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  1. #1
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    Military Box-Pleats: some questions for the rabble.

    In planning ahead for my next kilt purchase, I find myself questioning whether I want to stick with the more common knife-pleating, or opt for the military box-pleat, as seen here in Woodsheal's thread:

    http://www.xmarksthescot.com/forum/f...x-pleat-67686/

    As this would entail a significant (for me) jump in price, I wanted to collect the various facts and opinions that you ladies and gentlemen/dudes have about this style of pleating. Such as, but not limited to:

    1: The actual construction. I've read it described as a knife pleat with the facing folded back. Not being exceptionally bright or all that familiar with kilt making, I'm having trouble picturing exactly what this means.

    2: Does the different pleating affect the kilts "swang?" Increase, decrease, turn it into a confused jumble when you walk?

    3: Are the pleats more difficult to keep intact? I have become fairly skilled at sweeping a knife-pleated kilt--do these pleats require a different method?

    4: Is this construction better-suited to heavier weights (16oz.+)? The tartan I've chosen,



    is a 13oz. medium-weight tartan.

    5: Out of curiosity, is it genuinely used for military kilts, or is it that appellation a marketing flourish?


    I'd like to avoid asking something as terribly subjective as "is it worth the extra cash?" but to those members who own one...do you feel like it was worth the extra cash? Why or why not? I'll admit that part of the draw is the fact that I don't see this style very often--I like the idea of ordering something which challenges my kilt-maker's skills a little more and results in something not commonly encountered.

    I appreciate any input!

    Tyler
    Last edited by LitTrog; 13th June 12 at 03:54 AM.
    Mister McGoo

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  2. #2
    M. A. C. Newsome is offline
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    The so-called "military box pleat" is simply a box pleated kilt made from a nominal 8 yards of cloth (though in reality it was not uncommon to see these kilts made with much less cloth). In a four yard box pleated kilt, there is generally a good balance in the pleats. Assuming an average size sett repeat for the tartan, and an average sized gentleman, the two sides of each pleat will just meet in the center of the pleat, meaning the pleats running left and right will both be of equal depth.

    Now, when you increase the amount of yardage used in a box pleated kilt, the pleats get smaller, and typically what this means is that the pleat depth on one side gets more narrow, while the depth increases in the other direction. So if you are making a kilt from 7 or 8 yards, the pleats end up looking very much as you have described -- "like knife pleats with the ends turned back."

    This style of pleating was indeed worn by a number of military regiments, notably the Seaforth Highlanders and the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders. It was a hold over from the days when all military kilts were box pleated (pre-1854). After the mid-nineteenth century many regiments switched to the newer box pleats. You also saw a general increase in the amount of material used in making the kilts. So those regiments who retained the traditional box pleat kept the original pleating style, but increased the yardage following general fashion.

    The box pleated kilt also fell out of general fashion by the end of the nineteenth century (though you will still find it mentioned in some turn of the century accounts), and so people began associating the style strictly with those regiments who retained the practice. Thus box pleats came to be thought of as a "military thing" although there really is no more reason to associate box pleats with the military than knife pleats.

  3. #3
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    Lady Chrystel has this excellent image on her website which will hopefully help you understand what is meant by the "military box pleat":

  4. #4
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    A totally non-scientific observation.



    If we number these from the top, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

    1 & 2 - Look like all my kilts. No. 2 for preference.

    5 - Don't know that I have ever seen.

    6 - Tend to look like No.2

    3 & 4 - All the ones I have seen tend to splay out (both single and double box). There is a visible gap between the pleats. I make no judgement as to why - made that way, incorrect measurements, added weight, lack of pressing. I don't know, but I can always tell.

    As I say, non-scientific and what it all means, I don't know that either. All I know is that I can tell which is a box or double box pleated kilt, just by looking.

