Archive for April, 2010

Bike Armor

Posted: April 25, 2010 in Uncategorized
I hate dinging my heavy loaded xtracycle against parking meters, handrails, signs, etc, and I think the bike hates it too.

This fire hose pad snaps around the top tube. 

I got the idea after I saw a very styly pad like this on Mona Prather’s road bike.
Sweet or Silly? (Would you spend $10-15 on one of these?)


Bike Armor

Posted: April 25, 2010 in Uncategorized
I hate dinging my heavy loaded xtracycle against parking meters, handrails, signs, etc, and I think the bike hates it too.

This fire hose pad snaps around the top tube. 

I got the idea after I saw a very styly pad like this on Mona Prather’s road bike.
Sweet or Silly? (Would you spend $10-15 on one of these?)


Making textured fabric

Posted: April 21, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,
We have this huge pile of coveralls that I got at the ReStore.  Actually, we have two big piles of coveralls that I got at the ReStore.  They got donated this huge bin of worn out coveralls from Wrex Products – a plastics manufacturer across the street from them on Myers, and it just sat there for about 3 months.  Sucker that I am for cheap materials, I started scheming and dreaming of making grocery bags and bag linings from this nice, funky, tough fabric.


Mario, ReStore MANager.

Bin o’ ghetto coveralls.  I high-graded it back in November, cut some good pieces of fabric out of some of them, and then they sat on a shelf.  Last week I got the idea that I could make market bags out of them, and bought another dozen.  I made a couple of bags and they just looked too plain, saggy, and kind of sad – no posture, sloppy, gutterpunk.  Not that gutterpunk is all bad, just that they don’t spend money on these kinds of bags.

When we visted my Aunt Elizabeth in Kansas City last month, we saw amazing things that they are doing in her shop collaging vintage Japanese fabrics into new textiles, so I am trying a few tricks from her book, and I like how it is going.

I started off with a flat piece of twill from the coveralls.  I cut strips and sewed them on in a woven fashion.

Running parallel stitching. 

More parallel stitching



Finished effect.


The second piece was more freeform.  We’ll use these panels to make purses or some funky tool belts.  
After washing and drying
April is my favorite month in Chico – so much life, flowers exploding out of the ground, and general buzz in the air.  When I was in school, April was a hormonal blur of festivals, music, dancing, partying.  Got a chance to sell bags at the Earth Day fest on campus yesterday, and it was still fun…

I met Adam when he was working at the ReStore.  We are doing a work trade – he’s sewing for me, and I am doing some welding on his work truck. 

Adam hadn’t run an industrial sewing machine before, and this one is a real rocket – sews 3,500 stitches a minute.  He kept his fingers out of it, and picked it up quickly.


We whipped out a bunch of market bags.  They are a simple design – 6 straight lines of stitching + sewing on the strap (strips of fire hose) – and easy.  One person working at a comfortable speed can make 6 an hour.


I finished a bunch of messenger bags this week – here is the first one that has a laptop sleeve in it. 

Also, made a cellphone pocket that snaps onto the strap – for those folks that want to keep their phone close to their heart.


New camstrap detail for the bike purses.



Wad o’ product. 

Victoria modeling our chickie tool belts.



Allen bought the bike-tire hose bag. 

Beau sporting his new hot pockets.



Hot pockets. 


Quinn got a shot of our setup.


I turned our display rack into a bike trailer.  Hey, I’m not homeless, this is MERCHANDISE! 

The hitch is a little janky, but Chico is flat, so we made it home.


Daily Propaganda: 

~ Two new bags

Posted: April 12, 2010 in Uncategorized
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We had a productive weekend in the shop.  Ezra is a little sick, and yesterday was Erika’s birthday.  I asked her what she wanted, and she said: “Watch the baby so I can work in the shop!”.  She made the Beanstalk Bag, and also, did some work on a few new book bags.  I finished two messenger bags.
Playing with a new way to make reflectors for the straps of bike bags – holes punched out of inner tube sewn over reflective tape.


The straps are a sandwich of rubber-lined poly-cotton fire hose and two layers of nylon webbing.  Idea with this is that the poly-cotton will wick sweat, while rubber will spread the load and keep the whole thing lying flat.



