Sunday, June 30, 2013

Saddles with Sophie, part two

Today's post picks up where yesterday's left off--the flaps have been cut and detailed and it's time to start work on the seat...

Saddles with Sophie, Part Two

by Sophie Lightfoot

Here I have cut the tree out of an old beer can and covered it with a layer of craft foam and  skiver leather.
Once the glue has dried, I attach the saddle skirting.
Bottom view of the finished seat section.
Next I cut and prepare my girth straps.
Hole punching! I use a 0.5mm mechanical pencil with a METAL end. I hold this onto the leather and tap the end with a small hammer until it goes through the strap. 
I stitch the finished girth straps onto the sweat flaps. 
 My girth straps are  both glued and sewn for maximum durability.
Once that's done, I glue the sweat flaps to the saddle flaps.  When the glue has dried, I  go back and stitch then together.  
I used orange thread on this saddle so the stitches would be more visible. (Note from Jennifer--I often use blue thread in hopes that the saddle will help bring its new owner lots of blue ribbons.)
I now attach the stirrups and leathers, and then mount the seat section onto the flaps. BE EXTRA CAREFUL that it is straight and even.  If it is offset, it will ruin the look and balance of the saddle when on the model. After mounting, I cover the underside with leather so it looks neat.
The saddle so far...minus panels
I make the panels using the same method as my knee rolls (skiver stretched over foam).  I the glue them to the underside of the saddle, using clothes pegs to hold them in place whilst the glue is drying. 
 More pegs!!
The finished saddle!
Huge thanks to Sophie Lightfoot for sharing this wonderful tutorial!  If you've enjoyed this series, please let her know by posting a note in the comment section.  That's also a good place to direct any questions about saddle making in general or Sophie's process in particular.


  1. Awesome saddle! Thanks so much for sharing the tutorial. I make micro mini tack but I've been wanting a traditional English saddle so I'm really going to have to try this.

    Jennifer, Do you have any NAN photos I can use to put on my display board? I'm looking for a halter (OF,cm, Resin, I don't care) and a Performance one with a Cookie (gold or silver) and the Nan top ten ribbon.

  2. Excellent tutorial and beautiful saddles, Sophie!! Thank you for sharing your tips, techniques and secrets with us. This absolutely makes me want to try my hand at making an english saddle.

    Jennifer, Thanks for posting on your blog, especially for those of us who are NOT on Facebook!

  3. Awesome tutorial! Sophie's tack is great and this just make me want some of it even more!

    Thanks for posting Jennifer!

  4. Awesome tutorial! thank you very much to both of you! :)

    I have a question, I live in Sweden. Do you know any good websites where you can buy leather and dyes that ships internationally?

    Thanks again / Kajsa :)

    1. I can help, Kajsa. Just poke at me - I am in Sweden as well. :-)

  5. Awesome Tutorial!
    Thank you for sharing this! :D


  6. I love the bit about the blue thread. :D

  7. Thanks so much for the tutorial. It's really helpful to have a guide like this to lead you through the steps because there are so many intricate parts of the saddle to make, it is very easy for me to get lost (and overwhelmed!) along the way! Just wondering why the sweat flaps are made in 2 parts and whether you could have them joined together in one piece as the saddle flaps are? :)

    1. The sweat flaps on full size saddles are made in two pieces, so a lot of model tackmakers follow suit (the main flaps are also two pieces).

      My sweat flaps are a single piece, as are my main flaps. I find this easier and sturdier. However, every tackmaker does things differently. I am in awe of people whose saddles are composed of perfectly miniaturized parts. Even though I don't do that myself, I love the idea of it!

    2. Do u use tooling leather for the whole thing??

    3. No the seat and panels and knee rolls are covered with skiver :) everything else is usually tooling leather :)

  8. I am so excited to see this posted! I have been too chicken to attempt an english saddle, but after looking through this, I think its something that I could actually do! Thank you to Sophie for making it, and you for posting it!

  9. Somehow I just saw this series - thank you, Sophie. Wonderful!!! I don't think I'll be attempting it, but I have been extremely curious as to how saddles go together, for model horses AND real ones. Now I have a better idea!

    Two questions, though: How do you make the skirting look "seamless" where it's attached to the seat (I imagine on real saddles they're actually sewn on?)? And how is the seat mounted/attached - glue?

    Thanks again!

    1. Again, I can't speak for Sophie, but I can say that creating a smooth seam between the seat and the skirts is one of the more challenging aspects of making a small scale English saddle. It's also difficult to describe with words, but I'll do my best!

      If you look at the first picture, you can see that the skiver has been stretched over the seat in a way that allows the skirts to be glued on level (or nearly level to the seat. This is key, but it also helps to skive the top of the skirt to an almost paper thin edge. Sophie's done a good job here. Her skirts sink "into" the saddle seat rather than sitting "on top" of it.

      As for mounting the seat to the flaps--that's pretty easy. Mine are glued and pinned.


  10. What kind of leather do you use

  11. I used petite tooling calf for the flaps, skirts and innards and sheepskin skiver for the seat, panels and knee pads.

    1. How do you stretch the skiver over the knee pads, seat and panels smoothly without having to cut up your leather to avoid lumps?
      I'm working on a dressage saddle right now and it's quite challenging because the panels have to be SO thick to get the seat up.

      Thank you!

  12. I was wondering if anyone could explain how to make the piping? Also the skirts have a strap coming off-how does this work? Thank you! :)