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Stitching My Story: Tales of Quilting and RVing from a Traveler’s Perspective

I may not be the best quilter in an RV, nor am I the most conventional sewer, but I do have at least one quilt to show for my efforts (picture below). Quilting and RVing are not impossible. It is a great hobby, but if you are currently quilting in your sticks and bricks and want to take it on the road, you might wonder how that is even possible.

Quilting does take up some room with machines, fabric, quilting gadgets, and more. I think you likely need a cooperative spouse as well to put up with the inevitable clutter. Here are some ideas to keep you organized and sane on the road.

Quilting and RVing 101

Quilting Essentials

Firstly, consider what essentials you need to pack in your RV. If your RV houses all your worldly possessions, here’s a list of absolute must-haves for your quilting journey. In case you’ve stored some items elsewhere, think about retrieving them once you reach a stage in your quilting process where they’re necessary. Personally, since I’m unsure when I’ll return to my storage location, I prefer to keep everything I need with me. Below are some items that you likely can’t quilt without.

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Sewing Machine – Opt for a machine that meets your needs yet is compact enough to tuck away in a closet when not in use. If you’re considering a new purchase, it might be worth experimenting a bit. Try visiting a local sewing machine repair shop or retailer. They often allow customers to test various machines to find the perfect fit. Remember, the lighter the machine, the more convenient for quilting and RVing.

Quilting Gadgets – Identify the gadgets that are essential for your quilting and consider storing or donating the rest.

Fabric – Maintain a stash sufficient for your current projects. It’s a good idea to donate fabrics you’re sure you won’t use. Remember, you can always pick up more fabric during your travels.

Iron and Ironing Board – An iron is a versatile tool, not just for quilting but also for smoothing out clothes crammed into your closet. A steamer can be a great alternative. As for the ironing board, storage might be a challenge. Consider a small, foldable ironing mat. Many RV campgrounds have laundry rooms with ironing boards or large tables you can use. If you’re fortunate, like I was, you might find an RV spot with a quilting group that offers a large room and shared equipment.

Storage Ideas

Storage bins are a must for keeping your fabric and supplies neat and organized. Walmart has bins of all shapes and sizes. You can also check out container stores. Be sure and do some measuring before you purchase. Make sure your supplies will fit inside, and your containers will fit in your cabinets or another place of storage.

Consider the purchase of an ottoman with storage, which will keep supplies contained and handy. A laundry basket is also an option. Once you have been on the road for a time, assess what you have used or things you haven’t even touched. Get rid of or store those little-used items.

The Making of My “Bucket List” Quilt

So, this is the story of how my quilting and RVing came to life. It’s a tale that might inspire some and perhaps make the ‘real’ quilters out there cringe a little. I embarked on this journey with a bit of guidance. Consulting my mother was my initial step. She’s not just a talented seamstress; she also owns a sewing machine. And the project? It was a sort of bucket list endeavor I was keen to start.

I remember asking her, “What do you think about helping me make a quilt?” She agreed to help, and I began with some cross-stitch squares. These are great for lap work, and cross-stitching has been a favorite pastime of mine for as long as I can remember. (It’s a reminder, too, that I need to start another project soon.) After completing the squares, we bought the fabric. My mother then expertly cut and sewed everything together.

In my quest, I did seek advice from other quilters, but they advised against hand-quilting such a large, king-size quilt. However, I couldn’t imagine handing it off to someone else to finish. I’m definitely a ‘go big or go home’ person, so I dove in.

Quilt with star and square patterns
Photo by author Terri Nighswonger. “My finished quilt would make my grandmother proud.”

Completing My Quilt on the Road

My mother’s sewing machine didn’t come with a fancy quilting attachment, so I opted for a large embroidery hoop and tackled the quilting bit by bit. Yes, managing the bulky quilt on my lap within the cozy confines of my RV was a unique challenge of blending quilting and RVing, but it turned out to be quite effective. I managed to fold it in my lap, making it somewhat more manageable.

My grandmother and aunt used to quilt, and I have at least one of their creations in my RV, which I looked at often for inspiration. I think they would be proud of my stitching. They were there in my formative years, instructing me to stitch, crochet, and craft.  This project has taken a few years, partly because I went through spells of working on it and not. Last spring, I was able to get it to my mom to do the binding, and wow, I finally have a finished product.

I was talking with my mother the other day and letting her know that I probably would never do it again. Not because I didn’t like the process but because I figured she would not want to be a part of it at this point in her life. It was something she had never done before either. Surprisingly, she suggested I do a small baby quilt or a lap quilt, and yes, she will have a hand in it the next time as well. I haven’t started it yet, but it’s only a matter of time. And yes, I will hand-quilt it.

Quilting and RVing: Final Thoughts

So, quilting is a great hobby and one that can be done RVing with some space adjustments. If you are new to quilting, like I was, there are plenty of quilters out there to get advice, encouragement, and ideas, especially with online communities like iRV2 forums. Don’t be discouraged if the process takes some time, particularly in the beginning. In the end, you will have a beautiful creation that you can take pride in. Let me know how you manage to quilt in your RV in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Stitching My Story: Tales of Quilting and RVing from a Traveler’s Perspective”

  1. My wife quilt, we worked on setting up a space for her to have in the RV that works really well for her. She makes hanging quilts, lap quilts, and full size bed quilts most are gifts to family and friends, she is a perfectionist when it comes to. Matching points and free motion quilting.

    I enjoy her art as a design and color adviser, but also enjoy our travels around then US visiting quilt shows.

    Social Media: ByLauraMcFall and Flamingo Moon Campers

  2. I don’t quilt, but I do crochet and knit on the road. One thing I found helpful for storage of my yarn stash is vacuum bags. I can stuff it with yarn, vacuum seal it and store it neatly under our bed! And it keeps the critters out of it. I have also found that when working on a big blanket, it is easier for me to prop up in our bed a spread it out. I would also advise you that if you are working on a project to always be strapped in with your seat belt for safety’s sake.

  3. I am a teacher of bobbin lace and I have taken my stand and pillow with me several times and worked on my lace in our RV. Our old RV was a bear to work in as the suspension system wasn’t the best, but our new one has a much smoother ride and I have no problem working. I found your story inspiring to other crafters. Why not take a craft that you love with you to work on? While on the road you are usually away from the normal distractions of home and can actually get something accomplished.

  4. I have only been quilting for about 10 years now and only in the last couple of years quilting in my RV. I also bring along other hand sewing projects like English Paper Piecing. There is an awesome group on Facebook called RV Quilters. They are a phenomenal source for when on the road for not only quilting related info but campground info as well.

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