So you are going on vacation, but your sewing machine can’t come? Or maybe you travel for work, and spend evenings holed up in hotel rooms?

For 20 years now I have been traveling and stitching at the same time. Airplane rides in my teens were used for reading. But once I started sewing, crocheting, and embroidering that is what it became…a chance to get a lot done. I have been deep in stitching projects far into the Norwegian wilderness, on park benches in Mexican towns, while living in French villages, on scuba diving trips in Honduras and Belize, living in tents  on archaeological expeditions in rural Turkey, rooftop terraces in Istanbul, and street side cafe’s in Prague.

Today we are on our way to Norway for a month long stay and I have been planning and packing my projects to come with me.SewingOnTheGo2
When you plan and pack projects for travel there are some considerations; First, your project has to be compact enough to pack well. But there are other factors as well. Here are a list of questions to ask yourself when packing projects for travel:

1) How upset will I be if my project is lost or my neighbor on the plane/coffeeshop spills a glass of red wine on it? Don’t bring something that is so precious to you that you would cry if something happened to it.

2) Can it be washed when finished? If not, which is often the case with needlework using hand dyed fibers and linen, don’t bring it on vacation to a place that is dusty, campy, mildewy etc. Example: I don’t bring stitching into the rainforest when I go. Everything we bring molds after a few days and since mud is an integral part of life there…no stitching for a few days.

3) Can you whip out your project quickly and work in confined spaces in short time intervals? If you need to spread out over a whole table, and setting up to sew takes several minutes…this isn’t a great traveling project. Pick something that is small and compact, that you can work with in your lap. 

4) Can you see to work on it in bad light conditions? Are you planning to sew on the plane? If you are doing counted thread embroidery, make sure the linen is a lighter color and a coarse enough count that you can see well. Black and dark fabrics are much harder to work on than light ones. 

5) Can you finish it during your trip? Sometimes it can be very satisfying to bring smaller projects that you can complete during your trip. That way the finished project, say a Christmas ornament, becomes symbolic of your trip when it hangs on the tree later. Put the date and location along with your name on the project. Much cooler than buying cheesy trinkets at a tourist trap.

Here are my favorite travel projects:

  • English Paper Piecing: Precut your fabric pieces and make sure you have enough paper templates with you. Then you just need scissors, needles, thimble, and thread and you are good to go. I think this is the perfect quilting-travel project.
  • Counted thread needlework: Pick a smallish project. My favorite projects for travel use few colors and are on a count on linen I can see easily. I also consider whether I am willing to risk a silk fiber project or if I can going to be use cotton which is less costly and could possibly get washed if I absolutely had to.


Consider also buying a Clover cutter like the one in the picture above. I always put my scissors in my suitcase because depending on the aggressiveness of the security people at the airport they may or may not confiscate my awesome 50+ dollar Dovo scissors. The Clover cutter has little indents along the edge where there is a tiny razor blade to cut your threads on. Put it on a string and wear it around your neck on the plane.


Happy stitching this summer!









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