The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lists only a few sewing supplies that are prohibited in carry-on luggage. Many of the sewing and quilting supplies you might want to take along on a commercial airline flight are allowed in TSA sewing kits. Some sewing supplies are allowed but limited to certain types and sizes. Take a look at what you can and cannot take with you in a TSA sewing kit.
Metal scissors with pointed tips are allowed in carry-on luggage if the blades are shorter than 4 inches long. Since rules sometimes change, and the ultimate decision of what either allowed or is confiscated is left up to each security post or airline, play it safe and take nail clippers or a dental floss container to clip your threads and yarns. If you must take scissors, it might be best to stick with a blunt-nosed pair.
TSA notes that back in 2001 there was a period when nail clippers were not permitted, but they are permitted now. While nail files are also permitted, it is probably best to carry a smaller nail clipper if it has a metal file attached.
Circular Thread Cutters and Craft Knives
Any type of cutter with a sharp blade should be stowed safely in your checked baggage, including rotary cutters, circular thread cutters, and all types of craft knives—even teeny seam rippers that have cutting blades. The bottom line is that if a cutter includes a blade, put it in your checked baggage. Needlepoint tools that do not have blades are permissible in carry-on or checked luggage.
Knitting Needles and Sewing Needles
Knitting needles are allowed in carry-on baggage. TSA says any knitting needle ban is an urban legend. They also note that knitting needles should be wrapped if they are included in checked luggage so they don't poke luggage handlers. TSA does not list any restrictions against sewing needles in carry-on or checked luggage.
Sewing Machines as Carry-On Luggage
Many quilters regularly fly with their sewing machines. Sewing machines are allowed as one of your carry-on parcels, but the TSA's wording makes it clear that acceptance is up to security personnel. Check ahead to make sure the machine will fit in either the overhead bin or under the seat of the specific airline you'll be flying.
Allow extra time going through security as TSA staff may take the sewing machine to a separate table and remove it from its case for a close inspection. Be sure to repack an inspected machine to make sure it remains protected during potential bumps during the flight.
If you want to be cautious, you could remove the sewing machine's spool holder and put it in your checked suitcase along with the needle. That step probably isn't necessary, but it ensures that the sharp items on the machine won't create an issue. Securing both in a well-padded area in your checked bag will protect the entire machine from bumps in flight.
Before You Fly
Check the TSA website before you travel to review a current list of prohibited carry-on items. If you aren't sure about an item, call the security office at the airports where you must go through screening and ask about specific items. Jot down the name of the person you talked with, and mention the name and date of the talk if screening personnel have another opinion about the item you wish to take as a carry-on.