Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Travel Kit

Since, until like two days ago, my studio was a complete and utter hellhole (see my last post: So Much Room for Activities!), I usually traveled for fittings. Unfortunately, this meant carrying tons of stuff with me, and I usually ended up searching for it all, throwing it into a bag, and running to the car ten minutes before the fitting was to occur.  Not anymore.

A few months ago I stumbled upon these great little black nylon organizer bags at Ulta. Originally meant for stowing hairdryers, curling irons, and various other hair-related paraphernalia, they looked like they would work perfectly for travel fittings (plus they were full of random hair product samples, so kid #4 was super thrilled). I didn’t want to spend a lot on a travel bag, because it would end up very used and abused and basically destroyed before too much time had passed…so the $3.33 pricetag was absolutely perfect — and I bought the last three I could find.

Getting rid of the Ulta logo was easy — I still had a yard of Spoonflower fabric that I had intended to turn into small garment tags but, in my haste to order, I accidentally made the logo much too large so I had to re-order them anyway.  Rather than throw away the mistake, I used about 3/4 yard of it to make an ironing board (more on that project later), and the other 1/4 yard became logo tags — the perfect size for covering the Ulta logo.

I also picked up a really terrific zippered vinyl bag at a thrift store because it was the exact chartreuse color of my logo. I had no clue how to use it (I think it was originally meant as a little lunch sack?) but in the end it became a great way to transport stones and other slightly-delicate, don’t-want-them-to-get-banged-around materials and supplies.

I painted a couple Altoids tins the same shade of chartreuse green. One is filled with pins, and the other houses my Square card reader and rhinestone sample cards.

A third tin, the origin of which I can’t recall (maybe kid #2’s Christmas present wallet?), was also painted green and houses a travel sewing/fittings kit, which includes a tiny tube of E6000, soap markers, thread, needles, sewing machine needles, safety pins, chalk, measuring tapes, a seam ripper (of course), a small vinyl pad for stoning, and a skewer for stoning.

All the tins include a logo magnet on the cover. Also in the bag is a great little LED light (which comes in handy when you have to finish 5 ballroom dresses in a Prius in the parking lot at night…long story, for another post), a calculator, paper, pen, scissors, business cards, and a roll of colored pencils.  Everything is chartreuse green, not because I’m particularly strange, but because in my brain, color coding things means they’ll end up back where they belong. It’s a very left-handed system, but it works for me.

Under the cutting table -- my travel fitting bag and my sizing leotards bag.

On the left is my travel bag — with room for garments and anything else I need to add at the last minute.

The traveling fitting bag, exploded...includes samples of rhinestones and everything I need for a remote fitting. Obsessively weird about that chartreuse green thing, I know...but once I started I just couldn't stop!

The traveling fitting bag, exploded…includes samples of rhinestones and everything I need for a remote fitting. Obsessively weird about that chartreuse green thing, I know…

So why should you care? Because if you’re reading this, then I assume you’re marginally interested in sewing, in some way or another — either the process or the product. And after 20 years of trying to figure out what I need when I’m not at home, I think I’ve finally worked out the kinks in my system and I no longer carry excess crap unnecessarily, and I no longer get somewhere and wish I had something I inadvertently left at home.

I get a lot of messages from sewist around the country asking about fittings, since apparently the desire for home sewn items is growing by leaps and bounds, but the desire to learn how to create such items is seriously lacking…so the people who do know how to sew are busier than ever. My advice to you is to keep a travel bag packed at all times, ready to grab and go whenever you need it; it’s worth the cost of duplicating some of your supplies (and, if you’ve got a kid like my #4 at home, then it’ll give you an awesome excuse to go to Ulta…).

What Are They Wearing Wednesday: Upcycled and Awesome

Today’s What Are They Wearing post is a little different — it’s not what’s on my mannequins, but what’s on my shop floor:

This beauty is the creation of my husband.  It’s huge — 4 feet by 5 feet — but its utility is far outweighed by the sheer awesomeness of the chartreuse green paint we picked out.


What started as an old hand-me-down table, missing its leaf, and obviously a mistake of short-lived 1970’s trendy interior design, is now a cutting table and ironing surface.  Inside a matching chartreuse metal tin is my too-hot applique iron, my too-convenient portable heat shield pad, and my too-fun pair of electric scissors.  The self-healing cutting surface is not quite 4 feet wide, so the remaining tabletop is covered with another mistake — this time mine — a 12″x60″ piece of fabric printed by Spoonflower with my shop logo and website address, which was supposed to be used to make garment tags, but the logos ended up being much, much too large.

In his usual way, he finished it with matching chartreuse molding (see?  I’m not the only perfectionist in the house).  It looks much better than it ever did as a dining room table, a true achievement for any upcycle project.

Why chartreuse, when I could have chosen from thousands of colors (see my post on color obsession here)?  Because in my former life I worked for a huge advertising firm, where I learned quite a bit about branding (between laying off people in waves…1992 in an advertising HR department was one of the worst places to be); so all our marketing/business materials and nearly everything in the shop is natural wood/burlap, shiny metallic black and chartreuse, and what doesn’t already fit into this little box will — as soon as I can afford to convert it.  But in the meantime, my chunky chartreuse cutting table will keep me happy for a very, very long time.