"Smile! It keeps your brain from falling out when you're frustrated!" - Clinton Anderson (Downunder Horsemanship)

"They say boys never grow up, their toys just get bigger. I say I never grew up, my 'My Little Ponies' just got bigger!" - Me

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Horses, Renaissance, Sewing, and.....Star Wars!?!?

I love being a seamstress. I never used to be one. I think it was 2004 before I made my first attempt. I started going to the renaissance festivals more and more with friends, and dressing the part in borrowed garb. I wanted to get some of my own outfits, but they were way too expensive to buy them already made, especially considering you can make them yourself for literally a fraction of the cost, but I had no idea how to sew. My first outfit, I bought the fabric and had someone make it for me. I wanted another outfit, but that still meant paying to have it made.

I finally said what the heck, how hard can it be, and took the plunge. I bought the cheapest sewing machine I could find, some cheap fabric, and a skirt pattern and headed home. I had no idea how to sew. Had never used a sewing machine before in my life. And really had no one that could teach me how to do any of it. But I read through the manual to figure out how to set the machine up and how to thread the darn thing and attempted to decipher the "greek" on the pattern pieces and instructions. I was flying by the seat of my pants and figuring it out as I went, and thankfully being an engineer and fairly mechanically inclined, sewing actually turned out to be pretty easy, at least for me and my oddly wired engineering/programming brain, it's all simple logic, like putting together a puzzle, and what I didn't understand, I could usually figure out after some thought and a little trial and error. And before I knew it, I had two new skirts!

Ok, I can do this! Next project, pirate garb! I tested the waters, so might as well jump right in the deep end! I picked up tips and ideas here and there from friends that made their own renaissance gear, and paid more attention to the construction of various garments, and soon, I had made my first full outfit! And my sewing skills exploded from there! I have quite an array of completed renaissance costumes in my closet, and several in progress. And have gone the full spectrum of renaissance garb, from simple wench garb, to the courtly dresses of the nobles with all heavy layers and corsets and pleats, etc. Throw in a little Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings for good measure, and a bridesmaid dress! It's been a fun journey to improve my skills and see what all I can create. And with so many ideas in my head...... And for the most part, I'm pretty much self taught.

   My Garb Closet              The Garb Gallery

This blog is about my horse life, right? Well, eventually my new sewing skills branched over into my horse life. Wayne started that, Cody helped it along, and now Lady gets in on the fun too. Wayne had a long full tail that I kept trimmed and inch or two above the ground, but his tailbone was actually docked like a draft horse (a fad the Haflinger breed went through for a while), so it was amazing that he grew any length of tail at all, let alone down to the ground! Considering the massively thick tails on his offspring, I can only image what a beautiful tail he would have had if his tail had not been docked, but hey, I was more than happy with what he had, and his mane definitely made up for anything this tail lacked. But when your tailbone is docked, yet those flaxen tresses on it hang clear to the ground, it's a little difficult to get that nice blonde tail out of the way of them road apples! So unless you wanted a tail that was flaxen at the top, and road apple green and gross at the bottom, a tail bag was required in the winter, and frequent washings, lots of show sheen, and the occasional tailbag in the summer!

Then along came Cody, who has that long thick lush tail that is the envy of any show horse. No fake tail required here! And while she had a superior summer fly swatter, in the mud season it collected mud like you would not believe and could leave every thing it touched plastered with the gooey stuff, and in the winter, the ice balls on the end of that thing was like getting whipped with a cat of nine tails if you were standing in the wrong place at the wrong time! Not to mention the destruction the mud and snow reeked on the end of that beautiful tail! Tailbag is a must in the mud and winter months on that show tail! And to protect it from the tail chewing goats at one place I boarded at, who seemed to prefer Cody's tail over all others! Go figure. Mmmmm....yesterday was show sheen, taste like cowboy magic today!

And Lady, well, she pretty much had no tail, it just hung to her hocks and was pitifully thin. But thanks to Wayne and Cody, I'm a little obsessive about beautiful long locks on my horses, so my furkids all get tailbags in the winter, and by summer, they all have beautiful fly swatters for the fly season. Even Lady has a pretty tail to the ground now.

But tailbags only last so long. Especially with the geldings in the next pasture reaching through the fence and ripping them off my girls, I swear the goats talked them into it so they could have a snack!! And you can only repair a tailbag so many times before there is just no repairing left to it. And while tailbags used to be like $5 a bag, it seemed like they took a sudden price increase and you were lucky to find one for under $10 a bag, and then there was shipping.

