Intro: Craft Foam for Leather Bracers
I wanted leather bracers, but I didn't want to pay leather bracer prices. Craft foam is an affordable solution.
• Eyelets, 1/4" antique brass (many packs come with an eyelet setter)
• Scissors to cut paper, foam, and interfacing
• Iron to seal the foam
• Hammer to set eyelets
• Sewing machine (optional)
• Exercise proper scissor safety. No running, juggling, or the popular children's game Edward Scissorhands.
• Irons get extremely hot, make sure you're using an ironing board and don't burn yourself
Step 1: Craft Foam Bracers
Using copy paper, determine the size and shape. It will taper since your arm tapers. I taped a couple sheets of paper together, wrapped it around my arm, and cut it until the shape was right.
Consider whether it will be worn on your bare arm or if a shirt will be underneath. This will change the circumference. Once the pattern is 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. Use varnish to seal the foam and your coloring.
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 outlined the bracer with stitching around the perimeter, with a double stitch at the eyelet location. The eyelet pack I purchased contained a setter. With a hammer I installed the eyelets. I used 12 eyelets per bracer. You could use more or fewer.
Eyelets are installed through the foam and interfacing. I used a leather hole punch, but you could use a hobby knife too, but take care to make your hole size accurate- too large and the eyelets won't work. Just cut a small 'X' at the eyelet location.
One note, make sure to align the eyelets on each side with each other. Mine 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 I got leather bracers. I've worn them a few times, and even with varnish the color has worn off slightly. Another coating of wood stain would renew the finish.