Sunday, January 3, 2010


How many times have we all heard that? Look in the stall or out in the field and see our horse standing there in the freshly shredded remnants of their blanket, sheet or both. I have known horses who it seemed like they lived to shred and destroy blankets. I have also seen blankets so shredded, you question how many times they can be repaired before the owner just gives up and either buys another blanket or says Enough! and forgets about even trying any more.

This is my TB mare MAM's blanket. Not a home made version of my design, but this is a 1200 denier turnout blanket I got from Petsmart when they removed the State Line Tack/equine departments from their stores. I picked this up for an unbeatable price of $25. Some things you can't or rather just Don't pass up. She ripped it last year, towards the end of the cold season and although it was cleaned and put away for this year, I didn't bother to fix it. And this time procrastination has paid off in the blogs favor...

For anyone willing to fire up the sewing machine and give it a shot repairing their own, hopefully this can make it all easy for you. The blankets are not tough to work on, just bulky and seemingly obnoxious at times, but in the end it's not anything tough to do.

If you are already familiar with sewing, you know to use matching thread, run it through here there and the eye of the needle. Pull the thread from the bobbin up and you're ready to get started.

I start by laying the blanket out flat- like in the middle of the living room floor, because we all know the horses are in charge, even inside the house... Lay all the pieces where they are supposed to go or were originally attached and see that the edges all line up. This is if you were able to find all the pieces and recover them from where the horse is at- stall, pasture, round pen.

If you were not able to recover all the pieces lay the replacement fabric under the blanket to size it up and see that there is enough for the giant 'patch' you are about to create. I start by pinning everything together. If the edge of the fabric runs left to right, the pins go up and down. This is so that as you sew, when using just a plain straight stitch, you can sew right over the pins and keep on going.

Occasionally the needle will come down and hit the pin. One of them will either bend or break. I usually find I break at least one or more needles on every project. It's me. That's an issue I have with sewing. It makes my sewing perfectionist mother absolutely nuts. There are a few other things about my sewing that has that effect on her, but we won't go into that now.

If this is a blanket with a shell, insulation and lining, I start with pinning just the shell material first. Fix the outside and work your way in, sewing one layer at a time. After the pieces are all pinned together, wrong sides of the fabric facing out, if you prefer to baste them together by hand, now's your chance. I just pin it.

Hand basting to me is a waste of time and thread, since you machine stitch it then go back and take all the hand basting out. My Home-Ec teacher in school wasn't to fond of this, since it was not in the pattern instructions for any of the sewing projects. She also didn't like that I thumb pressed the seams and told her "That's how my Mom does it and nothing she makes looks 'home-made'..." Anyone care to guess my grades in the class? Yeah, not so good...

Once the blanket is pinned together or hand basted, it's time to take it over to the machine. Start at one edge of the torn pieces and put them under the presser-foot a few stitch lengths in. I start by reverse stitching back to the edge, then just stitching across the tear. This helps secure the ends of your threads so it doesn't all just come undone and need to be restitched later on.

If your machine is in a cabinet or a place where it is always out, then this shouldn't be an issue of the blanket being on a particular surface like the kitchen table. If the machine is being dragged out for blanket repairs and the kitchen table is a concern- the dollar store is your new friend. A cheap huge table cloth will protect it all or at the very least, keep it clean when used like a drop cloth.

I stitch along the tear one end to the other, reverse stitch the end and snip the threads. When working on the outside shell of the blanket, I then fold the excess of the material down and stitch it along the edge, reinforcing the new seam.

This picture is a little blurry, but not so much you can't get the idea. This blanket has insulation and lining, of which the tear only affected the shell and lining materials. Since the tear is far enough down the side of the blanket that the insulation was not affected, the lining is not an issue.

In a case like this the lining can be trimmed off and stitched to the shell fabric, which is what I did with this one. The shell fabric had torn along the web trim, so I removed the stitching on the web trim along the shell fabric, pinned it accordingly and stitched it all together again.

This shows where the trim was ripped off the shell fabric. After sewing the trim back to the blanket shell, I moved it all back to the middle of the living room floor. Lay the blanket out again and pin down the ends of any straps that have been torn off. Go back to the machine, stitch them on, reverse stitching as needed for added strength. Watch for any D rings or snaps, help the machine through any really thick spots and you are now done.

