DIY Waxed Canvas Frame Bag

Never having operated a sewing machine, I have always been fascinated and intimidated by the fabric arts. I decided that a trial-by-fire is the best way to learn and made a canvas frame bag one afternoon…

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There are 2 or 3 activities that I must routinely practice to maintain sanity. One of them is simply making things. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, or something to that effect. For some time, I’ve been tempted to try my hand at a piece of bike luggage, but have been intimidated by what I assumed would be a tedious and exacting enterprise—sewing.

I recently renovated an old lugged-frame low-trail touring bike for getting around town, long rural rides and maybe even some light road touring (pics and details coming soon). The bike screamed for a simple and classic waxed canvas bag. A tangle bag boasts the perfect size and shape for carrying a pump, tubes, tools, a wallet and maybe a clean t-shirt.

So I bought an old Singer 301, got some cotton duck, had my wife teach me the basics, and immersed myself one afternoon last week. As it turns out, this indoctrination into the world of stitchery, albeit the outcome somewhat rough around the edges, was very gratifying. I already have a saddlebag in the works.


  • About 3 feet square of #8 Cotton Duck (from
  • A spool of Dual Duty thread (craft and button, which is the thickest I could find)
  • 50 inches of nylon webbing (I used an old strap I had laying around)
  • 15 inches of 1.5 inch velcro (sew-on type)
  • One 22″ sport zipper from your local craft/hobby store
  • One bar of Otter Wax

DIY Frame Bag - Waxed Canvas

I started by tracing about 3/8″ in from the frame outline on this peel-and-stick grid paper from the local Jo Anne fabric store. From there I added about 1/2 inch to each edge to make up for the stitch overlap.

DIY Frame Bag - Waxed Canvas

The basic premise for construction is to stitch it inside out, like a box, then you get to reveal your work when you pull it through the zipper. The only thing I would change if I had it to do over is to add a strap to grab the downtube in the front. I actually ran out of material, so that is the one that I sacrificed.

DIY Frame Bag - Waxed Canvas

Never you mind those stitches.

DIY Frame Bag - Waxed Canvas

I will probably add some coroplast or rigid foam to the bottom to help keep its shape when it is carrying weight.

DIY Frame Bag - Waxed Canvas

A generous coating of Otter Wax and a hair dryer finished it off nicely, gave it a worn look and will keep the elements out.
  • Wilburforce

    That’s brilliant!

  • Thanks! It was a challenge, but rewarding…

  • dudeluna

    that’s pretty impressive for your first bag! i always wish i could sew, but i just don’t have the patience to keep a straight stitch.

  • Thanks. But those stitches aren’t too straight by any means! I figured a good one to start with has most of the stitches are on the inside where no one can see them…

  • Karthik Chinnaiah

    A brilliant idea! This creative work really inspires me to create stuff for my rides. Congratulations with the sewing work! Thanks a lot for sharing this..

  • Holly

    How much did it cost you to make this bag in the end? I am looking into buying or making a frame bag and have zero sewing skills. So given the chance for errors I am trying to figure out my best option.

  • Probably like $20… This bag is fairly simple. Good luck!

  • Rickp

    I’m gonna have to try this. Hope I don’t break my wife’s sewing machine.

  • Frank Hodgson

    How much does the bag weigh? Great job.

  • Hi Frank. Thanks… the bag weighs about 270 grams.

  • Stan Berry

    Cool bag! I’m curious…how does the Otter Wax hold up in the rain? I’m considering purchasing a bar of it for a project I’m working on but have had no experience with it. Thanks, eh!

  • Thanks Stan. Sorry for the delayed response. Yes, the Otter Wax does very well when using the melting and ‘painting method’. To do this I prefer the canned product; partially submerge it in a pot of water on a stove top, then once it liquifies the wax gets brushed on. This is how I treated my saddlebag and it survived the east African rainy season.

  • Stan

    Sweet! I just got the extra large bar in the mail, is it the same product as the canned stuff you prefer? Would I be able to melt down the bar and get the same results? Thanks!

  • Yes, you should be able to melt it down…

  • Daniel Fleming

    This is so rad. You’ve totally inspired me to try making a bag.

  • Thanks… do it!

  • Ely Rodriguez

    Rad! Great job!

  • Thanks!

  • André Kniepkamp

    Wow! Looks pretty easy. And how nice the bag is, I#ll try that, too.

  • Andrew Robertson

    A cheaper and readily available alternative to canvas is denim, dyed olive/brown or a combination and waxed. If you don,t have a sewing machine a saddle stitch works well, made myself a cartridge bag this way and its holding up very well. make your own wax by mixing 5 parts candle wax to one part beeswax.

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