Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rain Wear for Bicycles

I've been meaning to share this for awhile now. A month or so ago I made a saddle and grip cover set.

I didn't use any sort of pattern, just took some measurements and traced the saddle for the basic shape. These are made from a water resistant outdoor fabric with a PVC lining.

I learned a lot about sewing through PVC. It's sticky, and needs a lubricant of sorts in order for it to feed through the sewing machine. I tried baby powder, and that just got messy. Then I got smart and used tissue paper. It fed through much better, but my machine still complained. Definitely a job for the treadle machine. Shame it's in pieces right now.

Anyway, I was inspired to make something waterproof to keep my saddle and grips dry while I'm at work. I don't have anywhere covered to keep my bikes, and plastic bags just looked bad.

I have the Brooks leather grips on the Pashley. I've discovered that after being out in the rain, once they dry the leather washers shrink in a little, leaving gaps in between. This is easily corrected my tightening the screws in on the ends of the grips, but not something I want to have to do every time it rains. Has anyone else had this problem with the Brooks grips? Did you find some way to prevent the shrinkage?

The covers just slip on over the grips, and have elastic in the open end to draw them in, helping to keep water out.

The saddle cover was the most difficult part of the project. Between the machine throwing fits over sewing through the PVC, and trying to make curves it just was not fun. But it turned out well!

If I were to make one again (I did buy more fabric, in case I wanted variety) I think that I would make the gusset a little wider so that it comes down over the springs more. This one just does cover them.

So far these have worked out nicely! They've been in some real downpours now and haven't leaked or blown off. Since I haven't gone and made another set yet I guess that means I'm pretty happy with them. :)


  1. They turned out great! Now I'm inspired to make some of my own but I've never worked with that type of material before.

  2. Melissa - I say go for it. If you do, make sure use tissue paper over the PVC (so when sewing your pieces of fabric go paper-PVC-outdoor fabric). I used a denim needle. That seemed to be heavy duty enough, the only problem was that when the needle would go through the fabric, it would momentarily get stuck to the PVC while it was in it. Maybe some powder or oil on the needle would help with this? Not sure but I might try that next time.

  3. This is all kinds of fabulous. I love the matching set. It is such a great idea! I have never sewed with that kind of material before, so I imagine it would be tricky.

  4. Great job Amy! The covers for the grips are ingenious. It's something one never thinks about - protecting the leather grips. I like that it adds a nice stylish touch as well.

  5. Cute! I especially love the little grips, they're adorable (and functional!)


  6. Those are LOVELY.
    It made me start to dream of making something of a similar fabric as a full bike cover. Like a giant bike-tea-cozy. It would finally solve one of our bike storage problems. I spent last night dreaming what kind of pattern fabric to use... Thanks for the inspiration.

    I used to sew with plastic when I was at art school, and I seem to remember maybe waxing the needle rather than oiling it. Beeswax or candlewax, or whatever you have around.

  7. I can't sew whatsoever >_< I was wondering if you would be willing to make me a saddle cover and handle bar grips for my gazelle toer? I'd gladly offer to pay or barter! I really like the pattern for instance on the BikeCap website thats white with a blue baroque swirly pattern.

  8. LadyEnoki - Drop me an email (amy at hankypankyblog dot net). We'll see what we can do!