Traveling with a sewing machine | Tips & best-practice

How can you best bring a sewing machine during travels? There is actually a lot to consider here.

Can you bring a sewing machine on an airplane?
What are the best travel sewing machines
What are the best travel cases and bags?
How do you bring a sewing machine in a boat and an RV?

We will dive into all this and much more in this blog post!

Before we look at the best sewing machines for traveling and the best the best bags and travel cases, we will look at how you can bring the sewing machine with you on an airplane. It’s pretty straightforward, but there are some things you need to know before you leave for the airport.

Let’s start out by looking at some of the most asked questions for traveling with a sewing machine.

Bringing a sewing machine on an airplane

You might be wondering if you are even allowed to bring a sewing machine on the airplane. It’s full of sharp and pointy objects and it could seem like that would be impossible.

Can I bring my sewing machine on an airplane? Yes. You can bring your sewing machine on the airplane, as long as you remove any sharp objects and prepare it carefully by having it in a travel bag that can fit as hand luggage. But there are precautions you need to make in order to be sure you can bring it through security.

According to the TSA website, you can bring a lot of sewing gear including the sewing machine itself during air travel. So we can check that box.

Now let’s look at what you need to do before you hit the airport.

Can I get the sewing machine through security?

Again, yes you totally can.

It will have to go in its own bin, and you should pack it separately from anything else you might bring on the plane. This is just to make it as easy and quick to get through security.

But be ready to get stopped in the waiting line and get inspected. They might not even open up the machine or anything, but when you carry a big heavy item you should expect them to pay a little special attention to you.

The only note regarding sewing machines are:

Yes, you can bring it as checked baggage or carry-on. You should check with the airline to ensure that the item will it in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the airplane.” (Excerpt from the TSA website.)

So the next question is:

How do we go about it?

Let’s look at the things we need to consider and some security related precautions we need to take.

We will start by looking at where you will place your sewing machine on the place: As checked in baggage or as carry-on into the cabin?

Check-in luggage or as hand luggage?

Before you decide whether to bring it into the cabin or check it in you should think these things:

  • How big is your machine? (will it fit in the overhead bin or below the seat)
  • How heavy is your machine?

If it’s a normal size home sewing machine it should generally be no problem at all. You can totally bring these on the airplane, and you decide yourself if you will bring it with you into the cabin or leave it as checked baggage.

The main consideration is related to how well protected the sewing machine will be in the checked baggage area!

As soon as the checked baggage enters into the little cars and wagons to be transported to the airplane it may get several bumps. Also in the other end when the airport people will pick it up and transport it to the conveyer belt (baggage carousel) it may or may not fall down and get handles a little roughly.

So if you don’t have a good solid case for it I would definitely carry it with me into the cabin so you can make sure it’s not damaged or scratched in the process.

Can I bring sewing needles on an airplane? Yes, you can. According to the TSA, you can bring sewing needles. You can also bring a scissor as long as the blades are shorter than 4 inches from the pivot point.

You are actually allowed to bring these things in your carry-on:

  • Needles for sewing, knitting, and crocheting
  • Scissors that are shorter than 4 inches from the pivot point
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Nail clipper
  • Mirrors
  • Multi-tools (without blades)
  • Staplers
  • Stick pins

These items are not allowed in the carry-on:
Razor-type blades, Scissors which are longer than 4 inches from the pivot point and box cutters.

There is actually a pretty funny Instagram profile made by the TSA with a ton of pictures of what people try to bring on the plane. Very funny!!

The guys at TSA are not without humor. I scrolled through the full list (alphabetically) of what you can bring and cannot bring on the airplane, and I got to the letter “L”. Here I found “lightsabers” among the other items on the list. You know the ones from Star Wars.

And the instructions regarding these are:

Sadly, the technology doesn’t currently exist to create a real lightsaber. However, you can pack a toy lightsaber in your carry-on or checked bag. May the force be with you.

