Friday, January 8, 2016

Waterproof Cargo Bike Blankets

Here's a post for my fellow crafty cargo bikers out there in Internet-land! The usual disclaimer applies: I'm not a sewing expert, so this is just what worked for me. You may know an even better way to do this!

Since we're now car-free, I'm committed to doing school pickups by bike, even on cold, rainy days. The Mini Magic Carpet pads on our Xtracycle Edgerunner are kind of waterproof, but they soak up water in a downpour and then stay soggy for a long time, so I decided to sew some blankets for the cargo bike--waterproof on one side, cozy fleece on the other. I was hoping this would help me avoid the soggy seating issues and would maybe even let me skip putting rain pants on Felix (so many layers to put on every time we leave the house in the winter!).

I sewed two of these--one for each child. They attach with velcro to the end tubes of the Hooptie, but they can also attach around the child's waist (as I note at the end of this post, I'd recommend lengthening the ribbon strips by a bit if you want to use this approach). I added reflective ribbon accents for safety. When not in use, they can be folded in thirds, rolled up, and stored on the bike.

Cargo Bike Blankets in Use
Cargo Bike Blankets in Use

Here's what I did:

Materials (for one blanket):

  • One 31" by 20" rectangle of blanket fleece
  • One 31" by 20" rectangle of polyurethane laminate (PUL)
  • One 60" length of 5/8"-wide reflective ribbon, cut into two 20" pieces (for the sides of the blanket) and two 10" pieces (for attaching to the bike)
  • One 5" length of 5/8"-wide sew-on velcro
  • Two 9.5" lengths of 5/8"-wide fold-over elastic, to make the loops that secure the blanket when it's rolled up

Step 1: Using a universal needle, sew a 20" length of reflective ribbon onto the shiny side of the PUL, approx. three inches from each short edge.

Waterproof Cargo Bike Blanket

Step 2: Sew the soft side of the velcro to the end of one of the 10-inch reflective ribbons (reflective side up), and sew the rough side of the velcro to the end of the other 10-inch ribbon (reflective side down).

Waterproof Cargo Bike Blanket

Step 3: Align velcro ribbons and loops of fold-over elastic along long edge of the fleece, right side up (if you can tell the difference), spaced as shown. Place PUL on top, shiny side down. Sew around (with ball point needle) with 1/2-inch seam allowance, leaving an opening a few inches wide on one edge.

Waterproof Cargo Bike Blanket
Waterproof Cargo Bike Blanket
Waterproof Cargo Bike Blanket

Step 4: Turn blanket right side out, and top stitch around (with ball point needle, PUL side down), stitching opening closed in the process.

Waterproof Cargo Bike Blanket

Here are pictures of the blanket deployed on the bike and rolled up for storage. The velcro straps ended up being a little long, so I normally wrap them around the Hooptie tubes a few times to make them hold more snugly. They're also just barely long enough to velcro around a kid's waist instead of the Hooptie. If I were going to do that regularly, I'd make them longer, as it's a tight fit, especially over the kids' cold weather gear.

Waterproof Cargo Bike Blanket
Waterproof Cargo Bike Blanket
Waterproof Cargo Bike Blanket

I've used the blankets a handful of times so far, and they get the job done, though they do tend to get wet at the bottom in a downpour, probably because stitching the ribbon to the PUL made holes in it. The blankets have kept everything sufficiently dry though; no complaints from the boys. And I can toss them in the dryer when we get home, so that they'll be dry and ready to use the next time we go out!

Cargo Bike Blankets in Use