"How To"
Native Arabian Headstall Braid

As with a lot of things in my tack making processes, I couldn't find anything "storebought" that quite satisfied me...so I decided to develop my own headstall weave design...

The main problem I had to solve was the fact that when you braid enough strands of floss together, using a "regular" braid, to get the correct headstall width for a traditional scale halter, you end up with it being much to thick and round.
Solution? Two braids!

(NOTE: As with my other "How-To" pages, this is written (hopefully) so that anyone can follow along, even a "beginner". Which means if you already have some experience braiding or sewing...some of the details may be unecessary for you...)

For a traditional scale halter, I use 4 strands of DMC brand embroidery floss. Each strand of floss has 6 threads twisted together, so that gives me a total of 24 threads. Of those 24 threads, I use 22 threads for the braid.

To prepare the floss for braiding, I unravel each of the 4 strands of floss into individual threads. Then, I reassemble them into 3 piles of 8 strands each, and then pick 2 threads to discard. This leaves one pile with 8 threads, and two piles with 7 threads.

I separate the floss into threads for two reasons. One...it allows me to mix colors to get the perfect shade that I want. I often use partial strands of some colors...so that I have (for example) 3 threads of color #902, 3 threads of #815, 3 threads of #521, 3 threads of #221, 5 threads of #3817, and 5 threads of #791. (those numbers are probably not really good together...since I randomly wrote them without looking at what color they actually are..)

The second reason for separating the floss is that it breaks up the strand into something that looks less like embroidery floss, and more like a woven strand... A very small detail, admittedly...but it is the little things like this that will make your halter stand out over the rest!

(Sometimes the threads will seem a little thicker or thinner, depending on dye lot, color, if you use something other than DMC, etc....and then I add, or subtract, threads until the braid feels "right.")

When I have my three piles...I braid. : )

A regular, three-strand, over-the-middle-strand type of braid...

To assemble the headstall, I place two of these braids side-by-side, and sew/weave them together, using a beading needle and regular cotton sewing thread that blends in with whatever color the headstall floss is.

Additional tips...

To secure the end, I wrap a bit of wire around the braid about 4 times. (usually either 28 or 30 gauge wire) I leave a bit of floss on the other side of the wire as a "fringe." (about 1/4" give or take...)

Note: When measuring the braid length needed for the two braids to sew together for the headstall, and figuring out where to wire-wrap the ends...leave more than you think you need! When you sew/weave the two braids together it compacts the length slightly...so if you don't start with extra, your halter will be too small. (and you will be sad!) I have found that a single braid having with a length of 5 7/16" will end up at just about the correct length after it is sewn with the other braid, and will fit most traditional Arab heads.

It is difficult to keep the two braids exactly lined up when you are binding them together. The floss always seems to slide a bit one way or another, just to spite you! (Meaning...if you start with two braids that are the same length, you might still end up with one longer than the other when you have sewn them together!) To solve this problem, I have found two solutions. One...practice!! I can now keep both braids in line and end up with everything where it should be without too much frustration, but it took me a good few dozen to master the technique. Keeping an even tension on your thread, and on both braids, is the most important factor. Or, Two..."cheat!" I used to measure and wire-wrap one length of braid on both ends. But, on the other braid, I only wire-wrap the end that I start sewing. I sew the two braids together almost up to the other end, and then measure the unwrapped braid against the already measuren/wrapped braid. I can then see just where to wrap the second braid so that the wire-wrapped areas line up.

Pictures are hopefully coming eventually...
And, as always, please email me if you have any questions, or comments.

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