Sewing abroad: what to take on a journey to a different continent


At the moment this post airs I am at the airport waiting for my plane ride to Kenya where I will be staying for about four months. Yes, you read that correctly. The great adventure I’ve been talking about IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. I am about 78% excited and 35 % terrified which should tell you how nervous I am because that doesn’t add up.

This post will be an insight into how I prepared sewing related for the long trip. Sewing, and especially quilting and embroidery has become such an important part of my life the last year that I can’t imagine not doing it for four months. Heck, I have trouble picturing that for a week! So naturally, I prepared to continue my quilting and embroidering abroad. The question which sewing materials and projects to bring on a big trip is one with many sub-questions:

  1. Will I have time to sew?
  2. What will I feel most like working on?
  3. Will I be able to buy materials abroad?
  4. How to pack so I have enough projects to work on, but also not exceed the 23 kilograms the airline allows me – meanwhile also not forgetting to bring clothes of course.

Why Kenya?

I am going to Kenya to do fieldwork for the practical part of my final master thesis. This fieldwork will go into conflicts that arise between people when wildlife causes problems. Think attacks by lions or elephants destroying crops. My research goes into the perception people have of those animals and nature in general and the role that perception plays in the conflicts. Preparing for this trip explains why I haven’t been posting for the past weeks. I simply lacked inspiration and energy to write something. Also, I spent the last weeks visiting people I have to miss the coming months and doing some last minute packing and preparation. Every time I plan to finish all my preparations way before I actually leave, but that hasn’t worked out once so far. But I know it will be fine. I read a lot about my subject and the preparations are slowly shaping up. Also, I seem to have past most bureaucratic hurdles for now.

So, which projects have I brought?

Project 1: a small craft that is a lot of work, namely cross stitch

Small meaning small amount of material used. Deciding what to take took some time because I am the kind of person who works on more than ten projects at the same time. It is impossible to take them all though, so I had decisions to make. Most vital therein was determining which projects will not bore me and give me enough entertainment in the four months I am away. Also, it helps to bring a project you wouldn’t work on normally but want to finish. This cross stitch kit has both: it has a lot of different colours which should keep it interesting. Also, I am more occupied with designing my own patterns to work on kits much, so I bring some to force me to finish them.


Initially, I only wanted to bring the kit, but that would mean less creative freedom because everything you have to do is already set. So I thought up another plan.

Project 2: how to defy your own ‘rules’, or my Kenyan quilt

My plan was to buy some of the gorgeous African batik fabric to bring home for me and my mother at the end of my trip. However, I figured it would be even more awesome to start working on those batiks while I’m there. That would be the best keepsake for the trip for a quilter I can think of. Because quilting has become such an integral part of my life I usually remember whatever happened in my life when I look at the quilt I was sewing on at that moment. In that way, every stitch of my Kenyan quilt will remind me of the fieldwork and whatever happened. This quilt will be the diary of my time in Kenya.

Example of batik motifs
Example of batik motifs

Project 3: cheating space with ‘some’ embroidery floss

Because why not, and I tend to overpack with things I love. Usually, I have enough books and sewing projects to work on, but a lack of clean socks or a warm sweater. Priorities priorities… Good things there are shopping malls everywhere. Embroidery floss is gorgeous and one can quilt with it, adorn whatever clothing I take, plus it takes very little room so there is not really a reason not to bring it in my opinion.


So, that’s all the quilting and embroidering I’ll bring

I am actually proud of myself it’s not that much. Time will tell whether it’s enough. When I am away, posts will continue, but they will probably not be weekly but once every fortnight. A lot of that will depend on how busy the fieldwork will be. However, I will try to post as much as I can, because I really enjoy writing this blog and I want to keep the habit! Also, I promise you to post a picture of the first elephant I spot in the wild.

So, what about you?

  • Do you have good tips to take as many crafting stuff on holiday as possible?
  • What kind of projects do you usually take?
  • How long does it take you to miss sewing?


See my DeviantArt or Instagram (username: for more artwork and WIPs. You can also follow my blog by clicking on the button on the left or by filling in your email address. There will be a monthly update at the end of every month and a new blogpost every Sunday or Monday.


  1. It seems like so little, but like I said on dA: you might not even have time to worry about how little you brought! I love the idea of starting your Kenyan quilt while there. Pieces to be sewn together are easier to handle than all the cross stitching…….THAT requires space and time haha. I look forward to your first elephant picture and any sewing or stitching you have accomplished. Your thesis sounds amazing and it is one I would love to read. (I’ve read some thesis papers that were ASTOUNDING and quite wonderful because learning just never stops regardless of age or location)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha let’s see. I bought some gorgeous fabrics today for the quilt so now I have even less reason to worry. I simply couldn’t resist how pretty the fabric was 😊. I will definetly keep everyone up to date! If you want I can send you the thesis when it’s done. Just give a shout out in a few months when I start talking about finishing the thing to remind me!


      1. Oh gosh! Pictures of the fabric PLEASE! and YES, I will remind you! I was talking to my brother about this morning after I read your blog and he loves what you are doing as well. I have lived in Alaska for 35 years and even though we have wolves and bears and such, we both agreed that going to Africa was a far better idea for a more raw knowledge of that experience. I am here cheering you on!

        Liked by 1 person

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