(Or Western Sheriff)
Paper for drawing your pattern (ask Hobby Lobby for some of the paper they use to wrap fragile stuff, they’ll give you a few sheets for free!)
Fabric or Leather in one or two colors
bling as desired (look at a Leather supply store!)
Belt kit and belt buckle OR a belt your child already owns.
Belt buckle (optional)
Sheriff badge (optional)
*A note on where to shop: Even if you’re not using leather to make the vest and chaps, I’d still take a quick peek inside a leather supply store for your “bling” (for lack of a better word... I’m sure cowboys have a manlier word for it!). After keeping an eye out for a cute sherif badge and only finding VERY overpriced ones (like $16-25) or totally cheesy cheap ones, I found a perfect, nice little metal star in a circle that works as a sheriff badge (though it doesn’t technically SAY “Sheriff”) for $4 at the leather store. I also found some conches for a couple dollars, and a nice cowboy & horse belt buckle for $5. All that is to say that I found much nicer stuff at much lower prices by going to the leather store than I would have had I just gone to the fabric or craft or party store. Also, bring your paper pattern pieces with you to the store so you know exactly how much you need to buy. (Complete the first few steps below to make your paper pattern pieces.)
*A note on pricing and sizing for this costume: If you’re wanting to make this as quick and cheap as possible, you don’t have to get two tones of fabric/leather. You also don’t have to have any bling. You can just attach your chap pieces to belt your child already has by attaching a couple loops on the top/back of the caps. I chose to use leather and make a real belt to put the chaps on b/c I have two little boys and I designed this costume in a way to be as non-restrictive on sizing as possible so it can be worn for many years as they grow. Some chaps designs are fully enclosed around the leg, but your child will grow out of them much faster. The “chinks” style I used is non-enclosed and is actually worn at a shorter length as well as a longer length, so even as your child grows taller, they won’t have outgrown them.
Here are the pattern pieces we’re going to be making in the main leather color (mine's brown). Don’t get scared and go buy a pattern, I’ll walk you through it! :)
Let’s start with the chaps b/c you know that’s what you’re most excited about! Take a pair of your child’s jeans as a guide for sizing and roughly sketch the shape of the chaps, using the left shape above as a guide. The length should be from the waist to about shin (I made mine a bit longer for room to grow), and the width should sit loosely around about 2/3 of your child’s leg. Jeans are nice to use as a guide rather than your child’s leg b/c these are worn loose, on top of the jeans anyway. We’re going to be adding fringe, so don’t make them go all the way to the floor.
Optional Variation: If you’re going the quickie route and are only using one color, then after drawing out your pattern, extend it by several inches on the left, bottom, and right sides. That way you can just cut your fringe directly out of the one fabric piece instead of having to sew it on separately. For those of us using two colors, we’re going to be attaching fringe in our second color.
Now you need to draw out your vest pieces. I’ll just tell you right now that the absolute easiest way to do this is if your child already owns a vest! Just lay it out, and trace the back piece and one front piece. Then just add on 1/4-1/2” for seam allowance down the side and across the top of your front piece. If you don’t have access to a vest to trace, you can wing it, but it may take you a couple tries. Again, use the shapes above as a guide, and just cut them out and hold them to your child to see how they fit. Or, just bring your pattern paper to the store and trace around a vest at the store. I won’t mention it to the manager!
You’ll want to bring these pattern pieces with you to the store when buying your leather so you know how much to buy!
Now cut out your basic leather pieces. Remember when placing the pattern for your chinks and vest that you’ll want the same side of the leather to face up on the finished pieces. They should look like this:
Before you toss out your paper pattern pieces, we’re going to use them again. First, take your chaps pattern piece, and draw a swoopty line across the top as a guide of where your second color will be. Then cut it out.
Use that as a pattern piece to cut out two swoopty pieces for your chaps in your accent color of leather (mine’s red). Remember to turn one piece of leather over so that when you’re done both pieces will have been cut with the same side of the leather facing up. Isn’t that cute?
Now we’ll do the same thing to make a swishy pointy piece for the vest. Grab your vest front pattern piece and draw a swooshy point on it. To do this, I placed my actual vest piece over my pattern piece and traced the bottom swoosh up higher on the vest. Then cut it out.
Use that as a pattern piece to cut out two swishy point pieces for your vest in the accent/red leather. Remember to turn one piece of leather over so that when you’re done both pieces will have been cut with the same side of the leather facing up. Are you getting excited yet?
Now we’re going to cut out the fringe. If you’re using two colors, do this in your accent color. First you’ll need to measure around your chaps so you know how much fringe you need (measure the three sides, excluding the top). Add an extra inch b/c you don’t want to come up short and you can always snip off the extra at the end. Now multiply that number by two, since you’re needing fringe for both legs.
To make that length in fringe, you’ll probably need to cut several pieces. (OR you could buy a package of pre-made fringe at the store). If that’s the case, simply cut as many pieces as you need, and put an extra little tab sticking out at the ends that you can use to attach one length of leather to the next one, without overlapping the fringe area. I made mine 2 1/2” wide, and cut my fringe 2” deep, leaving 1/2 inch solid at the top for sewing the fringe to the chaps.
cutting the fringe, I found it helpful to place my ruler
over the top edge to prevent me from cutting too deeply
into the fabric. Then I just used my rotary cutter and
cut up equal lengths until the cutter hit the ruler.
Now using some scrap leather, make and sew on little loops on the back sides of both chaps that are wide enough for the belt to go through.
Now sew the red swoopty pieces onto the fronts of your chaps. This will cover the little sew lines you made sewing on the belt loops to the back.
Sew the red swishy
point pieces in place on to your vest fronts.
Sew the sides of your front vest pieces to the sides of your back vest pieces, right sides together. Then sew the top shoulder portion in place. Flip the vest around, right side out again, and the vest is done-ish.
Sew the chaps tie straps in place, sewing them to stick out from the back side of the chaps. These will simply tie around the leg to hold the chaps in place. If you want to get all fancy you can put a buckle on them, but I didn’t.
Sew the red fringe onto the sides of your chaps. Just hold the fringe in place behind your chaps, and scoot along a little at a time. Now your chaps are doneish or nearly doneish.
You may attach these chaps to any belt, by placing the belt through the loops on the back sides of the chaps. Or, you can make a custom belt using a belt kit. Since I found a belt kit for $4 and a fabulous buckle for $5, I decided to go ahead and make my own. It involved following basic cutting then assembling instructions that came in the kit. OR you can make a belt using a stiff leather or fabric. The length should equal 1 1/4- 1 1/2 times your child’s waist measurement. I did 1 1/2 b/c I’m wanting to use this costume for years to come. If you’re making it as a one-time costume, then 1 1/4 would be sufficient. The width is your preference.
Emboss the leather for a fun accent. I had a friend with
leather tools who let me wack in some stars and horse
shoes around the belt. You could also emboss the vest
and chaps, depending on your leather, but mine was too
Now, attach any
fabulous flare that you may have found. I attached a
star badge and a couple conchos.
Now go and make a little boy’s day!!!
Last, if you decided to do this project yourself, please send me a photo of it with your name and what state you're from! I've recently decided to start featuring my readers' finished results.