All the ingredients for a bicycle bag

The bike transportation bag project is advancing. The wonderful Shuttle fabric shop in Shipley had just the ripstop fabric I needed – nylon (stronger than polyester), black and wider than the usual 150cm. It was the only ripstop nylon they had in the shop and, as luck would have it, it was exactly what I was looking for. I felt especially lucky to have found fabric wide enough to wrap around a bike, thereby avoiding a seam along the bottom of the bag which would have been a weak point.

Polypropylene webbing for handles and VelcroI couldn’t find any nylon or polypropylene webbing of the right width and weight for the straps locally and had to resort to eBay for that. I went for red rather than black to liven the bag up a bit. While I was at it, I ordered 1” wide black hook-and-loop fastener tape too, and the combined order came to less than the price I would have had to pay for the fastener alone in a local haberdashers. I do try to support local shops when sourcing craft supplies, but sometimes it just isn’t possible.

I’m still concerned that the seams of this bag will be liable to tearing, because of the needle holes. I’m trying to minimise that risk by using a longish stitch (about 2.75mm) and a very slight zig-zag (0.5mm width) which should also allow a little stretching without the thread snapping. But I thought I’d look into the alternatives and did some research on the web into bonding seams instead of stitching them. Plenty of people have tried it, as a DIY option, usually because they are wanting to make a completely waterproof garment, or even a boat. One website I found suggested that fusible hemming tape could be used, and to my surprise I found that it does quite a good job. Here’s my first attempt.

Hemming tape seamI put a sheet of Teflon over the nylon-Wundaweb-nylon layer before I ironed it – don’t tell my dear husband what his pizza-baking sheet has been used for – but I still managed to melt the fabric at one end of the lapped seam. I’ll have to do some proper experiments to find out what the best temperature-time combination is if I go ahead with this, but the seam has stuck pretty well. It can be peeled apart but not pulled apart, ie it’s not great in shear but has good tensile strength. This has definite possibilities and I guess I could even use it in combination with stitching by sewing over a bonded seam.

I also tried ordinary double-sided adhesive tape. The absence of heat means there’s less opportunity for things to go disastrously wrong, but the tensile strength of the seam isn’t as good as with the fusible tape – my dear husband succeeded in pulling it apart although I couldn’t.

Another type of tape I have seen recommended is a pressure-sensitive fusible tape which has brand names such as HeatnBond, Steam-a-Seam and EZ-Steam. I’ve never used such tape but it seems to be popular with quilters. I might see if I can beg a length from a quilter acquaintance to try.

Finally, it’s possible to buy self-adhesive ripstop nylon tape which is meant for mending spinnakers and kites. It’s about 2” wide and would probably be ideal for reinforcing seams, as anything that will stay on a wet, wind-filled sail will surely stay on the inside of an occasionally used bag. Unfortunately, here in West Yorkshire we’re about as far from the sea as it’s possible to be in the UK (OK, that’s a slight exaggeration) and chandlers that might stock such tape are thin on the ground.

Tiny bicycle transportation bag

Mini bike bag

These experiments have got me thinking. I’m now planning all the seams carefully to decide how best to do each one according to the demands that will be placed on it in use. To that end, I’ve made a mini-bag to understand how the seam allowances go, depending on whether they are overlapped or stitched face to face as normal.

One underdressed rabbit

I am now the proud possessor of a toy rabbit in its underwear.

Bertie Bunkins rabbit toyI’m not too sure about the tail. The Bertie Bunkins pattern called for a garter stitch sphere of a tail rather than a pompom. That’s probably best for a baby – no possibility of any threads being pulled free and ingested. I suspect that the size and firmness of this knitted, stuffed tail is driven by the need to have something to prop the bunny up in a sitting position. That’s all well and good, but I can’t get away from the thought that a toy rabbit’s tail should be fluffy. Never mind, this will have to do.

I didn’t have any white cotton yarn for the tail and I didn’t want to use acrylic or wool for launderability reasons. I got round that by knitting the tail in the ecru I’d used for the head and body and then soaking it in bleach for a few hours until it was white, whereupon I rinsed it, dried it and stuffed it. Frankly, I’m not convinced it was worth the effort.

This rabbit toy still needs a dress. I’m thinking maybe coral red with a trim to match one or both blues of the underwear.

About yorkshirecrafter

I live and work in West Yorkshire.  I've always enjoyed crafts of all types, from woodwork to lace-making.  I also enjoy anything mathematical, which makes knitting a favourite pastime, especially complicated designs.  I've been advising businesses and industry on environmental matters for 30 years and also have an interest in green living, especially where it saves me money. I live with my husband and our Maine Coon in a 100-year-old cottage that constantly needs something doing to it.  Fortunately, I enjoy DIY too.
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5 Responses to All the ingredients for a bicycle bag

  1. Aussie says:

    The rabbit looks so cute! A coral red dress with light blue trim would look so pretty.

    Have you looked at the Sailrite videos on YouTube? They are sellers of boat and outdoor fabrics and trim, sewing machines for heavy duty fabrics and they’ve done many DIY videos, I suppose to encourage people to either buy their stuff or order ready made tents, sails, outdoor furniture covers etc. I couldn’t locate the specific video on waterproof seams but I know i watched it years ago it’s fascinating and the sewing machine envy is real! One of the sewists in their workshop, Deb I think her name is, is so cool! The way she explains what she is doing and her hands manipulating the fabric – it’s obvious she is a master of her work. They also have a wordpress blog and a website, I quickly googled but didn’t find the perfect post for you. I did find an entry that said to prolong the life of Hook and loop tape from UV damage to cover it with a flap of canvas, just sew a strip of canvas to the tape and attach the tape to the main fabric. The blog entry also said that, in a canvas boat cover, the thread in a seam will disintegrate before the canvas, from UV damage or water rot. So they suggested sewing over the top of old seams when they start to fail, or to use lifetime thread called Tenara. Or most commonly used is a UV treated thread like V92 Polyester thread. Maybe I should have googled strong seams instead of waterproof seams, oops!

    • Fortunately, I don’t need to make my bags waterproof, but that video is certainly useful if I ever want a waterproof cover for anything! I’m not even sure if the ripstop nylon I’ve bought is the coated, waterproof type. I found a website for people wanting to make easily transportable inflatable boats from the stuff (diypackraft.com if you’re interested), it’s amazingly versatile.

      • Aussie says:

        Oh cool thanks for that website.
        Yes I’ve had my eye on lightweight raglan by purl soho too! Slope is nice too, very modern.

  2. Aussie says:

    Have you seen the summer top Alice pattern by Hiroko Fukatsu it is on special until 5th May 400JP yen. (about $5.06 Aus dollars). It is very plain on the front but has a nice peplum-ish gathering on the back, knit circularly in one piece with contiguous sleeve construction. It is oversized in the sample and has a set-in sleeve achieved with the contiguous method-which I’ve never tried but it sounds really interesting. It uses 287m per 50g yarn, so 5.75nm weight yarn (5.75m per gram).

  3. Alice is lovely, but rather fancier than I was looking for. (Plus I try and avoid anything with bulk over the behind, I have plenty of natural bulk in that area…) I’ve been considering Slope by Shellie Anderson, although I think I really need sleeves for warmth. Purl Soho’s Lightweight Raglan Pullover is going to be the one.

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