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50 ways to keep a quilter (and their family) happy while on vacation


If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re a quilter or at least related to someone who quilts or sews. I suggest you get your family to read this so they can see that there are many other crazy quilters out there who need to have their quilting soul fed while on vacation. Here’s the start of 50 ways to keep a quilter (and their family) happy while on vacation.

So you’re going on vacation. That’s awesome. If you’re like me, I never really take a vacation. Oh yes – I physically go away, I do touristy things, but the creative side of me is always on the look out for ideas, inspiration and of course anything quilt related. Oh yes, I have moments (OK – many moments) when I need something quilty in my life when I’m away.

I’ve compiled a great list of things that will keep you or the quilter in your household happy while on vacation.  Now I’m not going to share all 50 with you today. Oh no – you have to follow the blog to get the other tips when they’re posted. I’ll periodically post tips over the next two months and give a brief review of some of the quilt stores that I visit while traveling this summer.

To start, I’m going to focus on tips related to extended stays in a rental property. Don’t worry – there will be loads of ideas for all occasions.

Tip Number 50

Get your sewing machine organized

Purchase a portable sewing table for your sewing machine.

I recently bought one and I’ve used it at a quilting retreat and now on a month long vacation. I can’t imagine NOT having it. The nice thing about these tables is that they fold flat for transport and you can pile a LOT of quilt projects on them in the car or maybe your significant other’s golf clubs!

Easy to set up, purchase a plastic insert that’s custom fit to your sewing machine. You are set!!!! Worth EVERY penny! Incidently, if you’re wondering, the sewing machine pictured is the Husqvarna Sapphire 930 with the Inspira Craft Folding Sewing table.

Sewing machine in a folding sewing table
Sewing machine in a folding sewing table



I can see it being used for crafts as well. Remove the sewing machine, a twist of a lever and you now have a beautiful flat surface to work on. The family will NOT be able to complain that you’re taking up precious space on the kitchen table with your projects.

The sewing table is also a craft surface
The sewing table is also a craft surface



Tip Number 49

Organize your basic tools and supplies

Figure out what tools/supplies that you need to sew and buy duplicates. Find a small compact box that all those items will fit into.  Mine is fairly small (7″ x 11″ x 2″) and travels well with a secure latch so the contents don’t accidentally spill. There’s nothing like going somewhere and not having the basic tools. We don’t want to take up too much space in the car with over sized tool boxes, there has to be room for everyone’s stuff.

Remember – the more compact you are, the more room there is to bring home a few quilty treasures!

Small plastic storage box for basic sewing tools and supplies
Small plastic storage box for basic sewing tools and supplies



Well stocked supply box for sewing while away
Well stocked supply box for sewing while away



I travel with only the basics. I sew away from the house at least one day a week and at several quilt retreats each year. I have the contents packed perfectly for my needs. Some of the items in the box include:

  • Seam ripper
  • Snips for cutting threads
  • Quilter’s awl
  • Extra needles (plus film canister to store used needles)
  • Empty bobbins
  • Thread – light and dark
  • Iron cleaner
  • Extra light bulb and tool to change it
  • Supplies to clean bobbin case (brush and Q-tips)
  • Tape measure

Well you get the idea – find what you need and buy duplicates. Sew at home several times and use ONLY the tools in the box. It’ll be easy to see if you’re missing anything.

Tip Number 48

Visit a quilt store

On my way to the vacation house, I spotted a quilt store. “Oh this is great!” I said to myself as I zoomed past. NO – I didn’t choose the location of the vacation house based on its proximity to a quilt store! It’s 20km away so it’s not right next door! But close enough!

The store is called Bargain Fabric Outlet. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s a fabulous store located in North Bedeque on Highway 1A on the way to Summerside, Prince Edward Island.

I have been at the store so often over the last four weeks, that I have become a regular! Well not quite, but I’ve been there often enough. While I came well stocked with projects, I needed some fabric and supplies to complete a couple of projects and I found EVERYTHING I needed at this store.

Look at those bright florals!
Look at those bright florals!



Maritime tartans
Maritime tartans



Novelty prints perfect for the east coast vacation souvenir quilt
Novelty prints perfect for the east coast vacation souvenir quilt



In case you were wondering how I managed to plan ahead and have all that great fabric and supplies to make the carefree beach tote bag – well I never plan that far ahead.  Nope – I found everything I needed at Bargain Fabric Outlet!

Carefree beach tote bag
Carefree beach tote bag



More novelty prints from the sea shore
More novelty prints from the sea shore



And as luck would have it – I needed to go back to the quilt store yesterday for something else. I was snooping around the store looking at all the great fabrics (batiks, cottons, flannels, fleece) and I spied some packages of 2 1/2″ strips. I could NOT resist this one.

Package of 2 1/2" strips
Package of 2 1/2″ strips



I know – you’re thinking – what’s the big deal with that package of strips?  Have a look at the sunrise from a couple of days ago.

Beautiful sunrise
Beautiful sunrise



A peek at the label on the strip package sealed the deal for me!!!

Prince Edward Island 2 1/2" strip package
Prince Edward Island 2 1/2″ strip package



A big thank you to all the staff at Bargain Fabric Outlet.  They were very friendly, very helpful and I would highly recommend that if you’re in the area – make a stop and say hi! You’re bound to find something in the store that you can’t live without!

That’s it for today. I hope you enjoyed the tips and the visit to the quilt store. If you would like to share a tip or two that will help keep us quilters happy while on vacation, send it to me via a comment. I’ll be sure to add it to my list and your tip can be published on

Stay tuned because there will be more great tips on how to keep a quilter happy while on vacation and there will be more reviews of quilt stores as I make my way around the country this summer. Have a great day! Ciao!


See all the articles in our “50 ways to keep a quilter happy while on vacation…” series!




Elaine Theriault is a teacher, writer and pattern designer who is completely obsessed with quilting. Elaine’s Tech Tips column (originally published in A Needle Pulling Thread magazine) is now available online in e-book format at When not quilting, she enjoys spending time with her two dogs, Lexi and Murphy, or can be found cycling across the country. Her blog is

1 Comment

  1. Liz

    I’m in eastern PEI, if you care to visit, but call first.

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