Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Making Western stirrups, part two

In the first part of this tutorial, guest blogger, Niki Hertzog described the construction of a basic Western stirrup.  Today, she shows you how to add the details that elevate the stirrup from "basic" to "LSQ"!

Making Western Stirrups, Part Two

by Niki Hertzog

Once the glue has dried, you can fuss with the stirrup to get it into the perfect shape.  Then trim any rough edges (you can see one along the right edge in the pic above).

To make the double layer of the edges a little less obvious, you should edge cote them.  It will help seal them together and make them blend together much more.  You can also use an edge slicker to smooth them out more first.
Now, cut a small piece of leather that is the same width as the stirrup bar.  Skive this to 1/2 to 3/4 it’s original thickness.
Fold it in half and cut the loose edges so they’re rounded.
Wrap it around the stirrup bar and glue the two halves together. 
Wrap it around the stirrup bar and glue the two halves together.
Cut a second piece of leather so that it is the width of the part of the stirrup where the foot goes.  Wrap it around the stirrup and cut it so that it is about 1/8 of an inch away from meeting (the leather will stretch).
Punch the smallest holes possible all along each side.  There should always be the same number of holes on each side and they should roughly be in line with each other (matched pairs when you line the sides up).  I usually fold the piece in half and punch both sides at one time.
Cut a long piece of thread and thread a needle (I’m using a sharp one here, but a dull cross-stitch needle will also work since the holes are already punched).  The thread can be any color.  I’m using black cotton thread here, but I also have a brown waxed linen thread that I’ll use if if I’m doing a lighter color and want contrast but not too much.  It depends on the styling of your stirrup.  You could even do bright colors if you were doing a gaming set.
Wrap the leather around the stirrup.  I put glue just on the top of the stirrup (right where the foot would be) then wrap, the glue helps hold the foot grip in place while I sew the ends together.  You’ll want to lace through the holes in a corset stitch.  I generally start at the bottom right hole, go from the outside to inside and straight across to the matching hole going from the inside to the outside.  Then go back to the next hole up on the right and do the same for that pair…once you hit the top, do the same going back down.  it will form a pattern of Xs as you go.
Now, pull the stitches tight, starting at the end that does *not* have the loose ends of the thread and working toward the loose ends.  When you’re done, tie it off tightly.  I seal the knot with one small drop of super-glue.  Then cut the loose ends off as close to the knot as you can without cutting into the knot itself.  The glue will do the work of keeping the knot from coming undone.
You now have a finished stirrup!
Add it to the fender and you’re good to go.  I’ll also be adding a keeper to the fender below to keep everything tight and together.  But the stirrup is done at least!
Thank you for sharing your techniques with us, Niki!  Be sure to check out Niki's blog and Facebook page!

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