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  • Kat Waskett

Tips for travelling with your cross stitch

Updated: Aug 14, 2022

Do you take your cross stitch with you when you go out and about or when you travel?

I think the portability of cross stitch is one of the best things about this hobby and I definitely take advantage of it to take my stitching almost everywhere with me because...why not?!

My stitching goes with me on day trips, weekends with friends and family and for longer holidays as well. It's also great to have on hand anywhere you might have to wait around for a while like an appointment. I even take it to work with me to stitch on my lunch break!

So, I thought I'd share some tips for taking your cross stitch out and about, whether that's a short trip out or travelling on a longer holiday.

1. Decide what to stitch

If you are planning to take some cross stitch on a holiday, then the first thing to think about is how much time you will actually have to stitch and I recommend taking a fairly small project unless you know you will have tons of time to stitch.

Having a small project that's easy and fun to stitch is perfect. So, avoid large and super complicated designs, or ones that use tons of different thread colours as these will not be as easily portable and might be more stressful or require more concentration than you would wish. You want to also be able to relax and take in your surroundings or socialise too!

Keeping your project small is really a must for stitching on some forms of transport such as planes, where your fellow passengers might not appreciate having a needle waved around in their personal space!

Of course, if you are planning for lots of stitchy time and are away for a while then do take something big enough to keep you going and not something that is likely to get finished in a day or two if you are away for a week. Or take a couple of small projects!

Not to be overly negative, but it's also worth considering how upset you would be if the project got dirty or damaged, or even lost! Maybe don't take that really special project with you.

For a week away I often take a very small project for the travelling part and a slightly larger design for the holiday itself, one that I don't necessarily plan to finish during the holiday and can continue with when I'm home.

2. Get organised!

Ok, so organising is kind of my jam but it's definitely a good idea when taking your cross stitch out of the house and my number one must-have for this is a project bag. You can get lots of beautiful project pouches but at the end of the day just a plain old grip seal bag will do; you just need a way to keep everything all together.

Preparation is also key so make sure you have ALL the things you need. I have (more than once) gone away and somehow forgotten to take my scissors so had to find a shop where I could buy a small pair. I now keep a pair of scissors in each project bag so I can never do this again!

Make sure you have your fabric, all the threads (organised in whichever way you prefer), scissors, a needle (and a spare needle!) and of course your pattern.

A5 project pouch with cross stitch pattern, Aida fabric, embroidery threads, tiny pink scissors and 2 needles in a small needle case

You may even like to prepare a bit more before you go, so you could edge your fabric to stop it fraying if you think it will need it (you might like to check out '5 ways to stop your fabric fraying') or cutting some lengths of thread ready to stitch with.

On that note, if you usually like a nice long length of thread to stitch with (yes please!) you might want to go a bit shorter for travelling...again, to avoid poking any fellow travellers with your needle!

A needle minder is such a valuable little accessory to have at any time but especially for travelling when you really don't want to lose your needle in a place that isn't your home, in case someone 'finds' it later with a body part - eek!

If you use a hoop when stitching then make sure you have that too, although it definitely saves a bit of space and weight if you can do without it and stitch in hand, which is often a bit easier with small projects.

I like to keep each of my projects in their own pouch all the time so that if I'm just popping out for a short time or a day trip, I can simply grab one and be ready to go.

If you are going away for a longer holiday then you might like to take a new project and I highly recommend you plan this well in advance of said holiday.

I do NOT recommend the inevitable last minute scramble to gather supplies that I often have because I suddenly decided I 'needed' a brand new project to take with me. I really should take my own advice here!

3. Lighting

Consider what light will be available and if you need to take any additional lighting such as a clip-on reading light. I've generally found the lights on coaches and aeroplanes to be good enough but hotel rooms...ugh. The lighting is pretty much always terrible, which is why I have now got myself a tiny LED light that I can clip onto something and for the size, the light is really great!

A5 project pouch with cross stitch pattern, Aida fabric, embroidery threads, tiny pink scissors, 2 needles in a small needle case, wooden embroidery hoop and clip on LED light

Cross stitching on planes, trains and automobiles

How and what you cross stitch while you are actually travelling will probably depend on the specific type of transport, and whether you get motion sickness. I actually do suffer with that a bit but can still stitch in a lot of travel situations.

Cross stitching in the car really doesn't work well for me as it is often too bumpy. I can just about manage it on a smooth motorway but that's about it. I often have my stitching to hand in the car though, just in case of getting stuck in a traffic jam!

I can usually stitch on a coach because I find it is often smoother than a car, unless it's a very lumpy road or a really twisty road, and stitching on trains or planes is totally fine for me.

I don't think I've ever tried stitching on a boat, but I guess I probably could if it wasn't bumpy, and I'd totally give it a go!

What about scissors on planes?

The one BIG question with planes is always 'can I take my scissors?' And honestly, there's no straightforward answer to this.

UK regulations allow scissors with blades not more than 6cm length and TSA regulations (for US) allow scissors with blades less than 4" (10cm) from the pivot point.

I thought I was being super clever in taking my Clover thread cutter (the metal one in the picture below) instead of scissors when I travelled to France, and it was fine, but I have since discovered that this would not have been allowed under TSA regulations, although it's not mentioned in UK regulations.

I know some stitchers take nail clippers as these are allowed, which is a clever option!

And after all that, people have reported having the tiniest scissors or even nail cutters confiscated so you can never be 100% sure that what you take will be allowed through, as it is always at the discretion of the security staff.

I now take a cheap plastic thread cutter, like the white one in the photo below, (as it's the circular blade in the Clover cutter that is not allowed) because this seems to be a fairly safe bet and if it did get taken away it's not a huge deal.

Alternatively, you could take a tiny pair of scissors that you don't mind being taken away from you. And make sure to have a second pair of scissors or thread cutter in your hold luggage!

I should also say that I have no idea what may or may not be allowed for countries other than UK and USA so either check beforehand or just be safe and/or don't take anything you would mind losing!

small needle case with 2 needles, tiny pink scissors, basic white thread cutter and metal Clover thread cutter with Aida fabric and embroidery threads in background

One other thing with scissors or a thread cutter is that it can be handy to have a lanyard or pull cord to pop them around your neck if there will be limited space for your stitching like on a coach or plane.

Fortunately, taking needles on planes is perfectly fine - phew! I still take spares in my hold luggage though! I have this super cute little magnetic needle case (the yellow one in the photo above) for taking a few needles with me.

So, do you stitch when you travel or go out and about? I'd love to hear what the strangest place you've ever stitched is!

Until next time, happy stitching (and travelling!),


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