Stoker Bar Barrel Bag Tutorial

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Previously, I posted that I was going to get the parts to have stoker bars for our Yuba Mundo bike.  I ordered from ebay a stem, and handlebars….twice and still couldn’t seem to get the right parts to allow them to fit on the bike.  So, last week I ended up just ordering the handlebars from Joe Bike in Portland, Oregon.  They had a bunch of the stoker bars a bit cheaper than the Yuba site, so I figured, let’s just buy them.

My friend Nikki showed me some pictures of a handlebar bag she made for her stoker bars.  I loved the idea and I decided I would make a bag for our handlebars.  I had high hopes that my six year old would think this bag was super amazing and be just as excited as I was. Alas, his “teenager” eyes rolled with disinterest and I was sad he wasn’t as excited.  It’s okay though, the bag is pretty awesome and even if he isn’t excited, I am.

I fell in love with the barrel bags I saw on Carsick Designs website.  We ordered our awesome sling bags from them, but I figured I could figure out how to make a barrel bag instead of ordering one.  On my goal list this year, I had to make bags for the Yuba Mundo.  Since I decided to order the sling bags, this barrel bag fulfills the goal.

I still may need to tweak the design once we ride with it a bit as I’m not sure how it will ride with the velcro I put on there.  I wanted it big enough to fit my six year olds wallet (because a wallet is extremely important to a six year old) and room for snacks and other treasures while we ride.  I wanted it semi-waterproof and I wanted a hidden zipper.  It took me a few hours to make this, but it went together surprisingly easily.

Materials needed:

  • Oilcloth Outer Layer (You could use canvas or anything that you like too, in this tutorial the bicycle fabric is the outer layer.)
  • Inner layer (I used black twill)
  • Interfacing (I used a iron on interfacing)
  • Matching thread
  • 9″ zipper
  • Reflective sew-on tape (optional)
  • Velcro
  • Reflective Piping (optional)

All my measurements were eye-balled while I watched “The Orange is the New Black,” on Netflix.  (Very interesting show, however a bit raunchy.)

Step 1 (Cutting Pieces Out):

I took a cd, laid it on my inner lining fabric and cut around the cd giving about a half-inch seam allowance.  I cut a rectangle of fabric that ended up with a finished width of about 12″.  I figure my original cut was probably 14″ wide and long enough that the fabric would wrap around the circle piece. I cut matching sized pieces of interfacing and outer layer.

I cut two pieces of 1″ reflective tape that would go the width of the bag.  I also cut small rectangles that would go on the ends of the bags.  Piping was cut to go around the circle pieces (end of bag).

I cut velcro pieces that are around 2.5″ long.  I wrapped the lengths around the handlebars to make sure that they would wrap around easily.

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Step 2 (Interfacing and Basting):

On the outer layer of fabric I attached one length of reflective tape to the bag, approximately where I thought it would end up below the zipper.  I also sewed the small rectangles onto the end pieces.

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I ironed the interfacing onto the lining fabrics and then baste stitched the three layers of end pieces (circles) together and the three layers of rectangle together.

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Step 3 (Sewing Hem):

I could have just sewn the three layers of fabric directly to the zipper, however the oilcloth layer is a bit slippery so I decided to put one line of stitching above the reflective tape.  I folded the fabric about 3/4″ over and sewed a straight stitch along the edge to make it easier to sew the zipper on.

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Step 4 (Prepping the Zipper):

I have made things with zippers a handful of times and I finally learned that I needed to do this next step so I wouldn’t have holes on the ends of the zipper.  I took a small rectangle of fabric, folded in half with a small line of stitches on the side closest to the zipper opening.  I pinned it to the zipper and sewed another straight line catching the end of the zipper fabric in it.  Ideally I would have had a zipper that matched my fabric, but I didn’t and I didn’t want to wait until the morning to finish it.

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Step 4 (Attaching zipper to fabric flap):

We will see if I can explain what I did.  I wanted to have a flap that covered the zipper.  I placed the zipper, upside down, onto the hem on the rectangle.  Rather than sewing the zipper right next to the hem line, I attached the zipper about 1/2″ higher.  I ended up sewing two lines of stitching, it doesn’t look pretty but once finished, the stitching is hidden by the flap.

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You can see in the photo below, how a flap is now present.

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Step 5 ( Temporary Pinning for Velcro Placement):

This next step, I needed to figure out where to place the velcro so that it would sit and hang on the bars properly.  I pinned the other unsewn side of the zipper to the fabric and took my pieces of velcro and pinned them in various spots on the back of the layers of fabric.  Once I got them where I wanted them, I sewed unpinned the zipper and sewed the velcro in place with a box stitch. Make sure that you stack the velcro so that it doesn’t stick to itself.  This will allow you to wrap it around the handlebars and it will stick to itself.

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Step 6 (Sewing Other Side of Zipper):

This part was a little tricky.  I hemmed the other end of the rectangle where the zipper would attach, once again just to keep the oilcloth from moving around.  I pinned the zipper to the newly sewed hem, making sure to match up the ends of the barrel.  The zipper was trickier to sew this time because now I had a long tube.  I just made sure to have the zipper unzipped and it allowed me to go down the length of the fabric slowly.

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Step 7 (Modifying flap with reflective tape):

At this point, I decided that I wanted to place the other length of reflective tape on the flap.  I sewed it on in a box shape.  Then I folded the corners of the bag to a 45 degree angle so that when I stitched the ends, the flap would not get sewn into the edge.

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Step 8 (Sewing the ends of the barrel):

Turn the bag  inside out.  I discovered at this point that my circles were now a little too big.  So my solution was to create a double pleat in the circle so that I wouldn’t have to cut the circles smaller and risk cutting them too small.  Once again, I sat back down in front of the television and Netflix.  I had a pile of pins, fabric and reflective piping.  It took a bit of time to pin and of course, I neglected to take a photo of this step. I pinned the reflective piping in-between the circle pieces and the barrel.  The end piece also needs to be pinned where you see the wrong side out.  This is so, when you are done stitching, you will turn the bag inside out and hopefully you will have sewn all the layers together.  It took me multiple zig-zag passes to get all the fabric sewn together with no holes.

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Step 9 (Finish):

Turn the bag inside out, check that you caught all the seams.  Attach to the handlebars.

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