I am absolutely ecstatic that Breyer asked me to design a how-to halter tutorial to share with all Breyer fans! When asked to do this project my inner child was screaming with joy! I have wanted one of these since the moment I first heard of them! The most important thing I want to make sure you guys know is that this isn't just a project for kids, people of ALL ages and skill levels can enjoy making halters for these! I hope you will get your own styling head, and give it a try!
Before we get started, I want to take a minute to say how impressed I am with the Mane Beauty Styling Head. The one that I have here with me helping out is named "Daybreak". She is beautiful and delicate, with super soft, tangle-free hair. For this tutorial I chose to make her a braided crystal Arabian halter, and found she wears it really well. Working on a larger size is quite fun, and it is easier to learn tack making skills that you can use in smaller scales!
All of the supplies I used for this project were found at my local Walmart in the craft section. They don't have the exact tools I used (ex. pliers, scissors) but they do also carry jeweler's pliers, sewing scissors and the types of glues and Fray Check that I use. Most people have a Walmart or a craft store within driving distance, so I purposely purchased all my crafting supplies I used for this project from my local Walmart just to show what can be with some pretty basic supplies!
You don't have to use the exact same craft supplies that I did - change up your colors, your beads, gemstones etc. as you like! I hope this tutorial of how I made this halter will be a nice skill guide for you to use to come up with even more designs of your own! If you do not have a craft store nearby you to get your supplies, try doing a search online - you'll find a wealth of options!
Let's get started!
First, re-style the hair on your Mane Beauty to create a "bridle path." This is the space behind the ears where the halter will sit on top of the head.
Cut 9 pieces of black embroidery floss to 14 inches in length each. Knot your bundle of threads together at one end.
Cut a piece of painter's tape to anchor your piece to your work surface. I recommend painter's tape and use it a lot when I'm working on tack because it will not harm your work surface, and it can be re-usable.
Separate your thread into 3 equal sections with 3 strands in each section.
Braid the section to the end and close it off with a small piece of tape folded over the end. (Notice how the threads shrink about 2 inches in length when your braid them? It's always a good idea to give yourself extra length to work with!)
To create the noseband, cut 9 pieces of thread to 6 inches in length each, and knot them together at one end. Repeat the same steps you did for the headstall. Anchor your piece to your work surface with tape, braid to the end and secure the end with a piece of folded over tape.
Now select 2 of your biggest jump rings from your pack - I'm using 9mm size rings here. Cut the excess threads off the ends of your headstall and noseband pieces, leaving the knots and tape in place to keep your ends from unraveling.
Fold your shorter (noseband) piece over one jump ring, leaving just enough excess to glue - about 3/16 inch, not including a knot or tape. Carefully apply a little ball of "Fabri-tac" glue in the fold and squeeze it down, pinching it in place for a few seconds. Fabri-tac grabs pretty fast and holds strong, which is why I frequently use it for tack making!
Repeat on the other end of your noseband. Fold your other end over the second jump ring making sure your knots/taped ends are facing the same side as the end you just glued. Fold the end inwards until the total length of the noseband piece is 2 3/8 inches (not including the jump rings - the black braid only). Fold over and glue into place. Leave your excess braid attached for now.
Attach your headstall piece to one jump ring in the same way. Leave a little excess braid and glue into place.
Fold the other end around your jump ring, making this piece into one big continuous loop with all the knots/taped ends facing the same way. Measure the headstall to about 9 inches (don't include the jump rings in your measurement), fold it over and glue into place. Feel free to place what you have so far on your Mane Beauty to help figure out this length.
(Note: You may find attaching the headstall piece to the jump rings first easier then attaching the noseband first, because it will be easier to measure the length of your headstall without the noseband attached first. It does not matter what order this is done in!)
Let this dry for about 20 minutes. (While you wait for your piece to dry, now is a great time to start making your tassels! See the "Tassels" section below.)
Apply "Fray Check" generously to the fronts and backs of the excess threads underneath the halter, in the areas where you trimmed excess thread off. Let this dry completely, then cut your excess threads off. The Fray Check will keep the threads from fraying apart after the excess is snipped off.
