Monday, October 31, 2011

Bar-Bar's Blanket

I wouldn't call myself any sort of expert in the blanket repair area, but considering how rough Junior is on his jammies I've done my share of repairs.  And I've learned some things.

Old Man Cinnabar (Junior's former turnout baby-sitter) tore the leg strap connection off and lost some of the blanket fabric in the process.

The blanket has two layers at the edges; the pretty green outside, and a smooth nylon lining.  Both are sandwiched together inside the folded-over binding, and of course they were not torn evenly.  I chose to "patch" both pieces individually and then sandwich it all.  I have a stock of black super-heavy backed nylon I found at a fabric warehouse.  I've no idea what the denier is, but it's REALLY tough and REALLY heavy, heavier, in fact than what any of my blankets are made out of.  I also have a stock of black rip-stop nylon I used for the lining.  One nice thing about having chosen black as my signature color for all things horse is that this repair fabric matches EVERYTHING from his blankets to my tack bags and his hay net which is still in the repair pile. :)

Once I patched both sides I needed to decipher the actual shape of the blanket edge, which required some good-faith guess work in the end. Then I sandwiched the binding back on and gave it a few lines of super-stitching.  I needed to replace the dee-ring and used seat-belt webbing to do it.  Pretty much the strongest stuff you can find.  It's actually stronger than the dee ring.   The finished repair doesn't match, of course, but I don't think he'll mind.  Hopefully that'll last him a while.

Inside view of repair and new Dee-ring.

Outside view of non-matching patch, and you can see how much of the dirt transferred itself to the black patch.

Some things I've learned about horse blankets in the last few years combined with my knowledge of fabric/sewing:

1. Blankets are often more cheaply made than their prices reflect. This shows itself usually in popped seams.  If the lining in the blanket is not made with some extra "give" it tends to take stress poorly.  For example: take a look at the inside of a lined jacket/ blazer.  You will notice the lining is roomier than the coat itself.  You'll see this especially in the sleeves, and usually in a center-back pleat.  This makes it easier to move in.  The lining is there so you can slide yourself in and out and not much more.  Since lining is thin and inherently weaker that the wool of a jacket, the extra room means you can bend your elbow without being squeezed.  I wonder if one of those $400 Rambo blankets would be strong enough to withstand my pony, but that's a pretty big investment to have to keep doing repairs.

2. Blankets can cost nearly as much to repair as to purchase.  It took me about an hour to do the repair and I refuse to charge a friend with an elderly horse, even though she offered, but this repair would probably cost $40-$60 depending on how much they'd charge for materials.  Same with cleaning.  I made the mistake of having my first blanket laundered for me.  I was in a time crunch.  It was a $65 blanket and I spent $28 having it laundered.  Ouch.

3.  Some repair shops won't repair dirty blankets.  This can be a hassle for you, but please think of it from the shop's perspective: All that fine horse dirt and horse hair can do some serious damage to a sewing machine. I don't do a ton of this work so it's not going to kill my own machine to do it, but if my livelihood depended on the investment of my machinery working and not requiring costly and time consuming repairs I'd have made her wash it.  On the other hand, sometimes the agitation of the washing process can make a damaged area more difficult to repair, especially if the poly-fil is sticking out.  So having a consultation might be a good idea.  Ask the shop if they'll repair it dirty, or ask what you can do to minimize the potential further damage.

4.  Laundromats HATE horse blankets.  They hate them for 3 reasons (actually the same reasons you don't want to wash them in your own machine) and I've got a fix for each: 1. They are FILTHY. They leave muddy furry residue inside the machines.  The filthier they are the harder they are to get clean anyway - you end up washing them in mud, so hose them off and let them dry, or better yet, take your stiffest horse brush and brush as much of the dried dirt/poo/hair off the blankets, or throw them over a clothes line and beat the crap out of them.  2. TOO BIG.  Find a laundromat that has the 50lb or 75lb capacity front load machines.  They are awesome and actually have enough room for the blankets to move around and get clean.  3. BUCKLES can cause some damage banging around.  Worse yet the T buckles can get themselves caught in the drum holes which is also bad for the blanket.  My ingenious plan for this: Infant socks and a tagging gun.  Cover those little buckles with silencing padding.  I'm pretty proud of this one, actually.


  1. I miss Sarah, Nike and Cin. <3 Hopefully we can all get together sometime soon.

  2. Crumble! I washed my first blanket this fall in my home machine...and beat the crap out of my dryer drum!! Oye! Could have used the sock advice in advance!

  3. So, do you go skulking in to the laundromat with a wadded up blanket under your arm/in a garbage bag, hoping they won't notice? Or are they "okay" with it if you've at least made an attempt to brush/beat off the worst of the debris?

    You have officially just inspired a blog post of my own. Tune in later... think I'll title it, "My Son's No Good, Very Bad Idea." Yes, it has to do with washing horse equipment! :-)

  4. Nicely done! I actually do wash my horse stuff at home, haven't had any problems. I do brush it off with a mud brush first though. I wish I had your repair skillz!

  5. @RiderWriter, I've chatted with the gal that's always there. I assume she's the owner or manager but I'm not sure. The first time I went there I used the nice machine and nobody said anything, but the second time another lady immediately spotted me coming in and said "Is that a horse blanket!?! You can only use the machines." and pointed to the smaller older machines. I made sure I was very polite and thanked her and did as I was told. I then I asked her about the larger capacity (and newer) machines and so we got to talking about why I couldn't use them and then we discussed my ideas for covering the buckles and she was open to it.