Make Your Own Stem Bag: MYOBG

Learn how make your own stem bag from old recycled gear in this step-by-step ‘MYOBG’ tutorial. Follow along as Neža makes a ‘snack bag’ (i.e. feed bag) from an old inflatable air mattress.

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Whatever you might call them, ‘feed bags’, ‘snack bags’, or ‘food sacks’, there’s no doubt that stem bags are one of the handiest accessories for stashing on the go trail snacks. They’re also suited for carrying a variety of other items you might need close at hand – a water bottle, phone, sunglasses, compact camera, spare lens, gloves, or even a clothing layer.

In this tutorial we take you through the process of making one from scratch. While there are a few materials and tools you need, the beauty of making a small bag such as this one is that it can be fabricated with leftover materials… or from repurposed or defunct gear, such as a leaky inflatable air mattress. What better to do with old equipment than to ‘Make Your own Bikepacking Gear’ (MYOBG). P.S. you can find a few more DIY articles at the MYOBG tag here. We hope to add more to this collection in the not too distant future.

Stuff you’ll need

0.5 meter (20″) of a thick waterproof fabric (I recycled an old inflatable mattress)
This will be the outer material of the bag, therefore you need it to be durable. You can use fabrics such as: X-Pac, Cordura, heavy Ripstop, waxed canvas duck, or recycle some of your old camping gear.

0.5 meter of lining material (I recommend using lighter synthetic fabric, preferably waterproof)

Light ripstop fabric for drawcord closure

1.0 meter (40″) Paracord string or elastic cord

2 x Cord stopper

0.5 meter (20″) webbing (20mm or 1 inch width)

0.5 meter (20″) velcro (hook + loop) in 20mm or 1 inch width

Small piece of closed cell foam (evazote), for padding if you are planning to carry a camera/lens

Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, bikepacking

Step 1

Print this downloadable PDF pattern on A4 paper (do not resize!) and cut it out.

Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

Cut the patterns out of paper.

—–

Step 2

Cut parts A, B, and C from thicker waterproof fabric and from lining fabric.

Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

Cut out the pattern from waterproof and lining fabric in amounts given on the pattern.

—–

Step 3

Cut part D from light ripstop fabric, reflecting the pattern over the dashed line.

Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

These are the parts you should have after you cut out all the patterns in the amounts given.

—–

Step 4

First sew together A + B + A together on their longer sides and leave 1 cm (0.4″) out before finishing the stitch (this will make it easier to sew on the bottom).

  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag
  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag
  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

NOTE: The pattern contains a 1 cm (0.4″) seam allowance.

—–

Step 5

I Apply the 27 cm long nylon webbing, just 2cm (0.8″) under the top.

Make sure you melt both ends of the webbing strap before sewing it on (this will prevent the strap from fraying). Make loops with the distances of 2.5 cm (1″ — or about 1.25″ if you are using 1″ velcro)… not smaller, otherwise the velcro straps won’t fit into them. Run each stitch 2 times forth and back to secure it and burn the leftover thread, that way you can avoid stitch opening.

Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

—–

Step 6

Apply 11 cm (4.3″) long webbing strap on the C part in the middle and sew on 2.5 cm (1″) loops on it.

Webbing straps sewn on with loops of 2.5 cm (1″) width.

—–

Step 7

Sew together the remaining part of the B pattern to the A+B+A part, which you sew together in the beginning.

Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

Now you have the body of the bag.

—–

Step 8

Sew on the C part (the bottom).

Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

The outer body of the bag sewn together with the bottom.

—–

Step 9

Follow the same process with the lining fabric, skipping the application of webbing.

Leave a small hole on the A+B side of approx. 6 cm (2.4″) length (the hole will serve for turning the lining inside-out, when it’s sewn on the outer part).

  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag
  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

—–

Step 10

Now comes the draw cord closing top.

Fold the fabric on half and sew it as show on the picture. Leave a hole of approx. 2 cm (0.8″) length in the middle, this will be the hole where the draw cord will exit.

  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag
  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

—–

Step 11

Fold the two sides of the fabric apart and top-stitch them. Now fold the fabric on half, so you have the cord exit hole on the top.

Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

Top stitch the two folded sides.

—–

Step 12

Introduce the cord with the cord stopper through the hole and make a knot at the end (you can do this at the end as well).

Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

Insert the drawcord with the cord stopper through the hole. Make a knot at the end.

—–

Step 13

Sew the D part on the outer part of the bag, facing downwards.

Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

Sew on the drawcord closing part onto the outer body of the bag.

—–

Step 14

Turn the lining inside out, and sew it on the outer body of the bag and the drawcord part.

Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

The outer parts of body and lining should face each other before sewn together at the top.

—–

Step 15

Turn the lining inside out, through that 5 cm (2″) hole you’ve left open.

—–

Step 16

Sew up the small hole.

  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag
  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

—–

Step 17

Sew on a draw cord puller (you can skip it, but it’s handy especially when riding with gloves).

  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag
  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

—–

Step 18

Make 3 x velcro straps by cutting 3 x 8 cm (hook) and 3 x 8 cm (loop) and face them together on the surface of 2 cm. Sew that part with a ‘safety square’.

  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag
  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

NOTE: Length of the velcro straps depends on your stem and handlebar circumference.

—–

Step 19

Make a safety draw cord for attaching the bag through the loops of the D part onto the bike frame.

  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag
  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

—–

Step 20

Voila! Now strap on the bag on your bike and you are ready to go!

  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag
  • Make Your Own Stem Bag, Feed Bag, DIY bikepacking Bag

—–

If you have any questions about this tutorial feel free to ask!

