Monday, November 2, 2015

Make A Portable Sewing Station

Upcycled Project Bag

I saved this cute lunch box when my youngest decided she was too old for it. I had nothing in mind for it, but I couldn't bear to part with it. I discovered it again recently, and it's ideal for carrying around my ongoing hexie project. Tres chic!

Taking Your Projects Along

Quilt Squad, our sewing group, meets 3 times a month. Twice in the evening, and once on a Friday morning. Our Friday meeting includes a shared breakfast, and these gals can cook. I think we look forward to the food as much as the sewing and laughter. I love being there with everyone, but each time it rolls around I find myself dreading 2 things:

What will I take to work on?

How can I be sure I take everything I need for that project?

I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels this way about sewing days, and I want to look forward to it again. The one thing we can all do is prepare ahead of time. We need to plan.

Let's be honest. Not every project is portable. That king size quilt we have in progress is out, but a few of the blocks might be good. Think small. Many quilters want to have a compact project ready in a bag to go out the door. You never know when you'll have a few minutes in a waiting room. Knitters are visible everywhere--kudos to you, but what if you only sew? You could:

  • Hand sew binding
  • Do applique work
  • Hand piece individual blocks
  • Add embroidery to blocks or a quilt top
  • Pick out a mistake
  • Quilt in a small lap frame
  • Snip extra threads overall or at intersections to swirl bulky seams
  • EPP
  • Handquilting using perle cottons and longer stitches. Skip the hoop.

It's not an extensive list, but it's not easy to make either. Many of us predominantly use our sewing machines for our work. How do we make it easier to pick up and go? What else should a quilter have in a portable sewing station?

Sewing machine

A lightweight model is ideal, but often we don't have a choice. Typically we take an older machine if we've purchased another. I highly suggest you have a hard cover or carrying case for it. The greatest abuse my machine takes is in and out of the trunk, and moving it into the sewing area via a shopping cart. It tipped over in the cart once while moving it over a curb, and I prayed it would light up again. It did, but taught me to take better care of it. Now I treat it like a baby!

No hard case? Try wrapping it in a few towels with a bungee cord around them, or packed inside a box. Not glamorous, but better than taking a knock to a computerized panel.

Ironing Surface and Iron

I love my mini board made from green insulation board because it weighs almost nothing. See Supersize It! for a quick tutorial. I have an older light weight iron, and really dislike mini irons. I would rather be able to press straight down once than have to deal with a tiny sole plate. Also, an empty water bottle makes getting water and filling your iron easy, and adds no weight.

Cutting Board

Unless I know I'm going to stand and cut yardage all day, I opt for a smaller surface. Even though it weighs more, I like to take my 17" Olfa Rotating Cutting Mat. It's perfect for smaller projects, and where table space is limited. It's ideal to be able to turn the mat to finish cutting.

I also have smaller essentials packed and ready in a sewing box.

  • 60 mm rotary cutter
  • 45 mm rotary cutter
  • light weight full size scissors/shears
  • small curved blade scissors
  • small straight blade scissors
  • stitch ripper
  • 2.5" x 12.5" ruler
  • water soluble blue marker
  • spare sewing machine needles
  • hand sewing needles
  • tape measures
  • pins
  • pin cushion or a magnet
  • a glue stick
  • several spools of neutral thread
  • band aids
  • small bottle of a starching or pressing product
  • empty water bottle
  • Post It Notes, pen and pencils
  • 3 prong grounded extension cord
  • fabric scraps to test tension, use as a pressing cloth, etc.
  • small roll of packing tape--Great for tacking up finished blocks or tops to a wall or cleaning threads from your work or You!
  • name tag

What other items have you found are necessities? 

Just between us, some kind words of advice: Love your sewing sisters, but mark your tools. People buy the same brands, and occasionally things get mixed up. If something is dear to you, don't take it. Otherwise, put your mark somewhere so you know it belongs to you. It may save a friendship.

Catarina, a kind reader, commented that she makes a master list so she can be sure everything is in her basket. It's a great idea. 

And on that day when you just can't face lugging your giant laundry basket of essentials, you could try knitting. Borrow a book or ask a fellow sewist, and learn a new way to stitch. It's definitely a more portable project.

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.


linda said...

You forgot english paper piecing. And handquilting - skip the hoop and use perle cotton and bigger stitches.

Catarina C said...

When I go to my different guilds I look at my checking-list to see that I have all things wityh me I would use. Your todays blog contents very good things, and I do like your pictures!

Hugs Catarina

Jayne said...

I thought preparing to take my babies for a day trip was chaotic, wanting to make sure I had diapers, wipes, toys and food...preparing for a quilting outing can be just as crazy! I only have a once a month guild meeting. But there sure are a lot of 'things' that need to be toted around for it!

Ruth said...

Knitters definitely have it easier than sewers when it comes to stitching sessions! I have a Pfaff Passport2.0 and I love it to bits for taking to sew ins. It's tipped over in the boot of the car too so now I put it behind my seat in the car - I have short legs so there's lots of room for it!

TheEclecticAbuela said...

I'm a stay-at-home quilter, but these are great ideas.

Lisa in Port Hope said...

I like having a zippered case for my portable projects, it keeps everything together. Great tips!

Lisa in Port Hope said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sandra Walker said...

These are great tips, Julie, thanks. I have a list I made when I went regularly to retreat weekends, and my tin box is never emptied of essentials for a quick grab and go. I need to grab some yarn though, thanks for the reminder!

Tawa said...

A great list, I need to get a box set up, since I often resent wasted time spent at various places but feel too disorganised to have a project on hand.

Julie said...

Duly noted, Linda, and added to the list. Thank you!

Julie said...

Great idea, Catarina. A master list of all you have in the kit or need would be helpful. I'll amend the post with that.