Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

the latest obsessive project November 16, 2011

Filed under: projects — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:27 pm
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I have decided that my husband needs a kilt.  Never mind that he ‘doesn’t feel all that connected’ to his Scottish heritage,  that he has some concerns about the (ech hem) free movement beneath a kilt, or that he has maintained, “I’m not going to wear a kilt, Shawn” whenever I asked him.

I tend to be persistent when I’ve got a notion in my mind.

So I’m sewing him a kilt.    I’m not inclined to go too crazy with this, I don’t need to spend several hundred dollars, or anything.  But I think he’d suit a kilt, and I mean to get him into one.  I don’t expect him to wear it in public necessarily, but if he is going to change out of his work pants anyway, why not change into a kilt rather than ugly sweat pants?  The pressure is subtle.  “Women like kilts darling.”  “You’d be gorgeous in a kilt.”  “Ooooh.  Look at how great this guy looks in a kilt…”

I was able to find some official Canadian provincial tartans at the local fabric store, and after considerable deliberation, ended up with a Saskatchewan tartan.  I would have prefered a British Columbia or Maple Leaf tartan*, but those were not available.  I thought he’d suit the tones of the Saskatchewan tartan, and while theoretically, you’re not supposed to wear family name tartans unless you’re part of the family (I read on the Clan MacKenzie website, “no one should wear a tartan to which he is not by name or descent entitled. To do so is foolish and ill-mannered, invites scorn…”  Yikes!), anyone is allowed to wear  “the “District”, “Caledonia” and “Jacobite” tartans.”  Provincial tartans count as District tartans.

At present, I’m debating the pleating pattern.  From the research I’ve been doing, it seems there are two main ways to pleat: a traditional pleating to the sett, which keeps the whole pattern (sett) of the tartan visible through the pleats, and Regimental pleating, to a stripe.  Here is my fabric, roughly pinned to help decide this question.  My friends on Facebook were unanimous that they preferred the Regimental, but my husband (who is now apparently resigned to the idea that I’m making him a kilt, whether he wants to wear it or not) has pronounced that he likes the traditional pleat to the sett.

It’s interesting to compare the choices.  Traditional is pinned on the left.  The centre and right Regimental pleats are centred on different stripes.  Isn’t it interesting how different each result is, although they’re all made from the same fabric?


Saskatchewan tartan- pleated to the sett, or 2 Regimental pleating options


The genuine, expensive (aka $60+ per meter) tartan wools are made with a finished selvage edge, and when made to measure, they don’t need to be hemmed.  Unfortunately, inexpensive polyester based tartan fabric (on sale half price at $7/m) has a rough selvage, so the first task is to hem the fabric.  There are two options: machine hem or hand hem.  There will be 7 metres of fabric, and I’m not particularly inclined to hand hem all that when my machine should make a perfectly respectable job of it.

Stay tuned for more progress reports!  Goals for this week:

1. hem the approximately 8 yards of fabric

2. set the lining

3. pin the pleats according to hubby’s preference


The next steps (at least as far as I figured them out so far):

4. press the pleats

5. manipulate the pleats from the fit at the hip to the narrower waist

6. hand stitch the 7-8 yards of hip pleats into position

7. baste pleats onto the lining

8. hand stitch the waist pleats

9. add apron fringe fabric

10. add waistband

11. pull threads to make fringe

12. add buckle closures (2)

13. figure out inner closure…

14.  add hanging loops

15. sigh dramatically as spouse models completed kilt!

I’ve based these steps on this very helpful article!

* April 8, 2012- I have since learned that I should be thankful I didn’t start with a Maple Leaf tartan.  It is not a symmetrical pattern, and therefore requires quite clever engineering to pleat.  So! That’s a hint: be sure your first kilt has a symmetrical tartan.

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