Thursday, July 16, 2009

Lack of Space Challenge: Full-Timing Travel Quilter by Sandy

Have Fabric, Will Travel!

I thought I would share some of my space saving tricks along with tips given to me. Dan & I started traveling last March and I have learned a few things during this time. I have figured out a way to quilt inside and outside.

1. Where to keep my iron and ironing board:
In the back of my closet, I have mounted an iron/ironing board holder. I also bought a short ironing board for easy storage and use in our limited space.

2. Where to keep my rulers, mats, and other hanging tools:
I have inserted several ‘L’ shaped hooks inside the closet on the doors and on the walls. Anything with a hole for hanging is now on a hook somewhere inside my closet.
3. Lighting is not very good for up-close needlework so add an Ottlite to save your eye-sight:
I have had a freestanding Ottlite for over 5 years and I cannot live without it. I was worried about my light bulb getting broken while traveling.
I attached a Velcro wire-organizer to the wall near my favorite chair. I can detach my Ottlite if I want to use it somewhere else or leave it attached to the wall.

4. I made a custom sized pocket organizer for traveling. I did not use Velcro since the arms on the passenger seat are open and I can slip the loops over it. I use safety pins when I sit in my favorite chair. Now I can have spools of thread, scissors, thimble, and reading glasses in one spot. And, I don’t lose my thread nor my scissors under the chair. I also keep my keys and cell phone in the organizer. Now my purse stays in the closet.

5. I bought a drink holder with trash bag while on a quilting retreat in Chama, NM last year. It has a clamp and can be moved to any table. I find this very useful inside and outside. Threads and scrapes do not blow-away thanks to the trash bag and I don’t spill my tea!

6. I also want to show you our computer center. Dan converted our dining table into a more space-saving storage area for our computers and accessories. Not to mention, the expanded countertop space. We have a bookshelf at the end of the counter. It also holds our printer/scanner, safe, paper, and printing supplies. Our laptops go on the top shelf when we travel. I also use the area for sewing. There is plenty of room for Dan’s laptop and my sewing machine. (that's Hitch being helpful)

7. I added a wall basket near me to hold pens, another pair of reading glasses, earphones for the computer, etc.

8. I keep my fabric in labeled Rubbermaid containers. I have been using Space Bags to hold more material. But if the bag gets a hole in it, well, let’s just say the container doesn’t close as well. Even with holes in the Space Bag, I feel the material is better protected from dirt, bugs, and rodents. Yes, we have already had one mouse in our rig. He is gone now.

9. My sewing machine has its own travel case on wheels. It is well protected so it can be stored below. The case has enough room to hold two small tin cans. One filled with rotary cutter, quilt safety pins, and good-grip gloves. The other is for sewing on the machine. It has a magnet for holding my straight pins, measuring tape, and small scissors (2nd pair). I also use the lid as a catch-all while sewing – spools, bobbins, scissors, etc.

10. I bought a 3x4 foot oak board for a sturdy cutting surface. I have to admit some of the picnic tables have seen better days. Dan rounded the corners and I sanded it down. I did not glue my cutting mat to the board since the board is stored below with items on top of it. I keep the mat in my closet. I also have a mat/ironing pad folder for the small projects like paper foundation piecing. The folder fits well on the kitchen counter with only one of the sink’s covers in place.

11. If you did not see my pictures in Webshots, here is my new design board – again thanks Cher for giving me the idea. It is not perfect, but it is better than nothing. I am using straight pins to keep the wind from blowing away my blocks. When I get a chance I plan to get some felt to glue to the backside of my oak board. One side will be for cutting and the other side will be for my appliqué designs.

12. I found a sturdy, but very light folding table online: This table has come in handy a couple of times when the campground’s picnic table wasn’t the best or non-existent. I use a dining room chair instead of a folding chair when sewing outside. So far, I have only done my sewing outside when we have a cemented site.

13. I like to hand-quilt, so I also have a freestanding 29-inch hoop. I am storing the hoop and my quilt under our sleeper sofa. I wrap the quilt in an old sheet to protect it. If I ever get a chance to sit outside with my hoop, I plan to use the sheet as a rug to protect the material from the ground. I don’t want to take the feet off for storage, so the stand is stored between the passenger’s chair and the first livingroom chair.

Here are a few more tips that I was given years ago:
1. Always cut the thread from a spool at an angle. It makes it easier to guide the thread through the eye of the needle.

2. Don’t wet the thread; wet the eye of the needle instead. The thread swells when wet. Yea, I wouldn’t try this trick on my sewing machine. I could see me explaining to hubby with a swollen tongue – no, I did not get my tongue pierced without talking to you…!

3. One more tip from a traveling quilter I met in South Dakota. She opted out on having a washer/dryer in her rig. Now her laundry closet is filled with fabric and quilting supplies. As much as I loooove my fabric, I cannot live without my washer/dryer. The machine is small, but I wash almost everyday so the dirty clothes do not pile up. I only use the campground’s laundry rooms when I have large items to wash.

One of the biggest problems I am facing with full-timing and quilting is not having enough time! Setting up and breaking down takes time when projects and tools are spread throughout the rig. So to shorten the setup and breakdown time I found being organized is a big Plus! Something I am still working on with my new lifestyle.

-I try to label everything!
-1 and 2 gallon Ziploc bags with blocks and patterns together.
-I have organized materials by project, by color, and by backings. I should pin a note to the material packets as to what project I was thinking of using them for when I bought them. Have you ever bought material and later wondered why? That’s me – short-term memory here!!
-In the storage below, I have my sewing machine, table, thread cases, and two tubs right next to each other. I can pull everything out from one spot.
-Looking through all of my storage areas periodically helps refresh my memory of where I put things. This is quite frequent these days!

Popular Posts