Horseback riders wear half chaps as protective gear to shield their lower legs from the brush and branches encountered riding prairies, woods and trails. Like full chaps, half chaps are usually constructed of sturdy leather, to provide the greatest amount of protection. Yet half chaps are much cooler and more comfortable than full leg chaps. You can make these simple garments if you have basic sewing skills. You will also need a sturdy sewing machine that can sew through layers of leather.
Things You'll Need
- 1 yard heavy-weight white broadcloth fabric
- Ironing board
- Tape measure
- Black fine-point marker
- 1.5 yard leather piece
- Heavy-weight satin-finish lining fabric
- Sewing machine
- Leather sewing machine needle
- 1/2-inch heavy-duty hook and loop tape
Make a custom-sized pattern
Measure down the front of your right leg, from above the knee to the bottom of the ankle. This is the length of your half chaps. Cut a length of broadcloth to match this measurement.
Fold the broadcloth piece in half lengthwise, matching the edges along each side. Iron the folded fabric, forming a sharp crease along the folded edge. Open out the fabric.
Cut the fabric in half, following the ironed crease as your guide.
Pin the broadcloth pieces around your lower leg so that one of the the pinned 'seams' runs along the front of your shin bone. Pull the fabric taut over the knees, calves, ankles and foot, then secure the fabric as tightly to the leg as possible without poking yourself with pins or stretching the fabric. Adjust the pins so that the pinned seams run straight down the front and back of the leg and the fabric fits snugly.
Mark the seam lines on the broadcloth, following the pins as if you were completing a dot-to-dot puzzle. Label the fabric on the inside of your leg "inside" and the fabric on the outside of your leg "outside." Indicate the front or shin side of each piece with an arrow. Remove the pins and remove the broadcloth from your legs.
Place the broadcloth pieces, marked side up, on a table. Trace the markings, smoothing the lines if they are jagged and closing in the knee and foot areas with a straight line. This will result in two pattern pieces. Mark a 5/8-inch seam allowance around the circumference of the pattern pieces.
Cut along the seam allowance of each piece, creating inside and outside leg patterns. Iron the pieces.
Create custom half chaps
To cut out the pattern pieces from the leather and the lining fabric, place the pattern pieces on the folded fabric and cut through both layers, following the outline of the pattern. You'll have two leather inner leg pieces, two leather outer leg pieces, two lining inner leg pieces and two lining outer leg pieces.
Sew a leather inner leg piece to a leather outer leg piece. Place the textured sides of the leather so they face each other, and make sure you stitch down the shin side of each piece. Refer to the pattern for this information, using the arrow you marked for the shin side of each piece. Repeat with the other cut out pieces of leather and the lining pieces.
Iron the seam allowances of the lining pieces with an iron, set to synthetic. Finger press the seam allowances open on the leather pieces.
Paperclip the corresponding chaps linings to the leather chaps, with seam sides together on the inside and the right side of the leather/fabric on the outside. Match the inner leg piece of the lining to the inner leg piece of the leather. These two sewn pieces will be mirror images of each other, so each lining fits only one leather piece.
Fold over a 5/8-inch hem at the top of the half chaps, and finger press it. Stitch the hem in place by sewing through all layers just along the edge of the folded leather. Fold a 5/8-inch hem at the bottom of the half chaps and stitch this hem in place as well.
Cut a length of hook and loop tape to fit the length of the back seam of the half chaps. Separate the hook side from the loop side. Sew the hook side to the length of one side of the back seam of the half chap by placing the tape, hook side up, along the inside of the back seam, and stitching through all layers around the circumference of the tape. Place the loop side of the tape to the corresponding side of the back seam. Repeat this step with the other lined leather half chap.