I absolutely love to teach workshops. I’m just not thrilled with traveling for them. The logistics of presenting a workshop are a campaign. Transporting over 100 pounds of quilts plus teaching supplies and handouts to a venue by air would be daunting even if I had a car. Odds are if I did, the trunk could serve as a fabric annex; I’ve already lost a bathtub to the glory of fabric.
As I walk about a classroom I see interesting work going on. I’m enchanted by the combinations of fabric and quietly long to be sewing as well.
A year ago, haunted by sewing lust I promised myself a sabbatical and booked myself "out." As a result, for first time since I was 14-years-old, I am not working over a summer. I’ve shelved my suitcases until a New England cruise this fall.
Truly, it can take me days to prepare for one workshop no matter how many times I’ve taught it Every venue and every airline require attention to new details. Long before I head to the airport, I ascertain the aircraft’s configuration to determine whether my carry-on will fit in an overhead compartment. I’ve come to appreciate being called ma’am as in “Ma’am, may I give you a hand with that?” Still it’s sometimes necessary at the last minute for me to nab my projector from my carry-on that is about to be unceremoniously “Gate Checked.”
Once I’m home from an extended trip it often takes me a week to not awake in a panic.
Without fail I think a class is imminent and I am not where I am supposed to be. I can’t remember what class I’m scheduled to teach and my quilts are nowhere to be seen. I’m astonished to actually turn on a lamp only to see I’m not in a hotel room but at home. A minute later I realize not only am I home but I’m not scheduled to be somewhere else.
Occasionally I ship quilts and supplies ahead.
Once upon a time when I unpacked at a destination a quilt was missing. I steadied myself and reasoned it had to be at home. Now I always make a video of the piles I am shipping. I list the quilts by name aloud as I point to them and I do the same for supplies too. It can be three weeks from shipping until I walk into a classroom to unpack. During the interim I’m not tempted to pack a second roll of shipping tape or unnecessary handouts because I can see exactly what I’ve previously packed. I review the video to double check that all the quilts I’ll need have been shipped.
I have more than two months of sewing delight ahead of me. I’m eager to resume work on my Evening Star block. It features a new construction method in which I skip the usual steps for the geese units. Should my project notes be confusing that won’t be a problem. I know myself. Long ago I took step-by-step videos as a reminder of exactly what I was up to.
My sabbatical begins with the solstice on June 21st. My bathtub, whether you see it as half-full or half-empty, will likely remain as is.
Anita's must-have tips & tricks for traveling with quilting supplies:
- Take empty metal-hinged tin (lozenges/mints) and place a couple of magnets in it to grab and store pins; a magnet will also pick up a needle or pin from the floor.
- Always travel with a short extension cord — if an airport outlet is in use, ask to share the outlet with your extension to charge your device. It’s also very handy in hotel rooms where there are never enough plugs.
- Bring sewing machine power cord AND foot pedal with its cord. It’s so easy take one without the other. Double check for necessary (only) presser feet.
- Put a fun-color fluorescent low-tack adhesive tape, labeled with a phone number, on all plugs. You'll be able to easily spot them in an outlet before leaving a hotel room or airport. Use same tape to identify your tools. An extra charger and cable often come to the rescue.
- Pick up a quilter’s seat cushion — frequently folding metal or wooden chairs at events are way too low for the sewing machine table.
- A collapsible lightweight mesh bin is great for containing supplies and works-in-progress on tabletop.
- Install new blades on your rotary cutters in the comfort of home. Pack cutter and scissors in sturdy eyeglass case.
About the author
Anita Grossman Solomon is a full-time quilter, author and Craftsy instructor. Her quilts have been displayed everywhere, from the ceiling of the International Quilt Festival in Houston to an enormous screen high above Times Square in New York City.
In this Craftsy Blog series, she dives into the emotional and often humorous aspects of being a maker. Subscribe to the Craftsy Quilting Blog today to follow along, and enjoy personalized instruction from Anita in her popular Craftsy class Traditional Blocks Made Simple.
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