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Portable Supplies - What's In My Sewing Box

While many people may sew in the same place all the time, there are a fair amount of us who need our sewing supplies to be portable for a variety of reasons. I once met a woman whose niche in the alterations business was to travel to her clients; she would bring her machine and all her supplies and do the work on their premises. For me, my portability became necessary when I attended the professional sewing program at Emily Griffith Opportunity School and then again more recently when I began meeting up with the Denver Sewing Collective, a group of sewists who enjoy sewing in the company of others.

There are many different containers that can be used to hold sewing notions, but a fishing tackle box was the box of choice by the students at EGOS. This was in the days before online shopping, where you couldn't easily place an order online; you had to purchase locally and there just didn't seem to be that many options (I would have killed for a pink tackle box back in the day, now they are everywhere). The appeal of the tackle box is the sheer number of cubbies that you can tuck all of your sewing notions into. I chose a standard 3 tray tackle box that cost me about $10 at Walmart.

My Plano 3-Tray Tackle Box

The photo above is my original tackle box that I still use today. For such an inexpensive purchase, it has held up remarkably well over the years.

The school provided use of Bernina sewing machines, but all notions and supplies had to be provided by the students. My tackle box held (at a minimum) the following items while I was in school: Fabric scissors, a small pair of craft scissors worn on a lanyard around my neck (instead of nippers), Bernina bobbins, thread, sewing machine needles, seam ripper, pin cushion with pins and needles, a ruler, a pen and pencil, safety pins, tailors chalk, small stapler and staple remover. Obviously, the staple remover was suggested to remove staples, but I can't for the life of me remember when we were stapling paper together. I do remember using them, so I have kept the stapler and staple remover where they live. Other supplies were added and removed based on what classes I was taking and what projects I was working on.

Today my tackle box has the following:
Tray 1: Staple remover, flower stamens, seam rippers, sewing machine needles
(various types and sizes), sticky notes, business cards, matches/lighter (for burn
testing fabrics), rubber bands, safety pins, a jewelers loupe, tailors chalk, bobbins,
rulers, pencils and a permanent marker.

Tray 2: More writing implements, small/thin thread spools, nippers, finger lights
(these never get used, but I think they're funny so they stay), a glue stick, sticky velcro
and fabric sewing clips. Some of these items, such as the sticky velcro, are left over
from my craft fair days when the tackle box was less notions and more misc. supplies.

Tray 3: Misc. buttons, sewing machine tools (tiny screw drivers), hand cream, hot glue
sticks and mini-clothes pins, a cleaning brush, long tweezers and measuring tapes.

Bottom of box: This area is the biggest and works for those larger items that won't fit
into the smaller cubbies. I have scissors, a rotary cutter, pin cushion, an old cosmetic
brush for machine cleaning, larger thread spools, magnifying glass, tissues, notebook,
reading glasses, wire cutters, snacks, small stapler, etc. I also usually have a small
battery operated desk lamp, but I haven't added it back in yet. This part of the tackle
box sort of becomes a catch-all.

Before my tackle box leaves the house, I quickly go through and add (or remove) any items I will need for my next sewing adventure. This is mostly deciding on my project and then making sure that I have the right colored threads and right sewing machine needles. The stamens, buttons and wire cutters are from when I was making the flower for the Barbie skating dress I made. I was working on the dress at our Thursday night meet-up, but never ended up working on the flower.

If I ever end up replacing my trusty old tackle box, I will probably stay with the three tray style (but in pink!). Tackle boxes do have a bigger footprint when open, but I like being able to see and get to everything all at once. So do my sewing friends, I love when someone comes over to my table, gazes into the trays of neatly organized supplies and says, "Hey Sabrina, may I borrow your...?"

Do you have portable sewing supplies? How do you transport them?

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