I understand that a custom made kilt is probably a lifetime purchase. Traditional kilts use eight (8) yards of 100% pure wool fabric with six to seven (6-7) yards of this taken up by the pleats. Other non-traditional kilts use five (5) yards of fabric and have no pleats. Each kilt has pleats across the front and across the back. Each pleat must lay in one (1) inch increments. The number of pleats depends on the tartan pattern and the size of the person it is made for.
Before you can order a kilt you must decide which tartan it will be made in. You may have ties to a particular Scottish clan or family name that you may want to choose for your kilt. One of the most complete listings of the Scottish names and clan affiliations is in the book, 'Scots Kith and Kin', published by Clan House in Edinburgh. It lists over 4000 names with their possible clan affiliations. But, if you have no ties to Scottish ancestry, the whole inventory of tartan fabric is available to you. There are many internet sites that list and show the thousands of tartan patterns that are available.
Choosing A Kilt
Once you have chosen a tartan pattern, you will find that many tartans have colour variations. Most woolen mills have at least three colour variations for each tartan, and they vary from mill to mill. Generally, they will have one colour scheme of dark colours, one of lighter colours, and one of muted colours.
The darker colour scheme is called “modern” and the lighter one is called “ancient”. The lighter dyes resemble the older vegetable dyes that were used long ago. The darker dyes of the “modern” tartans were made popular in Victorian times as a more somber variation of the tartan.
The muted colours are dyed to look as if they have faded over the years. Another colour variation in some tartans is the “hunting” version. These tartans generally employ a lot of green in their colouring.
The term “dress tartan” does not necessarily mean that it is for dress-up occasions. These tartans incorporate a substantial amount of white, a tradition reaching back to Queen Victoria's time. During her reign, she asked that the tartan weavers darken the dyes of the weave and add some white into the rather drab mix of colours to modernize and enliven the fabrics. Thus the "modern" dress tartans were born.
Today, dress tartans are often worn by Highland dancers, women, and those wishing a lighter weight version of the clan tartans. Tartan fabric comes in several weights ranging from 8-9 oz tartan, suitable for women’s wear that drapes and men’s ties; an 11 oz. tartan, which is often used for Highland dance kilts; and a 13 oz tartan is suitable for a gentleman’s kilt, which may be worn for Scottish Country dancing, or for formal wear such as a wedding. The heavier 15-16 oz. weight is used primarily for Military dress and Highland marching band kilts.
During your initial consultation with me, we will discuss the various weights of tartan fabrics and select the one suitable for your specific needs.