When I first saw the utilikilts.com I knew that I wanted one. And with a weeding coming up that we couldn’t miss, I was searching one evening for photos of kilt to figure out which design I wanted. I also found patterns for a DIY kilt, so in a moment of madness, I thought why not!
And decided to sew a kilt myself and then spend a few days reading up about sewing, kilt patterns and different pleats.
I found www.XMarksTheScot.com which has a great pattern, in a 60-paged .pdf (second edition winter 2008-2009) by Alan Hebert, which I based mine on. After reading the .pdf my head hurt, but I pushed on – when I start a mission I’m keen and want to get it done yesterday.
Luckily in the area where we live there are plenty of fabric shops, mills are a big part of the history of the North. With the help of Peli’s mum I was sent in the right direction to a place called Immanuel Fabrics in Burnley. Which is in a small chapel that is full to the brim with all kinds of fabric.
I settled for some dark grey, blueish denim, which is a bit hard and heavy to work with, but it does cover my mistakes very well, you can’t see the stitching at all unless your nose is right next to the fabric. I was sure that there would be mistakes as the last time I drove a sewing machine was over 20 years ago.
Peli’s mum was my chief sewing advisor, so I borrowed her sewing machine and set upon this project. I was rather shocked that I managed to load the spool with thread and put into the sewing machine first time around and that it worked. I even finished this project without breaking a needle or putting said needle into my finger(s).
The only place to do this was on the floor in the living room, which made the sewing and moving around the nearly five-metre-long bit of fabric interesting. I spend two whole days and around three evenings making this, which is pretty good going for someone who doesn’t do this daily.
If you follow the Alan Hebert pattern you will spend some time counting, measuring again and again. Don’t do as I did: cut before you have gone back and re-read the 60 page .pdf for the tenth time. I had the laptop next to me, reading a paragraph, fold and iron fabric, read the paragraph again, sew, read the paragraph again (yes and again) and only then I moved on to the next part of the pattern. I think I can recite the .pdf now :)
Along with my chief design consultant aka Peli, we made some additions to Alan’s pattern. And I put in some press-studs here and there, more are probably needed. I also used a different pattern for my cargo side pocket. There was a bit that I couldn’t get my head around in the .pdf so I made an executive decision and skipped it and by the look of the finished product, nothing is missing.
I found some great looking Steampunk kilts (got many future ideas there too) and decided that the Danish/Viking influence to the kilt would be done in leather – the Raven* and the “Viking” compass**. The leather I got from J. Wood Leathers not a million miles from here, which have a corner of their workshop full of offcuts, along with all the other bits you need to make a kilt. I also wanted to feature some tartan on the kilt and Peli had the idea of just having a bit inside one pleat.
I’m rather chuffed with what I ended up with, though not sure if I will be making an other one soon, blooming hard work. Though I got some new ideas and that I would like to try them out, I have even found some really nice 100% wool fabric that would look fantastic as a kilt.
I think it went down a storm since a lot of people asked me where I got it from and was rather surprised that I made it myself when I wore it for the first time over the weekend. I even got a “lift” from a young lady – who lets just say had clearly had enjoyed the good weather Saturday just gone – she was rather cheerful that I only wore my baby suit underneath.
* The Raven – The Anglo-Saxons probably thought that the banners were imbued with the evil powers of pagan idols, since the Anglo-Saxons were aware of the significance of Odinn and his ravens in Norse mythology. Wiki – Raven Banner
** The Compass aka Vegvísir – is not really Danish or Viking it is Icelandic from after the Viking era, but probably based on the Viking era. “If this sign is carried, one will never lose one’s way in storms or bad weather, even when the way is not known” which just helps me in the way I travel :)