Potential customers often ask me the following two questions:” Can you leave room for growth?” or “What if I gain (or lose)weight?” What they are really asking is how much room for adjustment there is in a kilt, and the answer varies depending on which way the kilt would need to be altered.
For children who are still growing, there IS room for growth in two places. I leave at least a 3″ hem in most cases, depending on the tartan and the finished length of the kilt. This will allow the child to grow about 6-7″ and still be able to let the kilt down enough to fit. The kilt can also be made 1″-1 1/2″ big in the waist and hips, and then have the buckles and straps placed further back than normal. This would allow for an increase in the waist and hip size. It’s not a bad idea for a child who is growing rapidly, but often will only get one more year’s use out of the garment. The other option is to make the apron slightly smaller than the pleated part of the kilt, and then alter the aprons to make them bigger when the child needs it. This can be done so that no one would ever know that the kilt had been altered, but it is a time-consuming alteration,( a full day’s work) and I charge $130-150 for this.
People sometimes come to me and ask me to take a kilt in. This is really simple if it’s only an inch or two– I just move the buckles and the strap on the underapron. Piece of cake. It gets more interesting if they have REALLY lost a lot of weight. I had one young man who lost over 100 pounds AFTER I had made him a kilt. I took 6 pleats out of the kilt, and made both aprons smaller, for a total of about 12 inches out of both waist and hips. Luckily this particular kilt had been pleated to the stripe, so I was able to take the pleats out fairly easily.
So, there is some room for change, but certainly not enough to be able to change a child’s kilt to fit as they grow to adulthood. Fortunately for the parents of smaller dancers, there is a thriving market for used kilts in children’s sizes, so even if your child needs a new kilt every two years, you can expect to be able to sell the old one for half to two thirds of what you paid for it new, so you’re not out TOO much money.
Now, a short story.
When my daughter started to dance in 1996, she was 10 years old. I made her first kilt not long after this, because she needed one in order to compete, and when I found out how much it was going to cost, I said, “I can do that,” because it just wasn’t really in the budget to spend a lot of money on a kilt. The first kilt was made by copying one that I borrowed, but I knew that it wasn’t done exactly right. Not long after that I heard about the Braemar Summer School of Highland Dance and Kiltmaking. One week with Elsie Stuehmeyer and I was hooked. I have been making kilts ever since. I ended up making four more kilts for my daughter in the next 6 years, and hundreds of others for customers all over the US. I am SO fortunate to be able to do something like this that gives me such pleasure and satisfaction.