Elvish Kilt Making

So last week, after getting hopelessly fixated on my Karen Marie Moning Highlander novels I’ve been bringing home from the library, Little Ari got it into her head that Gilan needed to be a Highland warrior for Halloween (see here for the full story). So having already finished my mom’s bumblebee costumes and Little Ari’s pumpkin queen costume, I thought I’d give making Gilan a kilt a shot.

The journey began on a very helpful site which helped me to understand what a kilt really is and how it’s designed. I never realized before reading this that a kilt isn’t necessarily pleated all the way around (like a skirt), and I found it fascinating to study the design a little before attempting to make a 1:4 size one.

My first stop after research was the fabric store to find bite-sized tartan. I ended up in my favorite quilting store (which also has a lovely selection of fat quarter kimono fabrics that make wonderful MSD kimonos) in the 50% off section, where I managed to locate a plaid that was a small enough scale for a doll to use. When the pleats of the kilt are created, they are traditionally folded so that it uses a full “set” (or section of pattern) for each pleat. So it was important for me to find something that was tiny. I was actually lucky to find a woven material, as most of what is located in the fabric store is only printed cotton. This allowed me to get creative later, but we’ll get to that.

I began by measuring Gilan from his waist to his knees; the length I wanted the kilt to end up being. Since the tartan fabric I was using had a very nice finished selvage edge, I decided to use this for the bottom of the kilt to help reduce bulk (which is also the traditional manner for making a kilt, too). Next, not knowing how much fabric I was going to need, before pleating, I simply cut the length I needed (six inches) down the entire yard of the fabric.

I finished off end end of the “apron” (the flat piece of plaid which makes one one part of the overlapping front of the kilt) by folding it over twice and stitching it before I began. Then, I measured the approximate amount of apron I needed to cover Gilan’s front. After that, I began the pleating.

The pleating (which was very small!) took time, patience, and a lot of water. I sat with a squirt bottle of water and kept misting the fabric from time to time, which helped to keep the pleats in as I worked. Using the pattern of the weave as a guide, I slowly folded in each pleat and pinned them until I thought I had enough to cover Gilan’s backside. Then, using more water and an iron, I ironed in the pleats and slowly removed the pins until they were pressed in firmly. In order to hold these in place while I was still working on the kilt, I taped the pleats together with one long strip, then I stitched the top of the pleats together.

At this point, I realized that there weren’t enough pleats and had to continue the process, using water and heat to add about two more inches. Once I was done, I also stitched those into place, intending to hide them in the end. After that, I cut and finished off the edge of the other apron to the same length as the first, making a more or less symmetrical garment.

I found a lot of pictures and methods as to how to finish a kilt off and make it so you can actually wear it. Since this was meant for a doll and was, thus, very small, I ended up deciding to encase the unfinished edge in a strip of fabric, which I double folded, ironed, and then stitched together in one shot. To fasten the kilt, I began playing around with some extra buckles and such I had lying around, but ended up deciding to go for a simple closure using buttons and snaps (which I had to sew twice, since I got the position wrong the first time).

With the kilt completed and Gilan duly mortified (actually, I think he looks awesome in it), I finished off the outfit with a tartan wrap, fastened with a tiny safety pin, and a belt on which hangs a sword. Getting back to the great thing about a woven material from before, I was able to create a rugged “ripped” effect on the wrap by… well… ripping it into a tattered strip. The belt he wears around his waist is from his original Dollzone outfit. And his tiny sword is actually Excalibur, pilfered from my Saber figurine and stitched into a tiny vinyl sheath I made.

I hope that I’ll get a chance to take the two of them outside for some nice, natural sun pictures before the weather turns again. But until then, Happy Halloween!

Update: I did manage to get outside today! Natural light pics to come!

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One Response to Elvish Kilt Making

  1. The look awesome, I totally want that skirt for Sapphire!:-)

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