The Waiting Game

This is it- the beginning of my busy season, and I am waiting patiently for several pieces of tartan so that I can sew.  There are a number of reasons why this happens.  The first is that in Scotland, they take holidays very seriously, and the mills generally close between Dec 21 or so, and the new year.  Then it may take a few days for things to get back to normal.  The next is one of the orders I that I am waiting for is a special weave.  This could take some time, even though the order was supposed to be ready around the first week of January.  Even if it’s off the loom, it still has to go to the finishers, and that may take several weeks. So, in the meantime, I am doing several alterations, and some hems for growing dancers.

One of my alterations is yet another order from a very well-known supplier (one of the ones at the top of the search if you Google kilts) that wasn’t even close to the measurements requested.  I ended up taking it apart down to the pleats, and I was pretty horrified at what I found:  not a stitch of hand work, the use of glue instead of tailor basting, the use of iron-on interfacing instead of the sew-in kind, and a general lack of tailoring of any kind.  This is the third one from this supplier that has had a similar story.  The customer orders a kilt, and what comes is too big by 4-6 inches, and the supplier will not make it right.  The customer searches around for someone to make it fit, and I have to charge them to take it apart and fix it.  I feel bad, but it’s a full day’s work to alter the aprons on a kilt, so I have to charge accordingly.  All I can say is that before you order a kilt from ANYONE, check their policies carefully, and double-check your measurements before sending them to the maker.

I have been arranging my schedule for the year, and I plan to attend some new events in 2016.  Here’s the list so far:

February 5 -7 MRMW in King of Prussia, PA

April 9  NH Indoor Games in Merrimack, NH

June 3  Old Orchard Beach Scottish Festival, Old Orchard Beach, ME

June 26-July 1  Kilt Camp at Braemar Summer School of Highland Dance and Kiltmaking in Troy, NY

August 27 Quechee Scottish Festival Quechee, VT

Frank and I will also be vending at a number of craft fairs near the holidays.  He has been making scarves and wraps all winter, and should have a beautiful selection ready to go.

I wish everyone who follows my blog a very happy New Year!

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The Hidden Pleat Exposed

Customers frequently ask, “Can you put a hidden pleat in my child’s kilt?”  The reason that they ask is that they want the new kilt to last as long as possible.  I can hardly blame them–a kilt is quite an investment, and when young girls and boys start growing, they can really take off.  The idea of having to purchase a new kilt every two years can be intimidating.  The hidden pleat, also called a “growth pleat” can provide the additional fabric needed to change the waist and hip measurements of a kilt by up to 3″, and sometimes more.  It involves planning an extra fold (or even two) that is sewn in place as the kilt is being constructed.  The kilt can then be made larger by taking the aprons of the kilt apart, resizing them, and sewing everything back into place.

When planning a kilt, I decide on the amount of tartan to use based on the person’s hip measurement.  Different tartans yield different numbers of pleats based on the size of the sett.  I need a certain number of pleats so that each one will be an appropriate size (usually about 3/4″ at the hip), but it’s very difficult to tell exactly how many pleats I’m going to get until I do the actual layout.  At that point I can see exactly how far the first pleat needs to be from the apron.  This is where the hidden pleat will go, although a second one can be placed under the right side of the underapron if there is enough fabric.  It’s not always possible to make an actual extra fold, but I ALWAYS try to leave enough fabric in the first pleat and in the facings to alter the kilt significantly.  This is one of the principles I use with every kilt I make, so that, if needed, it can be made to fit for the longest possible period of time.

There are a couple of limiting factors here.  One is that when girls hit puberty, their shapes change dramatically.  Their waists may actually get smaller, but the hips get wider.  It’s difficult to work with a kilt that was made for a little girl who was pretty straight, with little shaping, and turn it into one for a girl with hips.  On occasion, I have had to go back into the pleats and change those in order to make the waist small enough.  The second limiting factor is the proportion of the pleats to the apron.  If the apron is too wide compared to the  back of the kilt, it can be very unflattering, so I try to take that into account.