How to Make Dinghy Chaps
When you’re on your boat, your dinghy is like your car; it’s how you get to shore or to neighboring boats for sundowners. As an important piece of your boating equipment, you’ll want to keep it in good working order. Inflatable dinghies, which feature rubber inflatable tubes, are a popular style. Protect the tubes from harmful UV rays and chafe with dinghy chaps, which are like a leave-on cover on the topside of the tubes. Every dinghy is slightly unique, so the best way to get a precise fit is to have them custom-made. We recently sewed up a set of dinghy chaps for Jim Grant’s dinghy for his Islander 37 sailboat. Watch our step-by-step video to learn how to pattern and sew your own custom dinghy chaps.
The key to getting well-fitted dinghy chaps is careful patterning. We used 12 gauge Plastipane clear vinyl as a pattern material for this project. The clear vinyl was a little sticky against the vinyl of the dinghy, so it stayed in place well while patterning. We also let a tiny bit of air out of the dinghy when we patterned, to ensure a snug finished fit when fully inflated.
We used Sunbrella® Marine Grade fabric for the main body of our dinghy chaps, with Shelter-Rite vinyl for chafe protection patches. At the aft end of each tube we switched the material to Phifertex Mesh to help promote water drainage at the rear of the boat. This is an especially good idea for dinghies that plane at faster speeds.
The chaps are secured to the dinghy via a leech line drawstring around the outer edge of the cover that is cinched in place. On the inside of the dinghy, we attached the cover with snaps and YKK® SNAD® fastener studs installed directly onto the side of the dinghy.
- Determining Materials Required – 0:44 min.
- Forward Bow Pattern – 02:19 min.
- Side Bow Pattern – 10:30 min.
- Side Pattern – 17:36 min.
- Aft Tube End Pattern – 27:40 min.
- Patterning & Cutting Fabric – 29:22 min.
- Reinforcing Slits & Cutouts – 40:34 min.
- Sewing Sections Together – 1:03:10 min.
- Determining Inside & Outside Edges – 1:12:53 min.
- Creating Rub Rail Chafe Protection – 1:15:00 min.
- Creating Tie Down Opening (optional) – 1:18:34 min.
- Creating Drawstring Casing – 1:22:23 min.
- Sewing Inside Hem – 1:29:37 min.
- Cinching Up Cover – 1:31:47 min.
- Installing YKK Snads & Snaps – 1:34:37 min.
- Materials & Tools List – 1:38:09 min.
- Plastipane 12 Gauge Vinyl #102941
- Sunbrella® Marine Grade Fabric (we used Jockey Red #4603-0000)
- Phifertex® Vinyl Mesh (we used Grey #391)
- Seamstick 3/8" Basting Tape for Canvas #129
- Thread V-92 Polyester or Sailrite® Lifetime Thread
- Shelter-Rite® Vinyl (we used Grey #112015)
- #1 Nickel Spur Grommet #26315
- 1/8” Dacron® Leechline #21209
- Stainless Steel Strap Eye #28221
- Flat Head Screw 6 x 1/2" #777040
- Micro Marine Ratchet for 1/8" Line #122018
- YKK® SNAD® Clear 25mm Adhesive Backed Flexible Base Stud #104451
- Snap Fastener Buttons (#333777 or #333010) and Sockets (#333050)
- Sharpie markers, Drill and bit, Pencil, Alcohol prep pad
- Tape Measure 120 Inch #102986
- Gingher® Scissors Right Handed #19104
- Sailrite® Canvas Patterning Ruler #107040
- Scratch Awl Yellow #2354
- Soapstone Fabric Marking Pencil White #102766
- Sailrite® Edge Hotknife Package #103800
- Fabric Marking Pencil Yellow #111002
- Clear Acrylic Ruler 6" x 24" #102400
- Sailrite® Ultrafeed® LSZ-1 PLUS Walking Foot Sewing Machine #300602
- Deluxe 5 1/2" Magnetic Sewing Guide #103597
- Comfort Grip Rotary Cutter 60mm #9655
- Cutting Mat 18" x 24" #102990
- Premium Cutting Block 10" x 10" #103642
- Hole Cutter 3/8" - #2 #18211
- Die Set Spur #1 - 5/16" #18202
- Mallet Hammer Style 3# (Barry King) #68563
- Trimmable Butyl Tape 3/4" #103689
- 3M™ Tape Primer 94 - Adhesive Promoter #104166
- Pres-N-Snap Installation Tool #109011