Tweed Kilt

This was one of the projects born from having something in your stash for years, and finally spotting the missing piece in a discount bin half a world away and years later.

A long time ago, I had bought a roll of brown, plaid wool on discount. I wanted to make a kilt that didn’t look like a costume for a wedding or a Christmas pageant. But just under 7 usable yards, it wasn’t enough. So it just sat around in my stash.

Several weeks ago, I found 2.25 meters (no yards in Jolly Ol’ England) of green tweed that was exactly what I wanted. Out of all the things that I didn’t bring to London when I moved here, I actually brought my wool stash in hopes of finding something to finish with.

I scoured the web for instructions and inspirations. I found this blog which gave me more than I ever knew one could know about pleats.

Finally, I watched a bunch of videos from 21st Century Kilts, which makes kilts in styles that were what I imagined. The big tips I picked up for making a more modern fit were:

  • sit lower on the hip, more similar to how you wear trousers.
  • control the length to hit below or at the bottom of the knee. It gives less “shocking” legs.

From the 8 yards brown wool, I was able to get 22 pleats at about 11 inches each. A knife pleat is essentially a fold. I had 5 inches folded back on a 6 inched of fabric. So the pleats are about 1 inch apart with 5 inches of fabric folded to the back. The deep pleats are what gives a kilt its weight and “swing.”


Following the blog on pleats, I basted all the pleats, steamed and ironed them in, and sticked the top 9 inches of each pleat.

I used the green tweed to make the aprons. The bottom apron is single ply and the top is two ply. I used a french seam to attache the tweed aprons to the brown back. The seams are inside of the pleats, and not visible. When cutting the front apron, it is seamed to the back fabric at an angle, and you want to match that angle on the other side of apron to give it an even appearance. I folded the apron down the middle and chalked the left seam onto the right half to get the matching line.

I frayed the right edge of the apron. To do this, you put in a stabilizing stitching and pick at the tweed until it starts to fray. I hid the straight stitch under a leather strap that I cut from the same hide I used for my buckle straps and saddle stitched it over the straight stitch.

The front apron is two ply, so there is a fold at the bottom and thus no need for a hem. However, the rest of the fabric isn’t proper “kilt” fabric. Proper “kilt” fabric has a stable selvage that you can use as the bottom without any hemming. My brown wool, no such luck. That meant 8 years of hand stitching a hidden hem — or approximately three evenings. (Hand stitching is the Devil’s work!)

I created a side pocket with scrap tweed. It has four button holes, so I can button into the kilt or remove it for a more traditional style. It is a simple pillow case pocket and I attacked the leather straps with grommits.

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