Here we are in New Zealand Lockdown 2020 waiting for who knows what our future has in store for us. Projects abound on Dazzler and the next project du Jour is a new set of Chaps on Sparkle. Last week I sewed up five new fuel can covers and this week it’s a new set of dingy chaps. Things are going swimmingly. Because I’d made chaps before, I learned several things during that construction that I thought I’d do differently if I ever had to make chaps again. I thought way back in 2009 that I’d never have to make another set of chaps again. Well, here we are in New Zealand and in need of having a new set of chaps for Sparkle’s facelift.
I first used some clear plastic painter’s drop cloth to make a pattern of her new tubes. I then transferred the pattern to the new Sunbrella fabric that we had onboard from Mexico. After the pattern was transposed to the fabric, I did the first cut of fabric. I decided that I wanted all of the cutout openings around the handles and other equipment to be pre made before the cut out of the fabric was complete to save some time and frustration of turning a bunch of fabric two or three times through the yoke of the sewing machine. So, I made uniform patterns for the handle cut outs from a coated fabric that has a high UV resistance. I made two identical pieces for each opening, sewed them together and trimmed the inward edge with leather trim. Much easier to get a good pattern and finished look with a smaller piece of fabric. The purpose for the two identical pieces of this fabric would make it easy to sandwich the chaps fabric between them and then over stitch it to secure it in place with a more precise finish and placement of the opening trim. And in the process make it easier to sew. We will see what happens. All things were working nicely so far.
After all the openings were stitched onto the main panels, it was time to start stitching the panels together. This is where it can get a little tricky. I did make some alignment marks to help set it up for sewing. I’m not sure how many trips I made back and forth from the dock to the companionway and down below where my Sailrite sewing machine was set up. My social distancing exercise was almost done in place at Dazzler’s dock. The old adage of measure a butt load of times and cut or sew once was in full usage. Needless to say all went well with stitching the panels together.
Next were the stern cones attachment to the panels. I used Phifertex mesh fabric to allow any seawater that gets forced up under the chaps the ability to drain out with ease. After the cones were stitched in place, I finished off the interior edge with a pre-made hem along the straight run and used leather binding to finish off the cut edges. By the way all of those areas that had a cut edge had reinforcing fabric placed underneath and stitched in place. This was done were sharp 90° corners existed. This makes the corner stronger and more resistant to corner tears from stretching as the fabric gives and shrinks. And yes, even Sunbrella fabric in my experience will have a bit of shrinkage. So allow about an inch per side for the inevitable shrinkage factor.
Next, I finished off the trim around the stern cones to get ready for the exterior hem to be added. Everything was taking shape daily and all the other boaters on the dock would give their positive nods, looks and comments as they would walk by on their journey keeping two meters away from me while they headed off to do their grocery store trips or exercise tracks. They could see the daily progress and of coarse they asked lots of questions and made comments like, “When you’re done there come on over to do ours next.” LOL. Our neighbors on the sailing vessel Greyhound, may have decided to get new tubes made for their tender now before they make their own dingy chaps. Marie did say she was jealous because she hadn’t purchased any fabric before the great lockdown of 2020.
The next step was to make the exterior hem which was about 260 inches long. I first joined several sections of six inch wide fabric together to make the needed length. Then I started folding and stitching the long runs to accommodate the needed hem for the exterior of the chaps. This hem will also house a 3/16” Dacron cord to act as a drawstring to cinch the chaps just below the rub rail of the dingy sides. With the 250 thousand foot hem, LOL, and Dacron cord ready, I grabbed a sandwich, a beer, turned on some sewing music and started folding the cord into the hem and stitching it onto the exterior cut edge of Sparkle’s new sexy chaps. A day and a half later, my sandwich was gone, I was on my third beer and Jilly was covered in what looked like a blue and yellow heap of fabric as she was sitting on the opposite side of the table from me. I couldn’t immediately see her so I yelled out, “Marco?” Her response, “Polo!” There she is! And yes, she did a great job supervising while recuperating from her torn muscle injury.
Drum roll please… It was time to go out and test fit the chaps onto Sparkle’s new tubes. Tada, She fits! A little tug here, pull there, stretch the draw cord and tied it off to the transom cleats on the stern. She is finished! The only thing left to do was to attach a yellow racing stripe on each side for easier identification during full moon dingy racing and add the Snads and snap fasteners to the inside of the tubes to hold the inside fabric in place. Snads are a product manufactured by YKK and have a very robust 3M adhesive backing that easily sticks to the inflatable tubes without drilling any holes.
Cracked open a celebratory beer, took some hero photos and got ready for the next project.
Until the next project, keep two meters away from each other, enjoy your lockdown confinement and stay safe.
P.S. As an afterthought I decided to add a couple of pockets for the ores to sit in. Turned out quite nice I think.