It all started on a hot summer day in North Africa. I had spent a few days walking through the streets of Rabat and found myself in Fez with a special Danish couple. After a few mint teas and 8 hours spent sewing a few pieces of seat-belt webbing together I was in the beginning stages of starting a new hobby.
I never thought that traveling with a few sewing needles and some very strong fishing line would have transformed into buying large pieces of leather in Bulgaria, and crafting it into various bags. The picture here is of backpacks that I’ve made in the past year. The first backpack is the leather one on the top. All hand-sewn, and the rest are made out of canvas, which were machine sewn.
Since I was a little boy, I’ve always liked bags. Backpacks, waistpacks (I know, I was one of those kids) and luggage as I got older. I can’t tell you how many Osprey packs I’ve had and given away.
What traveling has taught me (aside from finding more creative outlets) is that we don’t need much. Especially that very expensive hiking pack that’s made to take you to the top of Everest. Now what traveling with a good and simple sewing kit has taught me, is that with the right environment, we are all capable of constructing things that are good enough to get us by.
Now that I’ve settled and started to get into some form of routine, I’m back on two wheels and coupling two hobbies. Crafting and Cycling. This bag is made from Bulgarian leather and Spanish canvas. It fits over the Brompton front carrier cage, and carries daring loads of groceries. It was made by accident in a way, as I originally intended it to be a saddle bag that would attach to the back of a Brooks saddle. I will get further with that idea when I upgrade my current saddle. However, this bag was a quick fix to meeting my needs.
I’ve also made a carrier for the bike. Even though most people carry the bike by the seat when its folded, when you’re urban-commuting and need to hop off the bike real quick to run down some stairs, this is where the handle comes in handy.
Here are two of the three handles that I’ve made. The brown one is sewn right on to the bike, while the other handle has buckles with extra leather padding for protection to keep the bike from getting scratched. All the leather that I sew is held together with 100lb test Dyneema fishing line. It’s incredibly strong. Aside from wanting a strong thread for the finished results, it makes it easier to tell the project “what to do” when I’m pulling the line tight. Here is the latest bike carrier that I made this weekend. This is 100% Spanish full-grain leather. Very tough, and the hand-crafted brass buckles add a nice touch.
I’m looking forward to making new projects, as I have several ideas that I think will add greater convenience to this well built folding bicycle.