Guest Tutorial: Oilcloth pannier variation

by Jessie Kwak

Over the summer, Gwen Wathne emailed me to say she was working on an oilcloth pannier based on my original tutorial, but that she’d made some changes to it, and did I want her to write about it for my blog?

Of course I did!

I’m very, very excited to present this guest tutorial. Her version is beautiful, and has some really smart design features, like a magnetic clasp and straps that go all the way under to give extra support to the easily-torn oilcloth. She also uses actual pannier hardware to attach it to her rack.

She claims this is her first real sewing project, but when I look at the photos I can hardly believe that, it turned out so magnificently! It’s definitely an inspiration to anyone who thinks they lack a crafty thumb.

In the original tutorial, I lay out some tips for sewing with oilcloth, and resources for finding materials—so feel free to refer back to it if you have any questions. If you still don’t find your answers, leave your questions and comments below!

How to make an oilcloth cycling pannier

by Gwen Wathne

I consider myself to be quite new to the whole sewing/craft thing in general but I have always been quite excited about trying new things. I am definitely one of those people who find it more interesting to start a project than to finish, but I do always make a point of completing a project, as I am also adverse to waste of any kind, especially things that waste my time.

I don’t know if it has to do with events in my life in the last few years, or just a result of getting more confident as the years go on, but I find myself increasingly looking at things and thinking ‘I can make that myself’. I was raised helping my dad out with DIY and have always been very practical, but other than the obligatory cushions I made in home economics at the age of 10 and 11 I haven’t really touched a sewing machine.


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Guest post: Top Tips and Tricks for Creating Your Own Cycling Jersey

by Jessie Kwak

It’s a gorgeous weekend in the Northwest! I’m traveling (which is why this post is late, sorry), and I’m pleased to report that the good weather Seattle was supposed to have is reflected throughout the Northwest. I was going to be so bummed if I missed 80-degree sunny days in Seattle only to get rained on in Newport.

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Julianne Staino. Julianne is a NYC based runner/triathlete who can be found running and biking around town. You can follow her training over at rungerpains or, if you like puppy photos, you can get your daily fill by following her on Twitter (@JulianneStaino).

Thanks, Julianne!

On the pavement or blazing a trail, the thing that stands out most about a cyclist is the gear. A professional looking jersey will set you apart from the rookies. Whether you’re a seasoned roadie or mounting your steed for the first time, creating your own cycling jersey is fun and easy! So, lose the baggy t-shirts and hairy legs and use the tips below to create a professional-looking jersey and avoid looking like a Fred or Doris.

Source: www.shutterstock.com

Source: www.shutterstock.com

Step 1: Choose a pattern and fabric

For you crafty chasers, sewing your own cycling jerseys is the way to go. Jerseys are tight-fitting so keep that in mind when you choose your pattern. You can find patterns online and in some stores. Cotton allows the skin to breathe and cool itself naturally but holds the sweat, while synthetic material like polyester wicks sweat off the rider and dries quickly. Preshrink your chosen fabric in the wash. Chalk your pattern line and use a rotary cutter to cut through fabric. With polyester thread and a ball point needle, use an overlock stitch and a quarter-inch seam allowance.

Tip 2: Screen printing

Screen printing is one of the most durable ways to customize your jersey and though it’s a little more complicated to do it yourself, you’ll likely save a lot of time. Whether you’re just planning on riding your beater bike but want to look legit, or part of a cycling club or team, this method is ideal. Start by tracing your desired image onto a piece of nylon stretched across an embroidery hoop. Fill in the areas you do not want transferred to your jersey with Mod Podge and let it dry. Clip the hoop to your jersey and evenly cover the design with fabric ink. Carefully lift the pattern away, allow the paint to dry and then heat seal it according to the directions on your paint.

