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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I decided to make a couple frame bags for my Specialized Stumpy, and figured I'd take a few pictures along the way in case someone else was interested in doing the same but didn't know how.

So here's a quick blow-by-blow of what I did (I'm making two bags, but most of the pictures only show working with the one)...

First I got some cardboard and cut out a jig for the shapes I wanted the bags to fill, then I cut them out of some scrap fabric. It's important that when you cut the shape out of the fabric, you add about .5" around the perimeter for your seam allowance:

Then cut those pieces out, and lay them RIGHT sides together, and cut out one more set for the mirror image:

Then, measure the length of the outside of the shape so you know how long to make the middle strip. I would recommend adding a few inches to this number so you have lot's of room for error, my two strips (one each for my two bags) were 50" and 56" with slop. Once you've got the length, the width will be however wide you want your bag + 2x your seam allowance. My seam allowance is .5", and I want my bags to be 1" wide, so my strips are 2" wide (1" + 2x.5"):

Once I got the sides cut out I went back to my bike and put them on the frame and marked where I wanted the "tie-outs" to be (the bits that will actually attach the bag to the frame) with a chalk pencil:

Now, it should be mentioned at this point that I'm not actually making the finished bag here...What I am making is a template or pattern off of which I will make the final product. The fabric I'm using is junker stuff, and the seams I make will be weak since I will be taking it apart when I'm done. What this allows me to do is make a real quick tester bag that I can make easy refinements on, that will become my standard template for bags I know will work in the future.

That being said, if this were the final product, this would be the point at which I would add the zipper. However, since it isn't, all we need to do is make a whole for the zipper:

Zippers aren't hard, just make a long cut with two 45 degree snips at the end so it looks like this:


To insert the zipper, just fold all the flaps back, put your zipper underneath it and sew a box around the whole thing...voila!

Okay, now that the "zipper" is done we can start sewing on the attaching straps. Again, since this isn't the final product, I'm just using webbing as a temporary stand in. For the final product I'll use fabric with velcro. In either case, what you want to do is sew the straps to the RIGHT (e.g. the side that will be the outside of the bag) sides of the fabric. If you're using velcro as your closure make sure that on one side your velcro is faced up against the fabric, and on the other side the velcro is facing away from the fabric so they will wrap around your tube and close on eachother. Here's my template job with the webbing sewn on:

Now we can do some real sewing. Take one of your side pieces and the corresponding long strip, pick a corner, measure in .5" from each side, and stick it with your needle. Your two pieces of fabric should be RIGHT sides together so that when you fold your bag RIGHT side out, all your seams are on the inside of the bag. Start sewing...maintaining that .5" seam allowance all the way around:

When you get to a corner, stop .5" from both sides bend the strip around and continue sewing:

The sharper the corner, the harder it will be to make the turn. Try to make oblique angles or curves, rather than doing what I works, but it can be frustrating. Curves are better:

Once you've come all the way around to where you started, sew all the way up until you meet the beginning stitch. (I didn't do a very good job of this in this photo, but I wasn't worried because it was a template, the final product should meet the seam):

Don't worry about your extra length on the middle strip...leave it there for now.

The next thing to do is to so sew the other side on. Grab the remaining side piece, line it up with the one that has the strip on it, (pin it together if you'd like), and sew the bag closed with RIGHT sides together just like you did the other side.

When you're done, you should have something that looks like this, a bag with a tail:

Square up the tail, and cut it off right at the edge of the beginning part:

Then, make the final seam by sewing that last edge closed:

When you've finished that, turn the bag right side out, and you should have something like this (it looks a lot better in-person, and way better on the bike...I promise):

Now we need to fit it to the bike. When I put this bag on my bike, I didn't like how long the front was, so I made note to change it in the next step.

The last thing to do is to take the whole thing apart! Turn the thing inside out again and grab a razor blade and cut all the thread at the seams until you've free'd up the side with zipper hole (unless you didn't like where the zipper was, then you should free up the other side and draw in where you want you zipper to be). Once the side is off, throw the other bits of fabric into the scrap bin, and make any changes you need to on the free piece. For mine, I shortened the nose and rounded it out in order to make sewing easier next time.

Once that's all done, if you want, you can transfer your new design to the cardboard cut-out to have a more sturdy pattern. Then all you have to do is figure out what kind/color of fabric you want, and get to sewing up the real deal.

Hope this helped someone out there wanting to make some frame bags. It's really not that hard. These two bag templates took me less than 1.5 hours.

Good Luck!

1,593 Posts
Nice step by step 'how to'.

For stuff that gets used hard I'd suggest double seams at a minimum. (I've seen as many as 4 or 6 on backpacks. Taped seams is also a possiblity.)

If you are using a nylon fabric heat sealing the edges is a good idea to prevent fraying.

You can make internal pockets to slide stiffeners into to help it hold shape. The stiffeners can be made from sheet plastic, you can get stuff like they make flexible cutting boards from at hobby shops.
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