Pack your bags: 12 smart sewing patterns for travelers

No matter how long it’s been since my last trip, I’m always somewhere in the process of dreaming about, saving for, or planning my next vacation. I’ve been fortunate to visit a number of places on my travel bucket list over the last few years:

Adrienne's travels
From left to right, starting at top left: Sahara desert, Morocco; Bangkok, Thailand; New York City, NY; Pamukkale, Turkey; Zihuatanejo, Mexico; Fez, Morocco; Cappadocia, Turkey; Angkor Wat, Cambodia; Ko Phi Phi, Thailand.

Considering how much I think about traveling, it’s no surprise that my globe-trotting has inspired some of my sewing-pattern designs. Today, I’m combining my passions for sewing and traveling by compiling a list of my top 12 Martingale patterns perfect for travelers. Check out the list below to see which of these great designs inspire a little wanderlust in you! Then tell us in the comments about a handmade item you’ve made that’s on your must-pack list, or share a favorite place you’ve visited.

1. Honeymooner Suitcase by Sara Lawson, Big-City Bags

Honeymooner Suitcase by Sara Lawson
Never have trouble identifying your bag among a sea of generic black luggage again! This suitcase has a cute vintage feel and is infinitely customizable based on the fabrics you choose.

2. Luggage Tag by Carrie Jung, Sweet and Simple Sewing

Luggage Tag by Carrie Jung
Not ready to invest in making your own luggage? You can still make your bag stand out and personalize it with these super simple, yet stylish, luggage tags.

3. Market/Beach Tote by Vanessa Christenson, Make it Sew Modern

Market/Beach Tote by Vanessa Christenson
I think this bag makes the perfect carry-on tote. It’s large enough to fit in all the essentials but stylish enough to carry with you once you get to your destination.

4. Wanderlust Pocketbook by Adrienne Smitke, Everyday Handmade

Wanderlust Pocketbook by Adrienne Smitke
I hate shuffling through my bag looking for the right confirmation number or ticket claim. I designed this pocketbook so that you’d always have your important travel documents on hand in one compact and stylish case.

5. Card and Key Wallet by Cinzia Allocca, Sew Gifts!

Card and Key Wallet by Cinzia Allocca
On a recent trip to Bangkok, Thailand, I found that because the street signs weren’t in English, and streets often had multiple names, it was important to keep a business card from my hotel on hand. The cards had a little map on them to help me (or my taxi driver) find the way home. I love the idea of being able to keep your hotel key and a business card bundled together, and still have room for a little stash of emergency money.

6. Swingy Shoulder Bag by Kim Diehl, Sew the Perfect Gift

Swingy Shoulder Bag by Kim Diehl
I am always searching for the perfect day bag to use while I’m traveling. I prefer the security of a cross-body bag (leaving my hands free for taking pictures!), and this one has a fun casual feel to it.

7. Bird-watcher messenger bag by Cassie Barden, The New Handmade (ePattern available)

Bird Watcher Messenger Bag by Cassie Barden
There’s a reason this bag is one of Cassie’s most popular patterns. Having made a handful of them, I can vouch that this bag, and its many pockets, are perfect for keeping all your essentials organized and secure when you’re on the go.

8. Travels with Lou bag by Stephanie Dunphy, Uncommonly Corduroy

Travels with Lou bag by Stephanie Dunphy
You can never have too many bags, and this is another great pattern for those who prefer a shoulder-bag style but still want plenty of practical pockets.

9. Literary Genius E-Reader Cover by Cassie Barden, Everyday Handmade

Literary Genius eReader Cover by Cassie Barden
If you’re worried about overpacking, it’s great to know you can save space and fit hundreds of books in one tiny tablet—thanks technology! Protect your devices with this pretty cover.

Literary Genius eReader Cover
My travel partner in Thailand made this version for her Kindle.

10. Color-Block iPad Cover by Debbie Grifka, Esch House Quilts, Sew Gifts!

Color Block iPad Cover
It seems like tablets are the new “it” item to travel with. I’ve seen them used everywhere, from folks watching movies on long plane rides to tourists snapping photos of the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Keep yours looking smart with this modern cover.

11. Travel Backgammon Set by Adrienne Smitke, Sew Gifts!

Travel Backgammon Set by Adrienne Smitke
Even though technology helps make traveling easier than ever (thank you, thank you, thank you, GPS, language translation, and currency converter apps!) sometimes it’s still nice to unplug. This game board was inspired by a trip my sister and I took to Turkey a few years ago. It easily rolls up (or can be scrunched, crammed, or balled up if need be!) in your luggage, while barely adding an ounce. Plus, no batteries required!

12. Hand-Bound Journal by Carrie Jung, Sweet and Simple Sewing

Hand-Bound Journal by Carrie Jung
A great way to keep the memories of your trip alive long after you return home is to journal. I always take a journal while I travel, and in addition to chronicling my adventures, fill it with ticket stubs, stamps, and other mementos of the trip.


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