sewing small talk: travel sewing?

Hello friends!

S and I are headed out of town this weekend, and as I was packing I started thinking about travel sewing. Back when I had time to knit, I loved to travel because I always had a portable project to take along. But sewing, or at least apparel sewing, is different. Of course there are always a few hand-sewn details to finish off a project–a hem or some buttons, for example–but many apparel projects aren’t really conducive to travel. So that brings me to my question for this week.

What do you sew when you're traveling?

What do you sew when you’re traveling? I’d love to know!




  1. JEB O'Barr

    I have taken heirloom handsewing and Alabama Chanin DIY handsewing projects when I travel. When my children were little I often traveled with smocking or embroidery projects. Once when trying to get a dress done for my daughter to enter a contest at the fair, I packed up my sewing machine and sewed at a hotel. The most fun was the time I packed the sewing machine for the beach to work on a quilting project. These days I mostly take crochet or knitting.

  2. Liz

    I take my mending! Or rather, I pack a mending kit and work on any clothes I’ve packed that might need mending. I always find a little hole in our clothes, especially the children’s clothes. I often end up mending clothes for any friends I am visiting too. I pack some crochet or knitting as well. I once travelled with a quilt. It was a little bulky in my hand luggage but hand quilting on the plane was really meditative and comfortable as I snuggled under my project!

  3. I don’t sew while traveling. I usually try to take a knitting project along. But when we went home for two months this summer, I changed it up and started a cross stitch project. It’s a pretty big one, so it should serve me as a traveling project for a couple more trips at least!

  4. Stephanie S.

    One year, when my husband and a group of friends drove to Florida (no children) for a relaxing “sit on the beach and chill” vacation, I took my sewing supplies (machine and all) along with a small stash of fabric and simple patterns and sewed a few things for my daughter (a couple of reversible bucket hats among the items). They sat on the beach and chilled while I did my thing for a few hours each day (with a beautiful view). Of course, since then, I’ve been vetoed from taking everything! I have done a few small and simple wallets on long car rides.

  5. victoria

    Great question! I usually take a wool felt project (Gingermelon dolls). Or a felt christmas ornament. We drive 5 hours to our ski chalet throughout the winter and I bind a quilt or make toys. I often make pom poms too! They are perfect on the Christmas tree.

  6. Linda Nelson

    English paper piecing is a nice, small project to bring along on a trip. If I’m flying I usually just bring embroidery and TSA-approved scissors.

  7. Mary Inchauste

    I travel a lot for business, so I’ve mastered doing crochet projects in hold rooms & flights. Always have something to work on with me. Many baby blankets, scarves & gloves have been finished on business trips, during what I call . If traveling by car I might bring things to cut out so I’m ready to sew when I get home. The best options include small craft projects, quilt pieces, stuffed animals & doll clothes. Embroidery also good.

    Once, while my daughter was in undergraduate school I showed up with sewing machine in tow, used the conference room to cut out an evening gown & sewed all night to early morning in our hotel room to make her dress. She stayed in the room & managed to stay awake long enough for early fittings! Vogue Vera Wang Pattern in gorgeous navy silk. She is a 40 yr. old surgeon now and still has the dress.

  8. Richard in Charlotte, NC, USA

    since I do most of the driving, I do not sew anything when I am traveling. Also, I don’t do much hand-sewing unless it is the replacement of a button or mending a torn hem.

  9. Annette Poole

    Smocking a dress is fun and easy to take.
    hand piecing a quilt is my 2nd choice.

  10. Kaya

    I only take sewing when visiting my sister, and then only work on it while there. There’s just not much one can do while squeezed into an airplane seat. Crafts like embroidery, yes. I took a bra I was making once to do all the hand work. Then I was reluctant to take it out in public! Now I make baby hats I make for charity, and sometimes mail them off before I come home. Not very interesting, but useful, and crochet is peaceful.

  11. Linda CALDWELL

    I always have a quilting project at the ready.

  12. Chris

    We make quite a few trips in the car that are eight hours long and I HAVE to do something with my hands so I always have a smocking project. The problem is I am always up late the night before we leave getting the piece pleated and picking the correct colors of floss. The other problem is that I have is that I have the smocking finished and am now backlogged on the sewing part. I was just picking another project yesterday for an upcoming trip.

  13. Judi

    Depends on how I’m traveling. If by car I take a finished quilt and sew on the binding. If flying I take embroidery

  14. Jane Grice

    Embroidery or crochet projects are my go to project in a carry on bag. I make a round trip flight every 3 months that has a 2 hour connection so I have approximately 8 hours from check in to arrival to play each direction.

  15. I’ve become an Alabama Chanin fan & love to travel while doing the hand sewing -I can still participate in the trip but do my relaxing sewing

  16. Linda Mueller

    Since I sew all the time at home. my recent vacation was a nice break. We have put an older sewing machine in our condo at the beach, but my Mother in Law was quilting.

    I took an applique project that I have been trying to do handstitching on. It was a good break. This week I am ready to tackle some big stuff on my machine.

  17. Stephanie Arnold

    Generally knitting fits the bill! But I have also sewn a few small hand-pieced patchwork blocks when on the road and I second all the recommendations for Alabama Chanin projects!

  18. Martha

    I have an embroidery project that I chip away at on trips. I sewed a little zipper pouch that holds: the fabric, small embroidery hoop, tons of floss, a couple needles, TSA approved little scissors, a frixion pen so I can draw my design as I go. I marked the fabric with a neckline from a TNT pattern, which is what it will eventually become. My main learning is I don’t love to embroider LOL but it does pass the time!

  19. Holly

    I bring socks to darn. I never get it done at home. The tools are simple, and easy to pack. A ball of yarn, a needle and a darning egg. I zip the entire thing in a small bag. I put the socks into a a plastic bag.

    The cosmetic clutch from Straight Sewing makes a great travel sewing bag.

  20. Ruth

    My family takes long road trips quite often, and I’ve become used to hand sewing garments to pass the time. I’ve made quite a bit over the last few years. My favorite things to sew while traveling are simple woven t-shirt styles. But I’ve made much more complicated garments as well, on the road. Since hand sewing is something that I truly enjoy, you’ll even find me stitching on the beach or by the pool, talking with friends or family… It truly is my hobby, as well as my passion.
    My only tips are to not forget all the prep work involved. Be sure to have all your fabric pieces cut.
    While proper pressing-as-you-go may not be possible, at least finger-press seams. I use French seams as much as I can, (since I can’t use my serger on the road) and I usually stitch down the French seams as well. This makes the not proper pressing much less noticable (actually, I can’t notice a difference at all)
    Take only what you need for the project. Keep it simple. Be sure to have the tools you need, but you don’t want to have a whole sewing room full of things on your lap while in a car trying to hand-stitched a garment.

Leave a Reply to Stephanie S. Cancel reply