our sartorial-minded friend (you know, the one that commissioned us to knit somerset) has been hounding us for the past 2 years to make him a pair of splendid earmuffs. of course, he didn’t wear the over the head variety . . . the ear muffs had to be the sort that went behind one’s neck. when we actually set about the task, it took us about 6 months to track down a “behind the neck” ear muff frame supplier . . . but we did and the frames are in the shop! the frames are collapsible and fold up to a somewhat compact size.
our sartorial-minded friend is possibly a more ardent fan of liberty fabrics than ourselves. so naturally, we decided to fashion his splendid earmuffs out of liberty’s joy and sorrow fabric. we liked the results so much that we decided to make another set of muffs out of liberty’s truly scrumptious design . . .
. . . and then, we decided to whip up a whole bunch of DIY Liberty Ear Muff Kits, so that you can keep your ears warm a la Liberty!
read on to find out how to make your own liberty ear muffs!
- Wool Batting
- we used Quilters Dream Wool Batting. you will need (1) a single piece that is 21″ long x 12 ” high and (2) a bit more for stuffing (about two 4 x8″ pieces).
- liberty tana lawn: 1 piece that is 21″ long x 6″ high. we used joy and sorrow B and truly scrumptious A in the samples above.
- a coordinating solid coloured cotton sheeting weight fabric: 2 pieces that are 21″ long x 12″ high. we used michael miller’s cotton couture. we paired truly scrumptious with violet and joy & sorrow with black. the solid coloured fabric will not show on the finished piece but it’s always nice to look at complementary colours while you’re sewing it up!
- sherpa cuddle: 1 piece that is 21″ long x 6″ high. we used shannon fabric’s sherpa cuddle in charcoal (update: this has since sold out. we do have some set aside for the kits, however).
- A “behind the neck” ear muff frame
- Matching thread
- Needle and thread for a bit of hand sewing at the end
- Pins, a sewing machine, fabric scissors or rotary cutter, fabric pencil, and flat-nosed pliers (optional)
Some Prep Work
- Stack the fabric as shown in the two photos below. The wool batting is sandwich between two layers of solid coloured sheeting. The liberty tana lawn is placed on top of the coloured sheeting. The liberty piece should be aligned with one long edge of the stack.
- Pin through all layers of fabric to hold in place. There’s no need to pin excessively, as the pins will need to be moved once we begin to quilt the layers together on the diagonal.
- Then, lightly mark criss-crossing diagonal lines at 45 degrees and 1″ apart as a guide on the fabric. We just marked a few — enough so that we could get a feel for the spacing when we actually sewed, and then eyeballed the rest. (It’s actually not that easy to draw on the fabric with all the pins in the way. We got better results by marking a dashed line).
- Then, sew along the lines across the entire fabric. When you’re done the back and front will look something like the photos below: (you’ll notice, we went off-kilter a few times while sewing but you’ll do a much straighter job than us!)
- Next, fold the quilted piece in half, so that you have a piece that is roughly 10.5″ high x 12″ wide:
- Pin the ear muff pattern (included in the Kit) in place. And, here’s a very important bit . . . make sure that the narrow end of the pattern is aligned with the folded edge of the quilted piece. This way, when you’re done cutting through all the layers and unfold the cut piece, you’ll end up with a single piece that looks like a small barbell:
- Repeat with other half of the quilted piece as well as the sherpa:
- Stack so that the right sides are facing each other. The top layer should be the piece with the liberty fabric. The liberty side should be facing down. The next layer should be the sherpa piece with the fuzzy side touching the liberty side. Finally, the last piece is the quilted cotton sheeting piece (either side is fine since they are the same).
- Pin thru all layers (leaving a large gap along one side the of the ear muffs, which will be hand sewn at the end).
- Before you flip the sewn piece right side, zigzag stitch the sherpa to the quilted piece that is solid coloured on both sides (the opening is still not sew shut here). This will make things sturdier and easier to handle when handsewing at the end.
- Then sew all around the edges (except for the gap marked between the two yellow lines), leaving a 3/8″ seam allowance. Flip the piece inside out
- Take the two 4×8″ pieces of batting. Fold them in half so that they are squares, and tuck them behind the ear part of the earmuff frame:
- Tuck each ear piece into the ends of the quilted cover:
- The last step is to handsew the gap shut. We did so using the ladder stitch method. The gap should be handsewn together in 3 parts. The first step is to sew the middle section (the long skinny bit that covers the band portion of the frame) together, leaving two gaps where the ear pieces would stick out:
- Next, insert the band into the cover
- Snap the band together with the ear piece on one side only. If you have strong fingers, you may be able to snap the two pieces together by hand. We round it easier to use a flat-nosed jewelry plier. (Important Jan 2023 update: please make sure the ear pieces are facing in the correct direction before snapping the ear piece and band together. Once you snap the pieces in place, it is irreversible. You cannot take the pieces apart without damaging the frame).
- Sew the gap close.
- Repeat steps 16 & 17 above…and presto! you’re done!