Thursday, February 13, 2014

A shark and a penguin

Last year when we went skiing with our friends and their two boys, we saw a skier wearing a helmet cover that was an animal of some sort (I can't remember what it was). Anyway, my friends know I sew, and they casually asked if I could make such a thing. "Of course!" I said, not really knowing what I was getting myself into. "What animals do you want?" The younger boy wanted a penguin and the older boy wanted a shark. I do try to follow up on my promises.

The boys, aged 7 and 10, loved them, and they received comments galore on the slopes. Nearly every lift operator said something (or at least smiled in delight) as well as other skiers. We were skiing in France, and my French isn't very good so I didn't exclaim that I made them or anything like that. In addition to being a fun accessory for the boys, the unique covers made the boys very easy to spot on the slopes. For part of the day, the younger boy skied behind me, matching me turn for turn, proclaiming that "Penguin is ready!" when he was ready to ski again after a break.

I used the Green Pepper "Tuck Away Balaclava", pattern number 550 as a starting point for making the ski helmet covers. The fabric for the penguin is microfleece from Joann's with 2-way stretch. Joann's was out of the gray microfleece so I used some wickaway fabric with fleece on one side that I had in my stash. It's 4-way stretch, which was a good thing because the older boy's helmet was quite rounded and actually larger than my own helmet, which I used to help size the covers during construction.

The only difficulty with the covers is that they easily slide off of the slick helmets, especially when the goggles are moved up onto the helmet. I made two slits in the back of each cover so that the straps that help secure the goggles could go through the covers as well. No one wanted to lose these covers in a brisk wind! My husband came up with a great suggestion to add some elastic on the inside of the covers - I would use either clear elastic because it has some tackiness or the grippy elastic that I've used on the bottom edge of bicycle shorts I made for my husband years ago. So I might borrow the helmet covers back to make this modification. But all in all, I think they turned out great. My friends think I should go into business making them - easy to say but I'm not sure I want to turn my sewing hobby into a business. Besides, the helmet covers certainly aren't a novel idea. I searched for "helmet covers" online and found plenty of images to help me construct these.

Here are some more pictures and my full review:

Ski helmet covers  Ski helmet covers
Ski helmet covers

Ski helmet covers

Pattern Description: Tuck Away Balaclava - Hat with optional face mask that can be tucked up inside hat

Pattern Sizing: XS (20" head) through XL (24" head)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? A little, but I modified the hat part and made the balaclava part separate.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I used them initially for the hat to test it on the helmet and I found them very easy.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It gave me a good starting point for the helmet covers. I used the largest size because these fit over the helmets.

Fabric Used: Microfleece for the black and white, a microfleece wickaway for the gray (from my stash) and an IKEA fleece blanket for the little bit of orange. The IKEA fleece was stiff and not very useful for anything else, so I used the rest to make bags for the boys' helmets.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I sewed up the hat and after pin fitting it to the helmet, I reduced the size and rounded off the top of the hat considerably. I determined that the balaclava wouldn't work attached to the hat because it would also be too large and stand away from the face too much to be effective. So to make the balaclava separate, I extended the back of it so that it would meet behind the head. Not knowing the exact size to fit the boys, I made it attach with Velcro rather than be one continuous piece. This will make it much easier to put on and take off when their helmets are on. For the other parts (shark fin, teeth, beak, etc.), I made paper patterns first to get the size and shape I wanted. Fleece doesn't fray but it can get a little ragged at the cut edges, so for some pieces I cut two and seamed them and then straight stitched it on top or included it in a seam. For other pieces, like the eyes, I cut a single layer of fleece and zigzagged close to the edge. The shark fin is stuffed with some fleece scraps and then I had to do some hand sewing to make the base a little wider since just sewing it in the top seam of the hat made it flop too much.



  1. Anonymous5:12 PM

    These are fantastic. I think you should learn the French for "I made these!".
    Alison (Ferretworld)