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.


Continue reading


Tutorial: oilcloth & inner tube shopping pannier

by Jessie Kwak

I’ve been excited about making another bike pannier for some time.

Oilcloth & inner tube shopping pannier | Bicitoro

Something functional and fun, with plenty of space for commuting, or a grocery run.

Oilcloth & inner tube pannier in the lilacs | Bicitoro

To be totally fair, I don’t think this is going to be a hardcore grocery run sort of bag—I think it’s sturdy enough, but I’m not sure I’d stuff it full of heavy produce or canned goods. Rather, it’ll be a good bag for all those light-but-voluminous items like lettuce, bread, and bags of marshmallows. (You know, for camping only. Not for eating straight out of the bag—I would never do that.)

Oilcloth & inner tube shopping pannier - tulips | Bicitoro

Think of this as the final project in my inner tube tutorial series. It’s a culmination of a lot of techniques we talked about, like cleaning, cutting, gluing, and machine sewing. I can’t promise I’ll never post about inner tube crafting again, but I can tell you that I’ve got it out of my system for a little bit.

A week, at least.

If you’re still not sick of inner tubes, stick around. Let’s make an oilcloth & inner tube shopping pannier.

You need:

Continue reading


I made this: Traveling Bicycle Mechanic Tool Bag

by Jessie Kwak

Rob does a fair amount of traveling for work, and where he goes, so go many many bikes.

And where there are bikes, so is there also the opportunity to adjust, repair, and generally muck around with their many many parts.

You need tools for that, lots of different specialized tools, and so it came to pass the evening before he was about to leave for a week long tour of Oregon that he turned to me and said: “Hey, babe? Remember how we talked a while back about you making me a tool bag? Do you think you could do that for me right now?”

Of course I said yes, no problem. We’ve developed a mutual understanding over the years: I sew things when he needs them, and he keeps my bike in stylish good repair. That’s not to say that I don’t dabble in light bicycle mechanicry from time to time, or that he hasn’t braved my sewing machine, but hey, we’ve both spent our entire lives developing a certain set of skills. It works well.

He handed me a giant wrench. “Cool. It needs to be big enough to fit about 10 of these.”

And lo, with only minimal bitching about how last-minute it was, I made him this:

I neglected to take any pictures of the process because, I’ll admit it, I was a few beers in when he sprang this on me made his request. It’s an easy enough project, though there were a couple things I did to Traveling Bicycle Mechanic specifications which I’ll walk you through here.

Nice and sturdy

Not only did this bag need to be big enough to hold 10 giant wrenches, it had to be strong enough, too. I used a 500 Denier Cordura®, which is sturdy without being too stiff.

I like to get my Cordura at Seattle Fabrics. They have a remnant bins scattered throughout the store, so you can get some great deals if you’re not looking for a specific color.


When choosing your bag’s color (or choosing the lining color if you’re planning to do so), it’s important to think about visibility. A lighter fabric makes it easy to spot loose allen wrenches, etc. Because seriously—how annoying is it to get halfway through a repair and then not be able to find your bottle opener? What are you supposed to open that beer with? Your bottom bracket? (Looks like I might need this.)

Carrying handles

I used heavy nylon webbing to make the carrying handle. Notice how they wrap all the way around. Oftentimes the weakest point of a workhorse bag is the place where the handles are stitched onto the body of the bag, and stitching the webbing all the way around ensures that the handles are working with the bag to support the weight, rather than fighting against it.

The whole strap here is one continuous loop. I singed both ends, then butted them up against each other and zigzagged over to secure them down.


One thing Rob was adamant about was that the zipper not just open along the top of the bag, since he wanted to be able to open it wide enough to really get into it. I’m not the proudest ever of this zipper installation, but I blame the alcohol and the haste.

Above all, it met all our requirements. Holds tools, doesn’t fall apart, doable while tipsy.

Have a grand weekend!


Tutorial: Leather mini u-lock holster

by Jessie Kwak

Ever since I got a rack on my Kona, I’ve bungee corded my u-lock to the top of it.

It’s not a particularly elegant solution, it gets in the way of attaching a pannier, and it’s a pain in the ass to get it out when I’m ready to use it.

As Rob says, I never win the “quick lock” competition. In fact, he could be in and out of the grocery story by the time I’ve even got my bike locked up at all. As I was preparing this week’s tutorial, Dottie at Let’s Go Ride A Bike posted about the best ways to carry a u-lock, so apparently it’s a problem for more people than just me.

I have a belt holster which I do like, but since I’m not always wearing a belt I need a more universal solution.

I’ve been coveting this leather u-lock holster from Walnut Studios for months. Well, let’s face it. I’ve been coveting everything from Walnut Studios ever since I first came across them.

“I could make that,” thought the girl who has absolutely no leather-working experience. “That would be fun.”

And you know what? I could make it, and it was fun.

Here’s how.

Continue reading


Tutorial: adorable lunchbox pannier

by Jessie Kwak

The inspiration

Working for a children’s clothing catalog company is incredibly inspiring if you’re crafty and happen to have access to a niece. I spent all of today editing our costume catalog, and oh my gosh! If you’re the sort of person who likes fun at all, then you should hie yourself over to Chasing Fireflies right now and sign up for a catalog. I know this sounds like a shameless plug for my company, but really it’s a shameless plug for everyone to have more adorableness in their lives. If you’re a crafty type looking to get inspired, you’ll love this.

One of my favorites!

Where was I?

Oh, right. Most of the time I get inspired for my niece, but every once in a while I get inspired to make something for myself.

When the merchandising team turned over the fall apparel, they included a handful of super cute back-to-school bags. I must have had biking on the brain, because each of them seemed to be calling out to me: “Jessie! Attach pannier hooks to us! Put us on your bike!”

I said no. The last thing I needed was yet another bag, yet another project. I put the last one down, proud of myself for resisting their siren call.

And then I picked up the lunchbox. It was soft-sided and well insulated, very well constructed, with a zipper compartment in the back that would make the addition of pannier hooks incredibly easy. One consistent problem I have with the size of the Po Campo Loop Pannier is that I can’t fit my lunch tupperwares in there very well. But if I had a little lunchbox to go along with it….

The shark. It was just too cute.

lunchbox pannier tutorial

Why is it about to eat a starfish? Is that not odd?

It had a little story that went with it.

lunchbox pannier tutorial

My will melted away.

So today I’m going to turn my lapse of will into a teaching moment. Read on to learn how to add straps to a soft-sided lunchbox. It’s super easy, and I guarantee you’ll discover you’ve always needed one of these.

Continue reading