How to … make a sporran

Our exhibition “Rebels with a Cause” is coming down as we speak but we have just enough time to show you a final few Jacobite crafts before we bid goodbye to Charles Edward Stuart and his men.

During our Jacobites…Up in the Hills weekend children made sporrans to imitate the appearance of a Highland Jacobite. A sporran is a traditional part of the male Scottish Highland dress. It is a pouch that is worn on a leather or metal strap in front of the kilt and Highland Jacobites would have carried personal items in them when going into battle. Nowadays men wear them when wearing kilts to keep anything from wallets to car keys safe while ceilidh dancing!

Our colleagues down in Kings Museum have a real sporran which was ‘Worn by Jacobite at battle of Culloden, 1746”. See how it compares with our version.

To make your own sporran you will need:

  • Copy of our sporran template
  • One piece of 21cmx30cm felt  (we used brown as we were being traditional but you could use whatever colour you fancy.)
  • Scissors
  • Leather hole punch (optional: we used this as we were using plastic needles, metal needles should pass through felt without a pre-punched hole)
  • Yarn
  • Needle (plastic or metal)
  • Beads
  • Scrap material or felt for decoration
  • Velcro
  • PVA glue and spreader

1. Cut out the sporran template and draw round the three shapes onto your piece of felt using a pen or pencil.

2. Cut out the shapes from the felt and using your template as a guide mark the holes round the edges.

3. OPTIONAL: Use the leather hole punch to punch the holes from the felt.

4. Cut a length of 180cm yarn and thread it through your needle.

5. Lay the belt loop on top of the back section of the sporran, making sure to line up the marked or punched holes.

6. Leaving a 5cm tail at the beginning, sew the belt loop on to the back section of the sporran.

Repeat so top of belt loop is held in place by 2 neat stitches.

Take your thread straight down to the hole below and secure the bottom of your belt loop in the same way.

When you have finished leave a 5cm tail and snip the excess yarn off. Tie your tails together to secure your stitches. Don’t worry if it isn’t very neat, the knot will be on the inside of your sporran.

7. Place the back section of the sporran on a table with the belt loop facing down. Tie a knot in the end of your yarn. Push your needle through the felt from front to back, making sure your knot stays on the inside of your sporran.

8. Lay the front section of your sporran on top of the back section. If you have pre-punched your holes, make sure they line up. Bring the yarn around to the front and push it through both layers of felt from front to back. Repeat this step one more time.

9. Your needle should now be at the back of your sporran. Bring it around to the front of your sporran and push it through the next hole down, going through both layers of felt.

10. Bring your yarn around to the front of the sporran and push it through both layers of felt from front to back. Repeat this step one more time.

11. Repeat steps 8 and 9 all the way round your sporran. When you reach the final hole take your needle around from back to front once more but this time only sew through the top layer of felt. Leaving a tail of 5cm snip off the extra yarn. Tie a knot in your tail close to the hole and snip off any excess yarn. The body of your sporran is now complete.

11. To make a tassle for your sporran cut a length of yarn mearsuring 150cm. Fold the length in half three times. You should have a bundle of yarn with one end made up completely of loops (A) and one end a combination of loops and loose ends (B).

Tie a knot in the bundle at end A. Use scissors to snip the loops at end B.

Thread your left-over yarn from sewing your sporran together through the loops at end A. Then thread beads onto your yarn, we used 2 beads but you can use as many or as few as you like.

Thread the ends of your yarn through the needle and pull the needle through the hole at the top of the sporran, from back to front. Tie a knot in the end of your yarn to secure your tassle.

12. To fasten your sporran stick small pieces of velcro (or velcro dots) as indicate in the image below.

13. Your final task is to decorate your sporran. You can use whatever you like, we used scrap pieces of material and felt to decorate ours but you could sew designs with thread, use fabric pens or bedazzle it with stick on gems. PVA glue works best as it dries clear.

14. Wear your sporran with pride! Thread a belt through the belt loop and wear it over your kilt. Or be less traditional and wear it with jeans or a dress.

Here two of our Family Fun attendees modelling their own handmade sporrans.

And it’s not just for children, check out the lovely Valentines themed sporran Scott (Special Collection’s Exhibition Officer) made his wife!

If you make your own sporran at home we’d love to see it. Send us some pictures to and we’ll pop them up on the blog!

Posted by: Lynsey


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