Having completed my first sewing project, I can officially say that sewing is not as simple as some people online make it sound. Learning how to set a sewing machine up, for instance, takes lots of youtube tutorials, name references (do you know what a spool pin, bobbin winder, handwheel, presser foot, or thread guide are? Guess you better start studying!), and trial & error. In my case, I had a mother-in-law with mad sewing skills, who taught me sewing 101 after I had already gone through everything I could find online about sewing, and while the online tutorials will do in a pinch, I’d take my mother-in-law’s teaching over that any day.
Regardless, once one has mastered the sewing aspect of making a bag, it’s time to get the fabric necessary, create a cardboard or poster cutout of your framebag, cut everything up, and then begin the sewing process. Instead of walking through each step, however, I’m simply going to refer to this awesome tutorial, which is how I went about creating my own bag. The video at the bottom was perhaps the most helpful aspect of the entire tutorial, by the way.
The purpose of this post is simply to show the materials I used (different from the tutorial), the tweaks I did in order to utilize a bolt-on framebag system for my PM2, and some of the other customization I did based on things I wanted to have on the bag. Here we go!
I bought all my materials at The Rainshed Inc., in Albany, Oregon. One of the employees, Kara, is a mountain biker herself and has made all her bikepacking gear for herself and her husband, so I totally lucked out. She took one look at my list of needed materials and said, “Oh, you’re making a framebag for your bike, huh?”, and then proceeded to revise my list and refer me to materials I should use in place of many I had on the list, both for monetary reasons (she saved me a lot of money) and for weight. Here’s what I bought:
- 1 Yard 330 Denier Nylon USMC (Camo… it was on sale)
- 1 Yard 70 Denier Lite Coated Nylon Ripstop
- Schmetz Universal Needle (6 pack)
- 1 Yard #8 Coil Zipper Tape
- 2 Coil Non-Lock Zipper Pulls
- 3 Spools of Metrosene + Extra Strong Polyester Thread (Orange 33)
- Random Velcro
- Rotary Cutter
- Sewing Plastic Template Sheet
- 10 Rubber Washers
- Seam Grip Sealer
Modifications to the Tutorial for a Bolt-On Framebag System
Plastic Sewing Template Material as Reinforcement for the Side Panels
The main thing I changed from Logan’s tutorial was that I added plastic reinforcements into the side panels of my framebag (the sections that touch the frame of my bike). I did this by sewing together two pieces of fabric for the side panels – one piece of the Nylon USMC and one piece of the Nylon Rip-Stop – and then cutting and sliding a piece of plastic in between before sewing them onto the rest of the bag. This provides extra reinforcement so that the bag doesn’t sag as much where it bolts onto the bike.
Holes and Rubber Washers
Additionally, I simply cut holes with a sharp knife where my bottle cage mounts and top tube mounts are, burned the holes to help prevent the fabric from tearing, and then secured the bag using rubber washers to keep the metal screws from touching the bag, which I’m hoping over the long-term will help prevent the bag from ripping where the holes are.
Top Tube/Seat Tube Velcro
The final top tube bolt on the PM2 is mounted way to close to the downtube, and almost impossible to get off the bike without scratching the frame, so I opted to simply velcro the framebag to both the top tube and seat tube; a relatively simple solution that held up nicely on my first bikepacking outing.
Map Pocket and Knife Strip
I decided to sew a map pocket onto my framebag because I hate having to take my backpack off every time I need to reference the map. I made a very simple velcro strip that keeps the map secure in the bag.
I also sewed on a strip of material to attach a knife to the bike, for easy access to a blade… you know, like when knife throwing skills are needed for a charging grizzly.
Bag organizer Strips
I also included bag organizer strips on the inside of the bag that help keep things a bit more separate AND keep the sides of the bag from bulging out to far with gear.
So far, the bag has only experienced one bikepacking adventure, but it held up well on its first outing and I hope to use it for as long as I use the bike. However, if anything goes wrong with the bag, I’ll definitely be adding a ‘complaints’ section to this post. We’ll see how it holds up over the next few months of bikepacking.