Sew and Go

Despite the snow outside my window, I am looking ahead to warm weather when I will want to get outside and travel. But no matter how beautiful the weekend weather gets or how many invitations I get for backyard parties, I still have the itch to sew. What's a busy girl to do?

It's time to take my sewing on the go.

This is where my sewing turns to handsewing techniques and hand embellishment such as embroidery and beading. I have a plethora of tote bags that can each be filled with a portable sewing project perfect for sitting by the pool, enjoying a long car trip, or relaxing at a backyard barbecue. You would be surprised at how much sewing I can get done, especially with a margarita nearby.

Sol by Lyric Kinard.

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All it takes is a little planning. I save up routine handsewing tasks like slip-stitching hems and sewing on buttons, which can easily be done while spending time with friends and family. And I prepare more involved hand-embellishment projects for long car and plane trips. For example, I completely hand embroidered and beaded a top during a 9-hour flight to Spain. It was ready to wear by the time I landed!

The February/March issue of Quilting Arts has a great article by Lyric Kinard titled Art 2 Go: Finding Time to Create that has some great tips for completing projects, even with a hectic schedule. Here are some of Lyric's key ideas that will keep you sewing no matter where you are.

Working by hand

Even if you think you have no patience for handwork, give it a try. I'm not the most patient person in the world-I can't even sit in the carpool line or through a concert without getting fidgety-but I do handwork because I'm an impatient person and always need a little something to keep me occupied.

To avoid being driven mad with boredom by repetition, try doing handwork that is entirely improvisational rather than carefully planned out in advance. Let yourself be enthralled by the beauty of the materials you use, and let them inspire the growth and direction of each piece. Regardless of whether you are a meticulous planner or a free-spirited improviser, you can grow to love working with your hands.

Preparing small projects

Preparation is the key to making art on the go. Having a project that you can quickly grab on your way out the door will greatly increase your productivity. I recommend having a wide variety of take-along projects available at any one time, each suited to a particular method or working space.

Portable projects can be stashed in even the most compact of purses and are ready to work on at a moment's notice. The secret is to have a coordinated set of lovely materials to work with. It takes just a short amount of time to pull together a tin full of beautiful embroidery threads, delightful beads, and embellishments that go along with your favorite bits of cloth. Put the mixture in a small travel tin, along with a pack of needles and a little spool of beading thread. I also leave enough room for my folding travel scissors, a thimble, and a needle threader.

Fabric flowers are easy to sew on the go.

Pack a small sewing kit for road trips or plane rides.

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Ongoing projects

Another great way to make art on the go is to create a larger project that is composed of smaller pieces of handwork. I've had a piece in mind for years now that includes a plethora of little folded fabric flowers, so I'm always making these on the go. A few scraps of fabric and a needle and thread are all that are needed to keep me busy through hockey practice or violin lessons.

Tips for working in the air or on the road

Take a needle threader that has a thread cutter attached if you are worried about flying with scissors. (But don't rule out carrying a small pair of scissors; my fold-up pair has never been questioned at an airport.)

Use shorter lengths of thread and learn to pull your needle with the point facing you. Your seatmate will appreciate it.

Thread a bunch of needles ahead of time if you have trouble threading in a bouncy car or plane.

Close the tin after picking up beads on your needle when you are in a moving vehicle. (Seed beads could fly everywhere on a bumpy road or when a plane hits turbulence!)

Wrap a bit of Scotch Tape, sticky side out, around your finger and dip it in your beads so you won't have to open and close the tin as often.

These are great tips that are sure to keep you sewing all year-long even when warm weather beckons. Keep your skills current with informative articles, step-by-step instructions, and beautiful images found in every issue of Quilting Arts, and start taking your sewing on the road.

Happy sewing!


Other sewing topics you may enjoy:


Easy Sewing Projects

9 thoughts on “Sew and Go

  1. I love to have projects to work on like this. It does help, tremendously, to have little packets all ready to go. I’ve never thought of taking along a project with seed beads, but now maybe I will. Thanks. 🙂

  2. Just when I ask myself “why am I subscribed to this SewDaily nesletter — you come up with something I NEED!
    Travel sewing – or embroidery on cards and scrapbook pages!
    Thanks for the hints. Trying to read in a car is sometimes hard with the rough roads, but a little hand sewing, repair, or decor might be good. And you can still talk to your traveling companion!

  3. I’m using several redundant glasses(eye-glass) cases of the hard-sided hinged variety to hold small projects for travelling. I wouldn’t trust them for beads, but they are good for embroidery, buttons small applique etc. They can be decorated/labelled to brighten up the drab outer cover, and the firm structure protects flowers and folds from being crushed.

  4. Great tips! I am new to blogging – and confused. I have two questions, not sure if this is the correct way to find the answers, but I’m giving it a try:

    1. Where can I find instructions on making the fabric flowers?

    2. I read somewhere, it may have been on, about fabric markers that disappear when heat is applied, such as with a hair dryer. Does anyone know where I can order these online?

    Great website!

  5. I see a beautifully done Family room with luxurious twin french chairs in the oranges and grays with matching drapes and huge pillows on a gorgeous sofa.

    I also see my granddaughter’s room with her bed covered in ruffles of the oranges and pinks with matching canopy and large pillows coordinating with the bulky comforter.

    Beautiful, stunning, gorgeous!! I would love win! Happy Sewing, Pamie G.

  6. I wonder why people ignored our requests for instructions on making those fabric flowers? Is it supposed to be common sense? Anyway, I found a book that has instructions on making a variety of fabric flowers. It is “More Fabulous Flowers” by Sharon K. Baker, 2008. I made some this afternoon – they look pretty good!