DIY Neoprene Thumb Splint


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Sewing Bee Fabrics Tutorial

Make Your Own Custom Fitted DIY Neoprene Thumb Splint

Neoprene DIY thumb splint free sewing tutorial by Linda at sewing bee fabrics

Outside of sewing, I have had a lot of training in hand problems and injuries, and so I'm often asked about which splints are best for sewing. Thumbs and are especially common to struggle with when it comes to sewing, so I thought I would show you today how to make your own neoprene thumb support. This splint is great for adding stability for the base of the thumb (carpometacarpal joint and metacarpal phalangeal joint) which helps to ease the symptoms often associated with arthritis and hypermobility.

Please note, this splint is brilliant for adding support when doing activities which are normally problematic, so it's great to put on at those times - such as sewing, gardening etc. But no splint should be worn all the time. Doing that means that joints are more prone to stiffening up, and muscles start to weaken which can make symptoms worse in the long run.

If you have made the splint right, and you are like the majority of people, then this splint will feel supportive and make it easier to do activities. However, if you notice any skin discolouration or discomfort, then either you have made the splint too tight, directed the straps too far over so it is pulling at your thumb, or the straps are too tight. If adjusting these still does not make the splint feel supportive and helpful, then this is not the right splint for you, or you need something different to a splint. In that case, you would be better suited to ask for a second opinion, which most doctors can refer to a hand therapist or consultant for.

What You Will Need:

Approximately a fat quarter of neoprene

Thread

Velcro

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How To Make The Neoprene Thumb Splint:

First off, you need to make your pattern. You will want to have 2 pieces of paper - one for the main hand fabric and another for your thumb. Draw around your hand in the centre of 1 piece and off to 1 side for the other.

Draw a little outside the line of your hand, ignoring your thumb. Start from just passed your wrist and end around your knuckles. Note that your knuckle is lower on your little finger than it is for your index finger so make sure your line is diagonal or you'll have extra fabric which will annoy you or not enough which might make it rub around the web space between your index finger and thumb. You can see that the other side I've drawn is simply a reflection of the pattern piece around your hand with no thumb hole. You don't have to draw that side out. Just cut one with a thumb hole and one without.

Thumb splint paper pattern making
Draw your own hand out on paper to draft the perfect thumb splint pattern around it

For the thumb pattern, you want a straight part around the section of thumb that stands alone, and a wider part where the thumb joins the palm. It needs to be wide enough for the fabric to join right around - mine was a little too big, and I trimmed it down a bit in fabric... but that's easier to do than to add more. You want it to be snug but not to cut off the circulation.

Drafting the thumb piece of the splint
Draw around your hand to help you draft the thumb piece for this hand splint

Cut out 2 hand pieces and 1 thumb piece.

hand splint from neoprene free tutorial DIY sew your own pattern pieces

When I made my thumb splint I put the hand pieces together first then added the thumb section. In retrospect, this turned out to be a bit of a pain to sew with the other hand piece in the way. So I'll show you the way I did it, but I would highly recommend sewing the thumb piece first then sewing the hand sections together.

Neoprene doesn't fray and holds some structure so you really don't want to sew traditional seams here or you will have fabric digging in on every join. So, to make a much more comfy fit, simply use a zigzag stitch with the 2 edges butted together to join them. Like I said, I joined the 2 hand sections first. The first piece is straightforward enough.

Joining the hand splint pieces
Push the edges of the neoprene together and sew a zigzag stitch over the centre to join them

For the second side, you have to move the other side out of the way as you sew. I sewed half way then stopped and did the same from the other side. Trying to sew it all in 1 go will just end up in too much fabric bunched around your presser foot.

Sewing the second side of the hand splint
Move the first join out of the way to sew the other side of the hand splint
sewing the hand splint
Move the fabric out of the way as you sew then switch to the other end when you get half way

For the thumb section, first sew the long straight edges together. You could hand sew this if you prefer a completely flush finish, but for speed, this on is the only seam I didn't use a zigzag stitch with because it was too small to do it. Instead, I used an over edge / overcast foot to zigzag up the side and seal the edges together. A narrow zigzag near the edge then trimmed after would also work ok if you don't have one.

sew the side of the thumb neoprene
zigzag stitch the side of the thumb piece for the splint

Next I hand basted the thumb piece into the hole - this is large stitches to hold it in place. Now is a good time to check if you need to trim the neoprene down at all if it is overlapping. I would also recommend trying it on. If it feel loose it wont feel very supportive so simply trim it down a little then re-sew the neoprene together again.

attaching the thumb
Hand baste the thumb piece in to the hole

Making sure the other side was out of my way, I joined this the same way as the hand pattern pieces with a zigzag stich going across the 2 edges pushed together - now you can see why if I did it again I would sew the thumb on first!

sewing on the thumb for the splint
zigzag stitch over your basting stitches to join the thumb section to your splint

So that's your DIY thumb splint base made and ready for adding straps to.

Hand splint completed - awaiting straps
Hand splint completed - awaiting straps
Hand splint base - back of the hand
Hand splint base - back of the hand
DIY thumb splint base from the side
DIY thumb splint base from the side

Depending on how much support you want for your thumb will determine whether you want one strap or 2. You can always make both straps then see what you think.

The first strap - if you are only doing 1 strap, this is the one you will probably want. You need a piece of neoprene that is approximately an inch wide. The length is from the outside of the back of your wrist, in front of your thumb on your palm, between the index finger and thumb, then back down to wrist level under the thumb. If you want to add more support to the wrist too, then add another couple of inches so that it goes all the way around your wrist.

You need to sew the wrist end down, stopping about level with the index finger. If you are going right around the wrist, keep in mind that you need enough fabric movement to get your hand in and out so I would leave a couple of intervals unsewn to allow for more stretch.

Positioning the strap on the thumb splint
Position the strap around the wrist, then to the front of the hand around the thumb then back down to the wrist

Add loop Velcro from the index to thumb on top of the strap, then hook Velcro on the end underneath the strap.

attach Velcro to the end of the thumb splint strap
attach Velcro to the end of the thumb splint strap

Second Strap - Add a strip of loop Velcro from the bottom of the thumb to the wrist.

attach loop Velcro from the base of the thumb to the wrist
attach loop Velcro from the base of the thumb to the wrist

Make an ice cream cone shape by overlapping the neoprene on 1 end of your second strap. I trimmed it a little narrower so it wasn't as bulky. The remaining distance should go from the bottom of the thumb to the wrist.

second strap for the DIY thumb splint
make a cone shape to slide over the thumb at the end of the second strap

Sew it in place with the same zigzag edge joining technique at both points where the fabric overlaps.

sewing down your cone shape with a zigzag stitch
sewing down your cone shape with a zigzag stitch

Slide it over your thumb then place corresponding hook Velcro to join the loop piece directly under the thumb. This second strap is done up underneath the first strap.

attach Velcro to the hand splint
attach Velcro to the hand splint for easy adjusting

Then it's finished... hopefully you didn't wreck your thumb making your own DIY thumb splint!

DIY thumb splint
Finished thumb splint
DIY thumb splint for arthritis or hypermobility
DIY Thumb splint
free sewing tutorial DIY thumb splint
Thumb splint
Make your own thumb splint
Thumb splint

Have you had a go making it? What are your best tips for sewing with hand problems? Let us know in the comments.

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