Three things I love : sewing, sidesaddles and history. How excited was I when I saw that the Historical Sew Fortnightly had a challenge that I could do something for?
The theme was Flora and Fauna, which I have loosely interpreted as being appropriate for a horsey-print canvas sidesaddle cover for Somerset. Because she was looking rather sad, dusty and messy in the corner of my room.
So, to find a pattern.
There are none.
So I browsed the interwebs, and had very helpful people like Leila Marvin, Sarah Parry and Suzy VanderPeer send me photos and info about genuine, turn of the century covers.
Basically, in the days before elastic, covers were made-to-measure for each saddle.
Erk. Look at all those tricky angles! The cover was slashed under the leaping head so you could get it on and off the heads. Many were piped around all the edges, and had split pigskin keepers, reinforcing and/or accents.
I’d never drafted something myself before, and to be honest, a sidesaddle cover was a hard thing to start with. But that’s never stopped me before….
Then I started sewing. So far all was going well, but for some reason (it seemed logical at the time) I put the heads pieces together first, then tried attaching all the bigger pieces to that. It didn’t work. Everything pulled out of shape and it was awful.
I guess it was like trying to make a sleeve, then sew the rest of the dress around it.
I ended up unpicking almost everything, attaching the sides to the seat, then last of all the heads. It worked better.
Obviously it isn’t finished. That’s because Somerset isn’t finished. When she has flaps, flocked panels and girthing her underside will be a completely different shape to what it is now. So I can’t exactly ‘fit’ the cover to something that has yet to exist.
I’ve left heaps of extra material on the edges, and have about 2m of the canvas left. So when Somerset is finished (sometime in the never-never) I can finish the cover to match her.