How to Make a Utility Kilt

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Using tartan fabrics in kilt-making is more difficult than using solid colored fabrics.
Using tartan fabrics in kilt-making is more difficult than using solid colored fabrics. (Image: kilt image by lino beltrame from Fotolia.com)

Kilts, those traditional Scottish garments, are usually created entirely by hand out of tartan fabric, resulting in an heirloom quality item worn for special occasions. Utility kilts are a new breed of this garment, made of cotton twill in solid colors or prints such as camouflage. Unlike their more formal cousins, that can require anywhere from 7 to 9 yards of fabric to create, utility kilts employ less fabric and wider pleats, making for a more relaxed kilt, perfect for casual occasions.

Things You'll Need

  • 5 yards of cotton twill fabric
  • Measuring tape
  • Marking pencil
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron
  • Hook and eye
  • 6 decorative buttons

Instructions

Measure yourself from your waist to the desired length of your kilt.

Cut your kilt fabric to the length you measured, plus 4 inches for the hem. Save the fabric you cut off to be used later.

Pin the hem by folding the bottom edge up 2 inches, then fold that under again, to create a 2 inch double-thickness hem. Sew hem using a straight stitch.

Lay the fabric out, wrong side up. Measure to find the middle of the fabric, at 2 ½ yards. Measure 6 inches to either side of this middle point, and mark with your pencil. Fold these points so that they meet at the middle, creating two 3-inch deep pleats in a box pleat design.

Pin these pleats at the top of the fabric and down the fabric until they are 6 inches deep.

Measure 3 inches to either side of the box pleat folds, and mark these points with your marking pencil. Measure 3 inches past this mark and fold these 3 inches on top of the previous 3 inches, creating the next pleats.

Continue in this manner, creating 3-inch deep pleats around the kilt, pointing the pleats so that from the right side, the pleats point toward the back of the kilt.

Topstitch the pleats in place, 1/8 inch from the fold. Iron the pleats and try on the kilt.

Stop pleating when you have 11 inches of unpleated fabric left on both sides of the fabric. Fold the side edge under 1 inch, then fold it under again, creating a 1-inch double-thick hem. Stitch and repeat on the other side.

Cut a waistband from the remaining fabric. Measure the upper edge of the kilt and add 1 inch for seam allowances. Use this measurement to cut the length of your waistband. Cut the waistband 5 inches tall.

Pin the waistband to the kilt, wrong sides together, with the long edge of the waistband 1 ½ inches down from the top of the kilt, and leaving ½ inch of the long edge of the waistband extending beyond the kilt’s side edges. Stitch in place, using a ½ inch seam allowance on the waistband, making the seam line 2 inches from the top of the kilt.

Fold the waistband over the top of the kilt, pinning it to the wrong side and folding under the seam allowances on the inside waistband and side edges. Handstitch in place.

Sew the hook and eye closure to the inside of the waistband.

Place the buttons on the front of the kilt, evenly spaced down the apron (the unpleated section of the kilt) and mark their locations. Sew buttonholes in the top apron, and stitch the buttons to the corresponding spots on the under apron.

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