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Amazing tip for binding a deconstructed guide book!

I am delighted to share the results of my recent experiment: using a sewing machine to bind my deconstructed guide book.
It works like a charm!

I was never too keen on tearing apart books because it seemed too sloppy (I don't love the little binder Rick sells, sadly) but sewing the pages keeps them neatly bound (even better if you include card stock as a cover). It's sew easy!

My tips:
* Use a long stitch length (zig zag worked well for me)
* Deconstruct the book as neatly as possible, to avoid losing any paper to ripping. If you do find yourself too short on the inside margin you can sew on the outside margin but will have to flip the pages right to left when reading (not a big annoyance but something to consider).
* Change your needle before returning to fabric!

I would love to know of more sewing-related travel hacks!

Posted by
197 posts

Not a sewing hack, but I extract the parts I want and take them to Office Max/Staples or the like and have them spiral bound. I like being able to open it to the page I want and keep it there.

Posted by
10838 posts

I also have taken them to be spiral bound, a very good solution. Plus I don’t sew!

Posted by
4431 posts

I think I just cut down the plastic binding thingies my kids had left behind from their school reports (similar to Rick's) but stapled together the segments first. Then tossed the inserts as I left the area. But I now have a semi industrial sewing machine that could handle thicker chapters.
It was even harder for me to cut up a bird guide, but all of these take up space and weight, particularly for travel of several weeks and climates and still managing carry on only. Sometimes it is more work that seems necessary.

Posted by
4431 posts

Other sewing hacks...have to think about those but I have plenty of things I have sewn for travel, but more for the fun of making them than travel must haves.
I did wake up about 4 this morning mulling over the best design for Flair and Air Canada under seat personal item and whether it should have backpack straps or not.....

Posted by
6900 posts

Very clever, Rebekah!

I’ve just carefully removed each tiny section and place three vertical staples down the left border. Each section doesn’t have more than about five pages for either the location or the day.

When I returned home, I would place them back into the book and secure it all with a large rubber band. To be honest, I have only looked at a previous used RS guidebook planning for one subsequent trip, so this year I may toss those little sections I do bring since I use my notes for my trip report later.

I sewed a fabric pocket for my mom many years ago that she used as a travel “money belt”. I gave my sewing machine to a lady in a charity craft group when we moved after retirement; otherwise, I would probably sew some travel clothes with the perfect lightweight fabrics and color.

Posted by
5933 posts

I made a travel vest for myself many many years ago, with pockets on the inside and outside. It worked great, but eventually I got tired of wearing it. It was heavy because of all the things that were carried in the pockets and so I switched to using a crossbody bag.😊

Posted by
888 posts

Nice idea. I might try bias binding it.

To get a clean edge on pages you're removing, open the book wide at that page and run a box cutter or Xacto knife lightly thru the binding glue. Try not to cut all the way through the binding. You may need to do this on either side of a section if pulling multiple pages.

Posted by
5179 posts


You must have a heavy duty sewing machine!

I’ve also taken my book sections to Staples or Office Depot for spiral binding.

I would love to know of more sewing-related travel hacks!

This is my mom’s idea.
She taught me how to add zippered pockets to the inside of my vests and jackets.
[She did this when she traveled (solo) on her first European trip at the young age of 73]

One year I cheated and bought a simple cloth passport neck wallet at TJMax for around $7 (similar to this one but without the top flap).
I carefully cut the strap off and then hand stitched the neck wallet to the inside of one of my vests.
I only stitched around the bottom and up both sides leaving the top open which creates an extra pocket (although without zipper)
Don’t know if this makes sense.

I’ve also sewed a small hidden pocket that I use instead of a money belt.
It’s just big enough for my passport, cash, and credit cards.
It’s similar to this one but the belt loop is sewed on the top (where the zipper is located).
I also attach it to the waistband of my pants (or skirts) with two quilting pins.
It’s made out of a cotton fabric, so it’s washable and it dries overnight.

Have fun sewing!

Posted by
2584 posts

Once upon a time when I sewed, I made a riding cape for an Irish point to point trail ride. I needed waterproof, light-weight lining, hood big enough to fit over my riding helmet, long enough to keep my legs dry but not interfere with stirrups, and a back flap to fit around to saddle cantle. I think that’s the last thing I sewed other than curtains and a trolley strap onto a tote bag.

Good idea about sewing the guidebook pages together. I used the RS page holders. Since I didn’t use the guidebook book pages on the last two tours, have the RS app for some walks, bookmarks on maps and websites, I’m thinking I’ll save a pound and leave the ripped apart guidebook pages home.

Posted by
1340 posts

For guide book pages, I just photograph them and look at them on my phone.

But I did do two minor sewing projects that worked for travel.

I sewed pockets of the right dimensions into quart-size ziploc bags for my chapstick, hand lotion, sunscreen, etc. and then sewed the bags together like a book. This stopped the bags sliding around in my suitcase and kept all these little containers together. I could have labeled the pockets, but didn't.

My second sewing fix worked even better. I carry a very small Pacsafe crossbody purse when we travel (I carry as little as possible both at home and abroad) and it was annoying to get into the purse just to get non-valuable items like chapstick or kleenex. So I found some black elasticated waistband material on spools at the fabric store (about 2" wide), sewed two pieces together to make a 4" x 8" piece, and sewed this to the back of my little purse to make a pocket. The elastic keeps everything in really well with no need for a snap or button or zipper, although I did tack the pocket in the middle at the top just to be sure it wouldn't gape.

Posted by
2584 posts

I came up with a great idea (I hope) when ordering my tour kit this morning. My personal item is very light packable nylon, worked great last year, but has no interior pockets. I plan to cut the strap off the money belt, add wide elastic to the sides and sew it into the inside of the bag. To reinforce it, I plan to sew through the handles on the back side of the tote (on the trolley strap side). That should support my itinerary folder, not pull the bag forward and give me a small inside pocket. I have 10" width to work with so it will be too tight without elastic. Worth a try. OMG, I'm sewing again!

Posted by
21 posts

I’ve never been able to bring myself to cut apart the book. I create my own small booklet by copying my confirmations from TripIt. I format it into two columns, landscape mode, add information from various books, and maps, then print it and use a binder to create the booklet.

I have never bound anything with my basic sewing machine but I have hand bound small books for my children in the past. If someone who doesn’t have a sewing machine wanted to do this, it’s not difficult - line up the edges, evenly poke some holes along the edge and then use dental floss or embroidery floss in a big needle and sew up and back down. I would probably cover the sewn edge with washi tape or some other tape.

I’m not a very talented seamstress, so I could never sew clothes but I’ve thought about making a charger/cord holder. For my next trip, I’m trying very hard to use/recycle things that I have. These sewing ideas have inspired me to at least add some pieces of elastic to a small amenity bag to hold chargers.

Thanks for the great ideas.