redbeard the kilted

The Learning Curve Of Kiltmaking

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Since February, I have made several abortive attempts at kiltmaking. I'm assuming that most of you are self-taught in both sewing and kiltmaking and have seen countless yards of fabric nder your fingers only to serve as teaching pieces. So far, I have been able to produce three kilts that will not offend the public. In fact, one of them became a birthday present for a good friend of mine.

As I continue to sew, pleat, rip, and grow, I often wonder what it was like for the kiltmakers on this board to find themselves on the learning curve. What are your goals? What are your regrets? What are your standards? What were your first attempts/

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i made a kilt out of black "dickies" material. it turned out ok. i realized I liked "real waist" not jeans waist. that was ok but after i wore it a couple of times it needed washing- i realized i should have preshrunk it...oops. after the second i realized I should have made deeper first and last pleats. now i take my time and try not to do previous mistakes.

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I've made 2 of my own kilts out of 12 oz denim in an 8 yard Knife pleat with help from my wife helping me pleat after my first attempt ended up wrapping to the left. We used nothing more than my wife's knowledge of pleating skirts for herself and one of my off the rack kilts for a rough pleat depth they both turned out all right. The only thing I did to mine out of personal choice was beefed the waist band up and widened the belt loops to 4 inches to fit my 3 inch belt that I made. Haven't tried to make a modern style yet but I plan on giving it a try in the future.

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I'm ready to start! I've researched until I know what the fell is, and I've bought the book 'The Art Of Kiltmaking'. I'm assuming that it will answer the rest of my questions. Now all I have left to do is find some nice -but not too nice- fabric to play with. I've read that a pro can hand-stitch a kilt, start to finish, in 8-12 hours. I'll be happy if I can do it in a week.

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I'm only on #4, but I learned how to sew "at my Mum's knee" when I was 5 or 6.

She was a Home Economics teacher, and didn't have daughters, so she co-opted her sons into learning to sew.

I'm now 36, my brother is 34, and we sew a ton of things.

I've never had to sew anything "frilly", and stick to heavy fabrics--nylon and leather straps, heavy oxford nylons, corduras, and wool!

I consider it "fabric welding".

I agree with what Michael Moore and madman said. Start and practice on some cheap cotton, denim, canvas, or flannel.

These fabrics take an ironed pleat very well. You can iron in the pleats and skip a lot of basting.

They can also be re-ironed to take a mistake pleat out.

If you go with a solid color or a random print (camouflage), you also don't have to worry about pleating to the sett or to the stripe.

I like to do a zigzag bartack at the bottom of the fell to hold the top of the pleat, then re-iron the height of the fell to taper in to the waist.

Then move to P/V.

I still haven't made myself a woolen kilt yet, but plan to!

First Attempts?

-The brown duck canvas UK knockoff I posted in my introduction thread.

Regrets?

-Pleating to random (fixed pleat width) instead of to sett on my #2 Stewart kilt.

-Forgetting to preshrink my cotton Gordon kilt.

Standards?

-I would say my sewing standards are fairly high, but I've been sewing for about 30 years.

-Now my standards are in getting pleats/setts to line up as perfectly as possible and working on the "little things" like the cut and hang of the apron, making sure the inner and outer aprons align well, the extra hem width on the deep pleats, the shape of the fell, etc.

Goals

-Make a handmade or machine-sewn (or combination) wool kilt that is indistinguishable from a master kiltmaker's work.

-Have fun!

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Hi Guys & Gals

I am on my 3rd kilt. The first was in heavy weight white canvas (I have thousands of yards to use for projects so tend to use it for patterns) I made it with 2" knife pleats. It came out OK, the only objection is the white shows dirt and grub really well. The second was a Camo Utility Kilt. (more fabric) this time I used a combination of Knife and Box pleats. This allowed me to install cargo pockets on the right and left sides on an extra wide reverse box pleat. The center rear pleat is a box with knife pleats continuing to the pocket then finishing with double box pleats at the aprons. I like this one quite well and it hangs nicely. The folks in Palm Springs take it in stride which was a surprise. The San Francisco airport was fun, the locals were "Oh, a guy in a dress, no big deal." The folks coming off the airplanes were fun to watch though, especially the Midwest arrivals. They would be strolling along then stop and lock up, jaws would drop and you could hear the wheels turning in their heads. "Oh My God Mabel we are not in Kansas anymore. There is a guy over there in a dress. Lets go back to Kansas".

Anyway, on the third kilt I decided to go with Tartan and picked up 8 yards of a nice grey and blue generic tartan in Wool/Poly blend (Back me up here guys, I am telling every one it is Royal Bohemian Tartan, LOL) This time, I did more or less a traditional 8 yard kilt but with jeans height. I pleated to the blue stripe and really liked the effect. Inside it showed as pleated to the grey stripe which I liked as well so I decided to make one like that and then a third to the sett to show the way you get completely different effects from the same fabric depending on the pleating. The one pleated to the blue stripe flashes grey as you walk and has a really nice effect.

Back to the subject of sewing. I thought I would suggest you see if you can get an edging foot for your machine. When sewing down the pleats, simply iron the pleat to the line you want, then when sewing the little guide finger on the foot tracks the edge of the fabric and you get a perfect pleat. I have been sewing the pleats consistently less than 1/16" from the edge in a matching thread for each side. When done it is almost impossible to see the stitching and you get a really crisp pleat edge. With a standard foot it was really tough to get an even seam and it took about a minute to sew down each one. With the edging foot it takes 10-15 seconds to make a perfect pleat seam. I would also suggest buying a couple of packets of quilters bent safety pins, When ironing things out I pin the pleats in place and don't have to worry about being stabbed to death. The bent pins make it easy to gather things but do not pucker the fabric.

