A not-quite-Hudson Bay (tm) Saddle Blanket

Yesterday I bought the supplies for a new project. Because all of us are feeling under the weather, I thought it might be a good day to get down to business.  

As all of you know, I would really like to have a horse. I'm already working on acquiring the materials for a barn.  But with horses comes additional cost as the tack and equipment can cost thousands. In an effort to keep things affordable (and keep the wifey happy), I've been trying to make things myself. I've already made a couple of rope halters, a lead rope and some very simple rope reins (although I do have two leather complete bridles including - headstalls, bits and reins).

I've been squirreling my homemade equipment away in a canvas messenger bag I also made, but this project will definitely be too big to fit in with the other things.  I'm not well versed with the ins and outs of saddle pads (used to provide a bit of cushioning but mostly to protect the saddle from horse sweat and dirt) so I did a little research, conducted a bit of polling and used a bit of ingenuity and came up with a plan.

I'd seen some really neat canvas on a previous trip to the fabric store and although it didn't suit my needs at the time, I immediately thought of it when I wanted to make the saddle pad. It's off-white, not an ideal colour, but the bars are kind of cool and so similar to the Hudson Bay's signature colours that it immediately invokes a historical connection to Canada's past.

The canvas itself was a bit too wide for what I needed (I wanted a pad somewhere in the area of 32x32x 1/2), so it was necessary to make some changes in width and length.  Sadly I was forced to remove the top green bar in order for my measurements to fit properly. I folded it a couple of times and decided my course of action.

The red bar would be at the front, mostly covered by a saddle anyways, with the yellow, red and green stripes showing behind. 

With 32x32 my target size, I needed to make a few more adjustments to fit the felt. Here I've sewn the edges and get a real idea of what my finished product will look like.

After hemming the edges it was time to bust out the felt. This particular felt is 3/8ths thick, and doubled would be a respectable 3/4" pad.

Here the canvas has been laid out on the felt for fit.  I did make some adjustments to the width. I ended up turning the pad perpendicular to its illustrated alignment, with the folded edge of felt to be at the front of the pad (over the withers). I also shortened the pad to a 31x31 by eliminating the white stripe at the very front of the pad.  After rotating the canvas 90 degrees, I made my "chalk" line down the centre and lined everything back up.

I have now hand-sewn the all-important centre line and chalked out the additional lines where I will add reinforcing stitches. The front of the pad is shown at the bottom of the photo.

Sewing through canvas and felt is really  hard on the hands and I might ask Janet at Trimper's Harness to help me finish it by machine.  My hands are sore... but this pain serves to remind me of the pride and satisfaction which comes from a job well done.  Maybe I'll just pick away at the remaining stitches over the next few days.

We'll see!

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