I started this bag last fall for the Chikoko Bizarre Bazaar, and ran out of time.  It, and about 6 other panels have been sitting, waiting for us to tackle sewing in the sides, which is a pain in the ass.  We just got a better sewing machine, and it is still a pain, but at least the bobbin thread is no longer tying knots half way thru a side. 

I call this bag the ‘Messenger X’.  Body is from fire hose, with inner tube for trim around the flap.  The white X is from chicken feed sack, with the actual X being cut out of inner tube.  We’ll make more of these…



Strap on the other new bag – proto #35 – a prototype from last fall.  

This pocket detail was the prototypical part – I like it, but it makes the assembly quite a bit more time consuming.  More practice needed.



This one is a little rougher that the X bag – didn’t trim some of the hose for a shaggier look. 

Proto #35



Straps are funny, you can put a lot of time, foam, pockets, and other work into one.  We are focusing on making bomber, simple designs that will last.  
We’ll make custom straps, but try to avoid buying new virgin materials if we can.  I like using the fire hose for that reason.  That said, good clean webbing is hard to find used, and we buy rolls of surplus strap from an unnamed, evil, army surplus place that also sells army jeep parts and barrels or methyl-ethyl ketone.  

These bags are available for sale.  X bag is $120, and Proto #35 is $80.  Contact us for more info.  

Beanstalk bag

Posted: April 11, 2010 in Uncategorized
Erika painted a series of Eyeball paintings in 2004.

We have been using paintings left over from that show in a new series of bags. 

Here is the first one.
This painting was called ‘Beanstalk’.

Making the lining

After sewing the sides in and lining the bag, she used strips of another painting for binding/trim. 


We just got a new walking foot industrial sewing machine – I traded a guy in Redding a kayak for it.  It is a Seiko STH-8BLD-3 for those of you that care about these details.  We have been looking for a long time for this sort of machine.  I wanted to bring it to bed with us the first night but Erika was worried that the baby might get hurt.


The Beanstalk Bag

Necktie strap.   


It wouldn’t be a ZeekoBag without details – we love our details.





Custom Xtracycle Bags

Posted: April 7, 2010 in Uncategorized
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I love my xtracycle.  I got it from Franklin, who is THE MAN when it comes to all things xtracycle.  If you need one, track him down.  
I don’t love the stock bags, though.  They are a good concept, but the material is pretty thin, the velcro flap pockets aren’t useable, and they just don’t seem that substantial.

I decided to make a new set, based on xtracycle’s design, but with a longer flap.


The original bags.


I visited my sister a while ago in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and she took me to an incredible crafters junk store in Durham, NC.  It was my kind of place.  They had wacky things like 55 gallon drums full of film canister lids, big bins full of foam boppy sticks, and endrolls of reflective 3M scotchbrite sign-making film (you’ll see more about this in weeks to come).  

The lady there sold me TWO FULL COW HIDES for $20 (!), plus a box of scraps (‘just get them out of my way…’)  I cut apart my stock bags to make a template, and laid out custom pockets for lock, water bottle, pump, etc.

Here is the finished product.


The buckles are from a belt factory that we found after a weird taxi ride around a sketchy neighborhood on the north edge of Guadalajara, MX.

The structure of flaps that attach to the freeloader rack – I was worried that if I just riveted the flaps to the leather, that they might pull thru the leather with heavy loads, so I made a webbing harness that wraps each flap.  Rivets pierce the leather and three thicknesses of 1.5″ webbing.

For the side pockets, I used netting that a fisherman named ‘Erby’ gave me on the docks in Moss Landing.  The trim is lightweight 3/4″ fire hose.  I made the sides a little taller than the stock ones.  I didn’t like the chintzy drawcords on the stock bags, so I just used parachute cord with grommets and tie a knot in the cord where I want it.

Pocket trim is also lightweight fire hose.

We’ll make these to order starting at $200/pair.  Leather is expensive, and it takes about 20 square feet of it to make a pair, so leather will cost more – depends on what materials you want to use.

Other material options include burlap, fire hose, canvas, waxed cotton, truck tarp or anything else that we can find used – we don’t buy new fabric.


