Craft Bomb Your Bike!

by Jessie Kwak

If you’re into bikes and crafts, you’ve probably already seen Craft Bomb Your Bike, 20 makes for you and your bike – it’s been getting some great exposure all throughout the internets since it was released earlier this month. I was out of town most of July and my contributor copy arrived while I was gone – so I had to wait in anguish while the everyone twittered about it.

(All right, not really in anguish. I was in Spain because my cousin was marrying a fantastic Catalan man, and I was having far too amazing a time to be thinking about blogging.)

Craft bomb your bike - cover

Now that I get to hold my copy in my hot little hands – and it is HOT right now, isn’t it Portland? – I can say that it’s a beautiful book!

My project is an oilcloth clutch that attaches to your handlebars (long time readers may recognize the hot pink oilcloth). Long time readers will also be totally shocked – SHOCKED! – to find out the straps are made from recycled inner tubes.

Craft bomb your bike - cycle clutch1

The publishers did a fantastic job with the photography and layout – overall it’s a very beautiful book.

Craft bomb your bike - clutch2

I’m a particular fan of this pretty tool roll by Katie of Swim Bike Quilt.

Craft bomb your bike - tool roll

You can get the book through Interweave or Amazon.

The projects are all fairly whimsical and girly – you’ll find things like buntings for your basket*, a crocheted helmet cosy, and embroidered “I love my bike” label.

* Or “nests,” as my new cousin-in-law from Catalunya called them when we went on a ride together last week. “Do you want to rent a bike with a, what is it, a nest?” Yes. I most definitely would love a bike with a nest.

Craft bomb your bike - table of contents

And check out these fun crocheted birds by Kate at Greedy for Colour:

Craft bomb your bike - birds

I don’t care if they’re functional or not – they’re totally adorable. They’ll go perfect on my nest.

Happy crafting!


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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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:

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Oilcloth Pannier review

by Jessie Kwak

I have no idea if anyone has run out and made panniers based on my tutorial, but I wanted to share some thoughts now that I’ve been using my oilcloth pannier for a couple weeks. Hopefully this helps anyone who might want to tackle this project in the future.

Oilcloth bicycle pannier

(I’ve updated the original post to reflect these observations.)

The first few rides with the pannier were odd, but mostly because I’d never used one before. I was actually late out of the house the first day because I spent an extra 5 minutes trying to figure out what I was forgetting before realizing that thing was my backpack, and that I could leave without it.

Once I got used to how the bike handled, however, I relished the sense of freedom I got from not being tied down with a backpack. It made it easier to check behind me, it made my shoulders and lady bits less sore. Overall, I’m hooked.

There are things I love, things I could have done differently, and one thing that went very, sadly wrong. But overall I’m thrilled with how this pannier turned out, and I’m already scheming about new oilcloth projects for the bike. Stay tuned.

What I love about this design:

I’m really glad I added the “laptop sleeve” pocket. It’s great for tucking in all the notebooks, papers, books, etc. which I always cart around with me. I’ve yet to put my laptop in it yet, since I’m just generally super paranoid about it.

Oilcloth bicycle pannier - inside

Organization overall is nice, since the front pockets are really helpful for smaller stuff in the main compartment, and the front zipper pouch is awesome for things you need on your ride (it’s hard to get into the main compartment when the handles are Velcroed shut.

I’m really glad I put D rings on the side for attach a shoulder strap. So crucial.

What I would do differently next time:

I’d add a key hook in the main compartment, since I lose my keys there all the time, and once I stuff it full of clothes and lunch I can’t always get to the little pockets.

Speaking of, in the future I’d the pockets higher up, rather than even with the bottom. I’d also add a slim pen/pencil pocket to help me keep track of those, as well.

I’d add a stiffener panel in front as well as the back to keep the bag from slumping and make it easier to fill when it’s sitting on the ground.

I’d also add a little place to attach a light in the back. One of my brightest rear lights attaches to my backpack, and now I feel a bit underlit without it. It can hook onto the D ring there, but it flops around a lot.

Attachment strap

The attachment hooks are awkward, but doable. I’m not actually sure what I’d do differently with these, since they work just admirably once they’re attached to the bike, but they’re difficult to attach in the first place. I finally figured out that if you rest your bag perpendicularly on the rack with the straps dangling through the rack, it’s easy enough to hook them.

Oilcloth bicycle pannier

So awkward to attach it this way!

But trying to hold your bag in an upright position whilst simultaneously fastening the hooks requires three hands minimum. Here are photos, hope that explains what I’m talking about.

Oilcloth bicycle pannier

Lower the straps in with the pannier held perpendicularly.

Oilcloth bicycle pannier

Rest the pannier on your rack--now it should be easy to attach the straps.

Oilcloth bicycle pannier

And you're good to go!

And, Oops!

One major thing I learned is that oilcloth isn’t really so tough. After about 10 trips, my pannier had ripped where the straps connect to the back piece. Grrr. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened if I had secured the straps through all layers, including the stiffener piece, though I can’t say for certain at this point.

I’ve fixed mine by wiring it through all layers, and it seems really solid now. I’ve thought about reinforcing the back piece by stitching a strap that travels from one side to the other horizontally over the point where the straps attach, thus spreading out the area that’s affected, but I’d love suggestions if anyone has them.

Go forth and experiment!


Tutorial: Oilcloth Tool Roll

by Jessie Kwak

Thanks to everyone who swung by the Cascade booth at the Bike Expo to check out the DIY demonstrations. It was awesome to meet some new folks and have some great conversations.

In all my excitement I neglected to take even a single picture (oops!), but keep an eye on Cascade’s blog, since there were plenty of other people taking photos, and some may surface there.

If you weren’t able to make it but still wanted to learn how to make a tool roll, you’ve come to the right place.

Bicycle Tool Roll made from Oilcloth

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