So cool, and sweet to find a little humor a serious site like this 🙂

wing of airplane

You need to do this before arriving at the airport

Whether you want to bring the sewing machine as carry-on or you will check it in you should do a few things before you enter the airport:

  • Remove the needles. Not because you cannot bring it on the plane (because you can), but because it can fall out during transportation.
  • Remove the presser foot and bobbin as well (just to be sure)
  • Remove the spool on the spindle.
  • Tape down any other moving parts (or remove if you can).

Finally, you need to make sure it’s well protected from wind, weather, and bumps. So the best option here is a hard case trolley designed for your sewing machine. Then you can be absolutely sure it won’t get damaged, and it’s also the easiest way to carry it around the airport.

Remember you might have to walk a long distance to get to the gate, and a sewing machine is not exactly the type of item you want to be carrying around on a long distance.

So let’s take a look at these travel cases and bags.

Travel cases and bags

You need a good solid travel bag for your sewing machine if you travel a lot. Especially if you have to bring it on the train, bus, etc. You should always go for a model which is designed especially for your machine. That way you will be absolutely sure it fits well.

A soft dust-cover type of cover will not be a good option for traveling unless you just carry it in and out of the car. Then you will probably be just fine.

If the travel case or bag does not fit your machine exactly the machine will be able to move around. That’s not optimal. You need to make sure the machine is fastened and secured inside the travel case.

Over at SewingMachinesPlus they have made it really easy to find the right travel bag or case for your machine. Just choose which style of bag you are looking for and then choose the brand of your sewing machine. Check it out here.

The best bag will always be a hard case bag. They come in a lot of different designs and styles.

If you travel to class regularly or you are a real travel bug, you should definitely get a hard case. That would be our advice. It’s also a good idea for your wishlist at christmas? 🙂

Boats

A lot of people bring their sewing machine on their boat.

Why not bring your hobby along when you are going on a longer trip? Maybe you are going away on a big boat where you can do projects along the way or maybe you just want to be able to fix stuff along the way like curtains, sail etc.

Let’s take a look at how you can do it and what you should consider before leaving.

How to power the sewing machine on the boat?

Powering household machines and other electrical items on a boat takes a little planning beforehand. You want to think about things like:

We have listed some light-weight and portable sewing machines below. These are good for smaller projects on the way, but if you want to be able to sew boat canvas, vinyl, sails and other heavy duty fabric you might find on a boat you need a heavy duty machine.

Good heavy duty machine
The best sewing machine for a boat is a light-weight heavy duty machine. We always recommend the Singer 4411 Heavy Duty for that kind of stuff. That would be a great machine to have onboard if you want to be able to fix the fabric of a sail, tarps, covers upholstery work etc.

Sewing in an RV

Just like boaters a lot of RVers love to bring their sewing machine in the RV.

Maybe you want to be able to relax with a sewing project during the trip or maybe you want to bring it to fix the curtains or doing some upholstery work.

Here you also need to make sure your generator can generate enough watts for a sewing machine.

The short answer is that you can easily power your sewing machine from the generator or whatever power source you might have in the RV.

It only pulls like 85 watts, so that will work just fine.

THen you need to have space for it. Obviously, space is a big issue when you move your life on the road in an RV. There are small portable and light-weight models you can buy for cheap. Those are a great option for sewing during travels.

Let’s take a look at some good portable machines you can bring on the boat, the RV, or just during travel in general.

Best light sewing travel sewing machines

If space is tight or you just want a small and portable sewing machine there are many great options you can go with.

Over at Amazon, they have a whole section with small sewing machines and you find the best brands like Singer, Brother, Janome etc.

Singer 1304 (SUPER light!)

We recommend this Singer 1304 model (link to Amazon). It only cost around $80, and you get a high-quality machine that only weighs 7 pounds!

