Random thoughts of a fiber enthusiast - mostly fiber related, sometimes coherent

Category: Sew Page 2 of 9

Handlebar Bag


Front view. Velcro attachment for the handlebar.

Work is trying out a new ebike program and I won the lottery to try one out for commuting. I decided it needed a new bag for the handlebar. I looked around and decided to make one of my own based on a hybrid between the Timbuk2 Colby, the Pocampo 6 Corners Bag, and some features of my own.

I made my paper pattern, picked up some cotton ticking and went for it over the Independence Day holiday.


Side view. Detachable shoulder strap.

Check out the shoulder strap! It is a John Mullarkey original. He threw down the gauntlet to see what I can make with it. I made the strap detachable so I can move it from bag to bag — especially since this is just the prototype.


Top/Inside View. Double zipper, fully lined with 2 inside pockets.

Now, having used the bag for a week or so, there are a few changes that I would like to make.

  • I thought the fabric was stiff enough by itself and would not require a stabilizer. I was wrong. It’s perfect for a purse but doesn’t have enough body to hold it’s shape on the handlebar. It droops over the headlight. A stiff interfacing would help. I don’t want to use a plastic insert because I still want the softer look of a fabric bag.
  • I forgot to add an inside key clip. My bike/house keys get lost into the bottom of the bag.
  • I worry about the longevity of the velcro attachment to the bike.  Velcro loses it’s “magic” after a while and I want the bag to last. However, I can always continue to use it as a shoulder bag.
  • The attachment point was designed to be about 1.5″ below the top of the bag. Unfortunately, without the stiffener, it meant that the bag droops from that point down instead of sitting taller than the handlebars. Again, I think the stabilizer will help.

Two weeks into riding the ebike, I’ve learned a few things about using an ebike:

  • Pedelec is a pedal assist. You still need to pedal for it to work. You can’t just use the battery power to coast along. I was worried that I wouldn’t get my usual workout if I used an ebike. I had been riding my bike 3 times a week before the ebike. Now, I aim for 4 days a week to make up for the battery assist.
  • My average speed went from about 10 mph on my normal hybrid city bike to about 16+ mph. It did not half my commute time as I had hoped. My typical bike travel time of 40+ minutes each way (unassisted) dropped to just under 30. (Car time averages about 20 minutes.)
  • I still need a shower when I get to work. It takes a lot of work to keep that pace with a 50 pound bike.

There’s slow

and there’s sloooooow.

It’s baby season at the office and I ran out of my stash of grab and go baby shower presents. I picked up some fabric earlier in the week so I can whip out another mitered receiving baby blanket. From start (ironing the washed fabrics) to finish (sewing up a gift envelope) took over 2 hours. Definitely not a quick project. I guess I can take solace in the fact that it is quicker than knitting one.

There’s at least one more shower that I need to prep for. Hopefully, last night taught me a lesson in starting early and not wait for the night before.

No pictures. Perils of last minute gift making.


I have been reading and obsessing over English Paper Piecing the last few months. This week, I decided to jump in.


As with all my obsessions, one flower soon became a posy…


HexPapersAnd of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t experiment a bit… The experiments were around the type of paper I prefer. I pulled a few things out of my recycling bin and checked them out. I made a flower from each of the 3 samples. My three samples were:

  1. 20# all purpose copy/printer paper
  2. heavy glossy magazine paper (from the local opera program)
  3. glossy cardstock advertisement (about 60# cardstock from a car dealership)


As you might imagine, the copy paper was the most pliable, but it provided enough stability while handling and sewing. However, I found it difficult to feel the edge while folding the fabric around it. The most stable was the cardstock, no surprises there. It was easy to fold the fabric over and make a clean crease. The magazine paper was also easy to fold the fabric around. Surprisingly, after sewing, the copy paper flower felt like it had more body than the one with the magazine paper. More on that later.


I removed the paper from all three flower centers to see how they fared. The copy paper & magazine papers both looked like something nibbled on the edges — my needle. Both of them could be reused a few times, but probably not more than 2-3 times. The cardstock showed some dimpling around the edges but these likely could be used upwards of 10 times before showing deterioration.

Ease of Sewing

The copy paper was the easiest to sew with. The needle could nibble into the edges easily to grab a few threads of the fabric. The cardstock was a different story. I had a really difficult to work my needle into the edges to grab fabric. Part of the reason was that I had a really really taut fold. The other reason is that I used a glue stick to hold the seam allowance down. If I had basted the seam allowance, then I think it would have enough give to allow me to shift the fabric around to bite into the edges. My fingers definitely cramped up while sewing the flower with cardstock. The cardstock was also difficult to bend while working around corners and seams.

Ease of Removal

As I said, I used the glue stick method rather than basting down the seam allowance. The copy paper was the most difficult to remove because the glue bonded with the paper. Of course, I also just used a glue stick I had sitting around. It doesn’t say if it is permanent or removable. Since it doesn’t say removable, it’s likely to be of the permanent variety. The glossy papers did much better. The glue didn’t soak in so they separated easily. However, the cardstock was a bit too stiff to remove easily.

Speaking of the glue soaking into the paper, that is also probably why the flowers with the copy paper felt like it had more body — the body was from the glue soaking into the paper and making it stiffer.


My favorite is the recycled heavy glossy magazine paper. How heavy is the magazine paper? For those of you who come here from my spinning posts, think Ply Magazine or Wild Fiber, not Spin-Off. For the non-spinners, think National Geographic, not Time Magazine.

And lest you think I’m crazy for cutting my own hexagon papers, I don’t. I bought a Fiskars paper punch on sale at the craft store. The XL squeeze punch makes perfect 1″ hexagons. Now, I can make an endless supply of identical paper forms for the cost of the initial paper punch investment — as long as I keep receiving junk mail.

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