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SkyeHighlandOutfitters

How to make a horse hair sporran - Complete step-by-step

Hi all-
Here we go.  This is a sporran that is going to Brandon McNaul.  It is our "Crofter" model and has a leather cantle.

1) Starting off, I made a template for the front and back panels.  this is VERY important.  Once you have created the template, make a copy on stiff posterboard so there will be no warping of the paper when tracing. I then take the template and trace and cut 3 shapes from 10OZ dyed black leather. Be VERY precise


2.)Once I've cut the 3 pieces, I then take my bonding glue (I have my own special stuff, but use Gorilla glue-thats what I used on Brandon's for this expose) and glue 2 of the cut pieces together.  This will be the BACK panel of the sporran.  You need 2 pieces to create a stiff panel that won't molt  and warp



3.) Once the glue has dried between the 2 pieces of leather for the back panel, you now need to add the sporran strap loop. Taking graph paper, fold it in half and create any style of loop that fits your fancy.  Once you finish, cut the folded design and then open.  A perfect, symetrical loop template will now be ready.  Trace onto leather and cut.  i like the axe head style.  If you look at it side ways, it looks like a midievil axe head.


Yo must take a drill using a 1/16th drill bit and start drilling sew holes.  Before you do this, place the loop on the back of your now dry back panel and center towards the top.  Be careful not to put it too much towards the center, or your sporran will hang forward-yuck!  Once you have it centered on the back panel, drill your sew holes on the top and bottom.  Once done, take your waxed nylon thread (You get this at tandy) and double stitch your sporran loop to the back of the back panel. i forgot to take a pic of this sporran's attached/sewn sporran loop, so I'm using a pic of another sporran I did.  this is so you can see how to hole and stitch the loop.


4.) Once you have stitched the sporran loop on, you must now glue the suede inner liner down.





NICE! Now you have covered your sewing on the inner panel by covering it over with the suede.  This will also add a touch of class when you reach inside your sporran and feel that soft suede instead of waxed nylon stitching!  It really makes a difference.
So thats it for the moment on the back panel.  We need to now make the cantle and prep the horse hair and get the tassels and panel hair for the front panel of the sporran.

LETS DO THE HAIR PIECE FOR THE FRONT PANEL.  THIS IS THE BIGGEE!!!

1.)Take a piece of flimsy leather OR canvas.  Trace your sporran template and cut.


2.)Cut out the tracing and then set up hair stitching lines like so-




3.)Now you have a visual guide as to how to spread and distribute the horse hair.  I start at the bottom-


I thinly distribute the hair acrross the line and then stitch once over, and then back stitch to reinforce.

I then trim the excess



DO THIS FOR EACH LINE!! Increase your hair amount in tiny amounts as you move up each line.



5.) Once you've completed sewing the hair and trimmed, start at the top sew line and glue once above the sew line and then over it and then below it.  you basically want the glue to permeate above, below and on the thread to hold ALL the hair permanantly


NOTICE WHERE I HAVE CUT TASSEL HOLES-IF YOU PLAN ON HAVING TASSELS, PUNCH THE HOLES TOWARDS THE TOP UNDER THE CANTLE.

6.) Now the cantle.  Template time.  Take some paper and fold in half.  Take the panel template and place the folded paper halfway under the panel template and trace.  Then complete the cantle by adding cantle stilts and a swooping under arch.


Check and make sure its flush with the panel-


I cut another piece of leather to sew on top of the cantle to give some detail and give it some character and depth.  Its just a simple cut that mimics the outline of the cantle.  I place ontop, then double stitch it down.  DONME-The leather cantle will be ready to attach later-


**MAKE SURE THAT IF YOU ADD DETAIL TO THE CANTLE TO LEAVE SUITABLE BORDER, BECAUSE YOU WILL NEED TO STITCH THIS TO THE PANEL***

OK....Lets get those tassels going.  You may want to wear rubber gloves for this. It can get sticky.

1.)Take a portion of horsehair and split it.  This is a layering process-the more layers, the thicker the tassel will be.  For this sporran, I want a thinner tassel, so I'm doing 2 layers.
2.)Separate the portion and spread out the hair on the corner of a ledge.  Put something under the hair.-
3.)Take your glue and spread the glue on the tip about 1/4 of inch down.  The glue will stay on the top, but soon start working through the hair and drip out underneath.  I use a little canned air to help it.  Cut the hair into 12 inch in length and then separate.

Trim the gluing end

Separate and glue




4.) you need to know cut a small piece of tubing.  I use a bendable coil I got from home depot.  Its meant for refridgerator cooling coil replacement and is the right size and its bendable.  Its perfect.  A coil will last you a lifetime.  Cut a 1.5 inch piece.  We'll be bonding the hair to this later. (Sorry for the blurry pics-you get the idea)


5.)Cones.  i have my own made in the UK, but #2 round hole pastry cones are almost identical, and I've used them in a pinch.  For this sporran, I'm covering the cones with soft leather (I think its treated pigskin).  You can get this at Tandy as well.  I make a cone pattern and then cut and glue over the cone.  If you want metallic cones, then skip this step.


