Friday, July 3

Home made bicycle bar bag

 Before I get on to the bar bag, here's the reason why I decided to make another one: I treated myself to a second pair of panniers to go on my Koga, the bike I use for longer touring or just longer day trips, and because these new ones don't have any outside pockets, having extra and easily accessible space to put small bits and pieces in is even more important. The panniers are Ortlieb Back Roller Plus, bought from Spa Cycles (delivery was quick, despite Covid) in lime green, and it took me hours of poring over the internet to decide which ones to get. My old Karrimors  are excellent, and have two good outside pockets on, and I just wish that someone would make some exactly the same. I don't think I'm the only cyclist to think like this as similar style ones go for good prices on Ebay. I did in fact have my eye on a pair of Carradice panniers on Ebay but they went for more than I wanted to pay for something I wasn't totally sure about. At first I didn't want to even consider any that hadn't got outside pockets, and I came close to buying these Carradice ones, which are a very good price, but for various reasons in the end I went for the Ortlieb ones. I nearly went for the Bike Packer style, as they do have one outside pocket, but I thought it looked a bit flat and slightly awkward to get into. There were lots of other factors that influenced my choice, too. Maybe I'll do a whole blog post on that later.

In my very first blog post I wrote about a bar bag I made from a musette bag. You can read about that here. That very simple bag is still going strong, but I decided I wanted to try to make one that was a bit stronger, and, frankly, a little more professional looking..... I very much like these from Ornot, and other companies do very similar ones, and thought I'd have a go at copying the style, but in the end I just couldn't see how I'd fix it on without squashing my cables. I'm sure there are ways to work around that problem, but I thought I might as well just make another version of the one I've already got which I know works and doesn't get in the way of cables.

As the Karrimors are now permanently on the Trek, the cheap panniers which were on there are now spare, so I cut one up and had just enough material from one of them to make the bar bag. The fabric is some kind of ripstop. I had the design and measurements in mind before I started, but made alterations to those as I went along.

On the bike - 

The back, and no, that's not a bit of unstitched binding at the bottom right. It's just where I had to re-do the yellow stitching on the front and  didn't quite catch in the binding on this side, and so I did it by hand - 

The green lining came from an old windbreak I had acquired for free, knowing it would come in useful one day! I was vaguely trying to colour co-ordinate with the lime green of the panniers.... The green tape is just to fix anything else to if I want, based on the military molle attachment system which I came across on YouTube - see explanation here - 

Dog clip inside for attaching things like keys or safety pins to -

Don't look too closely at the stitching....

I was originally intending to attach the bottom Velcro strap round the stem, and the bag was going to sit right behind the cables where my old one did, but I decided it was better attached like this - 

Everything that I used came from the old pannier, or was saved from something else (like the tape and the dog clip), except the Velcro and the zip, both of which I bought.

I'm really pleased with how this bag turned out. I'm also making a waterproof barbecue cover for my neighbour out of Cordura type fabric, which is a whole new area of sewing for me - different fabric, different thread, meaning lots of internet research - and these two projects have really got me thinking about making bags from more outdoorsy fabrics, as opposed to the upholstery or dressmaking fabrics I've used in the past. And so then I got on to looking at vintage industrial sewing machines.... 

I would still want to re-use things, as with the old pannier. I just hope that charity shops will open up properly again soon, by which I mean unlimited numbers of customers and therefore unlimited browsing - essential in charity shops!


  1. Well done Lizie, that looks fab and very useful. I find a roller foot works is useful when sewing different fabrics, works well on oil cloth. You have a 201 haven't you, that should be able to cope with most things, industrials are quite expensive but awesome!

    1. Yes, I've got a 201 (actually got electric and treadle versions but haven't learnt to treadle yet!) and it worked well on a trial piece for the barbecue cover. Just waiting for the proper thread to arrive. I thought about getting a roller foot so good to have your recommendation. I think I am hooked on the sound of vintage Singer industrials!

  2. you have made a really good job of this. well done. I like that you have upcycled this too

    1. Thanks Brenda - I really enjoyed making it.

  3. A woman after my own heart. Well done Lizzie! Functional and stylish.

  4. Beautiful sewing! Many years ago I bought the Ortlieb office bag. It's capacity and waterproofing were awesome. But the lack of small outside pocket was irritating.
    I eventually bought a pretty Basil pannier which was smaller (good as I was carrying too much) and had two outside pockets. Wonderful! Now I use both when touring overnight.

    1. Thank you - only time will tell if my choice of panniers without pockets will prove to have been a good one. My aim is also to make a rack bag to fit nicely on this bike when the panniers are on, again to make up for the lack of pockets!


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