Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fleece Headband -- Ear Warmers

I live just outside of Houston, Texas.  We don't really have cold winters -- some years, we never even get to wear a sweater.

So -- when a surprise cold snap rolled through right before Christmas, no one knew where any of our cold weather gear was!  So ... I figured I'd make some -- and I'd start with a pair of fleece headband/ear warmers.

I had a bit of fleece scraps lying around -- definitely within the one yard parameters.  Here's what I ended up with after I completed the project.

I decided to use a double layer of fleece rather than a single layer.  It makes assembly a little more involved, but also means I can mix colors.  I can do these in purple and gold for my LSU friends!  This time, all I had was red, black, and blue -- so that's how my headbands ended out.

Even with double layers, it was pretty simple to make.  Total time?  About 10 minutes per pair.

First, we need a pattern! Use a tape measure to measure the circumference of your head. Pass it around the middle of your forehead and just at the top of your ears.

Take this number, divide it by 2, then subtract 1/4" inch. For instance, if your head circumference measures 23 inches, then divide this by two to get 11 1/2 inches and substract 1/4 inch from that to yield 11 1/4 inches. This will be the Length for our pattern.

Draw a rectangle Length inches by 4 1/2 inches (in my example above, it would be 11 1/4 inches by 4 1/2 inches). Draw a little dot at the midpoint of the Long sides.

Next, draw a dotted line one inch in from each end of the rectangle. This dotted line will cross the width of the rectangle (the 4 1/2" portion).

Next, draw a dotted line 3/4 of an inch in from each corner of the rectangle. This dotted line will reach from the prior dotted line out to the end of the rectangle.

The end result of all this is that we'll have dotted "notches" in each corner -- each notch being 3/4" by 1" in size.

Now, here's the hard part. (At least, it was hard for artistically challenged me!). Draw a freehand curved line from each midpoint side that meets up with the dotted line leading to the end of the rectangle. That's four curved lines!

It'd be nice if they matched exactly -- although the way we cut and sew this, it's not that important. Still, the closer you can get them to matching, the better it will be.

You can see the results of the curved lines on the pattern to the right. The line is almost a lazy "S" shape -- it curves one way from the mid-point, then switches off and curves the other way as it reaches to the edge of the pattern.

Time to cut! Use two pieces of fleece about 6 inches wide by 25 to 27 inches long -- you want the length to be twice your Length measurement plus a little extra if you need to cut off selvedges. Be sure that your fleece will stretch in the Length direction!

Now, fold each fleece portion in half. Lay the two fleece pieces on top of each other -- match the folded side!

Try to make sure that the good side of the fleece is on the same side on both pieces of fleece. I'm using good side instead of right side because one side may be fluffier or fuzzier than the other. Let the most comfortable side the the good side!

Now, lay the pattern on top of the fleece. Match one end of the pattern with the folded side of the fleece. We're not going to cut along this line!

I've used this pattern a couple of times -- it's a little chewed up by now but is still usable.

Do not cut along the sides of the pattern the very first time you use it.  Instead, cut about 1/4 inch outside for a seam allowance.

After you've cut the pattern once, you'll already have the seam allowance in the pattern. In that case, it's okay to cut along the edges of the pattern.

I've already used this pattern once -- you can see my lines about 1/4 " inside the cut edges. In this case, I'm going to cut along the edges of the pattern since I've already got the seam allowance cut.

I used a rotary cutter.  Since I was pressing down through four soft layers of fleece, I tore the pattern a little. Using scissors probably would have made a difference.

Still, the rotary cutters still worked fine for cutting the fleece. I now have two pieces of different colored fleece that I'll use for the earwarmer.

Note that my curved lines don't look at all the same. That's not going to be a problem because we'll even them out when we sew.

Unfold the two pieces of fleece -- they're in the shape of a really stretched out bowtie.

Match the good sides of fleece together -- remember, the good side is the comfortable side -- and pin the pieces together.

We're now going to sew along three sides of this bowtie.

Begin at one end and sew along the curved sides of the bowtie. Try and use about a 1/4" seam allowance. Sew along both long sides and one short side -- we'll leave the other short side open.

At this point, we've sewed up three sides of the bowtie.
Remove the fleece and lay it flat on your cutting table.

Trim the seam allowances -- try to get about a 1/8" seam allowance. Cut it as if you were going to do a French Seam.

Getting close now. Let's turn the piece rightside out!

I found it easiest to get it started, then to pull the turned piece through rather than try and push it through.

When you finish turning, it'll look something like this!

A little too roly-poly, don't you think?

Let's finger press this flat. Work the seams and try to roll everything flat. You'll probably have to work some of the seams to the edge of the piece.

I didn't iron things flat -- I wasn't sure if my scraps were polyester fleece and I didn't want to risk melting the fabric.  Finger flattening actually worked pretty good.

Here's the roly sack after it's been flattened! Starting to look a little like an ear warmer!

Actually, we could just join the two ends together right now and be finished. I found that if you did, though, you ran the risk of the colored sides "rolling" a bit. Instead of seeing a blue or a red front, you might see a blue/red front.

This might not be a problem -- if you're using school colors, you might actually prefer this! I thought I'd try and stop it from happening, though.

I decided to topstitch some "anti roll bar" lines along the ear portions of the fleece.  Here's what they looked like after the headband was finished.

However, after sewing the anti-roll-bars, you still have one thing to do -- join the two ends! There's a bunch of ways you could do this -- slipstitch by hand, roll one end in - hem - join, etc, but I decided just to slip the closed edge inside the open end and sew it shut. Not real pretty, but very quick and easy. You might even cover the join with a piece of ribbon.

And here's the finished product!  I'm glad I made two of these -- because my model wouldn't return this set!

This project's actually not a one yard project -- because I think you could make six headbands out of one yard of fleece!  Hope you find it's a nice way to make use of those fleece scraps!

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