Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chicken Saddles and Imaginary Conversation With the Cat

I know you've all been waiting with bated (baited?) breath for the spring line. I could hardly stand the suspense my self! It took some doing, searching and researching, pinning, cutting, measuring, fittings with ill tempered models. Their agents squawking and crowing at the smallest adjustment. But now, without further ado, I give you..........................

Alright, I'm just not clever enough to keep up that shtick! I finally got chicken saddles made for some of my ladies. This is Babalouis (Wheels named her after a local bakery that makes wonderful bread!) from her first fitting. I had to take in the elastic a bit so that the saddle wouldn't go all screwy, but it's fitting her now and has actually stayed on since yesterday afternoon.
"You know you look ridiculous, don't you? You won't catch ME parading around
in such garb. Why, the nerve!"

It took a bit of figuring, but I came up with a pattern to my liking. I had looked online, to no avail, until about a week ago when Homesteading Today got a thread reestablished with a pattern. Then I bought a copy of the February/March 2012 Backyard Poultry magazine that happens to have a picture of a pattern. Using these two as a guide, along with pictures from Chicken Scratch, I was able to figure out my own pattern. I measured and fiddled until I got a pattern made out of a piece of corrugated cardboard. Then I sewed the first saddle, sans elastic, and headed out to the coop/run. Fortunately, there was a lady laying in the nesting boxes, so I just layed the saddle on top of her and quickly sized the elastic on her. The saddle was the right size and I had a good idea of how long the elastic had to be. So I headed back in to sew on the elastic and back out to try it on my first victim lady. The elastic was a bit too long, so I had to go back in to take it in. Phew! I got tuckered out just typing about it! Then back out for the final fitting. Babalouis did pretty well with it, and only walked backwards a couple steps after I first put it on.

Now, I'm going to attempt to describe how I made these saddles. I'm not so good at this, as in my attempts to make things clear, I tend to muck up instructions with too many words. Here it goes.....

I used some standard (but pretty colored) cotton material and some quilted material. (You know that material that has some thin batting already sewn onto it that you can use to make baby blankets with?) I used 3/8" wide elastic because that is what I had. And you need thread, some pins, scissors (obviously right, like I really needed to type that.) and a sewing machine. (Unless you want to sew them by hand, more power to you!) And here is a pic of my pattern with the dimensions written out. (Actually it's a pic of my pattern traced onto a sheet of paper so that it is easier to see)
I laid the quilted material face up, then put the cotton material on top and traced around the pattern with a white marking pencil. Then cut both materials at once, on the line. I measured my elastic to the length needed and cut two straps.
Taking the plain material off of the quilted, I pinned the elastic to the top of the saddle, crossed the straps, and pinned the elastic to the "shoulder" area of the saddle. Then I laid the plain material back on and carefully re-pinned with the batting material face up. (You might be better at this than I am, but remember those Martha Stewart tendencies of mine? Right, moving along!) You want the batting material facing up so that it doesn't catch on the mechanism that feeds the material through the sewing machine. Using about a 1/4" to 1/3" seem allowance, sew around the saddle, leaving an opening at the bottom of the saddle so that you can turn it right side out. I stitched back and forth over the elastic a couple of times to make sure it was secure. Turn your saddle right side out and sew it closed. Ta-da! You've got a saddle made for your chicken-ista!
See the elastic peeking out? Make sure to trim it before turning the saddle out.

Oh, and I also sewed two lines down the back to make it have a little more body and to help it mold to the chicken's back. Sew, did I make sense? Sorry if I didn't. My Martha tendencies don't extend to any gift for giving explanations.
Babalouis, Bigfoot and Fanny with their Spring fashions. Fanny refused to be made
into a Worldly hen, preferring the modesty of her buff feathers. (I think she might be Amish.)
And, of course, Merlin knew I was up to something for the chickens. Her tail was all bent out of shape as I fired up the sewing machine. Seriously, I think she really knew. I have photographic evidence! See:
"Now you're sewing for THEM!!!!! Really? Get a grip lady! That's it, I've had it.
I'm calling PETA, the ASPCA, that Dog Whisperer guy! Can't you see how
neglected I am?"
Oh, really?
Miserable life, isn't it, Merlin?
Isn't that you scarfing down the homegrown catnip?
And isn't that YOU sleeping on Princess' lap?
"Alright, you win. Now, go scamper off and make something for those noisemakers
on legs so I can take a nap. I've only had 12 today."
Have a lovely day, Friends!


  1. I think those chicken saddles are just the cutest things ever. Thanks for the instructions..and poor Merlin, tought life, but he's such a CUTE kitty cat :) :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  2. Thank you, Heather, for the compliments. And I'll let Merlin know that you commented on her again. (Merlin is a girl, she came with the name!)And yes, she is cute. And she really is sweet and very good natured. Have a lovely day! Blessings, Kelly

  3. I think they look great. Are they staying on? They are tres chic!!

    And your kitty is still beautiful. What a face!

    1. Jocelyn, I had to take one of the aprons off of one of the girls because it was rubbing of her feathers. I need to loosen her straps I think. The other 2 have stayed on with minor adjustments every now and then.

      How are your ladies doing with theirs? And I'll let Merlin now she has another fan when she gets up from nap #20! ;0)
      Blessings, Kelly

  4. Thank You for sharing... Diane from Tha Lazy Chicken Coop

  5. I hate to be obtuse, but why do you put saddles on your chickens?

  6. I believe those are so the rooster doesn't defeather them during their "frolicks"

  7. For those who are wondering the chicken apron or chicken saddle is a dual purpose item. It is indeed used to protect the hens backs from the roosters spurs and claws and feet in general, during their "frolics" as Mark so tastefully put it, but it also protects them from the other girls in the flock. The term "pecking order" isn't just a term. The dominant hens in a group will also pick at the feathers on the lower back of more submissive hens. I was just fooled in fact. I thought it was my two roos doing the damage and I removed them and the problem not only persisted but actually got worse (likely because by removing the roos I changed the pecking order.) It is generally but not always the larger hens (and of course the roosters) who do the damage because they are larger. For those who may be interested and don't have the experience I for instance have 4 Black Jersey Giants, 4 Buff Orpingtons, 3 Silver laced Wyandottes, 3 Welsuumers. I listed them in order largest to smallest according to appearance, which is all that will matter from the hen's point of view. The Jerseys are perfect, the buffs are nearly perfect, the Wyandottes are seriously defeathered...(why I'm here actually) and the Welsummers, are nearly perfect but I've noticed they appear a bit spookier than the rest of the chickens and tend to scuttle out of the way quicker (I think that's what saved them) Kelly you absolutely rock to put up your directions and pattern. Thank you so very much!!! Just to give me an idea here, what breeds of chickens do you keep? That will give me a better picture of how long to make that elastic. Also, although it is really tempting...I mean really really tempting here to buy some very cool quilting pattern I have noticed that my Jersey Giant girls pick on the little flowers sewn on my daughters jacket. My thought here is that a plain fabric may be the one that will last longest and best. I think I will try mine out of some sort of thick duck cloth and quilted material, since I'm in New England. Have a lovely day everyone!

  8. I looooove hen saddles! I made one of these for a hen that was getting sunburned where she was missing feathers!

    Also your blog is so lovely! :] I'll have to check back for more!

  9. Do you have a pdf if that pattern for the saddles?