Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Art of Carry-On: Clothes & Gear for the Journey

While I am still on a learning curve with what to pack in the big suitcases (can never seem to get it down to less than 4 pair of shoes), this year I have fine tuned the art of carry-on.  
Not too much, not too little.
The right gear and the right clothes and 'stuff'.  
This describes what goes in the carry on and what to wear…..well, what I wore on this 3 week trip to Australia.

Travel Clothes
When packing for a trip, one of the first things I do is to plan and set out what to wear on the plane, and I often keep fine tuning it until I am our the door!  
Layers are the secret ingredient. 
For this trip to Australia I needed comfortable layers to take me from cold Oregon through even colder Salt Lake City, to balmy LA and an overnight 14+ hour flight to Sydney and then Cairns where it is hot and humid.  The following pieces worked really well including an unplanned for 24 hour layover in LA because I neglected to obtain a visa, but made good use of my time spending a day buying fabric in LA.  
A big fabric shipment will arrive in early January, will be posted soon afterward.
3 days in the same clothes.  By the time I hit the damp warm air of Sydney for another layover I was very grateful to find the luxury of shower in the lounge at the airport.

The Tops
Vogue 8582 is the starting point for the tops.  It is out of print, but appears to be still available on the Vogue website.  I've made it so many times I know it fits, so adjust the neckline and the shaping at the hem for these two versions which I wanted to layer together.
I used hem detailing from an existing purchased tunic for this version and bound the neck and armhole edges.
Same pattern as above in a combo of fabrics from my stash.  I changed the bottom hem shaping from the original pattern.  To do this, I make a full copy of the original pattern, then free form draw in a different shape, making sure the side seams line up….and sometimes I change the shape or length during construction.  
Fabrics are rayon/lycra knit blends from my stash….all are slightly different weights but that did not matter in the finished top.
The line drawing shows the figure/bust skimming fit, and makes it easy to visualize changing the bottom hem shaping.
It was good luck rather than meticulous planning that the necklines nest together so well.  On the stripe band I used a single layer with the curled selvedge at the edge.
The pieces layer together in a fluid and flattering way.  It is important to have the length right for your figure/height and for the shape of the pant.
The original top as shown on the pattern envelope.
The Pants
Vogue 8929 is the pattern used for the pants made in our Black Windowpane Check Stretch Shirting.  I love using a men's shirting fabric for light summer pants and these have been great for travel and knocking around.  The pockets are deep and functional…a must for the plane ride, and the pants are comfortable and wrinkle free.
My new favorite pants….love the pocket and curved seam detailing, love the flat front and minimal elastic in the back, love the flattering pared down slim silhouette.
While the pant was designed for knits, the style worked well in a stretch woven and should also work in a drapey non-stretch woven too.
I cut with 1" extra on all the side seams because I wanted plenty of ease, and to be able to adapt the fit to the fabric.  

Cut the pants longer than this, but shortened them and added a slit at the bottom.  
This pattern view shows the pocket detail, which is super easy to sew and virtually disappears in a plain or patterned fabric.
My version is slightly longer than shown here on the model.  I eliminated the drawstrings at the hem.  Wish I had made a couple more pair in cotton or rayon lycra knits.
I LOVE this pattern.
Black Vest tops it all.
A black vest is an essential airplane piece for me wherever I am heading.  
I've made and bought several over the years.  For cool weather travel the vest must slide on under a coat or jacket.   This one is purchased, textured black cotton, and I've added inside pockets to hold glasses, passport/boarding pass and jet lag pills.
The pockets are a lightweight lining, topstitched in place and the topstitching is virtually invisible in the textured fabric.  

At the last minute I layered on a little black cardigan (over the tunic, under the vest) and have been VERY happy to have it on the journey….sorry, no photo of that.
When I arrived in VERY hot & humid Cairns, I peeled down to the sleeveless tunic and pants.


A small across the body bag like the Facteur, shown above holds the minimum essentials.  Love the vintage flair, it is like a chic billfold on a strap.  My hands down choice for travel as well as for an everyday runaround bag.  Has 3 pockets.  In mine, I use one for credit cards and passport, one for bills and change, one for phone, lipstick, kleenex.

Groom microfiber backpack
 Lightweight and roomy, keeps my hands free and holds camera, magazine, etcetera.
While touring around a city I never put money, passport or credit card in the backpack, but it is SO handy for all my other stuff.  On a long flight, I remove anything I might need and tuck this into the rolling bag.

 The Luggage
As you can probably tell, I am a great fan of the Eagle Creek luggage line.  The versions I carry are nearly 10 years old, and they have a lifetime guarantee, so they will repair anything that breaks.  Recently the airline mashed the handle on my favorite big suitcase and it could not be repaired in time for my next trip, so I went out and bought another brand….which I do not like nearly as well, and am back to carrying the older now repaired Eagle Creek model.  

Rolling bag
The bag I use is no longer produced by Eagle Creek, but this is the current version, the 22" Tarmac rolling bag…the maximum carry on allowed, lightweight with good pockets. 