ZeekoBag is an idea, a design project, a pursuit, and a philosophy.  We sew because we need to – selling has been secondary.
That said, we want to sell these bags.  Chronic dumpster-divers always need more space in their shop.


Talking to my friend and style consultant Quinn Comendant the other day, I figured out that if my bags were retailing for $100 in a shop, that I’d have to sew 12 hours a day, 5 days a week to pay my mortgage.  They each take a long time to craft…

Quinn said “why don’t you blog each bag, and give people an option at the end of the entry to click to buy that item?”


I like that idea.  Each one of these bags has many stories behind it, and I like the idea of knowing where things that you put your money into come from.  I like the idea that anyone slinging one of my bags could tell someone else a story about where their bag came from.


So here is a story about the bag I made today.  If you like it, feel free to buy the bag – we’ll throw in the story for free.




My buddy Tim is a firefighter in the Bay.  He drives down there 2 days a week and works 48 hours straight.  He says that if it is a rainy Friday, that they know that they will be out on the freeway.  He doesn’t like being out on the freeway.  Tim hooked me up with the roll of hose, above.




The hose is double jacketed – the outer jacket is a tough, coarse-woven nylon, the inner is coated with rubber, and super tough.

I split the hose, and pull the layers apart, cut it to length, and wash it.  Then I sew it onto a coated tarp. The tarp was cut out of a ‘wildfire training shelter’ – a replica of the tinfoil tents that you are supposed to crawl into if you are a firefighter being overrun by a wildfire.  The tinfoil ones are delicate, and you are supposed to practice donning your shelter once a year, so they make ‘training shelters’ out of tarp.  Anyway, the Forest Service invented a new kind of shelter recently, and they are throwing the old ones away, including the practice versions, so I scored this nice tarp…


It is waterproof, bonus!


After the hose is sewn onto the tarp, I trim it with webbing (army surplus bought by the roll).  I trimmed the end of the hose with the end of the tarp, added some reflective webbing bought from an Ebay’r in Canada, and capped it off with a design cut from truck inner tube given to me by a local tire shop.  I like using pieces with patches on them.  I stitch a line around where I plan to trim to hold it all together, then trim it round.


I cut 1″ wide strips of inner tube, and use this to trim the edge.  Sewing inner tube is tough, as the needle gets so hot from the friction that it burns thru the thread.  I oil the needle as I go, and this works well.
If you buy this bag or another one of our inner tube trimmed ones, you might want to armor-all the rubber it it starts to dry out, down the road. 

I am trying out different ways to pad the strap – this one uses a strip of cotton-jacketed fire hose, and two layers of webbing capped with the Ebay reflective tape.  


Main panel roughly complete, with flap strap attached.   Next, I cut sides out of another kind of fire hose (rubberized) and trim them with webbing, rivet the strap and hardware onto them.  
Now the hard part, which is sewing the sides onto the body of the bag.

Everything structural gets rivets – this bag has 32 structural rivets.  This is much easier now that we have our press set up to punch thru all of this material.





The name tag is 3/8″ aluminum tubing from the ReStore, pounded flat, and stamped with a punch.  Here is a link to some pics of how the punch got made:

Done, and good to go!  The buckle is a parachute harness adjuster.  Aluminum, army surplus.



I have been making these for a day trip size, and you can stuff a jacket under the flap if you need to. 

I like the patch on the inner tube.  
This is the first bag we have made since I made our name punch.  Numero Uno.  


Handcrafted, and one of a kind, with a lifetime warranty for workmanship.  

We use recycled chicken feed sacks for a lot of things at ZeekoBag.  It is abundant, incredibly strong, and sews well.  Here are some wallets that Erika made for the Chikoko Holiday Faire.  These wallets are all gone, but we have a few similar ones at ‘Made in Chico’.

Chicken feed sacks (woven polyethylene) form the structure of all of these wallets.  


Layer feed 

Feed sack


Tales of Shiva – feed sack and mylar.  We used surplus mylar sheeting printed with scanned Hindu comic books for the imagery. 


Tales of Shiva


Goddess offerings


From ‘Tales of Shiva’

Hindu wallets


Homoerotic chicken feed sack imagery