My wife is pretty tolerant of my occasional eccentric behavior. She has come to expect the odd item in the mail whether it be workout videos, guitar parts, or even a two foot long Hebrew rams horn shofar. But nothing really prepares you for 8 yards of 16oz Scottish tartan in the mail.
When eBay listed my clans kilt tartan from a closed Scottish fabric supplier, I sort of gave in to my impulses as you have to admit coming across a family tartan at a blowout price is not usual. I’m scot/welsh on my Mothers side ( Elliot ), so I felt that gave me at least a 50% right to run around in a kilt for at least one day…Canada Day!
Thus, here is the rundown of events that led to the finished product:
1- Break news to the wife
First, I tried slipping in little hints about the impending arrival in the mail…
“Hey honey, this dinner is fantastic. Wouldn’t it be neat if I made a kilt? Man, I love these potatoes…”
When the cloth finally arrived, I had to fess up to the cost. Even at a fraction of the cost, it’s still not cheap. That’s when I got that confused look, like you get from your dog when you try to put him on the phone. She was muttering something about money, food and shoes for the kids, but it was hard to pay attention while her piercing Kryptonian heat vision was literally cooking my insides. “Ouch!…sorry Hon, what was that again?”
2- Assemble materials
The pros say a kilt takes 30 hours to make, and it must be sewn by hand. Factor in my complete lack of sewing experience, I came up with a revised estimate of 237 years. I had the challenge of compressing that time into about two months.
Enter YouTube. After watching a few minutes of some Prozac-pumped lady sewing a doily, I now consider myself an expert tailor. Should I get appendicitis, I am so TOTALLY going to do the operation myself utilizing the same information source!
I also got a kilt “pattern” from FolkWear. Holy crap, I can’t understand a word it’s saying!! My wife ( who is experienced with sewing ) then looked it over…only to utter something seemingly offensive in German. In doing so I was both too scared to ask for a translation, yet at the same time oddly aroused. She then handed it back and gave me that “good luck with your skirt pal.” look.
3- Measure and pleat
Hip, waist, apron, pleats…blah blah. When it comes to a kilt, measure twice, cut never. Well, almost never. After the 3rd time of making the pleats wrong, I finally got it right. I was also amazed how eight yards of cloth disappears VERY fast. I went with a regimental stripe pattern because it was easier and everyone seemed to be doing it anyway. I then basted the pleats down, covered with a towel, and stream ironed the living heck out of them.
4- Start sewing
Those whom the god’s wish to destroy they first make mad. Did the “invisible stitching” from the hip to waist along 30 pleats. This is the very definition of monotony. But once done, I have to say it looks damn good.
Once the pleats and apron were sewn, I proceeded to do the inside hip-waist lining. It says it first needs canvas to hold it all steady. I therefore took an old karate gi and unceremoniously sacrificed it to the Scottish gods. Then I put some cloth over that to make it nice and cozy inside.
Enlisted my wife to do the hemming at the waist with a sewing machine, as it would take an eternity if done by hand. Plus time is running out and I only have 2 days left. She did an awesome job putting me back on schedule, and all it cost me was some East Indian take-out.
5- Side buckles and straps
You’d think it wouldn’t be so hard to find these things. Nobody has them, and I need them NOW! Off I go to the local “Scottish shop” to buy buckles at what must be a 5000% markup. Ye daft price gouging bastards! Fortunately Michael’s Crafts had a bag of leather perfect for cutting into straps.
Sporran and a kilt pin. eBay to the rescue once more as I had these bought and ready a month ago. To cut costs I got a cheap sporran, but it’ll do the job for now. Since the sporran tassels made me sound like Bessy the Cow coming around the barn, I removed them for a more streamlined look. I don’t yet have a belt, but apparently that is optional. Plus, my shirt will be hanging over anyway, and really…I’ve spent enough!
7- Sharp Dressed Man
Put it all together and I’m ready to proudly celebrate that historical day when a room of drunken Scotsmen helped form this great nation, Canada, the True North Strong and Free!
8- Hey, I was wondering…
Everyone asks what’s under the kilt. Instead of giving the comical answers such as “a haggis”, I’ll come right out and tell you. Underwear. Yes, that’s right. After this much work, do you honestly think I’d let it touch my naked, hot July, sweaty glutes? No way! Not to mention that I’m not used to kilt-wearing while sitting down, and having to spend Canada Day locked up for indecent exposure would be sort of a bummer!
If you’re looking for more resources, check out http://www.xmarksthescot.com/
The pattern I used is available at http://www.folkwear.com/152.html
And if you’re able, this book is supposedly the best: http://www.celticdragonpress.com/
© 2009 – 2015, John Paul Parrot. All rights reserved.