Sunday, July 3, 2022

How to pack a mini studio for your travels

When people ask me about my 100 Day Project—100 Days of Stitching Found Objects and Fallen Pieces—they ask “if” and “how” I take a project like this with me when I travel. 

The answer to “if” is: "Yes. I take this project on the road and I do stitch daily."
The answer to “how” is: make yourself a mini stitching studio. Here’s how I do it. 

Zipper pouches are the perfect travel companion for a Studio On-the-Go.

Taking your studio on the road

Zipper pouches are perfect for a traveling stitching studio. I’ve made a number of pouches over the years—with specific fabric choices, leftover fabrics from other projects, or an orphan quilt block. They can be made in various sizes and shapes. They hold quite a lot of supplies in them and tuck easily into a tote, overnight bag or suitcase.

My go-to pattern for zipper pouches is the Chunky Wee Zippy Pouch by Sam Hunter of Hunter's Design Studio.

Zipper pouches in various shapes and sizes.

Tools and supplies for travel

For my 100 Days of Slow Stitching, I gathered a variety of colors of embroidery floss, perle cotton, sashiko cotton, and 12 wt threads. Sandwich and snack size plastic baggies are great for skeins of floss and cut floss strands because the contents are easily seen and the bags are resealable.

Tools and supplies for a travel stitching studio.

My tools include small embroidery scissors, seam ripper, glue pen (for EPP projects), a metal tin (or needle case/needle book) for needles, pins, safety pins, and other small objects like bobbins, a thimble, needle threader, etc.

Conserving space by sliding spools into cones.

I like the cotton sashiko thread from Cosmo, but the cones are rather large for travel purposes. However, I discovered I can insert the perle cotton spools into the sashiko cones to conserve space in the zipper pouch. 

For the 100 Day Stitching Project, I packed a baggie of miscellaneous scraps, trimmings, and other ephemera for the road. But I quickly discovered all kinds of overlooked “fallen pieces” at hotels, restaurants and other places on my trips—soap wrappers, restaurant coupons, hotel card key folders, advertising flyers, and the like. 

When packing for EPP [English paper piecing] projects, like my 100 Days of 3/4-inch hexies, I pack paper templates, acrylic window templates, and fabric scraps in a clear sandwich or snack bags. If there are multiple shapes or sizes of pieces, each shape will have its own baggie.

Clear plastic baggie for English paper piecing [EPP] travel projects.

One of my zipper bags is always ready to go with supplies and tools for making fabric twine. I periodically refill this pouch with fabric strings and trimmings as needed.

Zipper pouch with fabric twine supplies.

Fabric twine pouch ready to travel.

Other mini tools and supply options

While we're talking about mini travel studios... you can find other "travel size" items that are handy for your creative endeavors when traveling but still conserve space in the suitcase. Visit your local quilt shop and ask them what they have or what they can order for you.

Mini cutting mats.

Along with an extensive selection of threads, hand-dyed floss and perle cotton, stitching yarns, and notions, I found this great plastic zipper project bag at Patches and Stitches, a needlework and quilting shop in Huntsville, AL.

Clear zippered project bag. 13" x 9"

Buy two... or more!

The basis of the saying, "Buy two—one to use and one to lose," holds true for mini travel studio(s). Each of my zipper pouches has a dedicated pair of scissors, appropriate sewing needles for the thread and task, and any other supply that is specifically needed for the type of project or technique. There is nothing worse than opening up a travel studio in the hotel room to find you have no _____ (fill in the blank).

Happy trails!

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