Source: http://craftgrrl.livejournal.com

Source: http://craftgrrl.livejournal.com

Tip 3: Iron-on Transfer

Weekend Warriors who want to look the part without shelling out the cash should start here. Print your image onto a transfer paper and trim excess paper and any part of the design you don’t want to transfer. Smooth any wrinkles on your jersey, place the transfer paper on top. With the steam setting off, run a preheated iron across the surface, allowing it to rest in one spot for 15 seconds at a time. Gently rub the whole design with a clean cloth for another few seconds and then remove the transfer paper.

Source: www.needlenthread.com

Source: www.needlenthread.com

Tip 4: Design a custom logo online

For a custom logo professionally printed, the best way is to choose a template from the jersey company website you’ve decided to work with and import it into a design program like Adobe Illustrator. You can lay out your design the way you like it. If graphic design isn’t your thing, you could always get a custom shirt online for your ride! Teams that are looking for a polished and consistent look for large numbers of jerseys will often ride this route.

Whatever your cadence, you’re going to be riding in style!

Source: www.shutterstock.com

Source: www.shutterstock.com


Interview: Nancy McDonald of Re-Velo Bags

by Jessie Kwak

Happy Monday! This morning I’m excited to introduce Nancy McDonald of Re-Velo Bags and Accessories. She creates some truly fun items out of recycled bicycle inner tubes, so I asked her to tell us a bit about her process. Nancy was kind enough to share some great tips—my favorite is that she washes inner tubes in her washing machine. Clever!

You can find her creations in her Etsy shop, and read more about her on her blog.

I also just have to point out clever her shop motto: “Turning flat inner tubes into well-rounded accessories.” Love it!

bamboocargo | Re-Velo

JK: I see on your blog that you ride a bamboo cargo bike—that your boyfriend made! I know this interview is supposed to be about inner tube crafting, but can you please tell me about it? It looks amazing!

NM: I love my bamboo bike! it only weighs 26 lbs. so it’s super light for a cargo bike—or any bike really. It’s wheel-base is 5″ longer than a regular bike so I can put larger panniers to carry all my junk on the back and not hit my heels on the edge of the bags when I pedal. It’s great for commuting or all day riding. It’s very flexy so it’s comfortable for long rides and over bumps. The joints are hemp and epoxy. I’m hoping he’ll make me another bike this summer. You can never have enough!

Tell me a bit about your Etsy shop, Re-Velo. What inspired you to work with inner tubes?

I’ve always enjoyed riding bikes and I met my boyfriend in a bike shop where he was working as the head mechanic. He showed me an inner tube bag made by another company that was sent to a shop where he was working and I thought “I can do better than that.” Plus, the material is free! Bike shops love to give away tubes to someone who can use them. I was also working at a job that used industrial sewing machines so I had access to a machine that could handle sewing rubber. All the stars aligned and I just kinda fell into a business of my own. I had no aspirations before that but it’s been really satisfying owning my own business and working on all the many aspects of it from the designing to the sewing, blogging, photographing the items, shipping, etc.

Re-Velo 2

Do you sew things besides the bags you sell in your Etsy shop? What other crafty outlets do you have?

I’ve sewn clothes all my life. I took fashion design in college. I don’t sew as much as I’d like. I have a couch in my living room that could REALLY use a new outfit…I made potholders for all my friends one Christmas with one of those little metal looms. I handmade Christmas cards one year. I like to cook and garden—anything where I can work with my hands. I was a videographer for many years. I’ve made jewelry, done ceramics, even re-tiled my shower with 4 different tile colors and 2 grout colors.I generally learn enough about something to create what I want, then move on to something else. I’d like to learn to weld. I’ll build my own bamboo bike frame at some point. I have a great teacher for that one!

Re-Velo 3

Do you sell your bags anywhere else besides Etsy?

I did sell on my site for awhile but it was a pain to manage. I sell my stuff at a local bike shop. I could sell a lot more if I had more time to sew and market myself. I have gotten huge orders from our local Bike Week celebration organizers. I really have to gear up for those well in advance. They order 300 to 500 items each year. I also have a Zibbet shop and I’ve just signed up for my first local show. It’s actually an Earth Fair, not a craft show. I’m looking forward to getting some customer interaction and feedback.

