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Western Saddle. How to Replace Padded Saddle Seat, Step by Step.
How to replace a western saddle padded seat.
In this article, I will show you the steps I went through to replace a padded seat on a western saddle. There was not anything wrong with this one except the customer wanted the seat to be suede. It's a personal preference on what type of leather to use but suede does offer more grip. If you are planning on replacing your seat, please understand that skills working with leather and understanding basic construction of a saddle is a must. Please don't tear apart a 3 to 4 thousand dollar saddle just because you want a different color without some experience in such work. I would recommend working on a few old, inexpensive, saddles first to develop your skills. Proceed at your own risk.
Removing the seat.
My first step was to remove the seat leather.
1. I removed the 2 conchos under each side of the cantle (rear of seat).
2. Then I removed the 2 conchos and carriers at front of saddle.
3. There are 2 more screws under the pommel (swells) that were removed.
4. I cut the stitching that attached the seat to the Cheyenne roll or cantle binding. An exacto knife works well for this.
5. I was then able to remove the entire seat piece.
Seat leather removed
A picture of the seat leather removed from the saddle.
1. With the seat removed, I proceeded to cut the stitching on the existing padded seat.
2. Once removed, you have to pull all the string remnants from the stitch holes.
3. You can use the old piece as a general pattern for your new seat but I don't cut it to fit at this point.
Pattern for decorative stitching
My customer wanted a simple decorative stitch pattern sewn in the seat.
1. I just drew out a pattern for my stitching on heavy poster board.
2. It may take a few try's but it is not too difficult to come up with an eye pleasing pattern.
3. To transfer the pattern, you punch holes in the pattern which I do by running it through my sewing machine without thread.
Preparing the Seat Leather
I am using a medium brown suede for this seat.
1. I cut my piece just large enough to make sure it completely covers the area.
2. I do not cut it to shape at this point.
3. For a padded seat with stitching, I glue a synthetic batting to give the pattern depth.
Seat suede with decorative pattern marked.
I don't have an embroidery machine that will stitch my pattern for me.
1. I lay the pattern I created earlier onto my suede.
2. To mark my pattern, I pour baby powder on the pattern and rub it through the holes I created with my sewing machine.
3. It will leave a guide for you to stitch and wipes off easy when your done.
Suede with Pattern Sewn in.
I sew with a machine but it could be done by hand.
1. I take my suede to the machine and painstakingly follow the pattern.
2. Even with a sewing machine, it will take some time to sew the pattern.
3. The more complicated the pattern, the longer it will take.
Seat Leather Fitting
Fitting the suede to the seat.
I start with fitting the front.
1. I position my suede on the seat with it on the saddle.
2. You want your decorative stitching to be even on both sides.
3. I use awls to punch through existing stitch holes to hold it down.
4. Once I get it where I want it, I remove the entire seat and mark the position from underneath.
5. You will have to remove the batting from where the leather will fold over the front.
Sewing the front of the seat.
I sew the front first to secure the leather before I cut the sides.
1. After removing the batten from under the seat, you will need to cut out strips from the leather so it will wrap smoothly around the front.
2. I glue it down and let it dry.
3. Once it is dry, I sew the leather down with my heavy machine but you could do it by hand also.
Sides of Seat Cut
Cutting in the sides of the seat.
I use pinking shears to cut in the sides of this seat.
1. Basically, I mark a little and cut a little to get my seat pattern cut correctly.
2. I have found that if you cut the seat to shape first, it may not cover all the existing stitch holes when you try to fit it.
3. Be careful when cutting because if you cut too much then you will have to start over with a new piece.
Sewing the sides down on your seat.
Fit your seat on the saddle before gluing because it may end up with a wrinkle if done off the tree.
1. It depends on how your saddle is made but you must fit the suede and glue it down on the tree because of the shape.
2. Once you glue it down and let the glue dry, you can sew the sides.
3. Again, I use a machine but it can be done by hand sewing.
Old Padding Replaced
Replace the old padding in your seat.
I guess you could use the old padding if it was in good shape but I replace it with new.
1. Some saddles have padding that just is not that good so I replace it with padding that does not absorb water and provides support.
2. You will have to remove the old and remove anything that will cause lumps in your finished seat.
3. Once I get everything smooth, I glue the padding down.
Should they make a new Lonesome Dove?
Fitting the full seat to the tree.
I wet the suede for this part so I can form it to the dish of the saddle.
1. After getting the suede damp, I push and pull on the leather so it fits nicely and smooth in all the curves of the seat.
2. Once I get it like I want it, I let it dry and glue it down.
3. You will then have to trim it around the Cheyenne roll.
Sewing the cantle binding.
The only way I know to do this is by hand.
1. I place my cantle binding of the seat leather and glue down, being careful to put it back the same as I took it off.
2. I hand sew the binding using two needles and thread but you could also use a saddlers awl.
3. I start in the middle and work my way down each side, one at a time.
4. It will take awhile but you are almost done.
That's all there is to it!
That wasn't that painful was it? During the replacing of this seat, you may have noticed some things I didn't discuss. I also cleaned this saddle and replaced the sheepskin lining but I'll save that for another article.