Hobby Horse Tutorial and Pattern
October 18, 2011
Last year when I made a hobby horse for my son's Halloween costume, I did an extensive search for a good tutorial. I found some that were helpful, but ultimately I really wanted someone to draw out all the pieces for me, and make it adorable while they were at it. It didn't happen, so I had to do the leg work myself. Lucky for all of you, Jennifer convinced me to share my pattern. And so, without any further rambling, here is my pattern for a fabric hobby horse.
I didn't take any pictures as I made it, but it's actually really simple to construct.
1. Cut everything out.
In addition to the pattern pieces, you are also going to need to cut out some hair. You could use yarn, or I went with using strips of fleece. I cut my fleece scraps into strips 5" wide (and then cut it into fringe after it was sewn on about every inch). You will need enough strips to run the entire back side of the head about 3" into the gusset. I also added a 3" piece in the center of the gusset. I thought that it looked best to have each section of hair have three layers of fleece to make it nice and full, but adjust as you need to.
2. Sew the hair on.
Attach all three layers of fleece hair to one head piece three inches or so past the dot mark on the top (using 1/4" seam allowance). On the other head piece, you need to attach a 3" section of hair from the dot towards the nose. On the gusset piece, sew another 3" section to the center about 1.5" from the top point (the fatter end).
3. Attach the gusset.
Once you have all your pieces cut out, start by attaching the gusset to one side of the head. Start the gusset top (the fatter end) at the dot marked on the head piece (top). Sew it all the way down around the top part of the head (I always sew with 1cm seam allowances). Do the same thing to the other head piece.
4. Stuff the horse head.
Add stuffing ( I used a combination of cut-up fleece scraps and poly-fill) until you are happy with how your horse looks and feels. Leave the bottom 1.5" or so unstuffed.
5. Assemble your facial features.
Sew the pupils onto the white eyes (use black thread - it will be worth the hassle). Sew the ears together by matching one pink piece up with a brown piece and sewing the right sides together (1cm seam allowance). Be sure and leave the bottom edge open, and turn the right way. Trim the point if you need to.
4. Add the eyes and ears.
I hand sewed all of these pieces on at the end, because I wanted to see how it looked stuffed before I decided on the final location of his facial features. When you sew on the ears, sew around both edges (the pink and the brown side) to make sure it's secure. Don't forget that the pink side goes down.
I also tacked the top of the ear to the main head piece about 1" up, to make the ear stand up a little bit.
5. Finish the bottom and attach the stick.
Take your wooden dowel, and make a mark about 11" from one end. Carefully drill a small hole through your dowel with an electric drill. Fold the bottom of your head under about 1", and cinch the opening closed using heavy duty thread by sewing around the opening with a running stitch. Secure the horse head to your dowel, by sewing through the hole several times. Make sure your hobby horse is the right length for your child. For my 4 year old, the entire length of the dowel is 36" (this is the size it came from the hardware store). Sand the end down if necessary.
6. Make a bridle and rein (optional).
I know I'm calling this optional, but I think it really makes the whole thing look finished. If you are like me and have tons of leather scraps sitting around, this is a good time to use some up. Otherwise, a nice thick ribbon will do the trick. You will need to cut your strap into three pieces. The first piece should fit snugly around the horse's nose (mine measured 18"). Sew into a loop.
The second piece will go attach to the first loop at two points and go across the head behind the ears. On my horse, this measured 20.5" (including the extra at both ends to create a little casing so it will slide on the first loop).
And the third piece is for your rein (mine was 30.5"). Attach your rein to both sides of the bridle in the same way as you did the other piece (so that it can slide freely).
I'd love to see pictures if any of you make this. Obviously this is a great addition to any little cowboy or cowgirl Halloween costume, but we use ours all the time as part of our dress-up play. So even if it seems like a major undertaking for just one day, I promise your kids will love this and use it often enough to make it worth your while.