Archive for the ‘sewing’ Category

Strap Improvements

It’s November, so you know what that means!

To be honest, I’ve been working on Christmas stuff off and on since early October. I need the time because Christmas sneaks up faster every single year. But I won’t decorate anything till after Thanksgiving… I do stick to that fairly well! 😅

Anyway, a lot of my Christmas themed projects are (surprise!) blankets. Annnd since that’s what I’ve got on the workbench right now, that’s what this post will be about. 😁 Here’s a preview of a couple I’ve been working on:

Somewhere between these two I realized that all this time, I have been attaching my leg straps wrong. Well, I don’t know if it’s actually wrong, but it is strange, and not something I’m seeing on real horse blankets now that I’m aware of it.

To overlook it for this long makes me feel pretty stupid. Have I mentioned I’ve never blanketed a real horse? Well, uh, yeah, now you know. BUT I also see this as an opportunity to learn and make improvements in my work.

The blanket on the left has its leg straps placed high on the hip. It was convenient to place them over the hip dart stitching so I never thought twice about it. Looking at it now, I think this could be very uncomfortable if it were on a real horse. That’s where a tail cord/strap would attach… not the legs. 😑

So on the pink one, I lowered them to leg-strap level instead of tail-strap level.

Another change was making the straps out of one adjustable loop, which eliminates the free end and makes adjusting a lot easier. This is also something I see on real blankets but never applied to my own work.

I also did this with the belly straps, and I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner?

It gives a much neater appearance without the free end.

The new leg straps have a loop one one end and a hook on the other. You loop the strap around one of the rings to attach it. I liked this design because it avoids more hardware and secures the strap in a non-permanent way. It’s based off real straps, so it’s both more realistic and less likely to get lost when off the model. 👍 And if they don’t fit the horse at all because of weird leg positions off they go!

Doing a little more research on this made me realize that I’ve been crossing them wrong too. (but that seems like a debatable subject in the real horse world…) So here they are, properly looped around each other instead of crossed in an X like I’ve been doing for years.

Learning new things is good but I still feel kind of dumb and embarrassed. 😳 If you have one of my blankets and the straps start to annoy you, those rings at the hip can be removed and lowered as they’re not sewn in place. (or new, lower rings could be added instead)

Even though a lot of my blankets (especially lately) are more novelty/fun styled, it’s still important to me to design them in a way that’s realistic, durable and safe, even though they’re for plastic models. Since they’re not exactly show-able pieces like saddles/bridles/etc, I’m not sure how much that matters to anyone else. Let me know your thoughts!

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To finish the edges of a blanket or saddle pad, I use bias binding. This can be purchased pre-made at any fabric or craft store, in varying widths, folds and colors:

While it’s convenient to purchase, pre-made bias has it’s downsides. It can be expensive, especially if you’re using a lot of it. You are also limited when it comes to colors. I am a bit obsessive about things matching, and store bought bias simply doesn’t come in the same exact colors as my fabrics. Patterned bias exists, but again, you’re limited to what’s available.

So I learned how to make bias tape myself.

There are dozens of better tutorials online explaining how to do this but since I make my bias specifically for model horse tack, I thought I would share my process with you.

Here are the tools I use:

  • Fabric of choice
  • Large cutting mat – you’ll need one if you’re using a rotary blade
  • Rotary blade (sharp scissors work too but this thing is SO much faster and smoother!)
  • Ruler (mine is huge but a smaller one can work too)
  • Bias tape maker – these come in different widths and styles. I’ve used this one the most.

You’ll also need an iron and ironing board.

To put it simply, bias tape is made by cutting a diagonal strip from your fabric. Here’s a square piece of fabric to illustrate.

If you tug on both corners of your fabric, you’re going to feel it stretch better than if you tug on the top and bottom. This is where you’ll cut your strips from. The stretch helps the fabric go around curved edges easier.

Stretchy!

No stretch 😦

Start by taking one corner of your fabric, then fold it diagonally to meet the other side. You want a 45° angle here. Unless your fabric is a perfect square, it’s not going to fold in half exactly.

Pardon the carpet. I cut everything on the floor because I don’t have a table big enough to work on XD

Iron this fold down, then open up the piece again.