I’d love to hear the logistics of how you work with inner tubes. What kind of sewing machine do you use, and why? Do you have a dedicated machine? Any suggestions on needles, thread, etc.?

It’s not easy. There has been a lot of trial and many errors. I have a Rex industrial machine that I use for everything. I got it dirt cheap from a former boss. It can handle the thickness of several layers of rubber easily. I still have to hand turn the wheel on certain parts so the needle won’t break. I use a Teflon foot so the rubber will feed through properly. Even then, it can be a challenge. Some tubes I just give up on because they are so “sticky” despite washing them in my washing machine and then scrubbing them by hand after I cut the pieces. I use regular thread. I’ve used heavy duty thread also on larger items. I use a size 14 needle to make the smallest hole I can. I also use a silicone spray on the machine and needles occasionally. It’s always a challenge to sew rubber though. Every time I sew woven fabric I’m shocked at how EASY it is.

Re-Velo 4

How do you “pin” the inner tubes while you’re working?

I don’t pin anything usually. Most things are really small so there’s no need. I definitely have to make sure everything is matching up constantly as I sew. For larger items where I piece strips together, I always cut way more length than I need so I can cut it down to size after all the pieces are sewn together. I do use binder clips on really large bags but I haven’t sewn anything big in awhile. It’s on my to-do list to make larger bags. I don’t plan on creating any messenger-type bags since so many people do those and at this point unless I feel I have something original to add, I want to stay with my unique designs.

Re-Velo 1

How do you choose and clean your inner tubes?

I try to find the cleanest tubes I can to start with – especially after cutting open a few with green slime in them a few years ago. Not fun. I have a few widths that are requirements. My wallets must be made from tubes of a certain width because the width of the tube is the width of the finished wallet. My purse straps also need to match the D-ring size. But for everything else, I can usually use just about anything. I’m not too fond of 26″ tubes since they tend to curve too much. To clean tubes, I cut off the valves and usually slit the tube on the inner circumference with very sharp scissors. I then use a dry towel to wipe as much of the talc off as I can. I do all this outside. After I get several cut and wiped down, I put them in the washing machine. I wash them on warm with laundry soap. I like to use Zum laundry soap since it’s made locally and smells great but anything is fine. I hang them to dry and then cut them to size as I need them and then scrub them again by hand with a nylon scrub brush and Zum soap.

Last one: Give us a glimpse into you studio. What’s your favorite part about being there? What do you listen to or watch while working?

My studio is WAY too small but I make it work. I live in a 2 bedroom house and one bedroom is my studio. I have an industrial serger in my studio as well as my Rex machine so it’s pretty tight. I do haul my stuff into the living room occasionally when I’m doing some non-sewing parts of making bags so I can see Breaking Bad, Duck Dynasty or the Food Network.

Any time I get in the zone is my favorite part about being in my studio. It’s when everything just flows and I almost don’t have to think about what I’m doing. Everything just comes together with very little effort. It definitely doesn’t happen every time, but the fact that it might is a big part of what keeps me going back.

I listen to podcasts a lot. Fresh Air, This American Life, The Moth. I also listen to 60’s girl groups, Elvis Costello, Dusty Springfield, Burt Bacharach stuff, Tammy Wynette, White Stripes…I was the kid in high school listening to Billie Holiday and watching Marx Brothers movies. My music tastes are all over the board.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for your interest in my little shop! I feel lucky to be alive and creating at this point in time. The internet has opened up so many opportunities for anyone who wants to make and sell products. I’ve sold items to customers in England, Australia, Italy, and just last week, Estonia! Whoda thunk it?

Want more inner tube crafts? Check out my ebook Crafting with Inner Tubes.

