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My kids, thanks mostly to the influence of my eldest, are 100% into hobby horses.  So much so that they turned old sticks and beach buckets into temporary hobby horses.  Around Katie’s 7th birthday, I hunted the whole of Cape Town down for a hobby horse.  I came up with nothing, except a vague thought of making some myself.  Well, my mom came to the rescue at the last minute and solved the hobby horse problem for Katie’s birthday, but the boys wanted one too, and so did Kiera’s friend, Lea.  So the thought of making one resurfaced.  To cut a long story short, I made Lea one and then promised the kids that we would make more together as a hand craft project in the winter.

Well, the winter came and went. So, when Kiera came down with a case of Chicken-Pox-a-la-False-Alarm, we had two days left of our Spring holidays.  Two days where no one would come near us and we were all pretty much house bound.  It was a case of “now or never”.  So we went with now.  Turns out that it wasn’t as easy for the kids that I thought it would be.  Unlike their sewing projects last year, this one was a little more tricky.  So they did about 30% of the work, while I did the other 70%.  But we did take pictures for their school books and for this tutorial.  They have evidence that they were involved and I have all the tips and reminders for future.  If I ever make more of these!

Most of what I did comes directly from this video series you can watch in segments on YouTube.  The only big differences in our horses are the ears, nostrils, tails and stick covering.  Here goes our attempt at a tutorial!

What you need for one horse:

  • 1 metre of furry fabric (fake fur, fleecey fabric, even old towels work well)
  • 1 pair of teddy bear eyes
  • 1 ball of wool
  • stuffing
  • wooden dowel stick, roughly 2cm in diameter (or anything like pvc electrical piping, even irrigation piping works!)
  • heavy duty fishing gut
  • 60cm by 10cm of stretchy fabric that matches the horse to cover the dowel stick
  • 10cm square of felt (brown or another colour for the nostrils)
  • old pair of pantyhose or knee highs

Step One:

Draw the shape of your horse head onto paper for the pattern.

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Pin and cut it out (don’t ask me what Katie is wearing – lately, she goes through about 6 changes of outfits a day – all having some specific character or theme reference. This, I believe, was the Little House on the Prairie look…)

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Step Two:

Cut out two ear shapes from paper.  About 12cm across from the bottom and 12cm in height.  Make the second ear piece slightly smaller.  Place the ear pieces onto the doubled fabric.  Pin and cut.  You should have two large ear pieces and two smaller ear pieces.

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Step Three

Sew the ears:  Place the large piece RIGHT side to the smaller piece’s RIGHT side.  The smaller piece forms the inner part of the ear.  For the kids’ horses, I used the wrong side of the furry material as the inside of the ear.  Sew the edges clean together.  This makes the furry side fold over a bit, keeping the inner part of the ear “inside”.  Cut a slit into the top of the horse head cut-out, about 10 cm from the top of the head, 3cm long.  This is where the ear goes in (the video tutorial hand sews the ears on later, but I didn’t like the way it look, nor the fact that it was easy for little kids to pull off).  Pop the ear into the slit and sew it shut from the underside.

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Step Four:

A horse’s mane!  Find a firm strip of cardboard about 15 to 25cm wide and about 50cm length.  Or just use something that you have already that loosely matches the criteria.  This is what we used: my rotary cutter ruler thingymajiggy.  Then wrap the wool you’d like to use for the mane around and around and around and around until you have a nice thick mane.  Snip the mane through on the one side.

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Then GENTLY ease it off the cardboard/cutter thingymajiggy and make it arch around side 1 of the horse’s head (right side up).

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Make sure that the mane overlaps the head by about 1cm.  This ensures that when you sew it all together, the machine should secure it well and no loose bits should come out.  In theory that is.

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Step Five:

Pin the head together.  Place the second head piece right side DOWN and pin the mane and both sides together.  Leave the neck part unpinned.  Sew all together, except the neck part of course.  It gets tricky because the fabric is quite bulky by now, especially if you use the fake furry material that I used on the girls’ horses.

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Step Six:

Turn the head the right way round and put the eyes in.  I forgot to photograph this part.  Simply, buy some teddy bear eyes from a local craft store.  Decide where you are going to place them and then pop them on.  Quite easy really.  Then, stuff that head! :)

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Step Seven:

The Tail! (Here is where the tutorial runs out of steam, because I forgot to take so many of the photos!)  Wrap the tail wool around a large book.  Make sure that it works out longer than the mane.

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To secure the tail nicely onto the wooden pole (cut it down to size first) drill a hole in the top of the pole about 3 cm down and then a hole through the side of the pole about 3 cm down.  Tie the tail wool onto the pole using heavy duty fishing line (gut).

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Step Eight

Cover the stick with a “sleeve” of stretchy fabric.  I cut two strips of about 3cm each in width, sewed them together, turned them right side out and then stretched it up over the pole like a stocking.  You can just see some of the fabric in the photo below on the pole.  These particular ones are made out of old stockings of the girls from when they were little.  It’s important to cover the top of the stick that is going to go into the head with more stuffing.  I used an old pair of pantihose to secure the stuffing to the top of the pole.  This prevents the pole from wearing away at the fabric inside the head and eventually popping out the top one day.

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Step Nine:

Push the stick well into the head, push more stuffing in around the stick until the head is the shape and firmness that you would like.  Then, tack fishing line around the open end and gather the material together, tying it tightly around the neck of the horse.  The video tutorial explains how to secure the head well.

Step Ten:

Sew the last little embellishments on.  I added only nostrils made out of felt and shaped like an upside down comma, sewn on with small stitches.  Later on, I made halters out of rope and other rope-like material.

Step Eleven:

Step back and enjoy the kids’ faces when they see their horses.  They love them.

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The kids have played with them non stop since.  While we were creating them, lots of thought went into their names.  When we eventually breathed the last bit of life into them, they were all ready to be named.  Sam’s is Black Coal (Coal for short), Kiera’s was Moonlight, but is now Winter, Micah’s is Fire (his favourite pet name) and Katie’s is Top Deck.

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Two afternoons worth of work – I think the kids did well to cope with the anticipation and the more mundane parts of creating them.  Good going kids!

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