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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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.
Because you never know when you (or a friend) will need one!
Hey, that’s twelve—two extras!
It’s the NEW math!!
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.
I have a friend who brings only handwork to sewing days for the sake of simplicity and not lugging a machine!
Thanks for this! I always end up forgetting something when I head out (although the ladies I sew with usually have whatever it is on hand to help me out). I will most definitely put a list on my tote.
I love that a group can usually solve a problem, and usually with grace and generosity!
It’s so true. And to be completely honest, quilters are usually amongst the most generous people I’ve ever come across!
Great advice! I retreat often, so I bought dups of some of the crucial supplies so one set can live in my machine’s travel bag.
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!
This is something I probably need to invest in… the chairs are usually too short for me and I end up sitting in them double stacked!
You’ve inspired me to make a “to go kit”! Great tips, especially the bandaids!
And it’s fun to make them goofy ones!
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! 😀 Thank you!
I hope you have a great time 🙂
One thing I make sure to pack is extra pre-wound bobbins. Running out can really slow you down and it feels like such a waste to tote all your supplies there if you spend most of the timewinding thread.
Great list. I love the covered magnetic pin caddy! I use magnet pin cushions at home but not out, of course. Now I can. Thanks.
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.