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The Ancient Kilt with Permanent Pleats

This project began when I happened to find several bolts of cotton flannel in a vaguely navy Stuart tartan at JoAnns. It was on sale too. So, I bought all of it.

Some of the fabric I made into an arisaid for myself. The rest I cut into a piece suitable for a ancient kilt and fringed it. The dimensions are about 6 yards 6 inches by 28 inches. I could never get DH to wear it because he doesn't trust something that is just pleated, wrapped around the body, and held on the body with nothing more than a belt.

So, I decided to give the kilt a bit of structure in the hope I could encourage him to wear the kilt. Ummm...DH in a kilt...oh my...

Basic Info About Kilts - Varieties, Yardage Needed, Folding

The information listed below is all from The Celtic Croft. They sell yardage for the various kinds of kilts listed below and they also offer the service of permanently stitching in the pleats so that it is possible to just wrap the kilt and go.

The Great Kilt (Feileadh-Mhor)
60 inches wide by 4 and 1/2 yards (The "whole nine yards" of olden days when fabric widths were typically 30 inches.)
60 inches wide by 4 yards - up to 34 inch waist
60 inches wide by 5 yards - up to 44 inch waist
60 inches wide by 6 yards - up to 50 inch waist
Pleating the Great Kilt from The Celtic Croft

Ancient Kilt (like Mel Gibson wore in Braveheart - a Phillabeg with a 2 yard sash attached)
30 inches wide by 6 yards - up to 38 inch waist
30 inches wide by 9 yards - up to 50 inch waist
30 inches wide by 12 yards - 50 inch plus waists
Pleating the Ancient Kilt from The Celtic Croft

The Little Kilt (Feileadh Beag aka Phillabeg)
30 inches wide by 4 yards - up to 34 inch waist
30 inches wide by 5 yards - up to 44 inch waist
30 inches wide by 6 yards - up to 50 inch waist
Pleating the Little Kilt from The Celtic Croft

The Modern Kilt
Kilt Pattern available from Folkwear
The Art of Kiltmaking from The Celtic Croft
An online resource - Making a Kilt

Kilt Pleats

There a several ways of pleating a kilt when one is going to permanently fix the pleats into place. Box pleats or knife pleats can be used.

A tutorial on the different types of pleats used in historical costume.

Box pleats are a traditional military style. The pleats are wide (3 to 4 inches wide depending on the sett width of the tartan.) Box pleating uses less fabric. An example of a box pleated Phillabeg from The Celtic Croft.

Knife pleats are more common, as this is what is generally done with a length of plaid that is pleated every time it is worn. With permanent knife pleats, a kilt is either pleated to stripe or sett.

Below is an example of a kilt pleated to stripe.

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger image.

 
Front
Back

A kilt pleated to sett.

 
Front
Back

In both styles of pleating, the front of the kilt is unpleated and shows the tartan to full advantage. In the back of the pleated-to-stripe kilt, one stripe in the tartan is emphasized because it is located at the edge of each pleat. This is another traditional military style. Not all tartans look good pleated to stripe. In the back of the pleated-to-sett kilt, the repeat of the tartan (or sett) is maintained even though the fabric has been pleated

The ancient kilt I made for DH utilizes knife pleats, pleated to sett.

Measurements and Pleating Calculations

DH's natural waist (Note: this is NOT where men typically wear their mundane trousers.) measurement was 40 inches. I had him kneel on the floor and measured from the natural waist to the floor. This measurement was 20 inches.

As I stated above, the fabric I have to work with is about 6 yards 6 inches (222 inches) by 28 inches. According to the instructions for Pleating the Ancient Kilt from The Celtic Croft , I needed to allocate about 22 inches for the inside apron. I put a safety pin in the fabric 22 inches from the left short edge of the kilt fabric to mark where I would begin the pleating. I also needed to allocate about 2 yards for the sash, so I put another safety pin in the fabric 72 inches from the right short edge of the kilt fabric to mark where I would end the pleating. This left me with about 128 inches of fabric to pleat down to a space of 20 inches. I wanted 1 inch exposed for each pleat. The repeat of the plaid was 5 inches, so for each complete pleat (the start of one pleat to the start of the next pleat) 1 inch would be exposed and 5 inches hidden. This means I would be making between 21 and 22 pleats and the total length of the finished pleated portion would be 21 to 22 inches long. I decided to do just 21 pleats and let the sash be a bit longer.

Making the Kilt

After doing a few test pleats, I realize I will have better control of the exposed fabric on the outside or right side of the kilt if I flip everything around and pleat from the right side of the fabric.

  Here the fabric has been flipped around. The hem of the kilt is located at the top of the picture and the waist is located near the bottom of the picture. Note the white safety pin (actually a diaper pin.) It marks the end of the pleated area and beginning of the sash. Pins are inserted in to the fabric at intervals of 5 inches, then 1 inch, then 5 inches, etc.
     
  A closeup of the pin markings.
     
  The pins placed at 5 inch intervals are placed together and the resulting fold of fabric is pinned to secure it. In this picture the fabric has been partially pleated. Note that the plaid looks the same on the pleated fabric side as it does on the unpleated side.
     
  The fabric has been completely pleated and the pleats pinned into position.
     
  A closeup of the pinned pleats.

From this point on, the top edge of the kilt is at the top of the picture and the hem is somewhere below the bottom of the picture. These pictures are taken of the inside of the kilt.

  The pleats have been stay-stitched. Note the diaper pin. It marks the end of the inside apron and beginning of the pleated section.

1 inch wide twill tape was used to form the waistband and it was stitched into place at both the top edge and bottom edge of the tape with a narrow zig-zag.

  The waistband sewed into place.
     
  The left edge of the waistband.
     
  The right edge of the waistband.
     
  The waistband join.

Non-roll waistband elastic that was .75 inches wide was inserted into the casing, adjusted for proper length and the edges joined.

The Finished Kilt

     
Front
Back

To see REAL men in this kilt, click here.

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