Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I wanted leather bracers, but I didn't want to pay leather bracer prices. Not to mention, I've never worked with leather.

The finished product.

There is a low cost alternative- craft foam.  You need a 1/16" thick 12"x18" pack. It can be found for five dollars at various retail locations.

This is craft foam.
Using copy paper, determine the size and shape. It will taper since your arm tapers. Consider whether it will be worn on your bare arm or if a shirt will be underneath. This will change the circumference.
Once that's final, trace it onto your craft foam. Scissors will cut through the foam easily.  Use an iron or a heat gun to  seal the foam. Go slow and be careful. The foam will darken when sealed. As soon as it darkens, it's sealed. Seal both sides.
I used red foam and utilized wood stain for coloring. Shoe polish would also work for coloring.  It took three coats of stain to get the right color. Try the stain on a scrap piece first to make sure it will look acceptable. Initial coats will be light, but additional coats will darken your color.

Always test finishes on a scrap piece of material.
It took three coats before the color looked right.
This is a single test coat.
I outlined the bracer with stitching, with a double stitch at the eyelet location. You can get 1/4" eyelets at numerous retail locations. The eyelet pack I purchased contained a setter. I used 12 eyelets per bracer. You could use more or fewer.

Before you install the eyelets, use varnish to seal the foam and your coloring.

Sealed with varnish and ready for eyelets.
The back side before interfacing.
I ironed interfacing onto the inside face of the bracer to provide support- the foam is flimsy. I ironed a second strip of interfacing at the eyelet location. I did not want the eyelets to tear the foam.

I added 1" loops of interfacing at the elbow end of the bracer. The sleeve of another part of my costume will tie to the bracer. Depending on your application, you won't need this. 

I cut the interfacing just a bit smaller than the bracer.
I installed the eyelets through the foam and interfacing. I used a hole punch. You could use a hobby knife too, but take care to make your hole size accurate- too large and the eyelets won't work.

One note, make sure to align the eyelets on each side at your elbow. I aligned mine with the end of the bracer, and when laced up, the ends are slightly off because the eyelets are slightly off. It's a small detail and one I only notice, but you can prevent it now that I've told you.

With leather lacing to run through the eyelets, tie your bracers together.  You're all set. It's a cheap substitute for leather and looks great considering the cost. I've had numerous people ask me where did I get the leather.

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