Cut along the fold line – you’ll have two fabric triangles to work with now. I tend to use whichever is larger first, as I can get a longer piece of tape from it.

Next, I’ll measure 1 inch from the edge and slice off a strip.

These strips are ready for sewing! I always cut more than what I need.

My method for sewing on bias has changed, so I no longer fold it. I was using double fold bias for nearly everything for a few years, and that was made with a metal bias tape maker. These come in different widths and are super handy for quickly making folded bias.

I get the 1 inch measurement from using this tool as it was required for the double fold. (each size is different- they do come with instructions!) To make the tape, feed one end through and anchor it down. (I pin it to the ironing board) Slide the tool along the strip, ironing down the fold as you go.

Fabric can (and will) behave differently sometimes – these two strips were made the same exact way but the blue pressed much more nicely. They can both be used this way though, so it’s not a problem.

If you don’t have a tape maker, you can still create the fold by hand. First, fold the entire piece in half and iron it down. Open this up, then fold in one edge to the center line and iron it down. Repeat for the other side.

So, now that your tape is cut, what do you do if it’s not long enough for your project?? I always try to use one piece of tape for the project I’m working on, but sometimes it’s necessary to join two pieces together. This can be a little confusing at first.

Start by laying one piece of bias down, with the good side facing up. Take your second piece and lay it on top (wrong side up) so the pieces are perpendicular to each other. (if your tape is folded open the folds up first)

See the square? You’re going to sew diagonally across this, from the top left corner to the bottom right.

If you’re not sure, pin the pieces together first, then open up the strip. This is what it should look like:

After sewing, cut off the excess, and press flat.

Now your tape’s ready to be sewn on!

“Make my blanket now please?”

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Tools & supplies post can be found here

Next up in this “sewing series” of posts – quilting!

I stitch all of my english saddle pads on my sewing machine. Yes, pre-quilted fabric does exist. There is a really nice in-scale material that a lot of tack makers use, however, I’ve only seen it for sale from overseas websites, and it’s quite expensive to have shipped to me. Also, you are limited to what colors it comes in, unless you want to get into dyeing fabric yourself. As far as I know prints don’t exist? I could be wrong of course.

So the main reason I quilt it all myself is for the freedom to use whatever color I want, or whatever print I want. Also, I wanted my work to look different from what everyone else was using. 😉

This post will show you how I quilt both a large and small square pattern. It’s really simple, and once you get the hang of it you’ll blaze through without thinking. 🙂

I make my English pads from a layer of felt and a layer of cotton, but you can use whatever material you’re comfortable with.

All of my quilting is done before cutting out the shape of the pad. I do this because more often than not, the layers will shift as you sew them together. This could really mess up the shape of my pad if I cut it out beforehand.

To start, sew a diagonal line starting at one top corner. If you like, you can draw this in with chalk and a ruler. (it will not go corner to corner unless your fabric piece is a perfect square)
Take your time with this line – this will be your guide for the remaining stitches.

Instead of using measurements, I use the foot of my sewing machine to determine how far apart to keep my stitching.
Here’s how I position the fabric for the small quilted pattern. I want my “guide line” to be in the center of the left side of the foot.

When sewing the second line, I keep my eyes on that guide line to make sure it remains in the center.

Success!

This process is repeated over and over again, until the entire piece is covered with diagonal lines.

Next, you’re going to do the same exact thing, but in the other direction. Starting at the opposite top corner, sew another diagonal guide line. Take your time with this one too. You want this line to be straight and perpendicular to the previous stitching.

Continue just as before, until the entire piece is covered. This piece is ready to be cut now.

The larger square pattern is created the same exact way. The only difference is the distance between the stitching. Just like before, I use the sewing machine’s foot to measure the distance. In this case, I try to keep the edge of the foot around 1/8 of an inch from the guide line.

Completed!

Don’t be discouraged if your squares aren’t quite square! My earlier pads never were. It’s taken a lot of practice to get my quilting consistent. (and sometimes it still isn’t, shhh!)

If you’re having trouble, it’s perfectly fine to draw in your quilting lines beforehand, and use those as a guide for sewing. You can experiment with different sizes and patterns too. After all, real saddle pads come in many different styles!

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