June 14, 2018

Custom Saddle Pads

This was a MONSTROUS undertaking.  I am so very glad that I got to do it, though.

I scoured the interwebs trying to find a pattern so that I could just follow it. I knew that it would be difficult without one. I could not find one. I then borrowed a saddle pad from a friend with horses and when I described it to my client (who is across the country, btw) she told me that she wanted an English style saddle pad.

There are different types of saddle pads?? This was news to me - a person who has ridden horses twice in her life. I didn't know that there were different types so off to google I went again to search for an English saddle pad pattern. No luck. I then found a few different blogs and each one started the same "trace your saddle pad".  I don't own one, people!! (I took a break for about 2 weeks out of frustration.)

I then found another pin with about 10 different English saddle pad styles. It was roughly drawn and had a few rough measurements. I had finally found something I could use! My client then sent me the same figure with 2 circled. Thank goodness they were the more simple patterns. I was thinking of using the most elaborate. (phew!)

I then began to shop for fabric. I had read (and watched youtube) about how these saddle pads need to be quilted. I started adding up the cost of buying fabric, batting and thread. Also, time! I found some amazing already quilted fabric at the shop and decided to use that. It was about the same price and the time was much better (already done vs. hours of hand quilting).  I got the fabric needed and then I headed to my mom's house.

Why would I go there? Two reasons - she loves to help with patterns and with my kids. Also, she owned horses when she was young so she understood what I was trying to do. I lucked out in another way - my uncle, who had owned horses until moving back to Utah, was there. I told him what I was making and he got excited. He told me that he had an English saddle and wished he had kept a pad for me to trace.

I made a pattern out of paper first. I cut out the correct dimensions and then added the embellishments. I showed him the pattern after every change and he'd give me feedback. It worked really well.

When it came to cutting out the real thing I was really nervous. The fabric, though fairly priced, was more expensive than I usually use. I cut into it and kept going. I knew what I needed to do so it wasn't terrible. The whole thing wasn't going to take me long to make, I thought. It turns out that when you make something for the first time (or maybe it's just me) you take your time to make sure it's right.  I also made my own binding. I cut out strips of fabric 2 inches wide. I folded it in half and rolled it for later.  I first needed to sew my two pieces together and add the top.

For the future -- I would cut them 2 1/2 inches. 2 inches was a little hard to use as binding.

I put the tops together and I had to really gather courage for this. I didn't know exactly what was going to happen because everywhere I had seen glossed over this part of their tutorials. The corners will be layered and then when I added the 2 inch strip (I ironed it on itself so there were no raw edges) it turned out perfectly. When I hold it up there is a slight arch in the fabric for the horses back.

I then used the binding that I had rolled up and sewed up the entire outside edge. The finished look is fantastic! I tried to sew the binding as close as possible, but I kept leaving holes and missing some. So I moved it in to about 1/4 inch seam - this is when it would be nice to have more for the binding. It worked perfectly. I did go over the seam a few times just to make sure it was secure.

This box was the only thing I had that resembled a horse. I think it worked out really well. I hope that my client likes it as much as I do. I will be making 3 more and sending them out before the weekend. She has an event that she would like these for and I hope that they are delivered and are satisfactory. It's always scary when making custom orders and I love that I push myself. Here's to making more and having a lot of fun with them, too.

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