Howdy Pardner – How I made boat chaps!

After  buying a new tender, Robert suggested I make boat chaps to help protect the inflatable tubes. Having no clue what chaps were, I ‘googled’ this and found a very helpful video on YouTube. And I mostly followed the video with a few changes to do what worked for me. I thought I’d share some pics with you to show how to make boat chaps – my way!

Getting started

I bought some light-weight clear vinyl from Bunnings to make the pattern.  I made sure I wrote on the pieces which side was which and I used the convention of a red marker for port side. I flipped most of the side pieces to pattern the starboard side. After creating the pattern pieces, I then worked out how much material I needed. The sunbrella (burgundy) material is 60″ wide. I thought I’d need about 4.5m so rounded up to 5m. Turned out I probably could have bought 4m, so have spare for another project.


Mostly, I used my industrial machine but the electric hot knife came in very handy. I used this for cutting all the sunbrella so that it sealed the edges and it won’t fray. I also picked up an old tile to cut on, which made it easy and avoided burning any surfaces or wooden boards (that I used previously). 

The BEST thing I bought was a double-sided sticky tape to help stick the pieces together while sewing them and avoided the need for pins.

Cutting out pattern and checking, re-checking, and checking again

There’s a saying I’m sure you’ve all heard, measure twice, cut once. I probably measured a few more times than twice!! 

I cut out the pattern pieces on our bed, which provided a reasonable surface that was a pretty good height so I didn’t hurt my back. I then checked before I started reinforcing all the cutouts. I continued this as I progressed, to ensure I could correct any errors before I’d gone too far with the chaps.

Sewing a piece at a time!

I decided to make the pieces for the corresponding sides, reinforce them, and then assemble as I went. Unlike in the video, I had to attach the bow piece to the sides before I could do some of the cutouts. These cutouts for bits that need to go through the fabric also means that it sits better over the tubes. 

Sewing and reinforcing

I did all my sewing in the galley as the bench is a good height to stand at. It also meant I could feed the material over the bench into the saloon. 

It’s important to reinforce around the cutouts, required for handles, oars, seat, etc. I used a white vinyl for this. In some places I had cut the holes a little too large, but I adjusted with the vinyl, so you’ll never know where I made mistakes! 

All pieces attached

So after about 5 days (working about 9am-3pm) I finally finished. These photos show the chaps coming together. I used a mesh for the cone sections (I think it’s to do with letting water flow through but to be honest I just followed the video here). 

Finished boat chaps

After joining all the pieces I sewed a strip of vinyl around where the rub rails are, to help add further reinforcement. I then did the hems and also added the rope that is tightened to help hold the chaps in place.  Also, the idea is these remain on the boat even in the water to help protect from UV rays.

I’m thrilled with how these turned out. I think that the chaps will protect the tender for a long time. 

9 Responses

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  2. Heya – Also – Are you going to put some Green Tinsely Bits (GTB) on the tender for Christmas 😉

    AND/OR – Some Goggly Eyes for the aft bit of the dinghy could make it look like two Polar Bears 😉
    Yip – It’s late – but hey 😉

    1. There was a comment about the tender looking like Santa’s sleigh! But it’s a NO to tinsel and googly eyes!

  3. Good on you guys….. I’m loving the Blog and Pics..

    Travelling vicariously here…. from Sunny (well not sooo much) – but currently Covid Safe, Melbourne….

    Hope you guys have a fabulous Christmas .. xx

  4. Wow! You are just amazing. You seem to put your finger to anything and succeed. I hope your travels are progressing well. I’m slowly coming good but it takes its time. I’m not quite getting into housework or travelling to far. I can walk the length of the house biw😂😂😂😂. Today I was 4 wks post op. Always love hearing what you are up to. Love Helen and Billy

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