Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Tutorial: How to Turn a Handbag into a Bicycle Handbag!

I'll just say it: I want my bike to be pretty and it isn't. I like riding it, but it's not exactly going to be a Pinterest Star. So I've been thinking (and photoshopping, and on-line window shopping) about ways to style it. Bike accessories can get expensive, so any way I can bike 'hack' will help. Along this line, I have made a handbag I didn't use (it's too big for me because I like small handbags) into a handlebar-handbag. This is a photo of it on my bike when it was just pinned (taken on my phone, I will take a better one when I get a chance):
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I had to keep the brakes and gear cables out of the way (but still functioning well and safely) with my hi-vis snap bands. You can see one of them -- they're pink. I think it's a smarter option for the professional woman making her way through the City on a bicycle (we'll overlook the fact that I am a student living in the country). Baskets require support, and a lot of bike bags seem to be made with male cyclists or tourers in mind.
This doesn't affect steering, and it enables me to keep my water bottle and my tissues where I can reach them at traffic light stops. It also frees up space in my panner basket where I used to keep my handbag, so I can more easily fit shopping in there. I still have to put my reflector back on the bike. It was hidden by the bag where it was, so I'll have to put it on a curved bit of the handlebars.
Anyway, this is how to make your own stylish handlebar-handbag...

You Will Need

  • A medium sized handbag that fits on the front of your bike.
  • 2 sets of snapping buckles (I'm not sure of their proper name, but you'll see what I mean)
  • Quick-unpick
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Scissors
  • Chalk
  • Pins and pin cushion

Remove the Buckles

I got my buckles off the purple bag that I had originally intended to use, but it was too big and weighted down the mudguard, causing my bike to make a rather grumpy noise, so I tried my navy handbag that I almost never use. If you bought your buckles, you can skip this step.
You use your quick-unpick to remove the webbing-buckle-unit from your bag. Repeat for each buckle.
Buckles removed
Repeat for the other buckle set.
Unpick the webbing that the buckles are on, to remove the buckles from your bag.
Unpick the webbing that the buckles are on, to remove the buckles from your bag.

Mark and pin where you want your buckles to go

On the bag you will have on your handlebars, arrange your buckles where you will sew them. You should check this on your bike. Luckily, I still had the original handlebar from my bike (I have changed it to a North Road Handlebar, which is much more comfortable!), so I could lay it on the bag and go from there.
Chalk around the webbing. Here you can see that I changed my mind about which bag to use. :)
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Having marked the placement, remove the buckles and...

Hem them. I used a zigzag stitch, which was barely visible in the photo so I drew over it in white on Photoshop.
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Then attach them to the bag with your sewing machine. I used an overlock stitch because it uses straight and zigzag stitches and is strong. Backstitch with a straight stitch, of course.
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Attach to your bike:

I have yet to do this, because I only finished this tonight, but here is my finished bag:
The eagle-eyed among you will notice that I have put my buckles on upside-down.  That is what I get for sewing at night.
The eagle-eyed among you will notice that I have put my buckles on upside-down.
That is what I get for sewing at night.
If you make a handlebar-handbag, please do post it to BurdaStyle or your blog and leave a link in the comments below!
Sabrina
UPDATE: Here are the photos of my bike now (and I gave it a wash today!):
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I think it would hang better if I had put the buckles on the right way up Not bad for a prototype though, if I do say so myself! :)