you, but this time with an eye to being on the road:

1. Dedicated Crate or Tote

IMG_5554

If you use the same container to travel, you’ll get used to how you pack it, and will be able to see quickly if something is missing from the puzzle. I like to use a crate for my basic supplies because it fits solidly on a hand cart, and then I use totes (and zippy bags) for the projects.

2. List

IMG_5555

Keep a list of your basic mobile items with your container. I once arrived a retreat without the box of feet for my machine, and had to give up a chunk of my shopping budget to buy another walking foot and piecing foot. Refer to the list while you pack or it won’t really work!

3. Name that Ruler

IMG_5557

Put your name on everything. With most of us using similar tools, and frequently borrowing from each other, having your name on things means you’re less likely to go home without them. On rulers, I prefer a quick scrawl of Sharpie to a label, because I can still read the ruler marks through the scrawl.

4. Ribbons

IMG_5558

Not keen on having all your stuff labeled like you are still in grade school? Use ribbons to tie through anything that has a hole or loop. Mine, of course, are ORANGE.

5. Old Mats

IMG_5563

When your studio mat starts getting worn, put it aside for mobile use when you buy a new one. That way you’ll fret less if the old mat gets bent or warped from being transported. You can also cut old mats down to a more packable size.

6. Trash Container

IMG_5561

Let’s face it, to sew is to create trash of threads and shreds. Be kind to your host by capturing as much of it as you can. This one was a gift from a friend, and collapses for easy packing.

7. Machine Cleaning Kit

IMG_5560

Take your machine oil and Q-Tips with you in case your machine needs to get de-fuzzed while you’re out. There is nothing more frustrating than setting up for a sewing day (or weekend) and then having your machine act up. Having oil and cleaning supplies on hand is the first step for a fussy machine.

8. Needles and Blades

IMG_5564

The second step for a fussy machine is a new needle. Bring a packet with you. And if you’re gone for more than a day, or your rotary cutter blade is on the old side, pack a spare blade too. Blades are easy to dent, and when you’re cutting in unfamiliar spaces you’re more likely to drop your tools.

9. Extension Cords

IMG_5556

I usually travel with these two – the big one for getting the wall power to my setup, and the little one to share the power locally. I also carry a “ground cheater” plug in case I’m in an older building that doesn’t have grounded outlets.

10. Let There Be Light!

IMG_5559

The Fabric Depot classroom is well lit, but I’ve sewed in many a hotel conference space that wasn’t. I keep this portable light in my mobile kit just in case. There’s never enough light once you head north of 40!

11. Magnetic Pincushion + Lid

IMG_5562

I prefer magnetic pin cushions to the traditional variety, and this one, made by Clover, has a lid that also clips onto the base when you’re using it. The lid keeps the pins covered while they’re in the kit, so that they don’t stab me when I’m least expecting it.

12. Band-Aids

IMG_5565

Because you never know when you (or a friend) will need one!

Please share your tips in the comments!

BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “My Top Ten Tips for Sewing on the Road

  1. excellent reminders. I once got to retreat without my power source for my machine. Did some amazing hand embroidery that weekend. Because I did remember to take along a hand project for those necessary break times.

    Like

  2. I added a Cushion! I splurged $20 for a big, overstuffed, seat pad from the summer supplies for outdoor furniture. I leave it in the trunk of my car. I can use it at baseball games or sewing circles. Since most sewing tables/chairs we use away from home are not meant for what we are doing, that little stuffed boost up is just what my back needs.

    Thanks Sam for this great write up! Will be sharing with my ASGLA peeps!

    Like

  3. this is a very timely post because this Sunday my MQG has a sewing day which i will be participating too. I was thinking about what to pack and how to pack, so your post will be very useful indeed! :D Thank you!

    Like

  4. I’ve marked all my Bernina sewingmachine feet with a dab of nailpolish, for the same reason as marking the Omnigrid rulers.
    And I always bring along a telescope magnet, to pick up all the pins from the floor at the end of the day.

    Like

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s