Congratulations on a job well done!


  1. thinking I would just ship my repair jobs south , my sewing skills would stop your momma's heart!

  2. Timely posting :-) What do you use for patch fabric? Our local fabric store does not have any material that even comes close to the original blanket fabric.

  3. OMG! the job I hate the most......repairing blankets. But with a herd the size of mine I do it. I even have a commercial machine that makes getting through some of the really thick parts much easier but I only use it when I have a number of blankets to repair.

    I don't know what size needle you are using but if you are using what's standard for your machine, that might be part of your problem with breaking needles. I used the heaviest guage needle I can get for blanket repairs because I find I break fewer AND those needles usually will accommodate a heavier, tougher thread which means my repairs should hold up longer. Notice I said "should" since some horses just can't resist testing that newly repaired blanket and there's really no thread tough enough to take on a determined horse. LOL

    Great post!

  4. Margarita Girls- try an upholstry fabric shop, harvesting usable pieces off old blankets or drop me a line and I'll tell you what I use. Might just shock you. It's what I am going to be making my blankets out of. Also if you want, I can send you some as needed. Reasonably priced at around $9 a yard- 6-8 feet wide I think. Note to CCC- this is the outer shell fabric...

    RR- the largest needles I have seen in the regular sewing supply shops are 16's and supposed to be used for jeans and leather. I have a couple packs of 18's and 21's. I try not to force the machine. And yes, I have even snapped those!

    I am sorta looking at industrial machines, but then when I line up a manufacturer to make it all, I won't need the machine... Catch 22 there.

    The machines I have though are all OLD. As in, they are made of metal. Not the plastic stuff you find everywhere. The White is older than I am and the latest find- Montgonery Ward electronic stretch stitch machine, was on CL for Free. The specialty stitches 'didn't work'. It does when you put the cam on right and adjust the settings where they should be. I read the instruction book to figure that out. Something I don't normally do. Ever. Just ask my hubby. :)

    FV- we could Always tell when Mom messed up on something. The words "Shit, Damn and Hell!" could be heard coming from her. Always those words, Always in that order, Always in the same tone. Any guesses where I get it from?

  5. I actually know a trick. I know. Shocking.
    Waterproof sheets and blankets.
    You know the ones we are not supposed to even wash with detergent or dry because it effects the waterproof factor negatively?
    Okay here goes.
    Goop. Yep, that is the name. You place the fabric of the outer shell where it is supposed to be.
    And then you create a closing seam with Goop. And then, you take a piece of clear plastic and gently smoosh the Goop into a flat seam.
    And then, you leave it the hell alone for like 24 hours.
    Scotchguard spray can be a magical restore too for that waterproof factor.
    CnJ I need your links too. I know I said this. I did didn't I?

  6. As an after thought? I do not like to repair blankets.
    And I do not want anything that I can't wash and use dryer sheets on.
    I want Kevlar blankets CnJ.
    Can you make?

  7. I think 16 needles are too fine, I go through those like crazy if I use them. 21's are good but of course will bend or break if hit with enough force. It's just not a job that is "easy" on needles, that's for sure.

    Well if you're talking about supplies, do you have a source for a heavy trim/binding. I have blankets that need to be reinforced around where the leg strap goes in. The blanket repair that used to be local used the same product they used as trim on their blankets and it worked great. Only problem now that I need this stuff......they are gone. Any ideas!

  8. "I want Kevlar blankets.."
    OMG - too funny!!!

  9. Dena- I know a guy at the DuPont Kevlar facility. I have 3 different types of Kevlar fabric. It's all BRIGHT YELLOW! Not florescent yellow, just BRIGHT YELLOW!!! I was trying to come up with a protective hoof boof that would retain some moisture but still breathe and dry on it's own. That was back when Mo was around...

    RR- a lot of the blankets like the Big D's from back in the day... used either leather or heavy vinyl around the strap openings. The Leather Factory has shops nationwide and also sells online. It's one of those stores I could spend A LOT of money in... And have a pile of stuff for projects I may shamefully never get to. No worrying about fraying or wearing out so much, but as you said if a horse is determined to tear it up-it's a goner. The issue with vinyl is it doesn't breathe, but depending on the location you sew it on the blanket and considering the size of where you put it-little to no issue involved.