It has more than 700 reviews and a rating over 4/5 stars! So people are happy with this bad boy and it even has some cool features (like to standard sewing machines) like:

  • 6 different stitches
  • Weighs only 7 pounds(!)
  • Automatic bobbin winding mechanism (stops when the bobbin is full)
  • Dimensions: 13 x 7 x 11,5 inches
  • can do buttonholes (4 steps)
  • 2 presser feet
  • Bobbin Winder
  • Two spool pins
  • Removable storage compartment with space for extra bobbins, needles, etc.
  • See all specs here…

Brother CS6000i (Our recommendation!)

If you prefer Brother machines the CS6000i is a good choice. It’s also very durable and it’s compact as well.

It has over 7,000 reviews! and an average of 4,5/5 stars. So it’s the highest and most rated machine of the three we recommend in this article. It’s very rich on features but it also costs a bit more than the other two options. You can get it at $130 here at Amazon.

We recommend this machine because it has everything you need basically so you don’t need to compromise on what type of project you can do on the road. Great for taking to class as well as bringing along during travels.

  • 60 stitches (!)
  • Weighs 13 pounds
  • Dimensions: 16 x 6.7 x 11.4 inches (also pretty small!)
  • 1-step buttonholes (7 styles)
  • 9 presser feet
  • Bobbin Winder
  • Auto needle threader
  • Two spool pins
  • Removable storage compartment with space for extra bobbins, needles, etc.
  • LCD display
  • Great for quilting as well as sewing
  • See all the specs here…

If you don’t like digital displays or you prefer Singer models you can read on. Otherwise, this is your model.

Singer 2259 (More features)

If you want a little more features and you want a Singer model (many people will only use Singer models) you should go with this model. But only if you do not like the Brother above, or if you cannot use a digital display.

We found the best price again at Amazon ($96).

It just has more stitches to choose from than the 1304 model (19!) and the feature list is pretty good for a machine under 100 bucks and this size.  It also has over 800 reviews, and people are generally very happy with this model overall. It has an average rating of 4/5 stars.

Here are the specs:

  • 19 different stitches!
  • Weighs 13,6 pounds
  • Automatic bobbin winding
  • Dimensions: 15 x 6.2 x 12 inches (a little bigger than the Singer 1304).
  • Can do buttonholes
  • 4 presser feet
  • Bobbin Winder
  • Adjustable tension
  • Two spool pins
  • Removable storage compartment. Also with extra space for everything you need around the machine.
  • See all the specs here…

Other options

They also have some great sewing machines over at Wayfair. They have really good prices and they actually have a surprisingly good selection of small and light-weight models. See the light-weight machines at Wayfair here.

A travel size sewing machine is just a great option if you like to bring the machine along. It’s great to be able to carry it easily and you can also use it for kids and elderly who cannot move around with machines.

What to bring (good checklist for traveling)

Here’s a good packing list for when you need to bring your sewing gear along for the travel. We have focused on what you can carry easily and tried to avoid bringing more than the most essential stuff.

Besides the sewing machine itself you should bring:

  • A scissor
  • Thread
  • Safety pins
  • Measuring tape
  • Extra bobbins
  • Straight pins
  • Safety pins
  • Travel iron (maybe a portable ironing mat as well)
  • Seam ripper

These are all things you need to have permanently in your sewing bag. And you can probably do without much else when you are on the go. Happy travels – we hope you learned a thing or two!

Related questions

We have found two other questions people ask a lot in relation to traveling with your sewing or quilting machine. We have listed them here as short questions and answers and hope you find them helpful.

How to transport a sewing machine?
You need to wrap it carefully or carry it inside a hard case trolley. Before you transport it you should remove all removable parts and fix the rest with tape. Make sure it will not get shakes or bumps during transportation.

The last question is a good question when it comes to traveling with your machine. Because you might have it standing on its side during travel – especially if you end up checking it in with your check-in baggage.

Can you store a sewing machine on its side?
Yes, you can. But you need to prepare it first to avoid damage. Put the presser foot down and remove spools and bobbins. Remove the needle as well before storing the sewing machine.

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