Bike Panniers Mark II

In March last year I made a set of bike panniers for myself. Sadly, after a years hard use my panniers are looking a little worse for wear. Especially along the seams where the oil cloth was tearing, the row of stitches acting like perforations.

I decided I needed to make myself another set of panniers, and this time I splashed out on a pattern. I've been looking at Lisa Lam's A Bag for all reasons for a while, and what do you know - the pattern on the front is for bike panniers. I think you can see where I'm going with this ...

Yep, fabric shopping. I wanted something really bright and flash this time, and while browsing Amy Butler's laminated fabric designs I found one called 'Harriet's Kitchen'. I couldn't resist!

I'm really pleased with my second attempt at panniers. The pattern was much better, and  learnt several lessons from my first pair.

Firstly, the seams were weak as the stitches acted as perforations in the fabric, so I used a longer stitch length. As Lam suggested I also used ribbon to strengthened all the edges. A little time consuming but worth while.

Secondly, Velcro is just not strong enough, I used to find the top flapping open when cycling along at speed. So this time, again as Lam suggested, I used clips to keep the tops down.

The panniers are double thickness, I didn't use laminated fabric for the lining but some heavy weight Ikea fabric. I also made little internal pockets (for keys and other important items) which have elastic in the top seam to help hold them closed.

There was only one bit of the pattern which confused me. The inside edges of the panniers, where they hang against the wheel, are strengthen with very heavy interfacing. However, Lam suggests that the strengthening should only cover 3/4 of the piece. I don't understand why, and I decided to ignore this and cover the whole piece in interfacing. It doesn't seem to have caused me any problems so far. 

I love this pattern, the instructions were clear and easy to follow and the result amazing. If (or should that be when) I need new panniers I would certainly use this pattern again. Plus, there are another couple of bags in Lam's book which I have on my list of planned projects. I especially like the satchel, which is just as well as my previous shoulder bag has just given up the ghost.


  1. I am about to make these for my bike as well. I am waiting to get the book from the library again so I'll have the directions. I already have the pattern pieces copied but forgot the instructions :-)
    About how much oil cloth did it take and what kind of ribbon did you use?

    1. Hi BB,

      I think I bought 1.5m of oil cloth, and I've still got a bit left over (probably less than .5 of a meter). The ribbon I used is some grosgrain, I thought it would be both strong and flexible enough - it was easy to work with and seems to be holding up. Best of luck with your poject, and let me know how you get on :)



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