Monday, June 28, 2010

Handmade Kilts at the Leslie Highland Games

I have already posted a tutorial on how to make a child-sized kilt.  The only difference between that and making an adult version is the dimensions, so I won't explain the process all over again!  The main trick to keep in mind is that whatever your waist circumference is, divide it by two, then multiply it by three to figure out the finished length of the waist of your kilt.  Working the waist in three sections, two identical flat panels that overlap in the front, and one pleated panel in the back, makes this project a lot easier than it looks!  The only hard part is figuring out how much material to allow to get the number and thickness of pleats you want.  I usually allow 4" to create a 1" pleat.

Math example for a 36" waist:  36/2 = 18"   18" x 3 = 54" finished length at waist

4" x 18" =  72" (the length needed for the pleated panel in back. This will be pleated until it equals 18")

72" + 18" + 18" = 108"  For this kilt I would need 108" of fabric by however long I wanted it to be.  Once pleated, this length will equal 54".  Not quite the 8 yards of the traditional Scottish kilt, but it looks good and is a lot cheaper to make!
These are the three adult kilts I've made.  I've also made two child-sized ones.  The two red/brown kilts were made for men, and the green one was made for myself.  I learned that making a kilt for a woman is harder because we have hips!  A large wrap-around rectangle doesn't give the right fit at the waist.  I tapered in the sides of mine to fix that problem, but really, to do it right, I think each pleat should be slightly tapered (which would make for a lot more math!)
Here I am with my brother-in-law and husband sporting the latest in Scottish fashion!  The boys demonstrated some "traditional" sword-fighting techniques.

I am not one to be outdone so later in the day I also did a bit of sword-fighting.  We engaged in some traditional Highland games including the sheaf toss, the throwing of the Wellie (a boot), a simplified caber toss using landscape timbers, and the stone put (or rock throwing!)  My best event was surprisingly the caber toss.

Here is my daughter in her kilt.  I had just enough fabric to make her a sash to wear as well.  Hers was made of the same fabric as mine (which was the closest I could find to the actual Leslie tartan).  I discovered that day that I enjoyed wielding a sword much more than I thought I would!  I recommend sewing up some kilts for your clan, Scottish or not, and having some Highland games.  It's a lot of fun!


  1. this is awesome! thanks bethany!

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