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A Kilt for Canada Day



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 FolkWearHoly 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.

Kilt3Once 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 bastardskilt4! Fortunately Michael’s Crafts had a bag of leather perfect for cutting into straps.

6- Accessories

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

The pattern I used is available at

And if you’re able, this book is supposedly the best:


John Paul Parrot ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.



  1. Reid

    August 12, 2009 at

    Maybe being worn a touch long, as a little shorter is often much the better — within whatever limits you've got the nerve on one end and modesty on the other to keep. I like to wear my belted plaid — these are only six yards, and by two, because of the sheer bulk of this woolen tablecloth/raingear/sleeping wrap — to the tops of my kneecaps. Young bucks way back in the wayback were, I gather, in the habit of kilting 'em daringly short, in a reversed-distaff Scottish edition of Daisy-Dukes.

    For cheap fun, few spectacles beat seeing new kilties sitting down on metal folding chairs — cool weather or hot. You can see them jump. Slightly more veteran kilties swiftly master the skirt-swoop with a free hand to get the fabric under them. The fellas end up better appreciating what the gals go through.

    The infamous question can be sung in the asking to such tunes as [i]Garryowen[/i] and [i]The Campbells Are Coming[/i] — should the latter be the title of the first Hielan' porno?

    "There's naething worn under the kilt; it's all in guid working order."

  2. DysfunctionalParrot

    July 2, 2009 at

    You bet I did! That's sort of what got the whole thing going…finding my clan tartan for a good price.

    At the end, making it was a whole lot less expensive than buying one which can run in the hundreds of dollars, making it often not worthwhile to even bother. But after going to a local shop and checking out their kilts, I feel mine compares alright.

    Funny thing about Canada Day, I wore it all day at the festivities and almost nobody even noticed! That's Canada for you!

    That having been said, Levi 501 jeans are still my garment of choice!

  3. Andrew Logue

    July 2, 2009 at

    Ha! The real question is, did you get the right tartan pattern for your clan!?

    I used to want a kilt (I'm half…possibly more…Irish) but then I saw the prices. Then I thought, damn it. The Irish didn't wear kilts THAT much. Screw it I'll just wear wool pants.

  4. MD

    July 1, 2009 at

    I think the kilt is a masterpiece that your family will cherish as an heirloom forever. To be handmade makes it even more special.

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