eklectikfish by kateepie

Friday, 26 March 2010

tutorial: convert a rucksack into a pannier (part 1)

I set myself a challenge last week.  I'm starting a new job in the next week which will involve cycling to the station and then taking two trains and a bus to get there.  I have panniers for my bike, but they are awkward to carry around, and I don't like cycling with a rucksack on my back because I get hot at the best of times.  So, the challenge: to create a means of converting a rucksack into a pannier which can then be swiftly turned back into a rucksack.  Simple!

Here is my trusty vintage Raleigh Stratos bike, smart isn't she?  I think she is about as old as I am!

This is the sort of thing I am trying to replicate

So, the idea I came up with was to create a sleeve or pocket on the back with something stiff to which I could attach hooks, and a bungee at the bottom.

To create your own converter you will need the following:

A rucksack (old or new).
Fat quarter of cloth, with some of a different colour for the inside of the pocket.
A thin plastic chopping board, preferably with a handle.
Some appropriate sized hooks/with bolts to connect them - I got my hooks from Ikea.
An old bungee.
Some velcro. I used a bit of ordinary sew on velcro, and also salvaged a velcro loop from another bag.
A length of strap (again, I salvaged mine).

First of all you need to cut your fabric.  I folded the fat quarter in half lengthways and then tore it into shape so that it was just over 3cm wider than the chopping board, keeping it double thickness.  I then cut a piece of black cotton fabric to match (single thickness) for the inside of the pocket. 

With right sides together, sew around the sides and bottom, keeping the folded edge to the top. 

Cut off the corners, turn right side out and press.  Turn down the top to the back and stitch.  This will create the front of your pocket.

We now need to add some gussets to make enough space for the board to fit.  Cut two pieces from the remnants of your fat quarter, each about 20cm wide.  Right sides together fold each in half to create strips and press the ends over so that the fabric will be the same height as your pocket.  Sew down the fold lines, trim the excess and turn rightside out.  Roughly serge or oversew the edges so that they don't fray.

Pin these two pieces onto the back of the pocket with the folded edge outermost and stitch close to the edge of the pocket.  I also stitched along the bottom, for extra strength.

Now comes the tricky part.  Attach the board to the top carrying handle of the rucksack with the velcro loop so that you know where to put the pocket.  Pin one edge on.

Now, unless you are a genius or have a very flexible sewing machine, we are going to need to do a bit of hand sewing in order to attach the pocket to the rucksack.  I used a overcast or whip stitch.  The first side is easy!

Repeat with the second edge, but you will have to sew inside the tube as it were, which is hard when you get to the middle, but persevere!

You could sew the bottom of the pocket in the same way, but I just sewed a small piece of velcro, bottom centre, to keep it closed. Not very neatly sewn, but its hidden!

Pop your board back in, and you will then be ready for Part 2 of the tutorial (attaching the hooks and the bungee... coming soon!).

The bungee will be attached to the bottom of the rucksack; the board will be drilled for the hooks. 


  1. this is a good ideal where part two . did it work hun

  2. Come on we are waiting with baited breath for part two ;-) very good simple idea



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