Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Finishing a cross-stitch saddle pad

Every time I've posted a picture of a cross-stitch saddle pad in progress, someone has asked for a finishing tutorial.  It's been on my to-do list for years, and now, thanks to Bobbie Allen of Horse Tender Studio, here it is!

Finishing a Cross-Stitch Saddle Pad

by Bobbie Allen

Model horses have long been an interest of mine.  I started collecting back at the age of 8 or 9 when my mom gave me her collection of old, well-played-with Breyers.  Along with an interest in the horses, came an interest in something for them to wear and throughout my childhood I came up with several interesting tack and blanket creations.

Fast forward to adulthood and a growing interest in REAL, fancy model horse tack.  I was highly intrigued when I learned that people were making saddle pads by cross-stitching.  Cross-stitch is something else I've been doing for years and I was excited to try and combine the two interests.  

After I'd stitched my first couple of pads, I wasn't sure what to do them.  I did find a video tutorial on how to finish one and I followed the steps.  I'll try and show what I do, it is very similar to the method I had learned from the video.

First step is to remove the pad from the embroidery hoop or frame and trim the excess fabric away, leaving a few squares or so all around.
Then, carefully, trim out the corners of the fabric, like this:
You want to be really careful in the corners closest to the stitching that you don't nick the floss in the design.
Next up, glue the tabs of fabric down to the underside.  I use tacky glue, but I'd imagine a lot of different glues would work.  
I glue one side at a time and press the tabs down until the glue holds. 
Here's the pad with all the tabs glued in place.
Top view.
The felt backing comes next.  Some people don't do this step.  It results in a thinner, more flexible pad, but I like the felt.  It gives the pad a finished look, and to me it better replicates a real saddle pad.  No felt would be more like a saddle blanket.

I cut a piece of felt a little bigger than I need:
Spread glue around on the bottom of the pad, making sure to run a thin bead along all of the edges.
Lay the felt on, making sure you have some hanging off the edge.  Press the felt down, particularly around all of the edges.
Flip the pad over and press it, glue side down, onto the felt.  If you want you can set a book on it for a little while, but this isn't usually needed.  The glue will dry fairly quickly.
After the glue is dried, the extra felt can be trimmed away.  Again, be very careful not to nick the embroidery floss of the stitching.  I just cut in straight lines along the edges.  If doing a cut back design, like this one, a little extra care is needed in that area.  Small, sharp scissors are a big help.
That's about it!  
I do put a stitched tag on the underside of my finished pads, recessed into the felt.  It is a way I came up with to "sign" my work after I'd made my first few pads.
All that's left now is to saddle up one of your favorite models!
Thank you so much for allowing me to share this tutorial, Bobbie!  If you'd like to see more of Bobbie's work (including her first forays into tackmaking!), be sure to check out her blog and Facebook page.


  1. Oh what a neat idea, I love how she 'signs' it! :D

  2. Thanks for the tutorial! It's much appreciated!

    I am thinking about geting a pet Rat! Do you have any suggestions or tips for me? Anything I should know? It would be my first time owning one. :)

    1. Rats are really easy (and fun!) pets. If you get one, I'm sure the seller (be it a breeder or pet store) can set you up with everything you need regarding food and cages. My only advice would be to have fun and start saddle training early!


  3. I love this! Will definitely be needing to make one... I'm terrible at cross stitch though!

  4. Wow! That is so cool!
    I was wondering if you sell your tongue buckles or if you would, as I am a beginner tack maker and I can never make them right! I know you did a tutorial on them, but mine still don't look right

    1. The best part of any tack project is assembly. The least exciting part--by far-- is the prepwork that happens before the assembly. This includes skiving the leather, making the keepers and adding tongues (and sometimes rollers) to the buckles. I can not imagine signing up to do someone else's boring parts. Sorry!

      And besides, those boring parts are really some of the essential skills of tackmaking. If your serious about this craft, you will have to master them yourself. I promise it gets easier after the first thousand times!

  5. Mitering the corners of the saddle pad prevents the lumpiness caused by glueing one layer of base cloth on top of another at the corners.