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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.