Sewing on an early test trip in April

Wabi-Sabi Overland Move In

My husband and I have been living full time in Wabi-Sabi Overland, our custom-built expedition vehicle, since May 11th. In the final week before setting out to travel for the summer, I fully moved my stash and sewing supplies into the habitat, and I have to admit that I was more than pleasantly surprised at the quantity I was able to bring with me.

My Full Stash

My Full Stash

To be fair, I have never had a huge stash to begin with. While not the greatest photograph, I needed to snap the above photo to show my full stash on a rare rainy day. In fact, you might notice that I had already begun selecting which Aurifil thread I would be taking with me before I remembered to document a “before” photo.

In general, the top shelf has large bins for current projects. The bin on the upper far left has my Splendid Sampler 2 blocks and fabrics in it, the bin below it has my 2018 Aurifl BOM blocks, and the bin just to the left of the yardage has my Modern Plus Sampler quilt. I tend to purchase and acquire solid fabrics in yardage, so I have taken to stacking those yards folded as if they are on a bolt. The bin on the far right of the upper shelf has my limited flannel fabric, which I use to make soft eye masks.

The lower shelf is my color sorted print fabric stash. At most, I probably have ½ yard cuts of any particular print in the smaller bins. Then I have bins for assorted tools, notions, specialty Aurifil thread, and my quilting reference books and color charts. On the far right-hand wall is a thread rack for my main Aurifl thread collection. Rounding out my quilting supplies are my OLFA cutting mat, OLFA rotary cutters, OLFA rulers, and Juki TL-2200 QVP mini sewing machine.

Sewing on an early test trip in April

Sewing on an early test trip in April

Planning out how to use the 75-square foot habitat space in our vehicle took a lot of collaboration with my husband. He carefully listened to my description of my ideal sewing space and needs for the trip and he did everything he could to make sure that I have what I need. We discovered on a test trip in April that my Juki sewing machine was not going to be an ideal travel machine. It requires much cleaner power to run than we could supply with our solar panel and inverter setup, so after much trial and effort to get it to work (purchasing 4 different inverters, talking with electrical experts we know, and testing out other sewing machines in the vehicle), I opted to purchase a new Husqvarna Viking Emerald 118 to bring with me for the trip. In all honesty, it stows better in the space and will be more than enough for my needs this summer.

In the photo above, note the upper cabinets on the right-hand side above the dinette. Those cabinets were built to store my stash for the trip. The photo was taken using a fisheye camera lens, meaning that they are stretched toward the edges of the images, but they are a very ample storage space. My sewing machine stows under the forward dinette seat, and my cutting board with an 18” x 24” OLFA mat and large rulers tuck away underneath the dinette as well.

Selected and Packed Aurifil Thread

Selected and Packed Aurifil Thread

I knew that I would be brining my large cone of 50wt Aurifil 2600 thread for piecing, but trying to figure out which colors of thread to bring with me for the trip took me a long time. I had 3 empty large spool boxes that I was hoping I would be able to find room for, so I packaged up a rainbow of colors assuming I could make it all work. The boxes did all stow, and I even cheated by color matching additional spools of thread to currently ongoing projects and tucking those spools into the project bags I packed, too!

First Packing Arrangement

First Packing Arrangement

To select the fabric I would bring with me, I started by selecting a range of solids for backgrounds and backings. I then went through all my bins of prints and pulled out larger cuts (typically ¼ yards or fat quarters) and prints that I know I love to work with. I was able to consolidate down from 13 print small bins to 5, but I found that only 4 of the small bins fit in the space I had allocated.

Second Packing Arrangement

Second Packing Arrangement

By using large 2.5-gallon Ziploc bags for each small box of print fabric, and pulling out larger solid yardage that was snuck into the bins as well, I was able to greatly consolidate and save space. It even left room for the 3 boxes of Aurifil thread I had packed. Later, I snuck in 3 large 2.5-gallon Ziploc bags of batting at the back of the cabinet, too.

In addition to this wide cabinet, I have another cabinet that is half this size but full of projects that I can’t quite share with you, yet, hence, no photograph. I put 4 projects in large 2.5-gallon Ziploc bags and have a large OLFA zipper bag full of my needed notions. I also have my sewing machine accessories and small rulers tucked in that cabinet.

Waiting for my return

Waiting for my return

So, this is what my sewing space looks like back at my stationary home. I estimate that I brought about half of my fabric stash with me and while I probably only have about 25% of my thread stash, I’m pretty sure I can stop off at a multitude of quilting stores to get anything I may not have on hand along the way. Based on how things have been going for me sewing and quilting wise so far, I’m feeling very well provisioned, though.

24 x 36 OLFA Navy Blue Rotary Mat

24 x 36 OLFA Navy Blue Rotary Mat

Did you notice a new addition to my sewing space above? I have never had such a large OLFA cutting mat to use before, and I am definitely looking forward to getting to enjoy the large 24” x 36” cutting board when we return home in the fall.

View from the dinette on May 11, 2019

View from the dinette on May 11, 2019

I am very grateful to the time and attention to detail my husband put into making my sewing space cozy and super functional for me while we are on the road. I’m looking forward to the change of pace traveling offers us this summer and seeing how it influences me creatively.

