Monday, March 6, 2017

Blanket Sewing Adventures

A few weeks ago in my "shopping spree" I had mentioned that I ordered stuff to make some changes to Penn's SmartPak Ultimate Turnout Hoods because he has a new best friend who undresses him.

2" by 10yd roll of Nylon $16.20

1 pack of 10 Rubber keepers - $1.95

2 sets of Surcingle Clips, $2.50 each

4 Replacement Clips, $1.69 each (PLUS $7.95 shipping...)

Basically, the hoods are great. They're super indestructible (I'm sure Penn's hoods will now rip and die). What they are not is discouraging to extreme tactile nosed horses.

A simple velcro closure is nothing for Penn's new friend Teddy. Teddy has Penn's hood off in minutes each morning and it only stays off the ground because of a single metal clip attaching it to the body blanket at the whithers.
Super long ELASTIC and velcro straps for 2 of the 3 hood-to-body connections.
The dirt is from where I tied knots in the elastic to shorten the damn straps, which ended up not being short enough to prevent gaping between the hood and body blanket. We would pull the knot through the D-ring, then shove the velcro through the D-ring AGAIN and velcro it to itself around the knot.

I got most of the pieces in the mail just before I left for my last set of lessons with GP Trainer, so I was off to the sewing races!

This poor machine was suffering greatly by the end.

I started with the light weight hood because it was cold outside and Penn didn't need it.

First thing I did was tape off everything to about where I wanted it. The goal was to convert the existing velcro straps into surcingle hook straps with a small amount of velcro leftover. I suppose I could have sewn an inch wide strip of nylon to the velcro, then sewn a D-ring onto the hood to do a snap clip instead, but I still like the look of this better. The clip and D-ring would have allowed the hood to still be opened because I think Teddy would still be able to tug on the velcro and separate it... even if the clip held the hood wrapped around Penn's neck.

Cut 6 to 8" lengths of nylon from the 10yd roll and tape it together. Well planned sewing.
Mixed with VERY rusty sewing skills that are very obvious because I couldn't get gray heavy duty thread from the local craft store (and I was unwilling to switch brands of thread when I knew this brand would hold up to heavy pony use).

Sewing the existing velcro to itself proved to be quite difficult. This sewing machine has managed vinyl layers for my trailer's new butt and chest bar padding, but it had a tough time with these because it was so thick when folded over.

No X's for these- I wasn't even able to get a second row of stitching on one- so I ran the machine forward and back many many times, and then sewed the tape right in where I couldn't pull it out.

It was easy to sew the new straps to the hood.

OMG the poor sewing skills. I was having trouble maneuvering the hood under the machine and making straight lines, and getting the right speed... sigh.
But the end result was very securely fastened, if a little ugly. So... success?

Light hood = mostly done. (still had the hood-to-body attachments left)

I did the medium weight hood later in the week (I traded hoods at the barn)... which is where things took a turn for the worse for my sewing machine. I got the new nylon pieces sewn up nicely this time (yay!), opting to skip the X in favor of sewing the square twice because it made for a cluttered final look (or it could be my poor sewing skills, one or the other).

I had the hardest time getting the surcingle buckles sewn onto the existing velcro. The machine did one doubled over strap, but towards the end was making terrible clunking noises and stitches started missing. It just wouldn't for the second. On try 4 or 5, I ended up getting about a centimeter's worth of good solid stitches, and then a couple random stitches further across the strap, so I called that good enough. I tied the ends of the thread to each other and around the velcro to make it work. I could tug on it pretty hard and it still felt quite solid. I resolved to make this work and have a blanket repair shop put in some solid stitches for me later.

I had a small bit of trouble getting the new nylon pieces attached to the hood, but I got it done and it looked much better than the first time around!

The new straps look better! But you can see where I had to give up on the old one. It was just like having Tim Gunn telling me, "Make it work!" in the final hour on Project Runway... Except this is Project Pony?

Of course the actual snap clips I ordered from Dover took FOREVER to get to me, arriving the day I left for GP Trainer's, so I couldn't have the project complete before our warm spell was over. I got home around 10pm Sunday night after lessoning and driving all weekend, had Husband help me take out the knots in the elastic with pliers, sat down at the sewing machine, and tried to sew the clips on to the hood-to-body straps (because Penn needed both hoods back the next day because we were due for another "cold" snap).

I say "tried" because the machine had hit the point of, "I just can't even." Something as simple as mid-weight elastic was outside this poor machine's abilities. It's a heavy duty machine, it should be able to do this with ease. Husband asked if we had ever changed the needle since we bought the machine, because if we hadn't, it's been through many very tough projects. I didn't know, so we popped the needle out and lo and behold, the darn thing was not the strongest one in the sewing box, nor was it straight anymore. It had a nice solid curve to it, which is probably why it was missing stitches on the velcro and just couldn't even on the elastic.

I popped in a new, very heavy duty needle, and the machine flew through sewing the last 4 clips to the hoods. Success!

Ready for playtime!

This project was actually really quick- I think I spent 2-3 hours over the course of a 3 nights working on it? Most of that time was spent getting the machine set up properly, figuring out how to wind bobbins, and trouble shooting. It wasn't hard, but this heavy duty machine is probably the weakest one you'd want to use to do it. It did cost a moderate amount to do, around $45 after shipping costs (and I have a ton of gray nylon leftover that I don't know what to do with, so I factored in the entire $16 roll). I think if I had asked a blanket repair service to do it, it would have cost more though- they'd charge me to wash the hoods (if I didn't do it myself), at least $5 a strap, but probably more since each one needed metal, so maybe $10 a strap? I needed 6 straps on each hood to be adjusted/created. I also bet the turnaround time would not have been a few days, which is how long it took me to do. Overall, I feel pretty good about doing it myself, even if it the stitching looks a little shoddy.

A clean hood attached to a very dirty blanket.

So far my skills have held up to Teddy's abuse! With the shorter velcro, it's actually a little difficult for human hands to unhook the surcingle buckles (which makes me even more pleased with my decision to do it this way rather than sew snap clips to the end of the velcro). I've made the BO happy too because the wrapped-up-knot process in the hood-to-body attachment made it very difficult to swap out hoods. Now it's just unclip and go!


  1. Lol Project Pony! I need to add hood attachments to a few of my blankets, but I don't have a machine. Seriously considering biting the bullet and having the blanket people do it for me. Sigh. Bai money.

    1. Have the blanket people do it for you! I've had simple nylon and velcro straps added before, NBD, and the lady I used only charged me $5 (I had it done while she had Mikey's clothes for cleaning anyway). I'm sure it'll end up cheaper to just have them do it than buying a machine that can do it.

  2. I love this!! I've been hand sewing my blanket tears because I know that my baby machine would never be able to handle this but maybe some day I can get a more heavy duty machine so that I can participate in Project Pony haha

    1. I love my heavy duty machine, but I don't fix tears on my own. I'll fix little things that go wrong (like a square of velcro from one of the hoods had some ripping event and the stitching started coming out- I sewed that back on). Anything on the body of the blanket I have a professional fix!

  3. Oooh nice job!! I remain devastated to have killed my sewing machine,....