Quilters in the sky

Kevin Kosbab

Know before you go!

  • No liquids or gels one day, no quilting cotton the next? Check www.tsa.gov for the regulations du jour.
  • Finding quilting magazines at airport newsstands is a rarity, and it’s even rarer to find a selection of them. Stash copies of Quilter’s Home and your other favorites in your carry-on ahead of time. (If you’re traveling internationally, be on the lookout for quilting magazines that don’t get exported to the States!)
  • A guide to quilt shops is essential for any quilt-tripper. If you’re flying, take copies of the pages covering your destination. Don’t forget to check the Net for new shops that may have opened.
  • Foreign spots may not be covered by these guidebooks, so make sure to search the Internet for them. “Patchwork” may get you more results than “quilting,” especially for shops in Europe, and don’t forget that fabric stores without a quilting focus may still have unique and usable material.
  • Keep hand work on hand. If you’ve always got hand appliqué, embroidery, piecing, or quilting on the go, you’ll always have something to take with you for long and short trips.
  • For grab-and-go convenience, stash a small pair of scissors, thread, and other necessary notions in a zippered pencil case, toiletry bag, or your own sewn creation and make it your permanent travel quilting bag.

matters, too, when you’re a roving patchworker. Remember when flight attendants (they were probably still called stewardesses back then) handed out snacks and blankets without swiping your credit card first? Well, if you’re hungry, I don’t recommend scarfing batting in lieu of those itsy (and awful) $5 sandwiches, but hand-quilting can keep you warm, as well as busy, during a flight—and it’s free! Do be considerate, though. Don’t even think about bringing that king-size bed quilt. Otherwise, you’ll have to commandeer space from your neighboring passengers. Even small quilts can easily creep over the armrest, so it’s best if you’re traveling next to someone who knows how angry you’ll get if they snag your project. And choose a window seat so you don’t have to worry about someone treading on your future Best-in-Show on their way to the bathroom. As an added bonus, the repetitive motion of quilting can be quite relaxing, so it’ll make you less inclined to use your needles to silence the plane’s inevitable screaming child—definitely not a TSA-approved use of sewing equipment.

Binding can also be a therapeutic travelin’ task, but it usually involves too much twisting and turning of the quilt to make it practical during a flight. And once you finish the quilt, you’ll need to haul it around on the rest of the trip. It’s probably not worth the risk of damage or loss if it won’t keep you steadily occupied while on the road.

If you’re well equipped and well prepared, lengthy layovers and delays can become restful opportunities to practice your art. Besides, there’s not much else to do in those long airport hours except eat overpriced junk food, and I don’t know about you, sweet peas, but my waistline is begging me to sew!

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