quilting on the go

I've been doing really well with this sewing every day thing.. yesterday i finished up the quilting on the wall hanging made by our students-- yes folks, I talked them into letting me quilt at work. Sneaky, eh?
I've got to sew a bit more tonight before bed-- I'll be without my machine for 10 days while we're in Chicago and I think I've become a little attached to her. Hopefully I can finish all my Christmas presents by hand over the weekend.
Speaking of stitching by hand, here is a post I had submitted to Whip Up for their "Public Crafting" topic in November, but sadly they weren't interested in using it. I'll be using this little kit tomorrow and all throughout my winter vacation though, so if you happen to see me stitching away at an airport or somewhere else in the Chicagoland area, please stop by and say hello.

Building a tool kit for public patchwork
Crocheting and knitting in public seem relatively easy; all you need are some needles and yarn. But what about patchwork? Can you quilt in public? On airplanes, in doctors’ offices, while riding the train, with a well built tool kit, you can sew just about anywhere.
I have been crafting in public for as long as I can remember. In grade school I had my floss box for friendship bracelets, in college we strung beads. Now I quilt. There are many steps to the quilt making process but not all can be done on the go. Don’t try to drag your iron out into the yard or bring that rotary cutter through airport security. You need to have projects at the portable stage, either piecing or quilting, and the project needs to be simple or repetitive enough that it can be picked up and put down again between bus stops. The other thing you need is a good tool kit.

I use two types- one for quilting and the other for piecing. The smaller kit becomes part of the bigger kit, so I’ll list its contents first:
-pin cushion, 20 straight pins, 3-5 needles, depending on what the project calls for.
-Clover thread cutter. Very convenient. I wear mine on an adjustable leather cord around my neck and have never had any trouble taking it on an airplane, domestic or international.
-thread. I keep my main thread on the elastic band in the sewing kit, and wind bobbins with the additional colors I’ll need. Then I tuck them into the pocket with a little of the thread tail hanging out and I’m good to go.
This small sewing kit is great for Hawaiian appliqué blocks that are already basted and require only one color of thread. It’s also nice to have for small quilting projects, wall hangings or zakka-type items. Almost all the necessary items fit inside the kit, with the zipper closing it into a pouch to hold any extras.

For piecing you’ll need something a little more secure to hold all the little patches. Start with a nice sturdy box that will stay closed, no matter how it gets tossed around inside your bag. Then you’ll need:
-zip top baggies, snack size. Great for holding/organizing pattern templates and cut patches.
-a small ruler.
-a bigger spool of thread.
-and extra items such as a pen and chapstick, note card with pattern details/measurements, etc.
When I’m piecing in public, the box makes a nice work space on my lap and gives me a place to store my tools and stray threads. When I’ve got to get up and go, it closes and latches securely and I can slip it into my bag. Even if the contents get jumbled around a bit inside the box, it’s easier to sort them out than if I were searching the bottom of my purse for my thimble.
Although putting together a quilt tool kit does take some prep work, once it’s done you can quilt just about anywhere. I’ve done Hawaiian appliqué on the beach in Crete, pieced stars in the airport in Tokyo, quilted placemats during a road trip to Savannah, and I even use it in my living room while watching TV. When company comes, just snap the box shut and slip it into a drawer. I know it will be ready when I need it again, wherever I end up going.


carolyn@crankymonkeybutt.com said...

dude you are going to be in chicago? i'm leaving today until the 29th but then i'll be home. anyway for us to meet up? i'll email you my numbers. it would be great to have coffee (while you piece of course!). plus there's a couple hand quilting things i want to ask you about! let me know. (and merry christmas, whether we manage it or not!)

PJ said...

I'm in love with this post! I've been quilting for many years and haven't done it in public (thinking of the bulk of it), but you have changed my mind and I want to form my own BOX!! Thank you for inspiring me!

The Calico Cat said...

love the tool kit! Mine is in a pencil box, but it doesn't include the fabric...

Marilyn R said...

I usually take quilting kits with me when I travel too! It makes time go a lot faster - especially on long car rides.

mishi2x said...

I was just cleaning out my little hand sewing box when I ran across your pic on Flickr - I love it!! I can't figure out how to quilt in public though... do you use a hoop?

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