Next, we will create a decorative wrap on the halter ends. This not only adds a little more detail to the halter, but will make your final piece stronger. Take 2 threads from a 14 inch section of floss, thread them on a sewing needle, and knot your ends together.
Put the needle through the center of the back side of the halter section you will wrap first, close to the jump ring. Pull it tight, then carefully wrap the thread all the way around the braid 10 times. Do a double knot on the back of your piece by running your needle through a few threads. After you double knot, run your needle up under a few threads, pull it up, then cut. This is a little trick I use to ensure I am not cutting my threads off right next to my knot, which can pull itself loose over time.
Use a fresh set of two threads for each section and repeat these steps, wrapping a total of 4 sections of your halter with detail. When you are done with all of the sections, apply Fray Check to each of your knots and set the halter aside to dry.
Next, we will decorate the sides and noseband of the halter with some crystals.
For gluing crystals, I like to use "Loctite Super Glue Gel Control". You may also use Fabri-Tac for gluing all parts on this halter. Fabri-Tac will be a bit more forgiving and come off your hands and surfaces more easily. I recommend putting a little dab of glue on a paper plate and applying your glue with a toothpick as needed. When I use Loctite, I carefully squeeze out a tiny drop right onto the headstall and then place my crystals on it as I go.
Next, take 5 medium-large size crystals and glue them one at a time on each side of the headstall, about 1/2 inch apart. Repeat this step on the other side. In an upcoming step, we will glue more crystals of a different size in between each of the crystals we're gluing now.
(Note about the crystals: the kind I used were "self adhesive," but I picked the adhesive off of them as I glued them on because it wouldn't be strong enough. They will only stay on if you use good glue!)
For the noseband, glue one med-large crystal directly in the center. I find the center of the noseband by pinching it in half, lining up the two jump rings, then gluing my crystal down. Next, glue a crystal about 1/2 inch to either side of the center crystal.
Next, I glued the smallest size crystals I had in between each larger crystal all the way around the headstall, and then one on either side of the center crystal on the noseband.
Next, I placed a metal bead/concho over each small crystal. I did this by applying just a little bit of Fabri-Tac to the outer edge of the back of each concho. (This step is optional and depends on if you are able to find these at your store. Remember you can decorate your halter however you like!)
Cut 2 pieces of embroidery floss to 14 inches in length and set them aside.
In this tutorial, we are going to make 12 tassels. The next thread we cut is for the tassels. Each tassel will be 4 strands of embroidery floss thick. To make 12, we will wrap our thread around 3 fingers 24 times (all the way around) creating a total of 48 little pieces once they are cut.
To cut the thread, cut your bundle on the top of your pointer finger, and below your middle finger to create a little bundle. You may need to carefully slide a finger out before cutting your threads to make some room.
Pull one thread free from one of your 14 inch embroidery floss pieces. Lay it across the table in front of you. Place 4 strands of floss from your mini bundle over the middle of this piece.
Double-knot your long piece of single thread around the middle of the bundle. Once the knot is secure, pull your strings up with one hand and give your threads a pinch and roll down into place. If you've done this correctly, the result will essentially be an untied tassel with a pair of threads trailing from it.
Repeat these steps for the remaining 11 tassels.
Gather your pile of pre-tied tassels together, pull the thread ends straight, and trim the ends straight across. Leave a decent amount of excess thread - 6 inches at least.
Pour out some size 6/0 silver glass beads into a small dish. I recommend hand-picking from your pile of beads as you go for the nicest, most even-looking, uniform beads. Look for beads that have nice, solid large holes in them for easy threading.
Pick up a tassel, wet your thread ends with your cup of water, and slide a bead over both threads. Gently force the bead down over the tassel. It helps to pinch and roll your fingers over the knotted part to smoosh the tassel down before pulling a bead over the top. Slide your bead down about 3/8 inch and stop. You just tied a tassel with a bead!
