{DIY} Make Your Own Braces

5 March 2012

Whether you’re moving from non-pat to expat, or from expat to ex expat, one thing all moves have in common is settling into your new abode. It’s been exactly 6 months last week that we’ve been living in our new flat (not counting our first two weeks in Berlin where we were in temporary accommodation), and although all our boxes have long been unpacked, it still doesn’t feel quite like home yet. That’s because making a house a home doesn’t just involve unpacking everything and finding a new place for it to live, but also stamping your own personality onto the empty shell you’ve just moved in to, and that takes time. So, now that everything’s been assigned it’s little space or corner, we’re ready for Phase 2 of moving house: some good old ‘make your house a home’ DIY.

But before that though, I had another problem to solve, which also involved some DIY. The boy is quite a skinny wee thing, but he has really long legs, which means that most trousers that are long enough for him are far too wide and keep falling down. We have a pair of braces for him (or suspenders, for my American friends and followers, though in British English suspenders means something else and would quite frankly be wrong on a baby), but they are of the button on type and I couldn’t find any others in town. So, my options were to sew buttons on to all his trousers, or to make my own pair of clip on braces for the boy.

Thanks to my new favourite blog, A Beautiful Mess (brought to you by the lovely Elsie and her team), a set of instructions fell right in to my lap. All you need is 4 clips, some elastic band, and a needle and thread. A Beautiful Mess used 25mm wide elastic, but since I was making braces for a toddler rather than a grown man, I went for some slightly thinner elastic at 15 mm wide. For a rather tall 16 month old I used 90cm of elastic (i.e. two strips at 45cm each). I didn’t use a sewing machine as the original instructions suggest, as I found it just too fiddly with the thinner elastic, but if you’re a more confident sewing machine user than I am it might just work for you.

So, to make the braces, I first of all looped each strip of elastic through a clip and sewed the ends in place, making sure that the sewed up ends were on the backside of the clip. 

To measure the final length, I first clipped the two spare clips on to the back of the boy’s trousers. I then clipped the two already sewn strips on to the front, criss-crossed them over his shoulders, looped the ends through the clips at the back and pinned them in place. I then carefully removed the clips and elastic, managing not to stab the boy with the pins, and sewed the final two ends in place. A Beautiful Mess suggests having your guy hold the elastic strips in place while you measure them out, but if you’ve ever tried getting a toddler to hold anything in place, never mind hold still, then you’ll see why this is a more sure safe method^^

The last step was to sew the two elastic strips together to make the final braces. This involved another fitting session, where I clipped the two strips into place and then pinned them together where they crossed over on his back (I found that the best fit was to have the clips slightly closer together on the back than on the front). Then I just needed to sew them together in a diamond shape through both layers where they overlapped.

I have to say, the boy was a really good sport with all the fitting sessions. In fact, he seemed to be quite excited that I was making something for him. Here he is modelling his fab new braces. Many thanks to Elsie and her blog for the inspiration.

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