    Also if they lay down and manage to get a leg through or shoe caught in the straps- I would rather repair or replace a few straps or an entire blanket than have an injured horse.

    Strap Works sells nylon webbing in an assortment of widths, weights and colors, by the yard. Not exactly sure on their pricing since I find mine at a local shop- which handles upholstery materials for home, auto and marine applications.

  10. Dena- I sent them last night. Late last night, but in your inbox...

  11. Bright yellow works! I could rename the place The Sunshine Factory.
    Now if they caused the horses to fart rainbows we would be gazillionaires.
    So seriously, I can have Kevlar?
    Think about the marketing opportunities during hunting season!?!
    How expensive?
    I want 11. That one horse will simply need to learn to run faster than a speedinjg
    (just kidding)make it an even dozen.

  12. Dena the Kevlar comes in different weights and thicknesses. Nothing that would stop a shot, not going to keep them dry, don't know about the insulating factor, but it would prevent or diminish the extent of knife wounds... Even the bulletproof vests need to be replaced every 5 years or so.

    Maybe if you light their farts you will see rainbows going up in smoke. There's gotta be a country song about that.

  13. Man, I come on here to get edumacated about blanket repair and what do I read about, lighting horse farts!

    TSK, TSK, Tsk!!

  14. eeek, 14th!
    I have nothing useful to add.
    So I won't:)

    Sew On, Lassies!

  15. Now CCC you know that we are the kind of folks who not only think outside of the box.
    We live outside of the box.ROLMAO

  16. ^^^yeah..and that would be game, set, and match...

  17. Someone's keeping score?

    Man am I out of the loop or what? I think I need to go home.

  18. Another hijack! I have an urgent boarding question!

    I will try to be brief (and see I have failed).

    Current boarding:
    1. Dirt cheap.
    2. 1/2 acre or so dry lot (good size for where I live).
    3. Funky 3-sided run in I have improved with stall mats, bedding, etc. If I move, stall mats come with me.
    4. Lots of oak trees for shade in summer. Like the shade, but the horses eat the acorns. See #7 below.
    5. High-tensile fencing.
    6. BO is nicest guy on planet but is new to horses.
    7. Hay is not always greatest quality.
    8. No good hay storage, so sometimes there is mold, and I have to point it out, and I am not certain they are really checking it.
    9. MUD! He already has thrush.
    10. Very scenic with parks and trails adjacent to property. No riding facilities though, so I take lessons next door where there is a covered arena (only stall boarding next door so that is not an option).
    11. Lots of people around.
    12. Lots of absentee owners and pitiful, sad, mud covered horses that need to see the farrier.

    Potential boarding:
    1. 2X the cost (not a primary concern, but a concern).
    2. 1 acre pasture with grass (may need a grazing muzzle initially).
    3. Shelter with roof only.
    4. No trees, only shade in hot summers will be the "shelter."
    5. No-climb (brand new) with hot wire for top strand.
    6. BO is former trainer and show judge. Seems very nice.
    7. No hay at all, only alfalfa cubes and pasture grass. I could feed a flake of something else to balance all that alfalfa if I need to as I go out daily.
    8. Hay storage not an issue as there is no hay.
    9. Little to no mud.
    10. Less scenic but not trashy. No parks, but 40 acre property (HUGE for my area). Will be very unattractive come summer when everything dies. 3 arenas with sand, not covered, no formal lessons, but something could be arranged or I can bring in instructor.
    11. Not a lot of boarders, I might be lonely.
    12. Fat, happy, clean horses with decent feet.

    HELP! I will not stall him, which really limits my options where I live. It's the mud and the crappy hay that's really getting to me. He will not like the move, he does not like new situations. Both are the same distance from my house, but in opposite directions.

    Sorry to be so OT! BTW, I can't sew a thing. My husband has to sew buttons on for me (he's Martha Stewart).

