Sewing at Retreats: Tools to make your life easier

     Hi there! This is Steffani from SewWithSass. My mother and I own a modern quilt shop in Brainerd, MN called Country Fabrics and Quilting and spend a lot of time teaching at retreats. We've had a ton of practice sewing away from home so I'm going to share with you some items that make my life a whole lot easier when away. These are some tricks I use to save time, so I can be efficient and productive. Generally, you get very little time to sew with your friends away from home, so you have to make the best of it.

• Before I leave, I start cutting out my projects ahead of time. I usually allow myself a week or two to do this, so I don't feel rushed the week of. When I get a project cut, I use projects bags to store my items. ALWAYS bring extra pieces you may have with never know when you have made a wrong cut or just plain don't like something. When you are finished with the project, it, along with all your scraps, can be folded back into the bag it came from keeping your work area tidy.

• I make sure that all of my rotary cutters, mats, rulers, etc are labeled with my name and at the very least my initials. I even have a fancy ribbon and button charm for my cutter if you feel like getting crafty! If you are heading to a quilting retreat check ahead of time to see if they provide such items as mats and rulers. Many have camp supplies, which limits how much crap you need to haul. Lets face it...we all bring too much stuff!

• The most important item I take with me is my Sewing Cup Cozy. It houses all of my essential tools that I need for a weekend of frustration free sewing. Seam riper, awl, chaco-liner, screwdriver, machine oil, lip balm and a ton of other useful items. It was so quick and easy to make, and fits over a standard size coffee mug. I have this right next to my machine when at home, so when it comes time to travel, I grab it and go.

• I also like to bring my own sewing table and chair with me when I go. Now be sure to check with the camp you are heading to before doing so, some have regulations on what items you need to bring. Most camps will allow your to bring your own chair, but be advised you will probably be sewing on a banquet style table so you chair might not be the right height. If if doesn't adjust then be sure to pack a few throw pillows for a boost. Your back will thank you on Sunday. If you are allowed to bring your own small table, I travel with a Roberts Sewing Table. They are relatively cheap, around $210 for a folding travel table AND custom insert to fit around your machine. I used mine at home for a while as well, before I got my sewing cabinet, so think of it as an investment you can you all year round! Bonus, the legs fold up, its easy to carry and packs almost flat for weekends away.

image from

• If you are not able to bring your own table, you might want to look into purchasing your own sewing table topper such as a Sew Steady table. (again this would work at home as well) These tables are custom cut to your machine opening, so they fit snug. This allows you to have extra table space while working on projects. Bonus: These tables are made in the USA!

image from Sew Steady

Now you should be all ready to pack up and head out for a weekend of fun. Enjoy yourself!

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