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Prince George’s First Kilt – The Ancient Strathearn


The picture of the kilt that went world wide

The picture of the kilt that went world wide

A kilt fit for a Prince

Prince George’s kilt was made from the Strathearn Ancient Tartan and was totally hand stitched, using the same process and techniques as for the adult traditional kilt.
The kilt is a miniature version of the authentic, 7–9 yard, bespoke adult kilt and has been constructed in a way that will allow it to be lengthened and let out as the young prince grows during his early childhood.

Planning the royal kilt

  • The 2.5 yard length was laid out to plan how the kilt should be pleated, with due consideration to Prince George’s age, size and comfort.
  • The size of the “sett” was too big, so it was decided to pleat to the “stripe”, which is also common to the Gordon Highlanders’ kilt.
  • The variations of pleating to the stripe are demonstrated below, and the final decision was based on the visual attractiveness and on the final size of the pleat, which would ensure the kilt would not be too heavy for Prince George to wear.

Working out the number of pleats

The number and size of pleats (ideally 27–31 in an adult kilt, but just 15 in Prince George’s little kilt) are calculated using the assessment of the kilt wearer’s shape, waist and seat measurement. Marking out the kilt requires mathematical ability and practice to develop the intuition required for this assessment.

The pleats are all hand stitched, with consistent tension and size so that the stitching is almost invisible, and the kilt maker must ensure that all parts of the pattern match with precision. The pleated part is ready to be pressed at the top. At this stage we will remeasure to check the accuracy of measurement and to review the quality of stitching. The pleats are then what traditional kilt makers call “lifted” – this is a three-hour process in an adult kilt and is commonly left out of the commercial kilt.

There is often 5–6 yards of tartan in the pleated section, requiring the support of fixing the pleats to keep them from being stretched and dropping over time. You can tell if this process has not been carried out if you can stick your finger right up the back of the pleat!

A work of art backed by canvas

The inner canvas is applied to provide strength, shape and structure to the kilt. A secondary canvas is normally added to the adult kilt but was not necessary on the little kilt.

The lining in three sections has been stitched on. Note the hem to allow for lengthening, plus the spare material in the waist band, fringe edge, inner apron, box and spring pleat to enable the kilt to be reconstructed to accommodate Prince George’s growth in his early years.

 

 

Prince George’s First Kilt – The Ancient Strathearn

Presentation of Prince George’s first kilt. The Earl and Countess of Strathearn visit to Forteviot, Strathearn.


The Countess looking at the detail of the kilt and the Earl reading the information booklet describing the background of the traditional tailored kilt and the construction of Prince George's kilt.

The Countess looking at the detail of the kilt and the Earl reading the information booklet describing the background of the traditional tailored kilt and the construction of Prince George’s kilt.

The picture of the kilt that went world wide

The picture of the kilt that went world wide

 

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The letter sent to Marion on behalf of the Earl and Countess of Strathearn. The letter sent to Marion on behalf of the Earl and Countess of Strathearn.

Presentation of Prince George’s first kilt. The Earl and Countess of Strathearn visit to Forteviot, Strathearn.

The Nicholson Tartan Kilt


The Nicholson Tartan Kilt

The 55 year old McPherson kilt – A Restoration


This kilt was brought to me by a gentleman in his middle eighties. He has had his kilt for 55 years and was keen to keep wearing it but didn’t know if it could be made wearable again.  He wore it to significant occasions throughout his life and  also to work – he was an architect and even ran up and down ladders in his kilt!

The kilt’s construction and stitching was failing. It no longer fitted him, the cloth was frayed and torn in places. It was faded slightly, due to some years working in the Sudan where he found the kilt comfortable to wear in the heat.

I restitched the broken stitching and patched the worst tear, repositioned the buckles, strap vent and the straps, replaced the canvassing and lining and realigned the apron and pleats with a final pressing.

The gentleman is so happy that he can wear his beloved kilt again. What a wonderful feeling when I waved them off.

 

The 55 year old McPherson kilt – A Restoration

Muted MacKenzie Tartan – the kilt at work


Muted MacKenzie Tartan – the kilt at work

The Ferguson Kilt – the kilt at work


The Ferguson Kilt – the kilt at work

Kilt Restorations


Often, a kilt comes into someone’s life at an important milestone, for example their 18th or 21st birthday, graduation, or wedding. Thereafter, it will be worn at many other eventful occasions and represents a belongingness and attachment to that person.

The Askival kilt is constructed with enough fabric and in a way that it can be altered with no detriment to its balance, look and fitting. However, not all kilts have been constructed in this way. Fortunately, this does not mean that it is not possible to give your kilt the opportunity to have a new lease of life and continue being part of your life.

The first kilt I rebuilt was a poignant experience and changed my view entirely about working on a kilt which was not my creation from the start.

A friend asked me to alter a kilt for her son to wear to a family wedding. The kilt had belonged to her husband who died about seven years ago, when their son was only about 10 years old, and he now wanted to wear his father’s kilt to the wedding.

I asked her to bring her son and the kilt to a master class which my original tutor Beverley Scarlet was delivering at my studio. I looked at this large, well-worn kilt that reflected the gregarious, well-built man to whom it had belonged and then looked at the quiet, slim, young man with a hopeful look on his face. I wondered how I could transform this kilt into something that he would be proud to wear and feel good in.

Beverley had a different mindset. She understood the emotional importance, so she started to deconstruct the kilt in her head and to plan how we could use what we had, rebuilding it to fit its new owner. This was the fundamental learning for me: to realise how important it is to offer people skilful restorations of their special kilt.

We then unpicked the kilt, straps, buckles, canvas, and waist band until just the pleating that we wanted to use remained. I rebuilt that kilt to fit the son of its original owner, using the traditional techniques to strengthen it, give it support and shape, and enable it to be let out as he gets older.

Using a special tool, I removed the fluff and loops from the apron where the sporran had caught it. The reaction of both mother and son were heartfelt. I was overwhelmed by the impact of this work and felt I had been privileged to be able to give them an amazing gift. In this instance, the commission was not about the kilt, my creation; it was about the people associated with the kilt that had been so much part of this much-loved husband and father. Now the son has that connection and is able to wear the kilt with pride.

For both Beverley and myself, restoring an older, much-loved kilt is as much of a privilege as creating a new kilt that will be delivered to its owner as a lifetime companion and heirloom.

Kilt Restorations
Copyright © Askival of Strathearn 2014
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