Traveling With A Serger Machine
Whether you’re planning a working vacation or attending a sewing convention, you might find yourself traveling with a serger. No matter what the situation, doing some research, obtaining all the necessary information from the airline you choose, and properly packing your machine can ease your airport experience, ensure the safe arrival of your machine, and allow you to enjoy the flight.
TSA and Airline Requirements
While the TSA website remains somewhat vague on restrictions regarding serger and sewing machines, both are allowed as either checked luggage or carry-ons. One important note: all checked and carry-on baggage may undergo additional screening if they trigger a metal-related alarm during the screening processes, appears to have been tampered with, isn’t appropriately locked, contains loose items or poses any security concerns to TSA officials.
Most serger machines are small and light enough to be accepted as carry-on luggage by the TSA and airlines, but always have the weight and dimensions of your machine on hand when contacting your airline to make sure. This can help you decide between checking your serger or being able to fit it in the overhead storage bin or beneath your seat.
Always place your machine in a separate bin and inform the TSA agent what it contains before it goes through the X-ray machine. This may avoid time-consuming questions and inspections when the metal parts are detected.
Choosing an Appropriate Carrying Case
Most serger manufacturers offer a variety of hard- and soft-shelled carrying cases designed to fit specific serger models. Prices can climb to more than $200, which can be an expensive investment if you don’t do a lot of traveling. There are also several types of generic cases on the market that are designed to hold lightweight and heavier machines. Some cases are soft and well padded, while others feature wheels or built-in, foldable trolleys and extra compartments for accessories and removable machine parts.
Another option is browsing the luggage departments in local department stores or searching online sites for options in more inexpensive hard-sided suitcases, traveling bags, and trolley cases. There’s a wide variety of soft-sided totes on the market that are made just for sergers and could easily work as carry-ons.
If you’re traveling with a new machine, you can check it in an appropriately-sized bag or case while still in the original foam and packaging. The foam is formed to snugly fit around the serger to secure and protect it, and its removable parts and accessories.
Packing the Machine
Whether you choose a specially designed carrying case for your serger or prefer to go with a soft, padded case or properly-sized, padded carry-on bag, it’s vital to ensure that you properly pack and protect your machine.
Properly packed scissors (with rounded tips) and needles under 4 inches in length, and screwdrivers less than 7 inches long are permitted in carry-on bags by both the TSA and most airlines, as long as they’re packed in a clear zippered bag. However, it might be necessary for the TSA to open and inspect a carrying case, as the metal will show up on the X-ray machine.
- For the best protection, invest in a TSA-approved hard-shell carrying case featuring a thickly-padded interior and secure compartments for smaller components.
- Remove all loose or detachable items from the machine, including the throat plate, needles, the thread guide(s), retractable thread post(s), and accessories and store them in a clear, zippered bag or container.
- To be safe, tape down any component that might become jarred loose – especially during the baggage-handling process.
- Lower the presser foot onto a soft piece of fabric to protect it from the feed dogs during your flight(s), even when transporting the machine as a carry-on.
- If you choose to use a generic flight bag, make sure to pad all nooks and crannies on, in, or around the serger.
- Add additional padding to the interior of the bag itself (even if already padded) using foam or several layers of a soft, thick fabric such as fleece.
- No matter which type of traveling case you choose, look for one with a stiff bottom for extra protection and support.
- If you choose to add extra security in the form of straps on checked machines, make sure to use TSA-approved locks.
Top Carrying Case Manufacturers
While many sewing machine travel bags will also accommodate sergers, many machine owners prefer using a case made to snugly hold their machine.
Tutto Luggage is a popular travel case manufacturer that not only offers a good variety of cases designed specifically for transporting sergers, it includes a handy size chart for most popular serging machine brands. Some of the cases fit multiple models and brands, so always remember to measure your machine to match its dimensions to their products.
Creative Notions, a line of machine luggage, is distributed by Tacony Sewing Center, the same manufacturers of Baby Lock sergers. While the totes are reasonably priced and available in a wide range of colors and patterns, the cost of the wheeled trolley cases are somewhat more expensive than other manufacturers. Some serger owners find the investment worthwhile thanks to the craftsmanship put into their products.
Bluefig another popular manufacturer of sewing products, offers a limited line of serger carriers. The soft-shelled carry case fits all brands of sergers except the Viking s21 and s25. The company also manufactures two trolley cases in medium and large sizes. The interior walls are heavily padded to protect contents. This company also manufactures foam inserts for further protection when traveling.
In almost every case, seasoned travelers overwhelmingly recommend traveling with your serger as carry-on luggage, if possible. Except for the largest models, most sergers can be easily stowed in the airplane cabin. Additionally, it’s much easier than taking the chance of it suffering potential damage during the trip. There are so many sizes, types and varieties of soft- and hard-shelled cases and wheeled trolleys on the market that finding the right one depends only on your preferences, budget, and traveling needs.