Portable Needlepoint

School’s out, vacation and pool time is here, but you want to needlepoint. All your projects are big, too big to stash easily in your beach bag, tote, or carry on. What’s a stitcher to do?

There are two keys to portable needlepoint — size and sturdiness.

Pick Sturdy Threads

Let’s talk sturdiness first. You need projects that have single-strand colorfast threads. You don’t want to ply in the wind at the beach or on a crowded plane. You don’t want a drop of water to destroy your piece.

Look to Miniaturize your Tools

Smaller is better when traveling. That means find smaller and slimmer versions of your tools.

Do you like a laying tool? Look for shorter ones. I’ve seen short BLTs, short wooden laying tools, and short metal ones with fat acrylic handles.

Do you normally use 4″ scissors? Look for inexpensive 3″ ones. I use titanium ones with colorful plastic handles. They are perfect for portable needlepoint and I keep one with each current project.

Do you like needleminders? Try the small flat OPI clips or smaller flatter minders. It sounds like a silly thing, but a big magnet takes up real estate you may not be able to spare.

Instead of putting a tin of needles in your case, add a needle or two to your minder, or buy a smaller flat needlecase. There are several companies that make these.

Finally make sure that everything you need will fit into a project bag. These should be waterproof and zip closed. This is not the place for mesh bags if you will be near water.

One last tip, keep your bag closed unless you are actually pulling out a thread. Nothing is worse than the bag tipping out all your thread and tools inside a plane or car. If you can’t recover stuff easily, you are stuck not stitching.

Pick the Right Project

Your project should be one that doesn’t require lots of pages to consider. If you need stitch directions use ones in books you have on your phone or iPod. Or use smaller size guides; there are many of these out now.

If on stretcher bars your project needs to be small enough to fit comfortably into your project bag with the zipper closed. My favorite small bags will fit bars 5″ high and 7″ long. That gives me a maximum canvas size. Since I like ornaments, many of these will fit nicely in this bag. It’s also a good size for my mini quilt portraits.

Painted canvas is nice because the canvas tells you what to do. Bargello is nice because once the first line is stitched the canvas also tells you what to do. Single sheet charts are also good because you can fold them up and have them inside your project bag if the sides are clear.

If you want to be able to finish your project completely during your trip, look to items that have the finishing with them. Stitch & Zip kits are a great option here, as are bookmarks from The Princely Collection. If you do this be sure to include sewing thread and the correct needle.

Plan ahead for Perfect Vacation Stitching

If you follow these guidelines and tips you’ll have projects that will suit your for stitching anywhere.


  1. Libbi Goodman says

    Janet: I leave for work before I get to read your daily blog, but I read it during my break at work (don’t want to wait unil I get home.). With regard to “Portable Needlepoint” there used to be a set of stitch-guide cards, (the size of playing cards) and they were all together on a metal ring. They were easy to take anwhere. Do you know if these, or something similar are availble? Thanks, Libbi

  2. Libbi Goodman says

    UPDATE: I found the cards! They’re called Deal-a-Stitch and are made by JZC Designs. I was unable to contact them, but Amy Bunger’s Golden Strand is shipping me some. They come in a box, so I’m going to punch a hole in each card, put them on a ring, and I can then throw them in my needlepoint tote bag. Now, that’s portable! Libbi Goodman

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