So how hard can it be to make one of these things? And it's gotta be cheaper than $10 a bag! Well, I bought a yard of lycra for $5 and got 7 tailbags out of it! You do the math! I will never buy a premade tail bag ever again!

My horses are usually pretty darn easy on their clothes, unless there's a blanket ripper in the pasture, but rips still happen. And soon my sewing skills paid off there too, and my poor sewing machine was fixing their winter blankets, sheets, slinkys, shipping boots, polo wraps, splint boots, fly masks, hay bags, the list goes on and on! If it belongs to my horses and is sewable, I've probably fixed it, sometimes more than once! And they all still have their original winter blankets, that are still going strong at 7 to 8 years old, even with the patchwork of repairs on them!

I miss that sweet furry little face.....

And this year I ventured into making show shirts for Western classes and selling them on ebay. Though at that point, I had to break down and replace my sewing machine. But I sure can't fault that $70 very basic cheapest one I would find machine! I put that thing through 6 years of hell, getting dragged down to the barn and repairing stuff for my horses (and sometimes other people's horses), and yards upon yards upon yards of fabric for costumes and misc clothing repairs, and getting dragged around to many a stitch n bitch with friends! But it was definitely getting a little on the wore out side, and if I was going to be making shirts to sell, I needed something a little more dependable. But on it's last leg or not, that old machine is still going, and been relegated to the horse repairs, because those filthy dirty horse clothes aren't coming anywhere near my new machine!

So this summer I bought a new machine, and upgraded a couple steps up from the old one. Oooo, this baby is nice! And I've been punching out show shirts over the past several months, which actually turned out to be easier to make than I thought they would be! It's been a lot of fun picking out fabric and adding all the bling, decorating each one a little different from the next! Almost makes me want to show western pleasure again.....almost! They don't sell on ebay quite as fast as I had hoped, but it's usually a nice little profit when they do, and an added bonus to put toward the horse hobby or sewing hobby, since I seem to have two rather expensive hobbies!! I suppose I could do a little bit more with marketing my shirts to get them to sell better, rather than just putting them on ebay, but honestly, I'm not looking to make a career out of them. I already have a career job, and a husband and horses, so my time is pretty limited already, I don't need another added pressure. So I have fun creating them as I feel like it/have time for, and when they sell, great, and if they don't, well, eventually they will.

Show Shirt Made So Far

But one of the added bonuses of making show shirts, is left over lycra fabric (and cheap lots of remnant lycra) make great tailbags! I have tailbags coming out my ears, so my furkids are definitely sporting some of the coolest/wildest/loudest tailbags in town! And I have more than I will ever use, so off they will eventually go on ebay too!!

And sometimes it's fun to combine the horse and renaissance hobby, even if only for pictures! I mean, what's a musketeer without her loyal mount!

Or taking a ride on the castle lawn (ok, so the castle is actually photoshopped in)!

And as soon as my gold and burgundy court gown was even remotely wearable, I had to have pictures riding Cody in it, because the fabrics in that gown couldn't match Cody's coat more perfectly! It's definitely still a work in progress, it needs sleeves, and a few mistakes fixed, and a new undershirt, since Cody completely destroyed the undershirt that day with green slobber stains that didn't come out, but I work on it as I feel like it, and hopefully next summer I will be up on Cody's back again, and there will be more pictures to come!

Though lately I've been a bit bored with the western pleasure shirts (have a few stocked up waiting to sell) and the renaissance projects, so I've switched gears a bit toward movie costuming for something new to try. And needless to say, my inner geek is having a ball......

Hmmm....western pleasure and horses, that works. Renaissance and horses, that works. Star Wars and horses?!?!  Well, Obi-Wan had Boga, I guess I have Cody! Yes, I am a geek, the cowgirl look is merely a disguise!

*insert slight move of hand here*

This is not the geek you're looking for.....

You can go about your business......

Move along......


  1. I'm impressed...I wish I was that creative!

  2. Wow. I am some serious kind of jealous. That is amazing. And your photoshop skills are nothing to scoff at either.

  3. I used to participate in the SCA, but my sewing skills never got past the tunic dress. Love the shirts you've done - I don't do western showing, but I'd really suggest you start an Etsy store. That attracts people who are looking for handmade items.

    Every thought of creating a line of riding split skirts for parades? Wouldn't that be fun!

  4. This is so cool! I had no idea you were self taught, and not all that long ago! I hope it pays off for you (literally:), but if not your stuff is VERY cool. With our barn growing by leaps and bounds I bet you could make some money repairing blankets too:)
    I've always loved those pics of you and Cody. So pretty.