Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

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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For the longest time I’ve been wanting to learn how to make better barrel or gaming reins. The easiest way to make them is with a regular three stand braid, and that looks nice enough:

But I wanted to take it further and recreate this in miniature:

Weaver Leather Barrel Reins

I did some searching on different paracord braid styles, found two tutorials that I thought would work, then made these:

I really love the result, and wanted to share how I made them with you. Keep in mind that this is not an easy complete-in-20-minutes type of project. It may take hours, and will require a lot of patience. While the braid patterns are quite simple, the tricky part is keeping the strands (in this case, 8 strands made from split embroidery floss) in order, which is hard to do, especially in miniature!

You will need:

  • Embroidery floss in two colors (you can use more than one if you’d like but two will simplify things)
  • Two 1/8″ buckles
  • Two hooks (to attach to bit shanks)
  • Two small jump rings
  • Fray Check

My hardware is from Rio Rondo, but you can definitely make this yourself from wire.

A common length for full-size barrel reins is 8 ft. In 1:9 scale, this is around 10 1/2 inches. To start, draw a 10 1/2 inch line on a piece of paper. Make a center mark at 5 1/4 inches. From the center, add two more marks at 2 cm and 4 cm. Repeat on the other side.

You will use this drawing for reference when you adjust your finished reins.

Because it’s better to have more than not enough, measure a 12 inch piece of embroidery floss, then double it to make 24 inches. Cut two of these in one color, then two in the second.

Knot together at the top, then separate the four strands. In my first attempt, I split each strand into two, so I had four strands with two colors in each – if that makes sense?

The first braid we’ll be doing is a four strand flat braid. Rather than attempt to re-explain that, HERE is a link to the tutorial I followed.

This braid is pretty easy and quick to do once you get the pattern down. Continue braiding for about 12 cm, then tie a single overhand knot.

Next, we’re going to do an 8 strand round braid. Separate your four strands, then split each one in half. For this specific color pattern, keep all of one color on the right side, and the second on the left.

Again, HERE is the tutorial I followed for the braid. This braid is also very simple, but like I said, keeping the strands separate in this scale is tricky until you get the pattern down. It’s also slow-going because it’s so small, but the end result is worth it.

Continue with this braid for about 9 cm, then tie another overhand knot. Whew!

Arrange your strands into four, like we did in the beginning, and continue with the four strand braid. When you’ve gone another 12 cm or as far as you can, knot the end and trim off any excess.

Tie two overhand knots in the round braided section, keeping them about 2 cm apart. Use your sketch for reference, and keep them loose until you have them positioned the way you want them:

Eh, close enough!

The four strand braid has a natural twist to it which is unavoidable, but really annoying in miniature. I tried to tone it down some by pressing the entire braid with an iron, and it seemed to help.

To make adding hardware easier, saturate each end of your reins with Fray Check (or something similar, regular glue should work as well) and let dry completely. Do this close to the knots on each end. Once dry, cut off the knots.

Thread on a buckle, bottom to top. (if you’re using etched hardware, bend the buckles slightly beforehand) Add your jump rings/hooks, then fold over your braid and thread it back through the buckle.

Repeat on the other side, then go back to your sketch and adjust your reins to size. You can further adjust them on a model too. Lastly, determine where you want to trim the excess braid and cover it generously in Fray Check. Trim once completely dry. Please note that this will not permanently seal your braid ends, but it will help keep them from unraveling. Excessive handling or threading them on and off the buckles will cause them to come apart, so re-apply if necessary!

Your reins are now complete!

The braid pattern can be changed up by switching the order of your threads (the links I referenced show some good examples of that) and the color combos are endless, so have fun!

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