How are you guys lining your kilts? I have been using a medium weight 100% cotton for the inside waistband, the rear section hangs down about 10-12 inches to cover the butt but the aprons only about 4-6" I feel this gives nice structure to the waistband and comfortable on the sensitive areas. I have been putting in 5-6 small darts in the rear portion so the liner follows the shape of the waist of the kilt. I also insert a panel of lightweight 100% cotton on the inside of the inside apron.

So far everything has been off the cuff using a pattern from X marks the Scott and ideas from a couple of other makers websites. I noticed a reference to a kiltmaking book, does anyone have any suggestions on other sources for patterns or DIY website links?

I live in the San Francisco area and have made it habit to wear kilts when flying (I travel about every week). I think it really messes with minds of the Security Trolls. For some reason the left pocket of the camo kilt always shows up as having something in it at the security scanner, then the guys seems to stand there with a vacant expression thinking "how do I frisk this guy?" LOL

If you see a really tall guy in a kilt at an airport say hi.

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Look for X-kilt and cargo kilt as a source for patterns non trad. If you can't find them I'll be happy to email those two.

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My first kilt the deep pleat isn't deep enough, and I used rib-stop, way too light. Everone else seems to like it though.

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Working on #5, all by the book (TAoK). All are quite wearable, but I'm still learning daily.

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There are many of the ways are there inorder to complete it. The work like throws and blanket can be performed by northeastfleece so in those work what ever you need to complete. You can apply many process for the same task so that you will be success in your recent task. No pains no gains so you should try your best in your own way.

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I would say A traditional kilt is hand stitched and can be made anywhere there's enough light for stitching. my sewing standards are in getting pleats/setts to line up as perfectly as possible and working on the "little things" like the cut and hang of the apron, making sure the inner and outer aprons align well, the extra hem width on the deep pleats, the shape of the fell, etc.

 

thanks,
KtexInter.com

 

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4 hours ago, ktexinter said:

I would say A traditional kilt is hand stitched and can be made anywhere there's enough light for stitching. my sewing standards are in getting pleats/setts to line up as perfectly as possible and working on the "little things" like the cut and hang of the apron, making sure the inner and outer aprons align well, the extra hem width on the deep pleats, the shape of the fell, etc.

 

thanks,

 

Not all are. I am sure even some decent kilt makers use a machine for some things. Getting a handmade one would probably cost a lot more too. Are you a member of the X Marks the Scot forum?

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If you goal is a traditional wool kilt then you will be hand sewing.  For contemporary kilts,  be them wool or something else, then machine sewn is fine.  For me I hand sew when working with 100% wool.  If using cotton/poly, wool/poly, or anything else, then I machine sew.   The learning curve is steep for hand or machine sewn kilts especially if you don't have prior sewing experience.  My main problem is keeping the tartan stripes aligned so they don't look like a staircase.  Also keeping the pleat width and taper constant with all the pleats.  Any variation will be noticed and the measurements for hip and waist will be off. 

 

One advantage of hand sewing is you can sew your kilt anywhere.  Just need a small collection of hand sewing tools, a place to sit, good light, and you are good to go.

 

Mike

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On ‎11‎/‎16‎/‎2011 at 3:03 PM, Baldybrown said:

I'm ready to start! I've researched until I know what the fell is, and I've bought the book 'The Art Of Kiltmaking'. I'm assuming that it will answer the rest of my questions. Now all I have left to do is find some nice -but not too nice- fabric to play with. I've read that a pro can hand-stitch a kilt, start to finish, in 8-12 hours. I'll be happy if I can do it in a week.

 

Mentioned in this post from 2011 the Book "The Art of Kilt Making" author Barb Tewksbury.

If you can find beg barrow steal a copy it answers just about every question you might come up with in making your own kilt.

Ebay LINK:

https://www.ebay.com/p/Art-of-Kilt-Making-by-Barbara-Tewksbury-and-Elsie-Stuehmeyer-2001-Spiral/2634415?iid=272727290128&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIM.MBE%26ao%3D2%26asc%3D47300%26meid%3D63f19fd442fb4b2183143954c414a86e%26pid%3D100005%26rk%3D6%26rkt%3D6%26sd%3D142623584254&_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851

 

Expensive - heck YES - I got mine years ago new for around $15 - haven't made a kilt but have altered a great many to fit my continuous variable changing landscape.

That's why I like the SportKilt line with the Velcro waist fastening closing. Either skip the buckles and straps or sew them on as cosmetic non-functional accessories.

You can skip the pockets saving lots of material and time. A casual kilt or utili-kilt does not need a sporran. I use an over the shoulder purse (man-bag) for the essentials.

 

For those just getting started in the kilt world don't throw the kilt making book away but you can throw the rule book away pretty much anything goes.

 

You can wear a plaid pleated skirt - stick a feather in your cap and call it a man's kilt - so don't overlook the option of a skirt pattern or converting one just remember

that the pleats go in the back and double aprons in the front.

 

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Buy the book The Art of Kilt Making directly from Barbara Tewksbury. I believe it's celticdragonpress.com, much cheaper 

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