My day job frequently keeps me on the road, and whenever possible, I take along a sewing machine. Here is my process of keeping my sewing machine companion safe en route.
How to Carry On
Since I travel a lot, I don’t pack up my main workroom machine for each trip. While you certainly could, I find it easier to have a second machine for travel. For this purpose, I specifically chose a model from the same manufacturer and with similar features as my main workhorse. This way, I don’t have to struggle with relearning the machine everytime I’m on the road.
When I first attempted to travel with a sewing machine I asked my local service technician for some guidance. Their most important tip was to put the presser foot down, and the handwheel turned, so the needle is also down and secured into a small piece of fabric. I use a square of felt fabric for this purpose as it is strong and solidly holds the needle in place. Another tip I learned was to keep the machine in its normal upright position. For plane travel, this is not always possible; however, I do follow this practice when packing my car for a sewing road trip.
Previous research on this topic had me believe that I needed to remove the needle from the machine before the screening process. My local service technician negated this, and my practice remains as described above. Fortunately, I have never had a problem taking a sewing machine with me onto a flight, nor have I had any damage to my machine as a result (even with having the machine on its side for most of the trip). I go through security with my sewing machine like any other piece of luggage and most of the time I am not stopped or even asked about it. I do always allow extra time in case the TSA folks want to check it out.
For car road trips, I use the hard-sided case that came with my machine. I find the handle and size easy to carry- like in the photo above. If your machine didn’t come with a case, or you are going to be doing some plane travel, the following information may be helpful.
In the past, I utilized a small, hard-sided roller bag for airplane sewing travel. My machine fits in here perfectly, and it is still small enough to fit in the overhead compartments of most planes.
Recently though, I met another traveling sewist, who recommended I try a tool bag for this same purpose. As any good sewist would do, I hightailed it to my local big box hardware store, and I came home with a heavy-duty, nylon tool bag that I now love! The bag has a reinforced wide mouth with a zipper, to encase and protect my machine. There are also pockets on the outside for extra storage on this bag which thankfully fit all the necessary accouterments. I took this new bag out for a long trip earlier this month and was thrilled with the results. Having the shoulder strap meant that my hands were free and most importantly my machine was perfectly safe.
What About You?
Have you taken your sewing machine with you on the road this summer? Have you found a case or piece of luggage that keeps your machine safe en route? Please share any other tips or tricks you have on traveling with your sewing machine, and I hope to see you out on the road!