04/10/14

Crafting with Inner Tubes is now available

by Jessie Kwak

Okay, all the teasing is over — I’m now officially ready to launch the first-ever Bicitoro ebook: Crafting with Inner Tubes.

Click to read more about it. You can even snag a copy of your own if you want – I won't stop you.

Click to read more about it. You can even snag a copy of your own if you want – I won’t stop you.

I already gushed about it a ton last week and on its sales page, so I’ll spare you much more here.

I’m selling it for $6, but I’ve got a special deal for anyone who’s subscribed to my email list — it’s only $0.99 until April 15. Sign up for the list and I’ll send you the code.

Happy crafting!

02/9/14

Tutorial: Inner tube plant hanger

by Jessie Kwak

I adore houseplants.

It may not look like it, given the stunning number of casualties my love of house plants has produced over the years, but I do adore them.

I sometimes forget to water them, I never think to fertilize them, and some of the poor things suffer, root bound in too-small pots for ages waiting for me to notice.

But I love them.

In an attempt to help us get settled in our new place, I’ve been sneaking stray plants in whenever I can. Succulents planted in broken teacups, an air plant nestled in a traditional Kwak beer glass, and now a spider plant suspended in the air…

Recycled inner tube plant hanger | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts

…in a macrame inner tube plant hanger.

I just couldn’t resist. I posted my prototype last night on Twitter and Facebook to ask if this was a ridiculous idea or totally badass, and I got a 99% response of “badass,” with one respondent weighing in with “badassculous.”

Want to make your own badassculous inner tube plant hanger? Read on, friends. Read on.

Ingredients

You need:

3 busted road bike inner tubes
A ring of some sort – I used a 1.5″ D ring
4 binder clips
Scissors

Preparing your inner tubes

Snip the valves out of 2 of your inner tubes, then fold each in half and secure with a binder clip. Carefully cut up both sides of all 4 halves, stopping about 1/2″ from the binder clip.

Recycled inner tube plant hanger - cutting | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts

At this point things will be a bit chalky because of the talcum inside the inner tube. Without removing the binder clips, wash your inner tubes with hot, soapy water. Dry with a towel.

(You can refer back to this post about cleaning inner tubes if you have any questions.)

Next, cut each strip in half lengthwise again, so that you have 8 inner tube strips dangling from each binder clip.

Cut open and wash your 3rd inner tube, then cut several long strips about 1/4″ wide from it. You’ll use these strips to tie the macrame knots.

Adding the ring

Carefully remove the binder clips, and thread everything through your ring. You should still have about an inch of intact rubber in the center to hold everything together.

Gather the 16 strands together with a gathering knot.

Recycled inner tube plant hanger - tie gathering knot | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts

(Andrea from MacrameForFun.com will teach you everything you need to know about gathering knots.)

I used gathering knots for all of the knotting in this plant hanger, because it made a smoother look. Alternately, you could just tie overhand knots.

Making the basket

Measure down 15″ from the knot (12″ for a small hanger), and gather the strands into 4 bunches, securing them with binder clips.

Tie a gathering knot at each binder clip.

Recycled inner tube plant hanger - tie small gathering knots | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts

Separate the bunches, joining 2 strands from each bunch with 2 strands from its neighboring bunch. Measure down 4″ (also 4″ for a small hanger) and mark with binder clips. Tie gathering knots.

Recycled inner tube plant hanger - binder clips | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts

ONLY FOR LARGE HANGER: Repeat this process one more time.

Finish by tying a gathering knot around all 16 strands, about 3″ below the last set of knots.

Recycled inner tube plant hanger - finished plant hanger | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts

Hang yer plant

Put the plant in, and hang it from something. You’re done!

Recycled inner tube plant hanger - finished shot | Bicitoro Bikes & Crafts


What do you think? Is my brain totally addled from four days of being snowbound with no one to talk to? Have I finally lost it? Or is this a legitimate thing you would actually make?

Happy snowbound crafting, everyone!


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

Crafting with Inner tubes | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

04/27/13

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

04/24/13

3 tips for sewing with inner tubes

by Jessie Kwak

Inner tube craft tutorials | Bicitoro

This is the sixth part in a series on crafting with inner tubes. You can find the introduction, learn about how to choose and clean inner tubes, how to cut inner tubes, how to glue inner tubes with contact cement, and 3 ways to hand-sew inner tubes by following the links.

And in case you missed it, check out the interview I did with Nancy McDonald of Re-Velo Bags. She’s got a lot more tips to add about working with inner tubes.

If it’s not obvious by now, I really enjoy crafting with inner tubes. I love that they’re a recycled craft material, and I love their industrial-chic look.

One of my absolute favorite things to do is to sew with them. Mostly I make pretty straightforward things like belts and wrist cuffs, but after all this series I’m inspired to branch out into making bags, too.

