There will be only one: a difficult kilt project

Pattern: Simplicity (vintage) 7213

I was doing so well on my last few projects, so I was not anticipating any problems.  Unfortunately this one knocked me down a few pegs – I don’t think I will be attempting another kilt-skirt any time soon.  And definitely not this pattern.

Some Background

I got the idea to make a kilt-skirt last summer, when I went to Scotland for a vacation.  Okay so what I really wanted to do was make something in the clan colors shown in Highlander: the TV series (not the movie), since I have always been a huge fan of the show.  Finding clan tartan fabric was not as easy as I had hoped – I found some fabric from a few of the clan names but they were all in this really heavy wool that I knew would make my skin break out immediately.  And I couldn’t even find MacLeod tartan, which I’m not even sure is historically accurate on the show.

Author’s note: I apologize to all people that may be Scottish reading this!  I am definitely not Scottish and I am probably not using any of these words (clan, tartan, etc) correctly since I have no idea of what I am talking about (and all my knowledge comes from the TV show Highlander).  Feel free to correct my knowledge about clan or family colors/tartans as I don’t mind being educated!  


So I thought I would just look for something as similar as possible.  I found a really nice light blue tartan and I thought I remembered in the show that there were some light blue in those colors.  It was as close as I could get, plus I really loved the feel of the fabric.  I’m not sure what type of material it is, but it’s definitely not wool, and the skirt would not need to be lined.

I knew I wanted to make a kind of kilt, but kilts are for men.  The kilt-skirt is quite fashionable for women, but I didn’t want to make the type I usually see, which is really short with the buckles on the side.  IMG_1753I wanted it to look more like an actual kilt.  Unfortunately, this made the pattern search pretty difficult.  I found this vintage pattern on Etsy, which seemed to match what I wanted to make perfectly, but was the wrong size.  That’s okay, I’ll just adjust the pattern – what’s adding a few inches to the hips?


Begging and Pleating 

In theory, this was a good idea – making a simple pattern adjustment on skirt is no big deal.  IMG_1700I forgot about the pleats.  The whole back on this skirt is nothing but pleats, so I couldn’t just hold the pattern around me to see how much to add.   And even when I folded all the pleats on the pattern to get an ideal of real width, I had to do some math equation to figure out if I needed 4 inches on the skirt, how much is that in pleats?  In the end that didn’t even matter because this pattern has you cut the whole thing out width-wise, so I could only cut as wide as the fabric was.  Luckily it was pretty wide, and with some estimations and adjustments to the front piece, I was sure I could make it work.  I adjusted the waistband as well and finished all the raw edges with a serger because…laziness.

I folded all the pleats and held my breath…it fits!  I sewed the front piece on and it was looking like a real kilt.  Hooray!



Mind the Gap

Without even thinking, I sewed on the waistband.  It fit perfectly around skirt, with all the adjustments I made.  Double hooray!  But then I tried it on – and I noticed it.

The huge gap in the waist.  Oh yeah that’s right, my waist is much smaller than my hips!   As many pear-shaped women can attest to, this is the biggest problem with clothes fitting.  That dreadful gap in the waist.  It has ruined many a jeans shopping experience.

Where I went wrong: What I should have done was fit the waistband to my waist and not to the skirt.  It would have been pretty easy to adjust the skirt to the band, because of the pleats.  I could have folded some sections in at the pleat line pretty easily.  I was so focused on making everything bigger – I didn’t take the time fit to my body.

To fix the fit, I pulled in the material in the back to make two back darts at the top.  Another thing to note – the directions for the waistband on this pattern were a little different as it had you fold it over towards the front, instead of the back.  It worked okay, it just threw me off a little, since I’m not used to that technique.  As you can imagine – it requires a top stitch.


For finishing – the directions were not so clear so I just installed two hooks in the front where it seemed to make sense.  The hem was hand-stitched, which I normally despise doing.  But I sucked it up and took the time to make the stitching look neat on the inside and not visible on the outside – unlike my usual impatient approach.  Very proud of myself!

In the end, it’s not the best thing I’ve made, but it is certainly wearable.


I took it for a test drive at work and noticed that keeping the front closed didn’t work so well when I was moving around.  I really hate that giant safety pin look, so I did some searching on Etsy and found a kilt pin that was the shape of Scottish heather.  What a way to remind me of my wonderful trip!


Ah that’s better.  Very…..adequate.


It’s not quite as vintage looking as I hoped from looking at the pattern picture.  It’s also not quite like the clan MacLeod.


But it’s still a nice skirt in a very pretty plaid.  Hmm…and seeing as I have some material left, Scottish HatI may have to attempt that hat!  What do you think – could I pull it off?



P.S. For all the Highlander: the series fans, I almost cried when they took it off Netflix streaming.  But I have recently discovered you can watch all the episodes on Hulu!  There can be only one!

8 thoughts on “There will be only one: a difficult kilt project

  1. Pingback: Coming back from leave…with a leaf skirt! | Threading Lightly

  2. Some kilts also have buckle straps at the waist and hip so that they are somewhat adjustable. I think you’d like it better if you steamed in the pleats so they were crisper. You might consider taking it to a professional cleaner to have them do that. My other thought is to run a little elastic through the waistband to help cinch it up. Pleats, especially on plaid, are NOT easy! You did great for a first attempt.


    1. Yes, I’ve seen those buckle things – something to consider if I make another one as I think it would be more adjustable, especially with the front piece, which is a little tricky to fit. I like your suggestion of the elastic waist – that may be something I can fix on this one. I’m a little kilted out at the moment, so maybe I’ll re-visit this for next fall….

      Also, yes it needs to be professionally pressed. I tried with my iron, but this material doesn’t hold the creases as firmly.


  3. What a shame you didn’t realise the waist problem earlier, as you could have taken a little bit out of every pleat and got a perfect fit. But what do I know? I have never made a kilt, although I would like to. The kilt pin is really special and I think the colour is great too. Well done.


    1. You are probably right – I was just not prepared to take all that stitching out – I spent so long on those pleats. So I took the lazy approach. It works when there is a shirt that covers the waistband – still doesn’t look that great tucked in as I just couldn’t adjust it perfectly. I think I would attempt another kilt – but not this pattern. I would find a pattern that fit with my measurements and I didn’t have to adjust – with pleats it’s just a bit too complicated. If you see a good pattern, let me know! I have an obsession with plaid…


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