Stitching on the Go

Stitching on the go is a great way to eke out stitching time and be more productive.

Most of us have obligations outside the home: We have errands to run, people to chauffeur, meetings and events to attend. These activities often include time sitting and waiting. We wait in the carpool line or at the dentist’s office; we sit and watch swimming practice (or a baseball game); and we sit and listen to speakers at the community council or PTA meeting. All of these are opportunities to get your stitch on, and making use of them will make you more productive and make your time away from home more rewarding.

Plan Ahead: Choose the Right Project

The key to stitching on the go is planning ahead. First, you need to choose a good on-the-go project; not all projects are travel-friendly. For instance, if you need your magnifier or 80 skeins of floss or seed beads, you’re better off leaving that project at home. Better choices include the following:

  • Small, portable projects: bookmarks, bracelets, tags, fobs, zipper pulls, cards, barrettes
  • Things you can stitch in hand: edge stitches, card stock, Aida, vinylweave, or screen
  • Projects for which you don’t need a pattern: repetitive stitches, edge stitches, backstitches, backgrounds, patterns you make up

Prepare Several Projects

On your way out the door is not the ideal time to gather supplies for your on-the-go project. Take time to prepare projects and stash them in bags so they’re ready to go when you are. I might have a project bag stashed in the car; I might have one in my backpack or bag; I always have one on my desk by my computer and phone. Technically, at my desk isn’t “on the go,” but I use the same kinds of projects here, namely things I can pick up and stitch during phone calls and webinars.

Sample On-the-Go Projects

Five bracelets in progress.

Five bracelets, in various stages of progress, are bagged and ready for stitching on the go. The edges and back side are all stitched in hand with repetitive (easy to memorize) stitches.

I will stitch the decorative portion of a bracelet at home, then stash it in a bag with a needle and pearl thread so I can stitch the edges and back anytime, anywhere. If I needed a pattern, I’d make a working copy of just the part I needed and tuck it into the bag. Edge stitches, however, tend to be straightforward and repetitive, which makes them easy to memorize. As an extreme minimalist, I don’t want to lug a pattern around with me, so I’ve committed edge stitches to memory.

Two barrette outlines with pulled-thread fillings.

Blanket stitching around the perimeter of a barrette (or tag or something else) is easy to do in hand and requires few materials. I used a hoop for the pulled-thread interiors.

Blanket stitching around the edge of a future barrette is always an option, as is doodling for a zipper pull or paperclip.

Hand-stitched card keeper with gift card inside.

This snapped pouch is just the right size to hold a license, credit card, and cash–or a gift card.

My most recent stitching-on-the-go project was a “card keeper.” It’s a small, snapped, wallet-like pouch that holds a license, credit card, cash—or a gift card. I carried this project around while on vacation the past few weeks, stitching here and there as circumstances allowed: sitting around the table after dinner, during eucher and movies.

The completed pouch fits in my pocket and is a great alternative when I don’t want to carry a wallet or purse. I think these card keepers would make great gifts—especially if you’re giving a gift card. In fact, all of these small projects make great gifts.

Summer’s a great time to be out and about. Think of all the stitching you might get done while you’re enjoying sun and sand, family and friends, games and outings.

How much stitching on the go do you do already? What are some stitching-on-the-go projects that you’d like to do? What will it take to prepare them so they’re ready to grab and go? Yes, I really want to know. I always want to know; you know that!

9 Responses to “Stitching on the Go”

  1. So so much simpler than my linen (!!! didn’t realise it was linen when I bought it!!) cross stitch I worked on during my 8hr trips to Perth. 7 years on I’m still going. I should have thought to do a couple of easier projects!! 🙂

    April 16, 2014 @ 11:44 pm
  2. Start with something easy or small? Don’t be ridiculous!

    Did you actually work on a big project during an 8-hour car ride? I can’t imagine! For starters, I can’t stitch in a moving car because I get motion sick, but I can’t imagine working on a complex project during such a trip. I’m impressed! That’s dedication.

    I was actually anti-small projects for a long time. It wasn’t until I developed the bracelets that I embraced “small,” and that’s opened a whole new world that it turns out I love. Who’d a thunk?

    April 17, 2014 @ 8:42 am
  3. I don’t get car sick, but it did have tendonitis, so after a couple of hours my right hand can’t hold the frame. BTW I didn’t even use a frame at first LOL!

    I’d put it down and do something like reading or crytic crosswords for a while. I would have scrapbooked, but I didn’t have a laptop at the time.

    I’d been stitching for 10+ years before I started that project though!

    April 17, 2014 @ 11:49 pm
  4. I have trouble holding a hoop for a long time, too. I’ve always found it interesting and curious that holding the frame is more stressful than manipulating the needs.

    Plenty of people prefer to stitch in hand. I need the tension a frame provides.

    How productive you are in the car! I do nothing but think and daydream.

    April 18, 2014 @ 6:38 am
  5. Marguerite

    Try using a hands free lap frame Melissa. I have been using them for 12 years and it makes a hugh difference to my hours of stitching. All good embroidery shops should carry them.
    Happy sewing.

    February 21, 2015 @ 4:46 am
  6. Jen

    That’s a great idea, Marguerite! I’ll make sure Melissa sees this. She’s Down Under with you.

    February 26, 2015 @ 10:41 pm
  7. Christina Arlington

    Thanks for the very good suggestions. I did laugh at the title. When I worked I only had my coffee breaks to stitch in and I got more accomplished in those two 15 min breaks than when I retired. So, now, I dedicate 15 mins a day to stitching (usually works out to more LOL)

    June 6, 2016 @ 12:05 pm
  8. Jen

    I need to do some prep work now so I can make use of 15 minutes myself!

    June 7, 2016 @ 5:35 am
  9. Martha

    Tell me more about the hands free frame. I have RA and seems one hand acts up more than the other. Would love to keep going with my project if I had a helper.

    June 26, 2016 @ 4:43 pm

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