If you ride a bicycle in cooler weather, it is likely that you’ve had cold, numb hands by the end of a ride. Commercial mitts are available starting around $75 USD, but if you are handy with a sewing machine, you can create your own mitts for significantly less money.
Obtain the “Things You Will Need” from the list at the end of the article.
Lay your bicycle down so that the side of one handlebar rests over the sheet of paper on the floor. Trace the handlebar shape onto the sheet of paper. Add approximately 1/2 an inch all around to allow for seam widths. Add another 5 inch “wedge from the top point of the handlebar brake “hoods” back toward the wrist.
Remove your bike and refine the tracing, smoothing out edges and addingmore seam allowance. (You can always sew it smaller later on… but if you cut the pieces too small, you cannot enlarge them at a later point.) Take care to add around an inch extra to the seam allowance by the narrow, bar ends. This opening must be able to slide over the ends of your handlebars later on.
Place your pattern piece over the fabric and pin it in place. You will need to cut four of this shape from your quilted material.
If you have side mounted brake lines such as Shimano Ultegra or 105’s, you will need to draw a line from your brake hoods back to your handle bar. This will be where you will cut a slit to accommodate your brake lines. If you cut a slit for your brake lines, you will need to finish the edges of that slit before you continue with the mitts. Sew your bias tape over the edges of the slit or roll the edges under and away from the open edge to prevent fraying.
Note the cut line in the “template” or “trial version” on the left. This was placed on the handlebars and cut “in situ” to find the correct placement of the brakeline slit.
Pin the two sides of each mitt together. You should have two, opposite, mitts. Double check this while pinning so that you don’t inadvertently end up with two right handle mitts and no left mitt or vice versa.
Sew the two sides together along the top and bottom edges. (marked with red lines in the picture) You will need to leave two openings. One for the hands and one for the handle bar end. (small, pointed end.) Note in this picture, the slit for the brake lines has already been finished.
Finish the seams you just sewed by either zigzagging over the raw edges or by sewing bias tape to cover the raw edges to prevent fraying.
Finish the pointed, narrow end in the same manner as above, taking care to leave enough room for that end to slide up and over the ends of your handlebars. (These should fit loosely. If they are tight? You will need to unpick some of the seams to enlarge the opening to allow them to slide over smoothly.)
Turn the mitts “right side out” so that the seam allowances are to the inside. Finish the edges of the hand openings by sewing a strip of double fold bias tape over the edges.
Pin the hook and loop (aka “Velcro”)strips to the edges of your brake line slit and bottom handle bar opening to form closures. Stitch them in place.
Place the mitts on your drop bars and enjoy warmer hands on your next cold ride!
A little extra space all around is better than too tight. The mitts keep you warmer by deflecting the wind around your fingers and not by “insulating” them per se, so a little extra wiggle room is a good thing. Too tight, and you will have problems manipulating your brakes and/or shifter levers.
A stiffener around the outer edges to hold them open is a good idea. This can be accomplished several ways… threading a stiff wire through the bias tape edging… sewing a strip of flexible, yet stiff plastic along that edge, (think strip cut from a 2 liter bottle, or from a flexible kitchen cutting mat) and etc.
Things You’ll Need
Approximately 24″ X 40″ of quilted, windproof material. This can be purchased new at a fabric store or repurposed from an old jacket. The mitts in the pictures were created by layering a thick fleece fabric between two layers of rip-stop nylon and then quilting it in lines before cutting.
Around of Double Fold Bias Tape to cover raw edges. You can either purchase this or create your own Bias Tape if you wish.
Color coordinated thread to sew with. (if your thread matches your material, your seams will be less noticeable.)
Approximately 15 inches of hook and loop tape (aka “Velcro”) Use the Sew on type The peel-and-stick variety will not work as well in this project.
A large sheet of paper and a marker.
Your bicycle handlebars to use as a template.
A Sewing machine, scissors, pins etc.
How to Make Your Own Bias Tape
How to Trace a Template Onto Fabric for Quilting
How to Adjust Bike Gears