Traditional Handsewn Kilts and Accessories
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A woollen kilt rarely needs pressing. If you remember to "sweep" the pleats downward whenever you sit, there should be few wrinkles that won't fall away when standing. This is the same method a lady uses when sitting in a skirt.
When a kilt does need pressing, here's what to do (and not to do):
- NEVER use an ironing board! Instead, lay a bath or beach towel on a large flat surface, such as a dining table.
- Lay the kilt down and spread out the aprons, ensuring the pleats are aligned parallel with each other.
- Set the iron to "wool/steam" and use a pressing cloth (a plain pillowcase works well.) Using a spray bottle to dampen the pressing, place the press cloth on the pleats (or other parts of the kilt such as the aprons) and press firmly for a few seconds.
- Repeat if necessary.
- NEVER iron a kilt without a pressing cloth. If you do, the wool will burn and become shiny (or worse).
- NEVER take a kilt to the dry cleaners, unless they have experience with kilts. Their pressing machines aren't big enough and tend to distort the pleats.
A woollen kilt almost never needs to be washed. (Really!) Airing it out after wear and promptly hanging it up will usually suffice. If possible, gentle spot clean any spills and stains.
If you do have to wash the entire kilt, here's what to do:
- Fill a bathtub with cold water and add Woolite or similar wool-care product.
- Gently swish the kilt around a few times. DO NOT SCRUB! Agitation (and heat) is what causes wool to shrink, felt, and become otherwise damage.
- Rinse under cold water until water runs clear.
- Hang to dry (not in sunlight), taking care that it does not sag in the middle (or anywhere else).
- Repress when dry, as per instructions above.
Guidelines for wearing Highland Regalia
- Put on your hose. Ensure ribbing is straight and not wavy.
- Put on your garter ties or flashes. Wrap garter ties twice around the calf, then tie off in an overhand knot with the fringes to the outside of the leg. If wearing garter flashes, simply adjust to fit your calf and fasten the clasp. Usually these are placed where the ribbing pattern ends and the sock cuff begins. Fold cuff over to conceal the garter but leave the fringing or chevron visible. The top of the hose should be about three fingers width from the outside bone of the knee.
- Place your sgian dubh into your right sock (or left if you are left-handed), leaving about one-half to one-third of the handle exposed. Visually, it should bisect the two fringes of the garter.
- Put on your shoes. If wearing Ghillie Brogues: Tie a normal twist and tighten the laces. Twist 3-6 more times. Put the laces round your ankle (just above the joint) and bring to the front. Tie into a normal knot (or double knot). The knot can be worn to the front or the outside of the leg.
- Put on your shirt and tie. Make sure you tie the tie a little shorter than you normally would when wearing trousers. The tip of the tie should reach a bit past the top of the kilt.
- Put on your kilt. With pleats to the back, take the under apron strap and feed it through the hole and buckle on your left. Buckle the outer apron on the right. The bottom of the kilt should rest at the middle (or higher) of your kneecap, and the top should rest above your navel.
- Put on your kilt pin. The pin DOES NOT hold the kilt closed. It is there to weigh down the outer apron only. It is usually placed three inches up from the bottom and three inches in from the fringe. Or, alternately, three inches in from the fringe and halfway up the apron.
- Put on your sporran. With buckle to the back, the sporran should rest about three fingers below the front of the waistcoat or kilt belt (if wearing one).
- Put on your kilt belt. (If not wearing a waistcoat.) Kilt belts are 2¼”-2½” wide and are affixed with a large decorative pewter buckle. A trouser belt is too narrow (1½”) to be worn with a kilt as the kilt’s actual waistline is located about 2” down from the top of the kilt, so a narrow belt would cinch the kilt above this, creating a very undesirable effect. Kilt belts are to worn only when NOT wearing a waistcoat or sweater.
- Put on jacket and waistcoat. Leave the jacket unbuttoned. (Unless you get cold!) Leave the last (bottom) button of the waistcoat undone.
- Put on fly plaid or day plaid. (Optional) Take one corner of the fly plaid and fold the two outer corners inward, a bit like a paper airplane. Turn over and pass the held end through the epaulette of your jacket. Pull down to breast level and affix with a brooch. Some people do not like the brooch piercing the jacket, so instead affix the plaid underneath with safety pins. A day plaid is simply folded lengthwise until about 12” wide and then draped over the shoulder. That’s it. To prevent it from slipping, some people affix the day plaid to their jacket with concealed safety pins.
- Put on hat. The Balmoral is usually worn with the brim about ½” from the eyebrows with the cockade over the left temple. The cloth portion of the hat is pulled to the right. The Glengarry was traditionally worn on a slant with 1" above the left brow and ½” above the right. Today it if often worn in a straight manner like the Balmoral.