Crafting with Inner tubes | Bicitoro bikes and crafts


Guest post: The Right Knitting Stitch Pattern for the Job

by Jessie Kwak

UPDATE: the giveaway is now closed. Thanks!

I know, I know. Two posts in a row where I talk to you only in italics, then let other people do the heavy lifting. You have to admit that they’re pretty great people, though, right?

Like today, see, we have the fantastic Andrea Rangel to tell us about how to choose stitch patterns for knitting projects–particularly for items that are meant to be worn during active pursuits. She’s just released her first book: Woodsmoke & Ash: Knits for Men. It’s a really great collection with projects for every level. I’m particularly excited to make a pair of the Char gloves for myself. (Rob has enough gloves.)

Best of all (bury the lede!), she’s going to be giving away a copy of her book (make the lede bold!) to some random commenter on this post.

Comments will be open until midnight on Thursday the 21st, PST. Good luck, all.

Woodsmoke Final Cover

One thing I completely love about knitting is that we get to create our fabric as we go. Using just some string and a couple of sticks I can make an infinite variety of textures and patterns. Visually, this is really fun and it’s one thing that keeps me excited about knitting. But there’s more to stitch patterns than meets the eye. Changing the combination of knits, purls, increases and decreases doesn’t just change what the fabric looks like, but different stitch patterns can totally change how a fabric functions too. As a designer, this is almost as important to me as appearance. I’m constantly swatching to see how different fabrics behave, and the results help me determine how to use that fabric.

Some functions that may be desirable from a fabric are warmth or breathability, wind-resistance, durability, and resilience/elasticity. As knitters and designers (and sewists too, though I don’t know as much about that), we first look at fiber in order to attain those functions. For warm garments, we have our pick of animal fibers; for cooler garments, cotton, bamboo, or other plant fibers are more appropriate. For durability, we may choose to add a bit of nylon, and wool or elastic to provide resilience. Yarn construction can also help. For example, plied yarns are generally more durable than singles.

But one of my favorite ways to achieve a particular function is by carefully choosing an appropriate stitch pattern. All of the patterns in Woodsmoke & Ash have stitch patterns that not only make a fetching garment, but were chosen for their functional properties as well.

Because the garments in the book are designed for cold weather wear, each of the designs has some stitch pattern that adds to its warmth. One way to make a fabric extra warm is to use any stitch pattern that creates pockets where hot air can get trapped. This is the same principal that down jackets use; it’s not the down that’s keeping you warm, it’s all the spaces in between where the air, made warm from your body heat, can’t escape. Stranded color work, ribbing, and many textured stitch patterns like knit and purl combinations, slip stitch patterns, and cables all make those little pockets. So any garment that includes those kinds of stitch patterns is probably warmer than one worked in plain Stockinette or lace.

Stranded color work, such as that used in Traverse and Heartwood, also adds warmth just by creating a thicker fabric in those sections. Thicker fabric always has the added benefit of adding wind resistance. Of course you can get thicker fabric just by using thicker yarn, but stranded color work and ribbing are two visually-engaging ways to do it without thicker yarns. Knitted-in hems are also genius because they not only create a beautiful, neat edge, but double the thickness of the fabric, making a warm and squishy wind barrier. Working projects at a dense gauge, such as in Sphagnum, Resin, and Plantago, also creates more wind-resistant, durable fabric.

Heartwood is warm for a whole lot of reasons: The knitted-in hem creates double fabric right at the ears where you need it most, stranded color-work creates thickness and lots of places for warm air to get trapped, and the sample uses a woolen spun wool yarn, Brooklyn Tweed Shelter; woolen spinning makes yarn extra lightweight and warm.

Heartwood is warm for a whole lot of reasons: The knitted-in hem creates double fabric right at the ears where you need it most, stranded color-work creates thickness and lots of places for warm air to get trapped, and the sample uses a woolen spun wool yarn, Brooklyn Tweed Shelter; woolen spinning makes yarn extra lightweight and warm.