24 thoughts on “Wabi-Sabi Overland Move In

  1. You are lucky lady! Your husband made you a wonderful sewing place in your expedition van, you can travel places and sew when you want. I bet you shall visited many patchwork shops on your travels. Have a great time!

  2. Congratulations! I know you will enjoy your time on the road. Be sure to show pics along the way.

  3. Looks like a super set up, Yvonne! Everything looks really well secured. I often think about how I would have quilted if I’d started when we lived full time in our RV instead of on our boat. I’m a bit surprised that the Juki didn’t like your power set up, since my Juki TL2010Q has never glitched on any wonky power we’ve encountered. Does the 2200 have some sensitive electronics?

    When I was looking for machines, I talked to all the vendors at the Houston show. When I explained the machine would be exposed to shock, vibration, roll, salt spray and variable voltage, every vendor backed away from me in horror. Except the Juki guy, who shrugged and said, Yeah the 2010 can handle all that!

    I also had to smile at your “reduced” thread storage. You’re clearly a big thread gal! I use Aurifil, too, but have half in my full stash that you have for travel. But my fabric hoard is probably three times your home stash. Funny how each quilter prioritizes things. I’ve seen photos of some ruler storage areas that boggled my mind…more plastic than you can shake a stick at 🙂

  4. Patty says:

    This is awesome! Thanks for the tour. I think you will have plenty to keep you busy!

  5. Liz says:

    What a cozy and charming space! I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures in your wabi-sabi overland. I’m envious!

  6. You did a great job making it all work! I love that picture outside the window and imagine the ever changing scene will be very inspiring.

  7. Wanda Bamberg says:

    Completely and Totally AMAZING!

  8. You’ve clearly given a lot of thought to your downsizing and made the best use of your space. Thanks for letting us journey along with you. I enjoy hearing your thoughts as you give this a go. So question, while you are quilting, I assume you take over the indoor space of the Wabi Sabi, so what is your husband doing while you are sewing? Not meaning to get too personal, just curious.

  9. Rochelle Summers says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful look at sewing on the road. I can’t imagine being able to find all the space in a premade home-away-from home. I hope your summer is filled with lots of beautiful and inspiring sights and your trip is enjoyable. I look forward to seeing/reading about your adventures.

  10. Tu-NaQuilts says:

    Have fun! You have taken great care in packing and stowing your quilting supplies. I do hope you plan to take the time to enjoy the surroundings more than just looking thru the window. I am looking forward to reading about your adventures and seeing what you create while on the road. Safe and happy travels.

  11. Grinning at Louise’s comment because I lean toward her stashing method: although I do have a LOT of thread, I have a lot MORE fabric in the stash. This brings back memories of when I had to pack for moving to Florida for 3-4 months and agonizing over what I could take, and trying to have the crystal ball to see what I might be making in say, two months. Like you I realized that there are indeed stores to supplement any gaps in my packing. It will be fun to see what you get up to this summer for sure in that sweet little space.

  12. Brenda Ackerman says:

    Hello Yvonne, I enjoyed reading your post this morning very much. How fun for the two of you to be traveling and seeing new places throughout the summer. Plus, you get to continue sewing/quilting all along the way! Have a marvelous time and thank you for sharing with us!

  13. Elizabeth E. says:

    I’ve been waiting for this post. I was interested to see how you managed to keep your quilting life going along, while you rolled along. Thank you for showing us your Wani-Sabi Quilting space or WSQS for short. Kudos to your husband’s fine engineering skills. And yes we are all in love with your view out your window, as well.

  14. How neat! Modest and functional! Traveling with your hobby…rare, lucky you! Enjoy!

  15. oh this is fun to see and hear about! Seeing your sewing space at home reminded me … how is Puppy?

  16. Wow, what a great space while traveling! I look forward to seeing your destinations and the projects they inspire.

  17. Shannon says:

    So cool! I love hearing about this fun journey of yours! Enjoy your “on the road” quilty adventures 🙂

  18. springleafstudios says:

    Wow! You have really made everything so efficient. I can’t wait to hear about your travels and see what you make a long the way. I couldn’t begin to pare down my stash like you have. I think that’s mainly because prints are what entice me to quilt and thus I have a HUGE stash. Bit by bit I’m working at using it up but no end is in sight. Have a great time on your adventure!!!

  19. Rowe Pamela says:

    Your husband is the bomb!!!

  20. That is totally amazing!!! What an adventure you will have – and … the views!! Can’t wait to hear about al your travles!

    1. Penelope Hood says:

      Your travel workspace resonates for me. I read in fascination. Until recently I was traveling for 5 years off road in the Australian Outback with my husband. We had a very tough purpose built van which is marketed as a ‘Land Yacht’. My husband worked with me, as yours did, to design my ‘studio’. Your comments on solar power and inverters
      etc mean a great deal to me. Textile artwork in the desert near Ayers Rock is a creative joy. I am filled with happiness to see your view of mountains. You are blessed. Travel safe.

  21. Ann Haas says:

    How wonderful Hope you have a glorious summer on the road. I am curious as to how you came to name your vehicle Wabi-Sabi.

  22. Anja @ Anja Quilts says:

    I hope you have an awesome journey!

  23. Kaja says:

    Your sewing space looks fab, Yvonne. I could do with something like that here. And having to make clearheaded decisions about what to take may enhance creativity rather than inhibit it. What you are doing is very exciting; I wish you a wonderful summer.

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)