OK-So you've glued the tassel horsehair at the edges.  As the get near to becoming dry, the glue will turn into a whitich , playable substance.  Mind you, it will still be tacky, and some will surely stick on your fingers.  Take one of the piles and work the hair around the lower portion of the copper tubing.  Keep pressing the hair firmly around the tubing until the hair is surrounding the tubing.  Take the next portion of hair and do the same thing, but this time on the upper part of the tubing.  The lowerportion glue should still be a "little" tacky.  Thats OK, it will bind with the upper portion and hold the hair better.  Keep working and pressing until shaped and then let dry.  When its done, it will look like this-

Let it dry completely now-Just lay it down -


Once its dry, take your leather cord, paracord, or chain and slide it down the copper tubing and knot off (Or ring it if you are using chain.


You now have the tassel cord set and all thats needed is the bell.  Put a little glue on the outside of the upper portion of the hair and slide the bell down and really firmly press the hair tassel up into the bell-



TADAH-3 awesome tassels for Brandon's sporran!  


NOW-Get ready for the intensive part.  Getting all the parts and trim sewn on.  We're halfway there, but this last part is hardest.  Lets go ahead and finish the back panel.  At this point, you've lined it, sewn on the sporran loop, so lets go ahead and trim the top part.

1.) Take your soft trimming leather and cut a 1.5 inch wide piece to the length just past the ends of the cantle on each side.  You want to bring the trim down past the cantle area into the gusset area.  The gusset will cover the extended pieces, so the trim will look perfect.  Take a cloth measuring tape and measure under the cantle area to the symetrical other end.  On this sporran, it was 14 inches, so I cut a 1.5 width piece at 14 inches.  USe a yard stick when cutting to get straight lines. Before you start, take lining tool and run it around the entire length of the back panel.  This will give you a line that is even the whole way around so you can mark your drill to make sew holes.  I use a thick nylon, so I mark my holes just under 1/2 inch apart.




I then drill out sew holes-


Ready to sew?


One thing about sewing.  You need to wear a fingerless glove, or make a leather wrap to fit over and around the palm of your hand.  This is to be used to pull the nylon tight, and to sometimes press the needle through the leather (Position leathered palm over needle and push).  you'll need pliers also to pull the needle all the way through if it won't freely go.  NOTE-YOU WILL STICK YOURSELF FROM TIME TO TIME! Every sporran I have made i've managed to bleed myself a little....So just deal with it!

OK. The leather should now wrap over each side of the panel.  Tie and knot your thread and start from the inside. this leather is plyable, so make sure the you are pinching it down tightly as you sew , so that your have a tight , clean trim.  When you sew it, there will be excess leather-No worries, we'll trim that when we're done.  so start sewing over under, over under all the way to the end, and then come back to the starting point.  You have now created a double stitch that will NEVER come undone.  Tie and trim the nylon to the knot and burn/melt it with a lighter to seal the knot.




There you go.  Trimmed and looking almost good-


Take an exacto and trim the leather under the sew line.  BE CAREFUL-YOU WILL CUT A LITTLE INTO THE BACK PANEL, BUT THATS OK...I'll explain.  At this point, you need to take your finger and raise the leather up AFTER you've trimmed it.  take some elmers glue and coat under the trimmed excess under the sew line and smush it back down.  The glue will permeate into the minute cut that you made on the back panel when cutting the trim, and this small canal will help the glue hold.  JUST BE CAREFUL-YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO CUT THE EXCESS TRIM WITHOUT CUTTING TOO DEEP ON THE UNDER PANEL!!!

OK-I've cut the excess  and lifted the trim-


Now add glue


Smush back down and wipe away the glue that bubbles out with a wet sponge-



Now the trim looks even and flush.  Let dry.  

Now-I use sam brown fasteners for my sporrans.  These can be bought at Tandy.  the fastener comes with a screw that will be too short.  Go to your local hardwar store and get a 1/2 inch replacement.  Its metric thread BTW.  Find the center above the sporran loop and drill a hole.  I use a bit that is perfectly sizzed for this size screw, so i don't need a washer.  Use one if you think the screw will not hold tightly.  If you are using buttons, then disregard this part.-

Screw on the nub-



One thing you've probably noticed is the indenture thats cut into the top of the sporran.  This is to facilitate the closing strap and keep both panels flush when closed.  If you don't use this, then after years, the leather strap will stretch and the sporran panels will not align nicely when you close the sporran.  I will detail how I attach the sporran closing strap next.