Stitch pattern can also have an impact on durability. Those of you who knit socks may be familiar with the slip-stitch heel. Working some stitches only every other row creates a denser, thicker fabric that is still comfortable against the heel, but resists wear. The Char gloves use a subtle waffle-like slip stitch pattern to create durability on the hand, and Stockinette stitch on the fingers and thumbs to allow for maximum dexterity.

Don’t forget that stitch pattern also has a dramatic impact on drape. Just hold up a lace swatch next to a Garter stitch one to see what I mean.

I never choose a stitch pattern for a design unless it achieves both the desired appearance and the desired function.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on stitch pattern functions. Do you look at stitch pattern when choosing a project to knit?


Guest Post: DIY waterproof cycling booties

by Jessie Kwak

If you’ve never ended a ride with soaking wet shoes, then I don’t want to talk to you. If you have, then read on—Bethany Marcello, an assistant editor at CraftFoxes is here to show you how to make your own rainproof booties. She’s an avid biker, writer and crafter living in Portland, Oregon

If you want booties that are warm as well as waterproof, you could get some neoprene from Seattle Fabrics—or even from a beat-up wet suit you might find at Goodwill. After yesterday’s ride, I definitely need some to cover my Docs.


Soggy shoes have long plagued my husband’s daily work commutes, but the $50 price tag for a standard pair of bike booties was too much for our tiny budget. Making these DIY bike booties was an exciting and practical alternative. With a bright orange waterproof fabric, I made these rain covers in 2 hours and my final cost was only $10. There are lots of ways to customize this pattern, and it’s even appropriate for beginner sewists.

DIY cycling booties | Bicitoro

*Note: thinner fabric will last one winter and thicker fabric will last 2-3 winters

You need:

  • Measuring tape
  • Pattern paper or newspaper
  • 1 yard of waterproof fabric (possible alternatives: an unwanted waterproof jacket, umbrella or even scuba gear)
  • Sewing machine, scissors & thread
  • Chalk
  • 1-1/2-inch elastic
  • Velcro or ties for the back closure (optional)

Step 1: Create Pattern

Take the following measurements:

  • Along the inner foot, from outer to heel (1)
  • Circumference of calf (where you want the bootie to end) (2)
  • Over the top of shoe, from sole to sole (3)
  • For straps, measure from toe to where you want the bottom strap to go (more for those with clip-in bike shoes) (4)

Step 1-taking-measurements-bethanymarcello-

On pattern paper, trace the bottom of the bike shoe, making sure that sole is as long as (1) measurement.

Next, trace on pattern paper around toe of shoe and over laces. Check that this measurement is at least half of (3) measurement. Extend line up to shin.

Trace along the heel and up along the calf. Extend the leg-part of the booties as high as you choose. If you’re tucking the booties under your pants, about 3-5-inches will work. If tucking pants into booties, you may want at least 5-inches. The width of the pattern at top should be at least half of (2) measurement.


Add at least a 5/8-inch seam hemline for experienced sewists and at least a 1-inch hemline for newer sewists.

On pattern, mark where straps and closures are going.

Step 2: Cut Fabric

Note: If using expensive fabric, consider making a test piece on less expensive fabric to confirm sizing.

With fabric folded wrong sides together, trace pattern onto fabric and cut. Be sure to mark hemlines on fabric if you are new to sewing.

Step 2-cut-fabric-bethanymarcello-

Step 3: Hem & Sew

Unpin fabric, and create a double hem along the edges of each piece. Once all cut edges are hemmed on both pieces, sew heel and top of shoe and laces. Attach elastic straps across the bottom.


Step 4: Finishing (optional)

Line top of the bootie with elastic, and add Velcro to close the back opening. (Other options include leaving it open to tuck in your pants, or using laces to tie it shut.)

Attach reflective ribbon along the back for better visibility.

Step 4-finishing-bethanymarcello-