Frequently Asked Questions
When I set out to become a kilt maker, I eventually learned that three things invariably make the price of a kilt what it is:
1) Cost of material. Worsted wool tartan material is very expensive. However, if you have ever gone shopping for upholstery fabric, you will notice there are many expensive fabrics out there. It is, and always will be, a niche market. Tartan mills must stock hundred of different patterns and often receive orders for only small lengths at a time.
2) Labour cost. Quality kilts are hand-made. Always have and probably always will be. This takes a considerable amount of time. (Typically 25 hours or more.) True, one can purchase machine-stitched kilts, but the stitches will usually be visible and thus it will not look the same. This does not mean some machine-stitched kilts are of poor quality or do not look good, they just look different and to many people not what a kilt should look like. As well, there are many "budget" kilts available for under $100 but these are often of very poor quality and produced in Asia under questionable working conditions at best. Beware the label, 'Designed in Scotland'. To read more on that click here.
4) Variety. I offer more variety than the typical 9-yard knife-pleated kilt made in heavy weight wool. This allows customers to select a kilt according to their needs, budget, etc.
How long will it take for my kilt (or other items) to arrive?
Many will tell you (including most kilt makers) that the nine-yard kilt is the true 'traditional' and the four-yard 'casual' kilt is just a modern concept. The true traditional 'kilt' was the Fèileadh Mhòr; a double width (actually two 25"-30" pieces stitched together length-wise) four-yard piece of fabric which was hand-pleated and draped around oneself in a variety of fashions. The first traditional tailored kilt (appearing in the late 18th Century) was the four-yard box-pleated kilt. Knife pleats, commonly found on most kilts today, did not appear until the Gordon Highlanders adopted them in the mid-19th Century. Later in the 19th Century, the trend of pleating to the sett (maintaining the tartan pattern) became prevalent, thus requiring more fabric (seven to nine yards). This style remains the most popular among kilt-makers even today.
Do you make leather or other non-traditional 'contemporary' kilts?
No. I am a traditional kilt maker who makes traditional hand-sewn kilts from wool. If you are only interested in these other styles I could certainly refer you to some companies/individuals who do make them.
Both. Pleating to the sett (maintaining the tartan pattern throughout the pleats) is usually only done on nine-yard, knife-pleated kilts (thus necessitating the need for more fabric). On a box-pleated or Kingussie kilt one is usually limited to the stripe due to fabric constraints. A small number of tartans can be pleated to the sett in a box or Kingussie pleat with a satisfactory appearance but most cannot. Some tartans have a very small sett and can be pleated using 1 1/2 repeats instead of one. If this is possible I will contact you to ask if you would like this option.
Of course! Anyone can wear a kilt. That's like saying one must be French to wear a beret! Besides clan names, tartans are named for countries or districts (Scottish National for Scotland or Maple Leaf for Canada, for example) or are simply tartans based on other institutions (Black Watch or Great Scot). Believe it or not, even Scrooge McDuck and Shrek have their own tartans! By looking through the tartans listed in my order forms, you will find there are a great many non-clan affiliated tartans. In addition, you can have your kilt made in a solid colour. Irish kilt-wearers are especially fond of solid-coloured kilts, often in saffron or green.
Indeed, the kilt was not even universally worn across Scotland. It was worn only by Highlanders, who were (are) ethnically very different from Lowlanders who often regarded them as barbaric. With the romanticizing of all things Highland in the 19th Century, it became a pan-Scottish garment. The Irish kilt (typically saffron or some other solid colour) is another source of contention among scholars. Most agree that the ancient Irish wore the léine which was a long belted tunic pleated in a vaguely similar fashion. This was later misinterpreted by 18th and 19th Century scholars as a kilt. Yet again (like clan name tartans) another tradition was forged in falsehood.
All said, while based upon much fancy, these traditions now have a two or three century history which must be respected. The concept of the kilt as a pan-Celtic garment is quite recent and is likely due to two reasons: First, Highland dress is really the only traditional Celtic dress to have survived into modern times; people of other Celtic descent feel that this is the closest they can approximate today what their ancestors wore. Second, they wear it simply to show Celtic solidarity; a worthy cause indeed!
Do I need a sporran?
I would say yes. This is the most important accessory to buy. If you don't wear one it will look like you are wearing a skirt! (Not that there is anything wrong with that!) The sporran is also quite useful as the kilt has no pockets. We off three types of sporrans: Day wear, Hunting, and Dress.
Technically, no (with the exception of the sporran - see above). A kilt is simply a garment and can be accessorised as you choose. Whether this means dressed to the hilt in full Highland regalia or dressed-down with a T-shirt and boots, the choice is up to you. Accessories can be purchased over time to build your outfit and most people find this easier on the wallet. A general rule-of-thumb most people seem to follow is to purchase what is worn below the waist first: kilt, sporran, belt, kilt pin, sgian dubh, kilt hose, garter flashes, and ghillie brogues (shoes). At a later time, they purchase the articles worn above the waist: jacket and vest, fly plaid and brooch, balmoral, glengarry, or tam.
A common misconception over the years has led people to believe that the kilt pin holds the two aprons together. I'm not sure where this started but it is false. A kilt pin should only be pinned through the top (outer) apron. It is there merely for weight. If you pin it through both aprons, the kilt will not hang properly. You will also run the risk of seriously damaging your kilt should the pin snag on something. As for location of the pin, it is usually placed 3" up from the bottom and 3" in from the edge.
Do you offer a payment plan?
Yes, see here.
Yes and no. All kilts are skirts, while not all skirts are kilts! Some dislike kilts claiming they are women's clothing. Nothing could be further from the truth. History has shown us that many cultures wore or wear similar garments. Skirt-like garments reaching to the knee were exclusively menswear until the 20th century. It is important to stress that a kilted skirt (such as those worn by schoolgirls) are NOT kilts, they are kilted skirts.
Ah, the age-old question! One which you, the kiltie, will likely be asked many times in your life! Various humorous stock phrases abound: "Shoes and socks." "Nothing's worn, ma'am. It's all in perfect working order!" etc. In all seriousness though, wear whatever you like. If you prefer going "regimental" for whatever reason then do so. If not, then don't!