With the popularity of high fantasy, few medieval costume pieces are as popular and sought-after, or as easy to make at home, as a pair of simple leather bracers. While bracers can be extremely finely crafted and decorated with intricate tooling, layering, and additions like metal studs, at the most basic leather bracers are simply bands of leather cut and formed to wrap around a person's forearms, and can be made at home with very little time, investment, or experience in leatherworking.
Take the measurements of your arms. You will need to know the distance from the inside "pit" of your elbow to your wrist, the circumference of your wrist, and the circumference of the widest part of your forearm (this should be close to, though not at, your elbow). If you are planning on making a pair of bracers, take the measurements of both of your arms to discern if any portion of them is different.
Draw a trapezoid on a piece of thick paper or card stock, using the measurements you obtained from your arm. To do this, draw a line the length of the circumference of the widest part of your forearm. Then draw a line perpendicular to and coming from the centre of the first line, the same length as the distance between your elbow and wrist. Then draw a third line, parallel to the first and with its centre at the end of the second, the length of the circumference of your wrist. Then connect the end points of the first and third lines, and cut this shape out. Wrap it around your arm to test the fit of the bracer.
Trace the outline of this shape onto the rough side of the leather. Then add a slight inward curve to the smaller parallel side and a slight outward curve to the larger parallel side, so that the shape looks like part of a very large ring, and cut it out.
Soak the leather in warm water for a few minutes, then let it dry to damp. Wrap it around your arm to test the fit, and make any adjustments needed.
Punch four or five holes in the leather on each side of the gap. Make sure to punch holes larger than the lacing you are planning on using, and punch them at least half an inch away from the edges of the leather. Lace the bracer up comfortably, and wear it as it dries. As the leather dries, it will stiffen somewhat and conform to the shape of your arm. If the bracer becomes uncomfortable when it dries, re-soak it and try again.
These bracers are patterned off of historical and fantasy armour, but standard leather bracers are not armour and will not protect you from any significant harm.
Tips and warnings
- These bracers are patterned off of historical and fantasy armour, but standard leather bracers are not armour and will not protect you from any significant harm.