  19. NHM- Hijacking permitted here...

    Try speaking with the owner of the current place. Educating him as you go and trying to help him out will get things brought up to speed a bit better and quicker than just ignoring it and leaving. Improvements to his facility could mean a little higher boarding fees coming in for him and an increased property value. How can he argue that? If he doesn't wish to budge, ask if you can be the newly self appointed assistant barn manager, thus reducing the burden on him. You said you are there daily anyways.

    Try enticing him into adding the cost of farrier work to the monthly board. Figure 8 weeks as the average for trims- 6.5 trims per year. Comes to around $25 a month, per horse in our area. Everyone benifits with this one- the horses are getting done, the owners are paying for it and not hassled with when they can afford it and the farrier is getting a check. Schedule the farrier for once a month, those in need get done on that day. He shows up does half the horses one month the other half the next, puts them all on a rotating 8 week schedule- done.

    Move on to the hay- the boarders are paying for it, buying better hay, means you feed less per feeding and the horses maintain weight and health easier. See if he can broker in a deal with a feed supply and get better hay at a little lower cost. Never hurts to ask.

    Worming via feed through or paste wormers- again average it out over the year to shrink the cost per month & add it to the board. A lot of the online stores have a year long 'pack' with rotations for each horse around $55 which comes to around $4.50 a month. Buying in bulk online can get you better rates on the cost and sometimes free shipping. Another win!

    Put it to him as peace of mind knowing AC can't be called and the horses will all be well cared for with very little extra effort and minimal owner expense. If things don't change, then there's always the other place to consider.

  20. Thanks for that info. It's some of my older Big D blankets that are really in good shaped except that vinyl has become brittle and is breaking away. The blanket repair place here used to fix them by framing that hole where the strap goes through with the webbing that won't get brittle like the vinyl. And it looks nice. Also, if the horse gets stuck that hole won't tear, the leg strap will give. It's a much more difficult repair if that opening is torn back into the blanket (believe me I speak from experience) than replacing the leg strap so I'd like to find some of the webbing/trim to reenforce those openings on the blankets where the vinyl has gotten brittle BEFORE I have a problem.

  21. Thanks!

    A lot of the boarders have talked to him about the hay. The quality has improved, but he just does not have a good place to store it.

    I have told him he could increase the board many times (assuming certain circumstances like better hay), but I think he's afraid he will lose boarders. It's kind of a strange situation... He is such a nice guy, and he can't be making any money!

    Nobody is anywhere near bad enough to call AC, I just don't get why anyone would buy multiple, young horses and never come see them, let along do anything with them. I point out the really bad feet when I see them and he gets after the owners to take care of it.

    I think I almost prefer the semi self-care to having the BO choose the farrier or the worming medication. My vet does hold vaccination clinics 2x a year for any horses that don't otherwise see her.

    I spent all day driving around looking at other option. The leading place so far is pretty funky and "homey" and definitely not as attractive, but has a lot of facilities, a hay storage barn,
    and less mud. My gelding would have a lot less room, but WAY more than a stall (the paddock looks to be about 30' x 100'). With trees for shade and a nice "horsey house" as they call them. And they flat out have a self-care option in case I don't like their hay either! There are sheriff posse and search and rescue horses that board there, so I have to assume it's probably OK.

    I think I am probably WAY too picky! Oh, and I drove 30 minutes (too far) and looked at the perfect property, except every other word out of the woman's mouth was "Parelli." More than I can bear.

  22. NewhorseMommy, what about getting wooden pallets fron the local building supply or feed store . stack the hay on them and tarp it , keeps it up off the ground whare lots of waste happens and if the tarp is tied down well ... we have also unesd old tires under the stack. whatever it takes to get the feed up out of the mud

  23. It's on pallets and has tarps. I don't know if they are making sure to cover each time, or if the wind gets the tarps, or what. I know the most recent mold was on hay in a shed, not tarped, and there was a hole in the roof.

    I'm depressed. I'm on Google Earth measuring paddocks at various boarding places. The place in the lead is 150' x 20', although he would have it to himself. They have larger ones, but the only shade is the shelter. Where he is now measures 150' x 150' and he shares with one mare, but the BO would stuff 2 more horses in there if he could find them. Maybe I should look at it that way!

    Or maybe I should just leave him where he is and resign myself to constantly harassing the BO.