Again, find more DIY articles at the MYOBG tag here. In addition check out our stem bag roundup from a couple years ago… and check out a couple stem bag reviews such as the Revelate Mountain Feedbag and others at the tag here.

  • Dabadau Tabaluga

    What kind of a sewing machine would you recommend for a beginner? My first bags I made without a machine, after a while that is annoying ;)

  • I am sure Neža will chime in with more researched info, but when I started making a few bags here and there I found an old Singer 301. it’s kind of a classic ‘bombproof’ one from what I’ve read…

  • NezaP

    Hey! You don’t need an industrial machine for this but some old heavy duty domestic machine (Singer, Pfaff, Brother, Neumann…). Domestic machines which they make nowadays are ‘plastic fantastic’ and won’t take more then 2 layers of heavy fabric.

  • Dries

    That depends on the model. Go to a specialist store and as around I have a modern brother and it’s a beast. Takes like 6 layers of Denim easily!!

  • Dabadau Tabaluga

    Thanks, I will have a look at those :)

  • Dabadau Tabaluga

    Thanks, for your fast reply

  • Cheesemonster

    Hi, I’ve made a few bags now and found the best and easiest way to make a feed bag was like this http://www.tiergear.com.au/25/square-bottom-stuff-sack
    Just with heaver fabric. Sew on the webbing and the draw sting top on first works well and less seams to leak.

  • NezaP

    True it all depends on the model, but anyhow you need a heavy duty machine for projects like this.

  • Liam Kirkpatrick

    I’ve found that modifying a large climbing chalkbag works quite well as well. Simply add a few velcro straps and you’re good to go. Not waterproof or very tidy, but quick and easy for those of us who have no idea how to use sewing machines.

  • brad blakeney

    i did the same thing. Bought a 2 pack climbing chalk bag set made by The Friendly Swede and i will use ziplock bags inside to waterproof. I bought the pair for $14.99 from Amazon. I haven’t used yet but I think they are going to work ok.

  • Gregory Newland

    Can I get additional info on steps 10-12? I thought it was making sense as I read it buy the picture on Step 12 really confuses me. Just directions of folds would help me out.

  • NezaP

    Hi Gregory, indeed it is a bit complicated to understand the steps between 10-12.
    I have found a video which shows how to do the steps 10 and 11: http://youtu.be/04juQ1eQQ90?t=18m21s .
    For the step 12, you have to fold the round shaped ‘body’ on it length. That way you have a string hole on the top.
    I hope this is now understandable, if not, let me know, and I’ll try to make a short video ;)

  • Edward

    Thanks for this tutorial! I’ve made two sacks so far. I added a mesh pocket to the front and a short section of webbing on the back for an additional contact point. On the second one (orange top in pics), I added 1/2 inch to the width of each panel and the draw cord section to fit a 1L Nalgene (or TBH a medium iced coffee!). I used 500D Cordura for the outer and Ripstop nylon for the liner and draw cord section. I was planning to add a little foam but i think these have plenty of “structure” as is, even with a full beverage and strapped to the bike.

    Steps10-12 are a bit difficult to visualize but the video helps. And FWIW I found it easier to sew w/o the cord inserted. I ran the card thru at the end.

    http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e23abd65a0afb37d6e12313265c67ee67b68b56edfbe65b489cdcd7f98a61800.jpg http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0cb45f1298f6f9f5b5e1a6ad80351b351b8e5d43e0b6233266071ac3de187a49.jpg http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/73dae3048f997c8a07072389a1ee4ce5f206d1a7c97eb52192136930caaef05c.jpg http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4b2112719361bb05097d8653d16aaf271a26485c746ab9f5511b2405d8b38b5c.jpg

  • NezaP

    Edward you did a great job and I love the mesh insert!!

  • Luiz Carlos

    Adorei. Parabéns. Fácil. Existe vídeo explicativo ? Brasil PE

  • NezaP

    Hi Luiz, sorry no video, only photos and instructions .

  • Riemanello

    Hey, thank you so much for this guide. Do you know any good websites that sell the fabrics and hardware in EU?

  • NezaP

    Yes! Check: http://www.extremtextil.de/en , they have everything you need for this project!

  • magunkutjan

    Nice bag! Nice work! It’s good to know that somebody else is reading bikepacking.com from Hungary. ;)

  • Rapscallyvin

    Definitely trying this! Thanks!

  • Luiz Carlos

    Legal !!! STEP 10
    Good Morning. I can not make the top end of the pull cord.
    I made 2 models, but I can not. Can you show me more details?

  • NezaP

    Hi Luiz! Which part of the step is not understandable? Below in the comments you can find a short video, which will help you better understand the steps 10 and 11.

  • Luiz Carlos

    I got it !!!!! Thank you.

  • Ross Davidson
  • NezaP

    Cool! Good job!

  • Kino Wa

    Thanks for the project! Is there any way to have the dimension of the pattern on paper? If we can’t print it and want to use the same dimension? Thank you!

  • NezaP

    Hi, I responded you on our conversation!

  • mtbelvis

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ab22547f143685c4a3dbe488b364186d0ce3e294c944269b58536ce808e3cfd0.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cbdf5f6ff239441c8664319b00eb9bc71cf3feaf2c824c81366e0e58fd1235d8.jpg

    Thanks for the sewing pattern. We did not understand the instructions completely, but after some try&error we are very happy with the result.

  • NezaP

    Nice!!

  • Martin Peden

    Thanks for the guide! It took me about 3 hours to make one. However, quite a lot of that time was learning to use the sewing machine.

    The instructions and template were brilliant!

    Best of all it was free as I had all the bits lying about in the form of old bags :)
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6c22342bdd72573fc805fe300e1315ebb394eecc87e926d4f05c0b358f2c6082.jpg

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