THE GUSSET-

So now we need to attach the gusset bag.  I use a soft treated pig skin from tandy (Same as the trim).  Its sueded on the inside and buffed on the out, so its perfect.  

1.) Measure the panel from one end to the other (Meaning wear the edge of the gusset ends on both sides, not the whole panel.).  In this sporran, its 19 inches.  I take the skin and lay it flat and cut with a ruler a 19 inch side.



2.)I then cut a 4 1/2 inch angled out cut on each side, and then cut to each adjoining side.  You will have a cut that looks likt this-


NOTE-It has to be angled out, because as you sew in a semi circle, the leather will naturall pull down adn when you finish, you want straight borders on the gusset to attach to the other panel.  If you don't, the borders will angle down. Once cut, fold and glue each border-


3.)Start in the back of the back panel, sude side up and begin to stitch.  Work the leather so it shapes the contour of the back panel edge.-



Sew all the way to one end and then back and tie off and clip the thread.  I burn it down so the knot will never come undone.


Should now look like this-



4.)Peel the soft leather over the back panel and work the trim smooth.  You now have a seamless trim that looks great on the back panel!




We're now ready for the last bit and the hardest-Attaching the hair panel to the gusset.

I forgot to document a step-Once you've sewn the hair piece, you then need to glue it to the front panel leather cut.  When you glue it, take fasteners and clamp down the edges (I use potato chip bag clips).  Lay it down and put a wight in the center on top.  This will hold the hair pice to the panel ensuring a permanent bond.  Once dry, go ahead and carefully drill sew holes (Watch out for the hair!).  Hold tight for the next round of pics.

Don't worry about the hairpiece not gluing completely flush around the edges.  We'll be sewing the trim down and it will pull everything nice and flush.


TRIMMING THE FRONT PANEL AND ADDING CANTLE-

**NOTE**Before I glued the hair piece to the front panel, I took a 1.25 inch wide piece of leather and riveted it at the top of the front panel (Dont forget to cut an indenture like you did on the back panel).  I then glued the hair piece down over the front panel COVERING over the leather closing strap.  
**THE TOUGH PART**In order to drill you  sew holes for your leather trim, you have to strategically place the leather cantle flush on top of the frontpanel and then drill your holes.  Why?  Because first you'll sew on the leather panel trim.  once thats done, you have to sew on the cantle utilizing the lined up holes you've drilled-Make sense?  if you don't, there is no needle tough enough to pierce the leather without predrilling, so make sure BEFORE YOU DRILL YOUR TRIM HOLES, PUT THE CANTLE FLUSH TO THE PANEL (IT SHOULD LINE UP PERFECTLY) THEN DRILL.
To trim the front panel, you'll have to accommodate the leather closing strap.  I cut my piece of trim leather like i did for the back panel, find the center, cut a horizontal line that is a little smalle than the width of the leather closing strap (This leather stretches), then slide the trim down.  Go ahead and pinch taught at one end and proceed to sew all the way over and back again.  Trimming the trim isn't neccessary since you'll be putting a cantle over it.






Now, line up the cantle over the sew holes and double stitch the cantle down.  You'll probably need pliers to pull the needle through since the sew holes are getting filled up with bulky waxed, nylon thread-



Yeah-ITs tough, but look at the result-YOU'RE ALMOST DONE NOW!!



NOW-Trim the panel hair to a style you like.  Regimental sporrans tend  to have an axe head sweep cut.  This sporran is a little bit more history inspired, so I've cut it into a point.  I also lower the middle tassel to accent this feature....MAN-THIS SPORRAN IS LOOKING AWESOME!!!




Alright-Lets finish this baby up!
1.)Fit the front panel into the "U" of the gusset and position so there is room for a functional pocket.  You'll be able to eyeball this easily.  Once you have it arranged to where you want it, clicp both ends of the gusset to the frontpanel.  i use paperclips stuck through the sew hole instead of clips to give it a stronger hold, but clipping is fine.  Do both sides-



2.)Start at the bottom and sew up one side, and then back down to the middle.  Then sew up the other side and back down to the middle.  Doing it this way helps keep the gusset uniform and not stretched to one side.


 If you feel you need to cut the trim under the sew line to remove the extra leather, be very careful you don't cut the hair on the front panel!!!  Cut a hole in the sporran strap so you can latch it to the Sam Brown button and...................

So have a celebration-You've done it!!!  Go over your sporran and tidy up any odds and ends.  Making your own sporran is completely satisfying and you will find that it has so much more a personal feel than anything you will buy.  You will also notice that it is a sturdier construction and this style of making should make the sporran last several generations at least!  


Caithail MacDuff

Rabbit hair Dress Sporran

Hey How are you?
I used your idea for a sporran and modified it to create a rabbit hair dress sporran for my Black Watch Kilt I made. if you wish me to takes pics to show you the process I took I can do that.
Thank you for posting your work it really helped me a lot.

Caithail

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