Ideally I’d have an industrial sewing machine that could handle the inner tube abuse, but since I have nowhere to put it, it’s out of the question.

I’ve sewn inner tubes on my old Singer, as well as on my new Pfaff Ambition. I was a bit nervous about using the Pfaff, actually. Even though I knew it was a much stronger machine than the Singer, I was deathly afraid of destroying such an expensive purchase.

The very first project I sewed on it, though, was an inner tube belt for an Etsy order.

Reflective cycling belt - bicitoro 2

It performed amazingly better than the Singer. It has a built-in dual feed (Pfaff calls it the IDT—Integrated Dual Transportation) which helps move the rubber through the machine. Add in a teflon presser foot and titanium needle, and sewing inner tubes is relatively easy.

Not entirely easy, however. Sewing inner tubes is still difficult, but I’ve learned some tricks along the way. Back in October I wrote a post that gave some tips for sewing inner tubes on a home sewing machine. I’ve sewn a lot more since, and it’s time for an update.

Especially since on Friday Saturday I’ll be posting a tutorial I’m really excited to share: sewing a shopping pannier using inner tubes and oilcloth. It’ll be super helpful to keep these tips in mind if you decide to make it.

Use the right tools

Sewing inner tubes | Bicitoro

Sewing inner tubes is so much easier with a few simple tools: particularly a teflon presser foot and titanium needles. You could use denim or leather needles, too, but I prefer titanium because they won’t dull as quickly. I found titanium needles at my local fabric store, and the teflon presser foot at Quality Sewing & Vacuum, where I bought my machine.

Clean off your needle from time to time with rubbing alcohol, since it can get a bit sticky from the rubber.

Keep an eye on your tension

Stitch a couple practice lines to check your machine’s tension. Be sure to check the bobbin thread—it may look totally fine on top, but be snarled below.

Checking tension while sewing inner tubes | Bicitoro

I find that I need to keep my tension higher than normal (in the 7-9 range).

Check the tension every time you change thicknesses—like if you double over the end of a belt to sew on a buckle.

Drop the feed dogs

If you find yourself stitching inner tubes to something other than themselves, you may encounter problems with both fabrics feeding at different rates. I had this problem with sewing inner tubes to oilcloth—the thinner oilcloth fed at a faster speed, which made it pucker horribly.

Puckered oilcloth

I tried a half-dozen different things before I finally thought to lower my feed dogs. (My Singer didn’t have the option, so I forget sometimes that it’s possible to do.) I left the upper IDT feed on. I had to manually pull the work so that it fed through, but the result was that everything lay perfectly smooth.


How about you? What are your favorite tips for sewing with inner tubes?


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

Crafting with Inner tubes | Bicitoro bikes and crafts

04/17/13

3 ways to hand-sew inner tubes

by Jessie Kwak

Inner tube craft tutorials | Bicitoro

This is the fifth part in a series on crafting with inner tubes. You can find the introduction, learn about how to choose and clean inner tubes, how to cut inner tubes, and how to glue inner tubes with contact cement by following the links.

Today I’m going to show you a couple different techniques for hand-sewing inner tubes, using inner tube laces.

I’m taking a lot of inspiration from leather stitching, where you punch holes for the laces, then stitch your pieces together using sinew. Using inner tubes makes it a 100% vegan craft.

Use binder clips to hold your pieces securely, then punch through both layers at once so all your holes line up.

Use binder clips to hold your pieces securely, then punch through both layers at once so all your holes line up.

Cut the laces about 1/8"-3/16" wide.

Cut the laces about 1/8″-3/16″ wide. I used a yarn needle to sew with.

Tandy Leather Factory’s Leathercraft ABC’s has a great collection of tips on sewing leather, as well as other stitches you might want to try.


Baseball stitch

To stitch two edges together so that they meet, insert your needle from bottom to top through the first hole. Do the same on the other side through the second hole, then back to the first side through the third hole, etc. Keep crossing over, lacing every other hole bottom to top. (Like lacing up shoes.)

Sewing inner tubes - baseball stitch 1 | Bicitoro

Once you’ve gotten to the end, repeat the process to lace up the skipped holes.

Sewing inner tubes - baseball stitch 2 | Bicitoro


Whip Stitch

The whip stitch is a great way to join two edges with wrong sides together. Either do a single whip stitch:

Sewing inner tubes - whip stitch 1 | Bicitoro

Or double it up by whipping through all the holes from the opposite direction.

Sewing inner tubes - whip stitch 2 | Bicitoro

Triple Loop Stitch

This was a really fun one to try, and I love the decorative way it looks. Head on over to Kingsmere Crafts for a really detailed tutorial on how to do it.

Triple-loop Stitch | Bicitoro

Enjoy!


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

Crafting with Inner tubes | Bicitoro bikes and crafts