Repeat for all remaining tassels. Try to get your beads evenly lined up from tassel to tassel. If you accidentally snap a thread, don't lose heart - just cut a new piece of thread, re-tie it, and try a different bead. If you come across a tassel where you feel you are having to pull very hard, also try a different bead.
Put away your excess beads. It's time to trim our tassels to the right size!
Take a tassel and dunk the ends in your cup of water to dampen the threads. Pinch your tassel into place to help it soak up enough water. Cut the tassel straight across as evenly as you can to your desired length. Make sure you use a nice, sharp pair of scissors.
Use the first tassel you cut as a guide for cutting your other tassels. Try to make them all the same size. Dampen each one with water as you go to get nice, even cuts. When finished, set them aside to dry.
(Note: if you are using regular jump rings without a split, you can skip the next two steps. Set aside two of your rings and proceed to tying two additional tassels.) Take a small split jump ring (6mm) and cut it right at the split with a wire cutter. This will create 2 rings.
Using a pair of pliers in each hand, carefully close the gap on each jump ring.
Tie 2 more tassels with silver beads following the same steps above for making tassels. Cut them to the same size as your others and let them dry.
Now we will slide each tassel onto a jump ring. To do this, use your pliers to open the rings. Press down on the top of a tassel to find the center hole (follow the path of the thread that you tied it with) and slide the jump ring through. Close the ring with your pliers.
Carefully cut the stringing thread from the top of your tassel and pull it off. One tassel will decorate the chin chain of your halter, and the second tassel can be used for an optional browband piece!
Time to sew the tassels onto the halter! First, prepare the beads you will use by dumping them all into a small dish.
Thread a tassel onto a needle (using both threads) and pick up the beads you will use for the tassel. For my bead pattern I used a silver bead cap bead first, then a silver bead, a blue bubble bead, and another silver bead on each tassel.
For this piece I sewed 5 tassels to each side of the headstall, using the largest crystals on the headstall as a guide for where to place my tassels. (Set 2 tassels aside for the throat lash - do not string beads on theses ones.)
To sew on the first tassel, place your needle so that it is centered beneath the crystal. Push the needle up through the bottom of the black trim and aim it so that it comes out about centered in the back. Sew a double knot. (To do so, put your needle through a few threads of the back, make a loop, pull your needle through the loop and pull tight.) Repeat again.
After knotting run your needle up through a few threads, pull it tight and cut (again, this is so you don't cut your thread off right next to your knot). Do all your knot work on the back side of your headstall so that it stays neat, secure, and out of sight.
Repeat these steps to sew on your remaining 9 tassels. You will have 2 tassels left over when done. Remember, these are for the throat lash! Just set these two aside for now, and do not string beads on them.
Cut 3 pieces of black embroidery thread, each about 2 feet (24 inches) long. Gather the threads together and knot them together about 4 inches up. Anchor your piece to your work surface on the short side with a piece of painter's tape. Create a 3 strand braid down the length of the piece. Stop braiding about 4 inches from the end.
Lay your piece along a ruler and measure out to 13 inches from the first knot, then place another knot. The goal is to make it so that there is 13 inches of space between the knots, with "tails" on either end of your piece.
Next, anchor your ends right above the knots for the "tails" with a piece of painter's tape, and cut away all but one thread from each end. When I do this I cut a few pieces of thread at a time instead of all at once to get a cleaner cut.
Cut the extra stringing threads away from your remaining two tassels.
Thread a needle onto one end thread of your throat lash piece, and load your beads on in your desired order. Next, grab a tassel and push the needle down through the top of the tassel, pull the needle out of the bottom of the tassel (using a pair of pliers if needed) and all the way through. Do this carefully so you don't disrupt the bead holding the tassel together. Repeat on the other side of the throat lash with your second tassel.
Next, select one of your two sides and anchor your throat lash to your work surface with a piece of tape above the knot. Slide your beads up as far as they will go, leaving a small space between the beads and tassel. Place a dot of super glue onto the thread beneath the bottom bead thoroughly covering the string, and slide your tassel quickly and carefully up into place. Repeat on the opposite end and snip off your excess threads.
