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Bike Crafts: Panniers from Reusable Grocery Bags

21 Mar

When you want answers, go to a librarian. They don’t know everything, but they know how to find out about everything. Even in the internet age, librarians have the Google-fu to get the information to get the job done, quickly and accurately. So I shouldn’t have been surprised that librarian Emily already had project plans for making bike panniers when she asked me to help at a Shop by Bike program at the Mountain View Library.

After Dick & I lead a discussion on how to get started shopping by bike (with our bikes as assistants), Emily launched into the craft portion of the workshop. By taking two standard reusable grocery bags and doing some snipping, stitching, gluing and tying, the crafty folks in the group went home with a pair of inexpensive but effective panniers. They turned out pretty impressive for about $5 in materials and 30 minutes of work.

A small tie or ponytail band can be used hold the outer handles in place for security.

Emily shared her instructions with me so that I could share them with you. The finished result will fit almost any bike with a standard rear rack with a platform top and a supporting frame on both sides of the wheel.

Materials & Equipment

  • 2 reusable fabric grocery bags
  • 2 pieces of flexible but sturdy plastic, cut to fit upright inside the bags
  • Scissors, straight pins, tape measure or ruler (optional)
  • Sewing machine
  • Hot glue gun
  • 1 or 2 small bungee cords

Step by Step Instructions (click on photos for close-ups)

There are lots of suggestions for modifying or improving this project on this bike forum.

Have you ever crafted your own bike panniers or bags? If so, how did you do it? What would you change in your next iteration of the design?

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5 Comments

Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Bike Crafts

 

5 responses to “Bike Crafts: Panniers from Reusable Grocery Bags

  1. I Cycle (@I_Cycle_2)

    March 21, 2014 at 1:23 am

    Superb post!
    This is what a bicycle life is all about: ingenuity, flexibility and thinking eco-friendly.

     
  2. playfulstitching

    March 21, 2014 at 6:43 am

    What a great idea! I don’t shop by bike often, but this would make it much easier.

     
  3. gasstationwithoutpumps

    March 21, 2014 at 10:04 am

    I made some heavy-duty nylon panniers a couple of decades ago, but they wore out after only 3 years of daily use (which was still 3 times what I was getting from commercially available panniers at the time). I’ve since switched to the Ortlieb panniers, which are really waterproof and last much longer than anything I could make. Even at $150 a pair, the cost is under $15/year.

     
    • ladyfleur

      March 21, 2014 at 10:12 am

      I agree that for long-term, regular use you’ll want something sturdier than these. It is a great way to get started, though, with no $$ commitment.

       

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