Monday, May 10, 2010

Wanna Make your Child a Kilt for the Scottish Highland Games?!

In honor of the upcoming Scottish Highland Games I'm doing a child's kilt tutorial.  Making a kilt is actually pretty easy if you aren't too particular about being true to ancient Scottish traditional kilt making.  This tutorial can easily be expanded for an adult, although an adult might prefer buttons or ties to velcro and may want belt loops.  First cut a nice long strip of plaid.  The length isn't too important but since you'll be pleating, longer is better.  For a baby or toddler, I cut it about 48" (or however tall the bolt is...I like easy) and the width is however long you want the kilt to be on your child plus a couple inches for seam allowance.  This is also a good time to hem the entire length of what will be the bottom of your kilt since it will be easier to do before it is pleated, but you can do it at the end too :-)

Next measure your child's waist and round it to something easy.  I'm going to use 20" for this tutorial since this will fit children from about 1 year to about 3 years old pretty well since the waist will be adjustable.  First divide your measurement by 2 to figure out the measurement for the front and back of your kilt.  In this case that is 10".  The front of the kilt will have a flap that wraps around, so there will be two panels in the front.  So I need three 10" sections.  I measured 10" on each end of the length of plaid, and the amount left between these two sections I pleated up until it also measured 10" for three even sections.  (Pleating is fairly easy with plaid because you can use the lines on the fabric to make sure your folds are even, so no rulers!)  I just used trial and error to figure out how many pleats and what size to make them to gather up the fabric to the dimension I wanted, but you could always use math to figure this out first!

Once you've pinned down your pleats, it's time to iron them flat.  Ironing is a must on this project!  Line up your plaids lines from top to bottom and iron the folds the whole length of the skirt.  Once you are done you should have a rectangle (in this case one that is 30" x by whatever length you want the skirt to be)

Now it's time to go to the sewing machine.  Sew down your pleats across the top to secure them.  Next you can sew each pleat down vertically very close to the ironed edge.  I sewed mine down about 3.5" then backstitched to reinforce, being careful to line them up as you go.    Don't sew them down all the way!  As you can see in this picture, I pinned the pleats down to help keep them lined up as I went.  Once they are all secured they will look like the picture on the right.  At this point you can trim your threads.

Now you can fold over the top and hem it down for nice clean top edge.  If you haven't hemmed the bottom yet, do that as well.  The final step is to sew on velcro.  Sew velcro across the top right-side of one front flap, and the top wrong-side of the other.  I sewed velcro the entire length of both flaps so that the kilt can easily be adjusted since this blue and red kilt was for a friend whose little guy has a lot of growing left to do!  Here is the one I made for my daughter using the same directions, except hers tied on.

I recently came across a link with directions for making a more detailed kilt, so if you are interested in that, here you go!


  1. I will get you a pick of Ian wearing his kilt its soooo cute

  2. Awesome work, as usual.

  3. Thank you for posting this! My daughter has an international day at her school and I want to make her a kilt since we have Scottish heritage. This is so much easier than I had imagined.

  4. Seriously thank you SO much for this easy tut, it is so simple and your writing is well managed. The steps are great. I'm about to make 2 of them! :)


  5. Thanks, I made one for my dog. ;)
    Couldn't find a pattern...figured a kids would work.
    Happy St. Patrick's Day :)

  6. This is so perfect! I want to make a kilt for my son's christening. I think we might just be able to do it now!

  7. I used your tutorial for my 4 year old's birthday back in November. Thank you! Very easy to follow instructions.

  8. Just made one for my boy... thanks alot!!!!

  9. I have made one kilt previously, based on the more detailed instructions that you linked to. But I have a family that needs kids kilts and fast. So I want to give your pattern a go. I am not clear on if the "formula" is always waist divided by two plus one to get the amount for three panels.
    Your example used a 20" inch waist and ended up with three 10" panels. I just wanted to confirm that is the correct way to interpret the intructions.
    Thanks so much!

  10. Yes, so a 30" waist would need three 15" sections, a 40" waist would have three 20" sections...etc...

  11. I'm about to try this for my nephew who is yet to be born, so flying blind as to waist measurements, but what I'm wondering about the most is what is the ratio length to the 10" waist?

    thank you