Next, we will place a bead that can slide up and down the throat lash to loosen or tighten it. For mine I used a decorative round metal concho bead. You can also use any other kind of bead with a large hole, or a tiny jump ring.
To easily thread the bead onto the throat lash, fold a spare piece of thread over the top of the throat lash.
Slide the bead over the thread and right onto the throat lash. Remove the thread once beaded.
Now find the center of your headstall, thread a sewing needle (I used double threads for added strength, just like when I did wrapped details on the headstall), knot the end, and push it up through the headstall from the bottom side. Find the center of the throat lash and sew the two neatly together. Wrap the thread around several times and securely knot underneath so that the knot is hidden, and cut your thread.
Almost done now! Looks awesome, right?
Using your wire cutters, cut a piece of chain to 5 inches in length.
Open a jump ring with a tassel attached and set it aside.
Put your chain through the jump rings on either side of your headstall, making sure there are no tangles or twists in the chain, and gather the ends together.
Put your tasseled jump ring through each end of your chain, then close the ring carefully with your pliers. Make sure there isn't a big gap in your jump ring so that the tassel and the chain cannot slide off.
Arrange the halter on your horse. Your halter is now finished if you so choose! If you would like to add a matching brow band to the halter for a little extra bling, continue on...
For the brow band piece, we will be attaching a braided piece to a tasseled jump ring in a v-shape.
Cut 3 pieces of black embroidery floss to about 8 inches each in length. Knot the threads together at one end. Anchor your threads to your work table with a piece of painter's tape and braid them to the end. Secure the end with a piece of folded-over tape. Cut off your excess but leave your tape and knot in tact.
Make sure the gap in your tasseled jump ring is closed tight. Fold your braided string in half and push the folded end part way through the jump ring.
Bring the ends of the string around and down through the black loop. Carefully pull it tight, making sure you have even lengths on either side.
Thread a sewing needle with a single black thread and knot the end. Carefully sew together the center of the back of your V-shape brow band piece.
Next, cut two small and thin piece of tape to mark the length of your brow band. Measure two inches from the end of your center knot to the outer edge. Fold a piece of tape over each side, making sure each side is the same length. Place the tape inside the 2 inch measurement so that it measures 2 inches from the end of your center knot to your outer tape edge. Make sure each side is the same length.
Apply Fray Check to the back of your center knot where you just sewed, and to the ends of the brow band past the tape. Let this dry before continuing.
Next, glue a small rhinestone to the very center of your brow band. I chose to apply a metal bead/concho over the top of the center crystal with some Fabri-Tac glue, setting the concho around the stone.
Continue to glue crystals onto your brow band, spacing them about 1/4 inch apart until you run out of space. I used medium-sized crystals and was able to fit 4 on each side.
We're almost there! Start by attaching one side of your brow band to your headstall first. Apply Fabri-Tac with a toothpick to the top side of your brow band, just past your tape but not touching it.
Next, glue this piece underneath your headstall. Make sure to glue it on as centered as possible, beneath the highest and largest crystal (about 3 inches up). Do the same on the other side, making sure your placement looks even on both sides.
Let the glue dry completely, then trim off your excess ends. Carefully remove your tape pieces where you marked for size. You are officially done!
I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial on how to make a braided crystal halter for your Mane Beauty Styling Head! Imagine all the possibilities for other colors and styles! You can take the skills from this tutorial and use them to completely customize something one-of-a-kind for your styling head, or take what you've learned and try it in another scale! You can choose to add more or less tassels, change up the colors of the crystals or what you decorate with, the style and color of the beads used, endless thread colors, even try switching from silver tone chain to gold! The sky is the limit when you use your imagination and get creative!
If you haven't seen the tutorial by Mindy Berg on how to custom paint and hair your own styling head, you must check it out! Imagine customizing your own styling head in your choice of color, hair, and then making a pretty halter for it to wear. You'll have a horse uniquely yours and all your own! Have fun and enjoy creating!