How to Travel with your Sewing Machine

We are officially in transition! Yesterday we moved out of our home. This weekend we’ll stay with family, prior to our departure to the Netherlands on Sunday night. Lots of tearful moments for sure.

Have you wondered how I’m going to keep up with a sew-along during these months? Well, I am taking a sewing machine with me everywhere I go! And I’m glad to do it. It’s nice to have a piece of home and something creative to do while we navigate the ups and downs of this big move.

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Yes, you can take a sewing machine as carry-on baggage by train or airplane. The trick is to check the regulations of your particular travel provider to ensure that your machine is neither too big or too heavy to make the trip.


Why Carry-On?

Carry-on is safer than bringing your sewing machine as checked baggage. This way you can personally baby your machine, making sure it is never tossed, rolled or dropped. If your machine is too large or heavy to be carried, I would only consider checking it if you have the original manufacturer’s box and packaging. Even so, be sure to let them know that your item is fragile. Hopefully they will label it and treat it accordingly!


What Are the Rules?

Your travel provider will have rules regarding size and perhaps weight as well. Most domestic sewing machines are within the size limits, even when packed in a travel case. However, weight limits can be trickier. We’re flying on Norwegian Air, which has a weight limit of about 22 lbs for carry-ons. My Janome HD3000 is my smaller, less-expensive machine. It just barely comes in under that weight limit with its hard travel case in place.

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If you don’t own a machine small or light enough, you might like to invest in a travel sewing machine. Something nice and light and compact would be more comfortable to move and store. I’m thinking I may want to add something like the Juki HZL-355Z if I end up traveling to sew with friends in The Netherlands. I’ll be getting around by foot, bike and train, so portability becomes ever more important.


How to Prepare

Before leaving home, make a few adjustments to your machine. Take the needle out and store it in your checked baggage or taped flat on the machine. This way it won’t be considered a weapon. Also, put the foot down to provide extra stability to the needle area.

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If your machine has a storage drawer, consider removing contents to get under the weight limit. Definitely remove a screwdriver or any other sharp object that might be considered a threat.


Remove the foot pedal and cord, storing them in another carry-on or your baggage.

If possible, protect your machine by transporting it in a travel case. I really wanted to use a rolling trolly in the airport and train station. I used the live chat feature at Sew Vac Direct to find out which trolley would fit my machine. This Tutto 20” bag on wheels would have been perfect; but, alas, it would have made my machine too heavy for Norwegian Air weight limits. Luckily, the customer service at Sew Vac was able to provide all weight information to help me figure that out remotely.


Travel Day

When the time arrives, be sure to pack rotary cutters, extra needles and any scissors with blades over 4” long in checked baggage. Usually small scissors are allowed, though there’s always a chance they’ll be confiscated. Bring a pair that doesn’t have a super-sharp tip.

Bon Voyage!