Murray of Atholl Ancient Kilt: Pleats and Join finished


Photo of finished pleats

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with how the pleats turned out. I came out with about 1/8” extra at the waist and dead even at the hips. There are definitely a couple of wandering lines and inconsistent widths here and there, but at a casual distance and when being worn (and probably mostly covered by a belt and/or jacket) nobody but an observant kiltmaker is going to notice.

When working with double-width fabric, you start with half of your desired finished length (for an 8 yard kilt, you start with four yards of double-width fabric) then rip the fabric in half lengthwise, turn one half 180°, and sew it all together as you’re stitching the pleats; the cut ends get hidden among the pleats and once all of the pleats are sewn down, you go back and join the ends with a flat-felled seam, matching the tartan. This was the most poorly-executed step of my denim practice kilt; partly because there was no convenient tartan lines to help me keep the seam straight, and mostly because the denim was just too heavy and messy at the edges to manage as narrow a seam as described in The Art of Kiltmaking.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well the join turned out this time around:

Photo of the flat-felled seam joining the two halves of the tartan

I should actually say joins plural - due to a miscalculation on my part, I shortchanged myself during the planning stage and cut my full width tartan a bit too short. (I thought I would be able to save back a big chunk of tartan for something else.) I discovered my mistake while marking pleats for sewing, so I was able to just work in the additional length needed as a third piece; since the extra piece would all be within the pleats I was able to get away with it. When I went to sew join number two I discovered that my alignment was off by a half sett; because the plain red stripe repeats twice in the sett I didn’t catch it as I was sewing the pleats. Fortunately, the pleat placement and color pattern of the tartan is such that this should not be noticable unless someone is looking deep inside the pleats.

As it works out, I’m left with a piece of tartan almost exactly 1 yard square; perfect for a fly plaid.