Saturday, August 24, 2013

Skate Toe Covers/Caps - Pattern & Tutorial

I already posted about how to make the simple, strap-style toe guards. Those are great, and easy to make even if you're not super crafty. However, once you use them for a while you notice that they tend to slip to the side, and/or protect only the front of your skate boot. When I upgraded my boots from Riedell Darts to 495s (and got the right size- which matters a lot), I realized I wanted full toe cap coverage to protect my investment.

Other people have posted about making toe guards, but I didn't find any really good patterns. I started looking at my teammates' toe covers, and ended up just wrapping paper around my skate and adjusting it until it seemed right. And now I've turned it into a pattern to share.

I'm not sure this pattern will fit universally, so I would recommend sewing up a sample in scrap material and trying it on for size, then adjusting as necessary, before cutting into your good material. The first pair I made I just used some scraps of sparkle vinyl. I used those for a few months and they held up remarkably well, skating on a very smooth inside surface. I ended up tearing a small hole in one when I fell skating on pavement, so I decided to make some out of leather.

I looked at my local thrift store for a coat or a purse to repurpose, but I didn't have much luck, so then I looked online to buy a piece of leather (I live on an island in Alaska, remember?). Most leather supply companies seemed to sell whole or half hides (which are huge) or small scraps. But then I found, where I was able to get a remnant! It cost $30, they shipped it USPS flat rate for free, and although I don't remember exactly how big it is (12 sq feet?) I think I could make 15 pairs of toe guards out of it or more. Not bad for the cost of just one pair, huh? Figuring out what thickness to buy was tricky, and I also don't remember what I got, although I think it was around 3 oz and I know it was "regular" temper. It's pretty perfect, possibly slightly too thick. So here we go!

Toe Cover Pattern & Photo Tutorial

Skills Needed: Basic sewing

Time Required: About half an hour

Tools: Sturdy sewing machine (mine is vintage- you might be able to do it by hand, but I'm not sure I'd bother), office scissors (optional), sharp scissors, marking tool such as chalk/pencil/white crayon/white colored pencil/white soap sliver, leather sewing machine needles, X-Acto knife, leather punch (optional), printer, ruler, crescent wrench to install

Materials: About 1 sq ft leather, thread, contact cement (optional)

Note: It helps to read the instructions through before beginning.

1. Print the pattern below, being sure to scale it at 100%. Check to make sure the square is exactly one inch.

2. Cut out the pattern on the lines using your office scissors. Never cut paper with your sharp/fabric scissors!
3. Place your pattern on your leather as close to an edge as possible, leaving room for another piece, and trace it using the marking tool of your choice. Poke through the lace holes and mark those, and also mark the large circle or + (more on this later). Repeat for the second cover.

4. Cut out the pieces on the tracing line. You could do this with your sharp scissors or your knife.

5. Punch the lace holes with your leather punch, or poke through them with your knife tip and twist the knife to make the hole large enough for your lace. 

6. For the toe stop hole, you can either use your knife to cut the + sign (this is what I do) or you can cut the circle. If you like your stops really close to your boot, I recommend cutting out the circle, because sometimes the extra material makes it hard to screw them down all the way. Err on the side of small here. You can always make it bigger, but if you make it too big, it will wiggle.

7. Brush a 1/8"-ish wide swath of contact cement on the right side side of one edge of one of the pieces. Allow to dry, then carefully match up the top & bottom sections of the edge, sticking them together. Alternately, follow the instructions on your contact cement, or skip this entirely (sometimes it can gum up your sewing machine, so if this happens, just skip it).

8. Using a long straight stitch and a leather needle, sew 1/8" from the edge, being sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam. Note: In the photos I'm sewing 1/4" from the edge. You really want 1/8".

9. Repeat with the other side and the other piece. 

10. Turn inside out and pull on the seams to make sure they are strong. Ta-da! 

Seriously, it just took me less than half an hour to put these together, and that was while taking pictures, too!

To install, unlace your skates and remove the toe stops. Take the washer and nut off the toe stop, put the screw through the big hole or + in your cover, and replace the nut and washer. Reinstall your toe stop, being sure to use a real wrench to tighten the nut down really well, because it's a total pain to tighten the nuts after the cover is fully installed. Remember the order is always boot, washer, nut, cover, stop. Lace through the holes however it makes the most sense for your lacing style- I went across from underneath in the first boot holes, out through the cover's first holes, crossed and back down through the cover's top holes, down into the boot's second set of holes, and then laced as usual. I also skip a hole in a spot that rubs, if you're wondering why it looks weird.

If you want to get really fancy, you could paint or applique designs on the top before sewing them together, or you could add grommets or eyelets to the lace holes, although I don't think that's really necessary.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this DYI guide and pattern. I just made a pair for my RIEDELL 125 RS-1000 SPEED SKATES. This was easy to do and they look COOL.
    The only thing I would add is to wait on punching the holes for the laces. There are different hole patterns for different skates and skate sizes. ✌🏾😎


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