Kilt making is a highly skilled process, which takes many hours to complete. A traditional man's kilt is made from an approximate 8-yard running length of fabric, and is deeply pleated in the back. The flat, unpleated front apron overlaps from hip to hip. The outside front edge is fringed. The kilt closes on the right with a buckle on each side of the waist below the narrow waistband. Often a second hip buckle is added. Each kilt is supported with a layer of sturdy hair canvas across the waist and hip area and lined with a smooth cotton lining. The kilt is tailored to the individual measurement of the wearer. Belt loops can also be added.
Accurately planned and measured pleats are essential in a quality kilt. There are two methods of pleating a kilt – pleating to the ‘sett’ (or pattern) and pleating to the stripe. When pleating to the sett the fabric is folded in such a way that the pattern of the sett is repeated all around the kilt. This is done usually by taking up one full sett in each pleat. This makes a kilt which looks much the same from the front as from the back.
When pleating to the stripe, a strong narrow vertical stripe is selected and the fabric is folded so that this stripe runs down the centre of each pleat. A kilt pleated to the stripe will result in the pattern looking different at the front than at the back. It is sometimes called ‘military pleating’ because this is the style of pleating used by most military regiments. Bagpipe bands may also use this style.
All my kilts have pleat depths that are a hand deep (3-4”). The kilt is made with 5 holes in the straps with measurements taken to fit at the middle hole unless specified otherwise. This allows for user weight loss or gain. If necessary, the buckles can also be moved altogether.
A man's kilt is traditionally made without a hem, using the selvedge of the cloth. The exception would be a kilt made for a young person.
Have someone measure you - it is impossible to do accurate measurements on yourself.
While you are being measured, stand up straight, with your head up and looking straight ahead of you. Your feet should be together and you should stand naturally, neither stretching upwards or slouching.
Do NOT try to suck in your stomach. The fit should fit you perfectly as you normally are, and standing holding your stomach in is not the norm.
While the measurements are being taken, you should wear clothing that is not bulky, which can add an inch or more to the measurements!
Write down each measurement as you take it - do not try to remember two or three at a time. And measuring a second time is a very good precaution to take to ensure accuracy.
Whatever measurement unit you use, be consistent. If you use inches, then state all of the measurements in inches. The same is true if you use centimeters. Stick with one or the other.
Cloth tape measures are the best to use as they conform best to the body contours and give a more accurate reading.