  24. sounds like the hay was either not the best quality tostart with or they are being careless covering it. It really isn't hard to do. Sorry you are having trouble as he does sound like a decent sort. I guess if you stay you will have to keep harrassing/educating him

  25. I think the funky place has won.

    It's certainly not as scenic, but I think that with the exception of having less space, my horse will be healthier there.

    I went out today and took another look around. I met a boarder that raved about the place.

    Then the older guy who runs it with his wife told me that the STB I saw the day before was his horse, and that he had had him for 27 years. Looked wistful and said he'd been a "good old horse." I almost cried. Someone that keeps their horse for that long in a happy retirement has got to be a good guy.

    I carefully looked at all the horses. All were fat, happy, interested to see me, and not a single one had mud on it! And all their feet looked good!

    Since I go out every day, I can turn out in one of the arenas so my guy can run around if he wants. It's 7 minutes from my office and near 2 feed stores.

    I am going to start with their hay and let them feed but I will clean and see how that goes. If I want to, I can provide my own hay because each shelter has it's own hay storage room attached.

    It's not scenic (train, flat landscape, power plant next door), but it's like a horsey village. I checked Google Earth and will get some afternoon shade from trees in the summer and can use his shelter.

    As a beginner, I think it will be nice to have all those people around, and it might be good for my insecure boy to get used to more activity around him.

    Best of all, he's not visible from the road. It's hard to describe the area, but it's Yahooville, and his paddock is directly across from the house and the barking dog (and away from the train).

    I'm not going to burn any bridges when I leave my current barn though, in case I want to go back!

    I'm hoping to move him as early as next week, because I have that's a 4-day weekend and can hang out with him and help him settle in.

    Sorry, I wrote another novel!

  26. NewHorseMommy, no worries about a long post ,till you exceed blogger limit (ask CNJ how many characters that takes ) you haven't written a loong post Glad you found a place that you can be comfortable .Sounds like they truly love horses there ,and thets worth a lot

  27. I get a good feeling from the place. And 150' x 20' is certainly larger than a stall and most paddocks I have seen. And NO MUD! He already has thrush and damage to his frogs and it has really not rained that much yet. Our wettest months are yet to come.

    His paddock also has brand new no-climb, but he will have to adjust to the hot wire.

    And I am in love with the idea of being able to feed him his supplements in his paddock, rather than taking him out because he shares his pasture. Right now I have to remove him, regardless of the weather, to give him his little meal each day. I've been out in the pouring rain trying to halter him and lead him out. And I can't feed my own hay where I am at because it's shared pasture.

    He will have horses on 3 sides of him, so he should not be lonely.

  28. Blueheron is a master blanket repairer. You should see some of my messes she has put back together.

    Maisa destroyed 6-8 blankets last winter...before I figured out if was Daf tearing them off of him. Oh, she makes me nuts sometimes.

  29. Hi, all. No, I didn't read all the comments, so if someone has addressed this, I apologize for the repetition up front.

    Our saddle shop, Capriola's, will do repairs on blankets. They require that the blankets be washed until there is no dust in them - about three times - before they will repair them. Of course, our horses never roll with blankets on, so we can't imagine why they have this requirement. Wash your blanket at least once, preferably twice, before your attemtp repair. Your sewing machine will thank you and you won't have to get service or buy another machine so soon. The dust in the blanket is the problem. It does nasty damage to sewing machines, sometimes killing them before the job is done.

    Next, fabric can be purchased from a shop that is willing to repair blankets, or upholstery shops. The one here only sells canvas. Thankfully, that's the outer shell of the blanket I purchased for my Arabian Labrador was made of (lasted 2 days). For nylon and other types of yardage I recommend They sell various types of outdoor fabrics, which may help if your blanket has a synthetic shell.

    Use heavy (like very heavy) needles in your machine. Purchase needles rated for jeans or leather. This will prevent breakage.

    Go slow and be careful. For nylon products, use nylon thread in your machine. It can usually be purchased at a regular fabric shop. Baste lining and fill areas into place prior to stitching on a patch (yes, by hand).

    Having just done a repair for the "Arabian Labrador," I hope this helps. I've been sewing for 35+ years, so I'm not a beginner, but my first blanket repair occured very recently. CNJ has it right.

