Restoration Case Studies
Often, the kilt comes into someone’s life at an important milestone, for example their 18th or 21st birthday, graduation, or wedding. It would then be worn at many more eventful times 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. 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.
Case study 1
The first kilt I rebuilt was a poignant experience and changed my view entirely when it came to working on a kilt which was not my creation from the start.
A friend asked me to alter a kilt for her son Angus to wear to a family wedding. The kilt belonged to her husband who died about seven years ago, when Angus was only about 10 years old and he wanted to wear his father’s kilt to the wedding.
I asked her to bring Angus and the kilt to a master class which my tutor Beverley Scarlet was delivering at my studio. I looked at this well worn, large kilt that reflected the gregarious, well built man that it belonged to 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 her own thoughts. We measured him and then laid out the kilt and considered the apron, how we could restore the fabric, and using our calculations worked out how we could use the pleating. We then unpicked the kilt, straps, buckles, canvas, waist band until just the pleating we wanted to use, remained.
I rebuilt that kilt to fit Angus 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.
Angus and his mother’s reaction were heartfelt. I was overwhelmed by the impact of this work and felt I had given them an amazing gift.
The commission was not about the kilt, my creation; it was about the people associated with the kilt that was so much part of this much loved husband and father and his son now has that connection and is able to wear it with pride.
Beverley knew the emotion that went with restoring the kilt and I palpably felt this. Restoring the kilt is as much of a privilege as creating the new kilt that will be delivered as a lifetime companion and heirloom.
Case study 2
I was in the process of making a kilt in the Nicholson tartan for the Bridegroom of a Perthshire wedding. I received a call to ask if I could “tidy up” the groom’s father’s kilt for the wedding too.
At the assessment fitting, I noted that the kilt needed to be let out by about 3 inches. It was well worn, had been radically altered in the past and had very little tartan to accommodate the alteration I needed to make.
My thoughts were.”I am just as well making a new one from scratch”. However, the language I was hearing was about finding ways to make it fit and I had flashbacks of Angus’s kilt. This kilt was an 18th birthday present, he was wearing it when they married, he was at the World Cup in it. It was his kilt that was an old friend and part of his life. It wasn’t for discarding.
This ” tidying up” entailed buying additional fabric for the waistband and adding to the apron fringe edge (totally hidden). This time the kilt was rebuilt with the traditional tailoring and canvassing. It finally looked like a brand new kilt that will now last his lifetime and be able to be passed down.