When the saddle fitter told me that I needed to ride with thinner baby pads that had wither clearance, I hit the online tack stores to shop. Unfortunately, most baby pads are square with no room for Simon’s shark withers. I still want to order a custom Ogilvy or two for showing, but in the meantime I decided to hit up my sewing machine to get some baby pads for schooling.
I started with 1 yard of quilted cotton fabric, 2 packages of blanket binding and 2 packages of thin black cording.
First I took an AP pad that I liked the size and shape of, and traced two sides of my quilted fabric. These did not fold across the top in one piece, so there was a left and a right side essentially.
Then I cut about a 2″ straight piece of quilted fabric for the spine of the saddle pad, and pinned everything together.
With my machine, I started sewing the spine to each side with the “ugly” or under side facing me.
This is what one side looked like after stitching. The underside is black, because I am lazy and hate changing out the bobbin thread. Seriously… bobbin = death. Anyway!
After I stitched both sides and flipped it right side out, that’s what the pad looked like at the top.
Stitched together and pad shaped, but not pretty yet. Next we need trim!
I took the blanket binding, and folded it on either side of my saddle pad edge. This time I sewed front facing side up. In a minute you’ll see that my thread doesn’t match the grey trim, but that’s because I’m going to cover it up later.
With the blanket binding, you have to sew very slow and carefully. Since the pad is curved around the edges and the binding is straight, it will want to fold on you. If that happens it’s not the end of the world (see next picture) but it looks nicer when you go slower and just slowly curve it around the edge.
If it does fold, it looks like that. Not the end of the world, but not as clean either.
Before you finish this project, you’ll have to sew two sets of blanket binding together. I just laid the new one on top, and continued with my same line. This is perhaps not the best way…
Which then leaves me a seam I need to sew back down. Not as pretty as it could be, for sure.
With the trim all the way around the edges, the baby pad starts to look more finished.
It needs more though! Time for cording.
First, you need to make sure you fray check the ends of your cording so it won’t fray tiny black hairs all over your saddle pad. For this, I like to use a candle. Results may vary… you can also use a liquid product called Fray Check.
This time you do need your top thread to match the color of your cording. The secret here is go slow! This thin, black cording I chose was tricky because it kept wanting to dodge the needle. Hold it straight the best you can and don’t go too fast. You don’t want it to look wavy.
When the cord is sewn all away around, we’re really close to a finished pad.
This is when I realized that the underside of my spine had some rough seams from the quilted fabric coming together. Better safe than sorry I say, so I cut some fabric to lay on the underside and cover up the seams that might potentially rub Simon.
I just sewed down a strip of fabric on top of these rough seams with white top and bobbin thread.
New, soft underside!
The only step left (which for me came in baby pad 2.0) was to sew on girth straps. Why? Well, without girth straps your pad may do this…
I bought some cheap cotton tape, and just matched what my pattern saddle pad had as far as girth strap length and placement.
I sewed it down with white thread, and took special care to make sure that strap was STRONG. This meant I did a zig zag stitch, and went back and forth several times on each side.
With the girth straps added, my pad was really done!
It’s had several rides, and held up well. I’ll be modifying the pattern slightly by doing the sides a bit shorter and also making the girth strap shorter (my cotton tape stretched some). Otherwise, I’m really happy with it!
All in all, materials cost me $20. However I have enough cording to make another saddle pad with, and I think I could get by with 3/4 yard fabric instead of 1 yard. That will cut my costs down some, but for me having fun color options is pretty important. Even though you can get some baby pads with nice piping or under $20, I like the DIY option. The pad probably took me around an hour to make, and I certainly could have gone faster.
Is this a project that you might try?