Some details of my standard kilt construction...
My kilts are inspired by historic nineteenth century style kilts, but they are not intended to be museum reproductions. While historical reenactors may find them suited to living history purposes, there is no reason why my kilts cannot be a regular part of your modern day Highland dress wardrobe.
Rather than being replicas of historic kilts, these are modern kilts made in an historic style. As such, my kilts have certain modern conveniences not found in historic kilts. For example, the pleats in my kilts are tapered from waist to hips for the best fit -- the original tailored kilts were not tapered. My kilts are lined with 100% natural silk. The original tailored kilts had no lining. My kilts are fastened by means of leather straps and buckles. The original tailored kilts lacked straps and buckles.
If you have any special requests about how your kilt will be made, please feel free to discuss those details with me. I'm generally happy to accomodate requests within reason. That being said, here are some standard construction details on all styles of kilt I make.
All of my kilts are made from 100% wool, woven in Scotland. I believe that a quality kilt begins with quality cloth. My kilts are lined with 100% natural (undyed) silk, woven in India and China.
I sew each kilt myself, by hand. Your kilt will not be outsourced to any other maker. Full disclosure: There is a single line of stitching at the top of the kilt that runs the entire length of the garment. This is the stitching that attaches the top of the lining cloth to the kilt, and it is entirely covered by the waistband. I will often (though not always) use a machine to sew this line of stitching. Other than this, every stitch in your kilt will be sewn by hand.
I make my kilts standard with no belt loops. Kilts of the nineteenth century had no belt loops and they are not necessary to wearing the kilt. They can be added for a surcharge if you feel you must have them.
I make my kilts standard with no fringe on the apron. Again, this is following the fashion of most nineteenth century kilts (see note, below). I can make the outer apron with a single fringe if requested.
All kilts I make will have only two leather straps, one on each side at the waist. The third strap on the lower right hip that is common on modern kilts is superfluous. As it serves no purpose and adds nothing to the fit of the kilt, I leave it off (as many traditional kiltmakers continue to do to this day). If you are curious as to why people began to add this uneccesary third strap in the first place, I have written about it on my blog.
I also have a rather unusual way of attaching the left-side strap and buckle. My kiltmaking teacher, Bob Martin, discovered this method in an old 79th New York Cameronian kilt made in 1860 and housed in the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum. The left-side strap and buckle on the kilt were attached on the inside of the kilt, eliminating the need for a "button hole" in the kilt for the strap to pass through.
By attaching the buckle to the inner apron, and the leather strap to the inside of the kilt, the kilt can fasten closed as normal with no need to put a hole through the kilt. This makes later size adjustments much easier to accomodate, and the wearer feels absolutely no difference when worn between this and the more usual style. Plus, it adds an additional "historic flare" to my kilts that makes them stand out from the masses.
Pleating to the stripe is standard on all of my kilts, as this was the most common practice for both civilian and military kilts in the nineteenth century. However, especially with four yard kilts, occasionally I will need to pleat to some other pattern due to the size of the particular sett repeat of the tartan. Sometimes this may mean pleating to alternate stipes, pleating to the sett, or pleating to a created pattern. This is generally only an issue with tartans woven with a much smaller or larger sett repeat than average. If you have concerns about how your kilt will be pleated, please discuss it with me when you order your kilt.
Before I give your kilt its final pressing, I tack the pleats down with a basting stitch in white thread. I leave this in for shipping. The white basting stitches should be removed before wearing your kilt.
Lastly, the final thing that I do before basting and pressing each kilt is to sew my label on the inside. Each label bears my name as kiltmaker. I will not put my name on any kilt which I would not be proud to wear myself. You have my guarantee.
"When the tailored civilian kilt came on to the scene, at the end of the 18th century, it was built with box pleats, pleated to NOTHING [that is, neither to the stripe nor to the sett] and having ties or pins as fasteners... By the early to mid 1820s, the civilian kilt was sartoriall formalized; and now we have the epitome of the kilt: 4 yards of tartan cloth, pleated to the stripe with true box pleats (no overlap on the inside), and fastened on one side with buttons, or a pin, or one buckle -- and no fringe. This was -- and is -- a truly balanced garment..."
--Bob Martin, All About Your Kilt, pg 17
Scottish Tartans Authority