What goes IN the Carry-On
Rolling Bag:

One complete change of clothes, underwear and lightweight pajamas in an Eagle Creek Packing Unit  
I'm a great fan of these and use them in my larger checked in bags too: one for pants/bottoms, one for tops, one for jackets & sweaters.  If the trip involves shopping for fabric or clothes, I toss an extra one or two into the bottom of the big bag.
My favorites are a soft bamboo knit made by Yala, an Ashland, Oregon company, this style is called the Haley.  Super soft and comfortable, this is my favorite travel pair.  For warm climates I tuck in a little cami in case the sleeved version is too warm.
Mac Book Air
I stopped carrying my bigger main computer for travel when I realized how dire it would be if it were lost, stolen or damaged.  Now I carry a small, lightweight Mac Air computer which goes in a padded protector and gets popped into the rolling luggage.  I take it out and put it into the duffle bag on small planes when the rolling bag is checked as the plane is boarded.
I'm working on it right now, here in Queensland, northern Australia!
This really is a genius bag, perfect for makeup and essentials, it has a zip off compartment for liquid items, is lightweight and compact.  Hangs for easy use with everything stowed and visible.  So good it has 2 patents pending.  Thanks to my friend Juli who told me about it!
Electronic cords, minimal jewelry and spare eyeglasses, are stowed in a zipper pocket in individual mesh Walker bags like this one.  
I try to put things back in the same place/pocket in the bag/suitcase.
Duffle bag:
 Slips onto the handle of the rolling bag, fits easily (soft so it mashes)  under the seat in the plane and holds all the essential items for the plane ride.
Acts like a little footstool too!
My version of this bag is no longer produced by Eagle Creek, so this is the closet thing I could find to show, available (and on sale right now) through the Eagle Creek Website.  I like to slip the cup and thermos into the side pockets for easy access, and be able to easily open up the top compartment while in flight, so it is important that it is not crammed too full so I can find what is inside.  See below for what goes into the duffel.
What goes in the duffel bag:
Large soft shawl, (cashmere is ideal), that folds down to nothing.  Planes can be cold, and I prefer this to the airline blankets.   SO comforting!
On long flights I carry light slip on slippers, change into them for the duration and stow my shoes in the overhead compartment.  
Made by Contigo, simply the BEST travel cup ever.  Seals so it cannot spill , and you can hook the handle on the pocket in front of your seat for easy access.  I use it for tea.
Zojirushi thermos
I use this for water, pick up a bottle after clearing security and transfer to this thermos.  I always want to have water, this is spill proof and keeps things hot or cool for a very long time.
Tranquil Sleep is a gentle sleep aid. I chew one or two when I want to nap on the plane. 
Bose noise canceling head phones. 
The incessant noise on a plane is one of the main contributors to jet lag, and these really help.
Built in bra camisole….my favorite is made by Cosabella and is similar to the version shown here.  I take off my bra during a long flight, this is supportive and comfortable.  

My Charge Power Bank.
Just in case I need a power boost for phone or computer.
Need to charge this up before tucking it in the duffle
Kindle Paperwhite
A fantastic device, can't say enough about how I love this little tool.  Lightweight, a pleasure to hold and use.  It has a long battery life, the feature that sold me on it for a long flight, but on this trip I was able to download books via the free 3G wireless from a boat out on the water!  While I still love my iPad for reading and surfing, the Kindle Paperwhite has become my #1 choice for a good long read….one of my greatest pleasures, right up there with sewing!

Also in the duffel:
emergen-C packets
ear plugs
eye shades
tea bags
neck pillow (this clips on to the outside of the duffel)

magazine or paperback
spare glasses
bag of liquids & creams, toothbrush/paste, hand lotion etc.
copy of flight itinerary
addresses of where I will be staying (needed for customs forms)

iPad just in case
Also in the rolling bag:
copies of credit cards and passport
electronic cords
adaptors if needed
raincoat/jacket that folds up flat
spare pair of shoes
bathing suit & light sarong (depends on where I'm headed)
space permitting, I tuck in a small feather sleeping pillow
any favorite/new/irreplaceable item of clothing

Everyone has different needs and travel styles, and each trip creates a new list of essentials.
Did I miss anything?
What are YOUR travel essentials?
Office set up and breakfast on the deck overlooking the pool.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Marcy, this is just great information. I will use this when planning my next trip. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  3. Ordered the thermos and the mug, thinking about Eagle Creek. Your outfit is fantastic. Thanks for a great post.

  4. Vogue 8582 is one of my favorite patterns. I love the detail on your sleeveless tunic. I have made this many times and will continue to do sew. Thanks for the packing list, I will be traveling in February and I am trying to keep it to just a carry on...fingers crossed.

  5. Backpack and purse are my mainstays after your previous posts; have to save this list for my next trip (India in 3 wks)...

  6. Marcy, Your blog entries are always wonderful! You have described the departure outfit, but I assume you took more garments. I am curious as to the number of other tops/bottoms you take. One of my travel essentials is plastic hangers. I remove the trouser clips to a zip-top bag, then the hangers pack flat. 2 reasons: rarely enough hangers in hotels/B&Bs, and when doing hand laundry, great for drying.

  7. Great information. My husband and I will be going to Paris end of April. I want to make a travel vest similar to yours. I don't see a pattern number for it. Can you post it? I have nearly all of your patterns. Challenge is getting everything into a 22" bag for a 3 week trip!

    1. Oh, I see that the vest is purchased. Can you give a little tutorial to show how you added extra pockets?

  8. Really this is great blog. Everyone should plan like this and follow these. This one is also a great blog which discuss same 4 Devices to carry while traveling

  9. Do you take My Charge with you to Paris as well? I'm pretty sure this will work in Europe, but I can't tell from the description if it has a switch from 110 to 220.