How to Make Kilts

by Maggie Hira

Kilts are a traditional Celtic garment worn by men in Scotland and Ireland. Kilts are basically wrap-around knee-length skirts with pleats along the backside. Traditionally, kilts are made of tartan, a heavy and thick fabric with a checkered pattern resembling plaid. Moreover, traditional kilts are made of nine yards of fabric; some people say this is where the term "the whole nine yards" originated from. Modern, do-it-yourself kilts can be made using less fabric.

Items you will need

  • Tartan fabric
  • Velcro
  • Sewing kit
  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • Pins
  • Clothes dummy
  • Iron
Step 1

Purchase about 4 to 6 yards of tartan fabric depending on measurements of the person who will be wearing the kilt. A man with a larger waistline, like 50-55 inches, may need up to 8 yards. For a man with a 32-inch waist, use only 4 yards. Extra material is needed to make the pleats. Measure accurately down to the knees from the waist and around the waist and hips. The kilt should hit directly at the kneecap. Make sure to leave at least half an inch for the hem. Mark measurements with a fabric pen for future reference. Cut the fabric to measure.

Step 2

Wrap the tartan around the clothes dummy, using pins to hold it in place. Make inch-wide pleats all along the back of the kilt. Hold the pleats in place with pins at the top and halfway down the bottom. To make a pleat: Mark the fabric to indicate the size and area of the pleats. The markings should be in two places: where you will pick up the fabric to fold it and where the pleat will end up after folding it. Make sure the measurements for all the pleats are equal.

Step 3

Remove the kilt with the pins intact from the dummy. Sew the tops of the pleats down with a sewing machine, taking off the pins once the pleat is sewn. At this point, also sew inch-wide pleats at both sides and the bottom of the fabric. Cut off excess fabric.

Step 4

Make the waistband from the spare tartan fabric. Choose enough fabric to go around the top of the kilt and cut a strip 4 inches wide. Fold it in half. Sew the bottom of the folded fabric to the top of the kilt from the inside. Then cut two 10-inch long, inch-wide strips of Velcro and sew onto the waistband where both ends of the kilt will meet.

Step 5

Press the pleats with a hot iron. Place a slightly damp piece of cotton between the iron and the pleats to keep the pleats permanently in place.

Tips

  • If you can't find the traditional red tartan, green is a good alternative. Optional: Add a leather, kilt belt with buckle to complete the look. This is an advanced sewing project; seek help if you don't have the sewing skills to make the kilt. Purchase pleated tartan to make the project easier. It can be difficult to make pleats if you've never done it before.

About the Author

Maggie Hira has been writing professionally since 2006. She has written for numerous websites and print publications, including "LA.Direct Magazine" and The Budget Fashionista. Hira holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Los Angeles.