  30. NHM... I feel your pain - I had to go thru finding a home for Chip this fall.

    The big downside at my current place is that the stalls are getting DIRTY. I'm gonna give her a bit of a pass for a little while, since everybody's fat, shiny, healthy, and feet get done religiously.


  31. Oh, and ANYone with mad sewing skillz gets total respect from me.

    I get very hung up on things like ... .oh.... HEMMING.

  32. HP- would Daf have been damaging the blankets with her teeth or her horns? lol

    Jenn- clean blankets are easiest to work on and the dirt and even dust off them can wreak havvoc on moving machine parts. No doubt about that.

    I keep a good sized kids paintbrush handy (multipack at the dollar store) to clean out the lint and fuzz some projects carry. Also a can of the compressed air comes in handy to blow the junk out of the hard to reach areas, because we all know how it finds them when we aren't looking...

    Two more places to look for materials online are Denver Fabrics and a new one to me- House Fabrics. HF has a section of outdoor materials, which are what I find, hold up to just about anything Ma Naure has in mind as far as wind, rain and a combination of the two.

    NHM- FV would be correct. Bloggers limit is 4096 characters per post. Nice round number there, isn't it? I have been known to exceed it a time or two... I once put up a 'three poster'. Still not sure if that was anything to be proud of, but hey, I was in a mood.

  33. know what I bought. My horses are quite capable of destroying leg and bellystraps on a pretty regular basis.

    I bought some elastic webbing on Ebay for way cheap. It is bright yellow. Everybody knows they are my leg straps. lol

    But, what I bought for replacement belly straps was 2 inch wide, elastic upholsterers stuff. Let me see if I can find it. The stuff is great.

  34. Okay, still don't know how to do the clicky things.

    Stuff for legs straps:

    Stuff for belly straps:

    Sorry I'm can't do the link things.

  35. Well, the funky place won!

    It was more appealing each time I visited. And it dumped rain today, so I went out to check the paddock he will be going in. There is water at the very bottom (it's sloped), but the upper 1/3 or so has gravel/screenings and was completely dry. Then I went out to his current home and he was 2-3" deep in mud.

    He got moved one paddock over from what I originally planned as the shelter is much larger and already has stall mats (I sold mine to my soon-to-be former BO). There is some crappy fencing I need to go out and deal with this week (cut off wires poking out, duct tape them, and add some flagging for visibility), but I can buy a roll of no-climb once the weather improves.

    And I get my own tack locker! Everything has been in the trunk of my car for a year because I board at one place and take lessons next door, so I needed everything handy. It has made grocery shopping very difficult!

    He gets moved on Friday. I am taking Thursday off to fix up the paddock to my liking (fencing issues, stall mat placement, shavings, new salt block, etc.).

    I am giddy over the move at this point! And I get to go shopping! His shelter is high enough and large enough I might be able to get him one of those hanging apple things.

    My only fear is the train will come by as we are unloading him!

  36. Newhorsemommy, glad you found a place you and the horse can be happy. And you would be surpised at how much horses don't react to stuff. I rode my old mare across the highway years ago,timed it wrong and the train went by in front of her once we got accross.I got dizzy looking at the train but she was totally unconcerned

  37. Well, the move was completely unremarkable! He loaded in about 4 minutes and unloaded just as quickly as well. We did use hay to entice him into the trailer.

    I walked him around the 2nd day and while he was a little excited, he was nothing like the jumping freak I brought home a year ago. He clearly trusts me now! He spooked in place every time, and seemed very interested in everything.

    By the 2nd day, he did not even blink when the train went by.

    He's not completely settled yet, because it has been really windy and dumping rain for days now. But there is NO MUD, although I can see a LOT more Sand Clear is going to be needed.

    The best part is that the paddock I really wanted has become available again, and he can move in this weekend! It's larger (150'x 25'), has brand new no climb all the way around, will be completely shaded in the summer, has its own tack ROOM (with shelves), its own hitching post, and the run-in is HUGE (15'x 15') or so with a really high ceiling!

    And the hay looks great so far!

  38. Oh! And our one-year anniversary was yesterday! He got an apple chopped into his daily "special meal" (warm soaked Stable Mix with flax and Cosequin) for the occasion!