Monday, 6 June 2016

Much much cheapness....

Yoda of cheapness I am.

This year I'm trying to live more simply and as such that requires a certain spend-thrift-ness on a few choice items, mostly the stuff that if - for cycling - I haven't needed it by now it's probably not worth spending money on.  Regardless of this attitude I do find my little handy going out when I'm in my local bike shop or perusing the internet and one thing I've always fancied (but have managed to do without) is arm warmers.  I previously had a cracking thick nylon cycling jacket (endura) which was brilliant.  I could wear nothing but a vest top underneath on a sunny day and not find myself too warm, but at the same time wear just the one long sleeve top on -1 deg and not get a chill.  This jacket was thermal enough and water resistant enough to go snowboarding, but breathable enough so as not to over cook myself in 30 degree sunshine.  I miss that jacket.  It is sadly a little too worn now, it's gone a bit crusty and the back pockets being made of the same water resistant fabric as the rest of the jacket collect water in the rain so it's no longer practical to wear.

As a result I'm making do with a couple of jackets I got a couple of years ago that I got in a sale.  MD made them and they're fine.  They soft nylon, and at about £15 each they're neither water resistant nor wind resistant, but they do alright with a waterproof over them, and layering under them.  The difficulty I have with them is that they're too warm to wear a full thermal top underneath, and with them not being wind resistant coming down in long descents gets very chilly, at the same time if I wear a waterproof specifically for wind resistance I get a bit sweaty.  So what's a girl to do....?

Well the answer here is to get me some arm warmers.  But without spending any money.  How does one do that? One gets CREATIVE!!!!!!

How to make your own arm warmers - It's dead easy:

1.  Get your running tights, old padded lycra long johns, very cheap leggings from Primark, turn them inside out and lay them flat and look at the seams that run down the legs.  On one side it will look like the fabric weave runs along with the seam, and on the other side of the seam the fabric weave is going into the seam in a 'v' shape.  Since no cyclist has arms thicker than their legs you want to keep the side where the weave runs along the seam intact.
Weave runs horizontal to seam

Weave going into the seam in a 'v'.

2.  Cut to your desired length straight across the leg.  Cut from the top (thigh end) not the bottom because the bottom will be a rather comfortable cuff edge on your wrist and will save any more faffing about.  You can use scissors but because I'm a swanky pants I'm using a rotary cutter.

Leg cut at thigh end.

3. Cut to your desired thickness by folding your cuff edge as far up on the piece itself to as how thick it is on the thigh and cutting to the fold.
Where I have the ruler at the top edge is where I want to cut this across.
If you have chunkier arms than mine you may want to go further up the leg. 

I have to admit here that I never actually measured the top of my bicep and just cut straight across.  For your reference I'm a thick limbed 5ft woman the same weight as Chris Froome (possibly a wee bit heavier since he's away doing the Daphine at the mo'.)  It's tight on me but doesn't cut off the circulation.

You can see where the seam starts for what is now the unfinished arm warmer.
4.  Double thread a needle - the doubled over thread length on the needle should not be longer than your fore arm, any longer and it will tangle* -  and tie a knot in the end.

Thread threaded on needle and doubled over with knot at the end
(you can just see it.)
Cut off the excess from the non needle side of the knot**.
Knot with excess cut close.
Start to sew by pushing the needle through both layers of fabric to make roughly 3mm size stitch, but do not pull thread all the way through.   Push needle through the thread on the side of the stitch with the knot on it.  Pull taught enough so that the thread lies flat but does not pucker the fabric.

Needle through loop at beginning of stitch.

6. Sew stitches in to a slight angle in the 'front' of your fabric, and then straight at the back about 3mm in size.  This will give you a hand sewn zig zag stitch which will allow your stitches to stretch with your fabric.  Don't worry if some of your stitches are bigger and others smaller - it'll even itself out when you put them on, but do try to keep them evenly spaced.

Top stitches should look something like this. 
The underside will look something like this.
7.  Continue doing this until you have about 4 inches of thread left on the needle. We are now going to finish of this particular section of stitches.  Push the needle through the fabric for the last stitch but do not pull the thread all the way through and leave an unfinished stitch (basically it looks like a loop).  Cut your thread from your needle end and separate those strands.

Thread cut and separated ready for one strand to go through the unfinished stitch.
One strand pulled through unfinished stitch.
 Pull one strand through the unfinished stitch and carefully finish the stitch by pulling on the cut strands (still having the one strand through that stitch that you are finishing). 

Stitch finished and strands ready to be tied off.
This should look very much like your first stitch.
  Tie both strands together to make a knot tight to the fabric.  Cut excess thread and repeat until you've finished the whole side.

8. Instructions for a sewing machine - use a stretch needle and zigzag stitch your raw edge.  If you know someone with a sewing machine, ask them to show you how.  If they own a sewing machine but don't know how to use it, tell them they should be ashamed their zombie apocalypse skills are so shockingly bad. 

9.  Turn them right side out.  Wear them, admire them,

stick them on a hedge...

Ball them up ready to wear under your soft shell!

What's your worst or best do it yourself? Doesn't have to be cycling made but did you bodge it or brag about it?


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*Seamstress wisdom right there.
** Sorry if this is a bit paint by numbers, it's just I HATE craft stuff that's all 'it's really cheap... just get your £300 sewing machine out and overlock the fucker.'

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