padded leg armor,  Projects,  SCA,  SCA - Heavy Fighting

SCA Heavy Fighting – show your legs! …or a look at my padded leg armor :D

2016-07 - Racaire - my first padded leg armor - SCA heavy fighting - female armor - armor for womenNow that the padded arming coat is finally finished, I also get to show you the padded leg armor which I made some time ago. 🙂

Well, having a nice arming coat is just half the rent if you want to participate in SCA Heavy Fighting. As many of the shots go to the legs, it is a good idea to also put some thought and work into well fitting leg armor. And if you bruise as easily as I do, you indeed want some nicely padded leg armor.

I already started working at this padded leg armor in March. It was kinda a last minute project as I wanted to bring at least one piece of armor to the Women’s fighter symposium at Gulf Wars which was my own.

Well, yeah, it was one of these crazy projects where I didn’t even know if I would be able to finish it in time. But once I started working at it, I definitely didn’t want to give up. I just wanted to get it finished. Therefore I started working like crazy – sewing day and night – and it paid off! I got it finished! It was literally a last minute job as my husband was waiting for me to get packed and into the car so we could head to Gulf Wars. *giggle*

I had some experience with fitted leg armor when I started this project. I already made a set of slightly padded leg armor for my husband some years ago. And his padded leg armor had definitely proven its value over time. It was comfortable, protective and – most important – machine washable. And even despite all the fights its been through during the last years, it still looked quite acceptable.

Therefore I decided to give it a shot and make a set of padded leg armor for myself. After a short discussion with my husband we agreed that a slightly longer version with more padding would be the right for me. Yeah, I knew that I am by far not as good as my sweetheart and that I had to anticipate to get hit and therefore bruise much more often…

So far so good… the manic project idea was born and I started working. And damn, I often wished that I could have split myself into two to help me with the fitting. But well, as that could and would never happen, I just had to put in the double amount of effort. Fortunately I already knew from my experience with my 14th century fitted stocking project how to successfully develop a fitting leg pattern. Just with the slight difference that I could neglect the foot part this time. I only had to add a fitting for the upper leg which is not nearly as difficult.

I still remember the expression on my sweethearts face when he got up in the morning and saw me working with the nice duck canvas which we just bought for the project. He was obviously shocked and asked me why I didn’t make a test piece first. *lol*
Well, I looked at him and replied that I wanted to make it right from the beginning. And that I neither had the time nor did I care for making a test piece. It just had to be perfect from the beginning. I guess you can imagine what my husband thought about my reply. *giggle* Yeah, I am sure this only reassured him that he lives with a certain kind of crazy… 😉

Though i wouldn’t say that the end result is absolutely perfect as there are some small details I would alter a little bit whenever I take on my second pair of padded leg armor. But it’s perfect enough to fit well, to carry my knee cups, to not restrict my movement,… and to keep me comfortable. And I definitely love how it looks! Therefore I would say: Mission accomplished! …and yeah, my sweetheart doesn’t ask me anymore why I don’t make a test piece first… 😉

Apropos how it looks – let’s take a look at my padded leg armor now – enjoy! 😀

For the following pictures I simply put on one of my husbands under tunics. Though his under tunic is far too big, it shows better what I am aiming for than a modern t-shirt and some modern pants:


And though my padded leg armer looks quite good in combination with his far too big under tunic, I can’t wait to make a better fitting under tunic and braies (medieval underpants) to accompany it.

Btw. my future braies project promises to be a lot of fun as I found several extant period examples and want to try them all. …or well, at least as many as it takes to find out which braies pattern works best for me and which one works best for my sweetheart. Because as you already know – men and women are built quite different and a pattern which might work quite well for me might not work as well for my husband and vice versa.

And now a closer look at my padded leg armor:


At the picture above and below you might discover a slight difference between the padded “rows” on the inside and on the outside of the leg. The whole leg armor is – like the padded arming coat / gambeson I just made – padded with simple moving blanket. But as I don’t have so much experience with heavy fighting and tend to bruise rather easily, my husband and I decided that it would be good to tweak and enhance the padding on the outside and front side of the legs.

For this purpose we used some simple “surgical tubing” (about as thick as my pinky) from the Ace hardware store. I simply cut it to shape and and inserted it in between the moving blanket layer and the top layer of duck canvas before I finished the top and bottom seam. I only added the tubing to the outside and front part of my legs as this parts normally receive the most blows during heavy fighting. And as I also want to take up fighting with the long sword – which blows can sometimes be quite unpredictable and too low – we also decided to add the tubing to the outside and front of my lower legs. 

Btw. this “surgical tubing” is very affordable, quite thick but still very flexible and adds a great cushion. (…and allows me to throw the leg armor into the washing machine whenever I need it!)

And a short hint if you want to add some tubing to your padded leg armor:
When you insert tubing into your padded leg armor, you want to make sure that it ends about 1 inch above as well as about 1 inch underneath your knee cap as it would otherwise slide down or up and restrict your knee movement. Furthermore you wouldn’t want the tubing to go too far up into your pelves region as it could make moving quite uncomfortable.

To make sure that the tubbing stays in place I just added some small simple stitches around the knee in the middle of the row. This keeps the tubing very well in place and prevents it from sliding into my knee section. 


I would like to apologize for the “saggy diaper” look at the picture underneath but my husband didn’t tell me that the tunic was hanging so low. However, if you take a look at my knee section at the pictures above and below, you will see that I made a quite big round cutout pointing towards the middle of the knee.

This cutout reduces the amount of bulky material whenever you bend the knee. It definitely makes moving a lot easier. Btw. this is one of the changes I would make whenever I will make my next pair of padded leg armor – I would enlarge this cutout even more for more ease in my knee section.


If you wonder about all the visible skin at the backside – well, I started working with a very tightly fitted leg pattern. All the free space visible now is based on the added padding and tubing which takes away quite a bit from the circumference. Adding just a little bit more fabric to the circumference of the tightly fitted leg pattern could easily take care of this gap in the future. 

Btw. while fitting the pattern for the upper leg, I followed a hint of my husband and didn’t fit it all the way up to my butt line. Ending the pattern about 1 inch underneath the butt line and the “private parts” helps to add some comfort. I experienced that during movement the leg armor tends to move up and down a little and the 1 inch definitely give enough extra room to stay comfortable. 


And here a picture of my padded leg armor while being in the kneeling position:


The cutout in the knee section allows me a quite comfortable kneeling position while the rest of the padded leg armor makes sure that the knee cap doesn’t shift and stays in a reliable position. But as you can see at the picture above, the knee cups which I bought some years ago at Gulf Wars unfortunately just barely cover my knees. Well, this issue has definitely to be addressed before I can start with heavy fighting. 

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of my “new” padded leg armor. And again I am one step closer to take up heavy fighting again… I just need some more major armor parts… 😀

Best regards Racaire