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The Pleating Options



Different types of pleating allow the kilt maker some choice in the pleating of various tartan setts. There are essentially two main styles of pleating for kilts, knife edge pleating and box pleating:


Bespoke Handmade Kilts

Bespoke Handmade Kilts


This is the term used to describe pleats which, when sewn, reproduce the sett (or design) of the tartan in the pleated area. The ease (or on the other hand, the difficulty) of producing correct pleats wholly depends upon the design of the tartan, particularly the intricacy of the various checks and overchecks. It is the experience of the kiltmaker, which is important in visualising the end result.


 MILITARY PLEATING ~ pleated to the stripe

Military pleating as the name suggests, is the style of pleating used for the production of kilts worn by Scottish Army regiments. It is said that military pleating was introduced to create a more striking effect and to introduce a very defined appearance of uniformity amongst the ranks. Military pleats should have a prominent line or lines running the length of each pleat.

The Muted McKenzie Tartan kilt pleated to the white stripe

The Muted McKenzie Tartan kilt pleated to the white stripe


The Hay/Leith tartan to the Black stripe

The Hay/Leith tartan to the Black stripe










MILITARY PLEATS (alternative)

This is a variation of conventional military pleating where a prominent design feature runs the length of each alternate pleat as opposed to each individual pleat. A good example of this style of pleating is displayed in the kilts of the well known Queen Victoria Boys school of Dunblane which are made up from Hunting Stewart tartan with the pleats running in the alternating colours of red and yellow to the fore.


Another interesting method of pleating, ‘to horizontal’, involves choosing block of colour without a vertical line in the sett for the folds that creates the illusion of a series of strong horizontal bands across the rear.



 MILITARY PLEATS (alternative) ~ Box Pleats

Box pleating is an interesting and rare type of pleating, sometimes used by the military regiments. Box pleats are a double pleat having two upper folds facing in opposite directions and two under folds pressed toward each other. There are a number of methods that can be used to make a box pleated kilt, the most common is a knife pleat, folded back on itself (as shown in the image below). Generally box pleated kilts are pleated to the stripe.

Rare Tailored Military Box pleated Kilt

Rare Tailored Military Box pleated Kilt











The first kilts were untailored length of tartan worn gathered and belted at the waist.  But by the 1790s kilts were being made with the pleats sewn down from waist to hip.  These first tailored kilts were made from around four yards of cloth, and box pleated.

Copyright © Askival of Strathearn 2014
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