Riennynn the Renaissance & Regency Tailor

Adventures of a part-time seamstress

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Bracer Design Part 3: All Laced Up
Tapestry Bracers: Cutting, Stitching, & Lacing

Yesterday I posted two entries about my bracer adventure, and amazingly, roughly two and a half total hours of work later, I have a pair of them sitting laced up on my desk.  Ok, to be fair they're on my printer because there's never *quite* enough room on my desk for the computer, sewing stuff, and inevitable piles of papers, magazines, and other miscellany that accumulate.  And for the record, I have one of those huge 3 foot by 6 foot IKEA work tables as a desk...

Back to the bracer adventure.  Here we go.

Step 1: Take measurements and draft pattern

Did this last night.  After my cute concept (I love Paint by the way, PhotoShop is great, but sometimes all you need is a basic bitmap editor), I transferred it to an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of printer paper.  Some of the dimensions got changed to fit the paper, but I was pleased with the turnout.  

I marked out a series of horizontal and vertical lines first to represent  the base points.  Since there was a 2 inch difference between the distance from the widest part of my forearm to wrist on the inside and the distance from forearm to back of hand stopping point, I decided to give the lower part a 0.5 inch deep curve and a 1.5 inch deep curve on the wrist end.  That's a horizontal line at 0.5, 7.5, and 9 inches.  My wrist measurement was 6 inches, but I was worried about the edges of the bracer touching at the inside wrist (more on how that didn't turn out below).  To prevent this, I dropped the wrist down to 5 inches and split the paper in half before marking out 2.25 inches to the right and left on center on the 7.5 inch horizontal line.  I connected the "corners" this formed by drawing a straight line from the 2.25 inch point down to the edges of the 0,5 inch horizontal line.  All that was left was to draw a gentle curve on the bottom and a more steeply arched curve on the top.
I photocopied a much darker version to cut out, as the original was in pencil.  Then I cut the pattern in half down the middle and went on to find some fabric.

Step 2: Cut fabric and lining
There's a dangerously oversized pile of fabric remnants and odd bits left over from cutting corsets teetering on the dresser, so it was simple to grab the top piece.  After a quick inspection, I got the leaves on the tapestry fabric pointed the right direction, folded it in half down the middle of a set, and cut two bracer shapes out.  A second foray into the scrap pile turned out the unbleached cotton I prefer for linings and produced a matching - albeit very wrinkled - set of lining shapes.

Step 3: Cut buckram stiffener


My roll of buckram doubles as curtain tape (the stiffener they use to make pretty drapery pleats, as as such is only 3.5 inches wide.  As you can see, and from the pattern dimensions above, there was about a 0.75 inch overhang no matter which way I oriented the pattern.  To overcome this, I decided to use three pieces of buckram per bracer, overlapping the edges to get the same effect as a full sized section.

A couple minutes' worth of tracing and cutting, and I had the pieces lined up on my desk.

Step 4: Create fabric and buckram "sandwich" a.k.a apply pins and patience

I laid the pieces of tapestry and lining out on my desk.  The first piece of tapestry went right side down, followed by the three buckram shapes.  Of course, the natural curl they get from being wound onto the roll is just enough to be annoying when playing out something on a flat surface.  I spent a few minutes fiddling with the overlapping edges, then laid the lining piece on top of everything.  It took a few tries to get everything together without the buckram sliding around or curling the fabric out of whack while pinning, but everything finally laid flat.   

Step 5a: Make seam binding


My goal was to start using up the cafe au lait colored cotton bias tape that is thus far been only good as a paperweight.  That's a whole separate adventure in itself.  Suffice to say, attempting to dye 40 yards of white cotton bias tape ecru in a stainless steel pot on the stove sounds a lot easier than it actually turned out to be.  One leaky pot (brand new, truth be told), several large pieces of duct tape, and a frantic dousing with cold water in the tub followed by bleach and a spin through the dryer left me with a shade more related to coffee than the delicate cream color shown on the package.  Lessons learned: check dyeing vessels for leaks (which I wouldn't have had to do if the washing machine wasn't acting up), use less dye for a smaller amount of water, and run a test dye on a small piece of fabric first.

Anywho, I still had to split the 3 inch wide bias tape in half and run it through my favorite Clover seam binding tool with a hot iron.  I used the #25 (which I believe makes binding 25 mm wide) to make this set.  Interestingly, the dyed bias tape behaved a bit differently under the iron than in its undyed state.  Possibly all of the exposure to hot water and the dryer fluffed the fibers up, but it didn't come out as crisp as I'd anticipated.  Nothing a little extra ironing couldn't fix though.

Step 5b: Bind edges with bias binding

This was the easiest part of making the bracers.  I tucked the layers of buckram and fabric inside the seam binding, made sure the edges lined up with the center fold, and started stitching.  Since I couldn't find a matching thread, I used my stock off-white thread and a (mostly) invisible stitch to apply the binding.  The worst part was folding all the layers of tape together to create a smooth mitered corner at the end, but even that wasn't too bad since I've had a lot of practice doing this with corsets.

Step 6: Pound grommets

Normally I avoid metal grommets like the plague because of bad experiences with them tearing out, creating bigger holes, etc.  My stock way of creating eyelets is hand binding; more time consuming, but I've gotten it down to 5 minutes or less per hole and the effect is always aesthetically pleasing.  On the other hand, these are meant to be a quick-to-assemble project, and I'm trying to save my hands for corset orders.

I marked out 4 holes on each side starting at 0.5 inch from the bottom, 0.75 inches from the sides, and 2 inches apart.  I started the holed by pushing threads out of the way with a scribing tool, but had to enlarge the holes with a Phillips head screwdriver in order to accommodate the grommets.  It would have been easier to just cut the holes, but this ought to make the grommets more stable.  I also discovered that going from the lining outwards through the tapestry fabric created less of a thready mess once the grommets were in.  One copy of Self magazine sacrificed its cover as a pounding surface (hence the CoverGirl ad to the left of the photos), and voila.    

Step 7: Lace 'em and load!


The only cord I have on hand is a 2 mm black satin, which is more slippery than I would have liked.  I need to order some gold or cream colored cord at some point, if I can remember to do it.  I threaded it through the eyelets, tied off the ends, and wriggled my arm into it to try it on.

The first thing I noticed was that my conservative measurements to prevent complete closure were more than effective.  There was a bit more skin showing that I'd anticipated, but not too bad at all for a first attempt.  I couldn't figure out a good way to fasten the ends with just one hand, and settled for an awkward one-handed bow.  I see now why movies tend to show straps and buckles, since they're a heck of a lot easier to tighten without both hands.

In hindsight, I should have extended them further around my inner arm and offset the wrist curve to one side to accommodate the way the arm rotates since the curve tends to migrate to one side after a bit of wear.  The buckram stiffening produced a sturdier effect than just the tapestry and lining alone, although I may add more next time to help preserve the bracer's shape.  On the whole though, I'm quite pleased with the amount of time put in and the finished product.  

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User corielena referenced to your post from Accessorize! saying: [...] to make, at least for my non-leatherworking self. *L* http://riennynn.livejournal.com/7368.html [...]

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