    Regards

    Chas
    Regards
    Chas

  5. #5
    M. A. C. Newsome is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chas View Post
    3 & 4 - All the ones I have seen tend to splay out (both single and double box). There is a visible gap between the pleats. I make no judgement as to why - made that way, incorrect measurements, added weight, lack of pressing. I don't know, but I can always tell.
    You probably have seen a lot of knife pleated kilts with pleats splayed out, as well, but the pleating style makes it less noticeable. If the kilt fits properly, and the pleats are taken care of in terms of proper pressing, there should be no splaying. It should look like this.


    Now, if the pleats go to getting a little bit wonky, with a knife pleated kilt a keen observer will surely notice the pleats are not hanging straight, but it's not overly obvious. With a box pleated kilt, because it is constructed so that the facing pleats touch each other, when they don't (leaving a gap between the pleats) it is quite apparent. This "gap" is not an issue with knife pleats, even though the pleats may in fact be splayed just as badly.

    I'll also take the opportunity to point out here that the "double box pleated kilt" is an invention of Lady Chrystel and doesn't have an historical precedent. (I'm not saying that as a positive or negative, just a point of fact that you will not find such a pleating style in the historic record).

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chas View Post
    ... A totally non-scientific observation.... All the ones I have seen tend to splay out (both single and double box). There is a visible gap between the pleats. I make no judgement as to why ... All I know is that I can tell which is a box or double box pleated kilt, just by looking.
    Chas, of course you can.

    Bit off the original topic but that's one of the reasons I like box and double box Kilts. It's because the aren't knife pleated and are not 'trying' to be knife pleated and therefore are a pleasing variation (to me at least... but then I would say that, I've got one).

    Anywhooo... I encountered an ex Army, Mackenzie Modern (Seaforth Highlanders) Military Box recently. To be honest, a beautiful Kilt but to look their best, they seem pretty high maintenance and I would think you'd need to know what you were doing. It would be a shame to walk out in an expensive custom made kilt that looked a mess in the pleatage.

  7. #7
    M. A. C. Newsome is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by English Bloke View Post
    Anywhooo... I encountered an ex Army, Mackenzie Modern (Seaforth Highlanders) Military Box recently. To be honest, a beautiful Kilt but to look their best, they seem pretty high maintenance and I would think you'd need to know what you were doing. It would be a shame to walk out in an expensive custom made kilt that looked a mess in the pleatage.
    Something that a lot of people don't know (and why would they?) but the Seaforth Highlanders actually had narrow bands of black elastic tacked into the inside of the pleats to "pull" them all back into place and keep everything neat and tidy.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by M. A. C. Newsome View Post
    Something that a lot of people don't know (and why would they?) but the Seaforth Highlanders actually had narrow bands of black elastic tacked into the inside of the pleats to "pull" them all back into place and keep everything neat and tidy.
    Why not stitch the 'boxes' down with thread? I think there should be plenty of swing remaining.
    [B][COLOR="Darkblue"][FONT="Georgia"]He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher ... [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR="Darkblue"][FONT="Georgia"] or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.[/FONT][/B][/COLOR] [SIZE="1"]~ Douglas Adams[/SIZE]

  9. #9
    M. A. C. Newsome is offline
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    Ok, a picture is worth a thousand words. Hopefully these images will help.

    Here is a photo of a four yard box pleated kilt in the very beginning stage of construction. It's the R'lyeh sett, FYI. I've just started to pin up the pleats for sewing. Note that at this point, they look like very wide knife pleats all running the same direction.


    That's how the pleats are sewn. When they are all sewn, next I flip the kilt over so that the inside of the kilt is face up, and I open up & flatten the inside "loop" of each pleat, so that now the pleats each run in two directions, not one. Here's a photo from The Art of Kiltmaking supplement of me in the process of doing this with a Ferguson kilt.


    And Barb's diagram from the same reference showing this process more clearly.


    Now, to better illustrate the point, here's another kilt in progress from the R'lyeh tartan, but made with 5 yards (if I recall correctly), so the pleats are a bit more narrow. At this stage I have just finished sewing in the pleats, but have done nothing else.


    Is this going to be a knife pleated kilt or a box pleated kilt? I don't know. I have made kilts from this tartan both ways, so this photo could be from either. At this stage in the construction process, the two would be exactly the same. I could either open up all the pleats to form boxes and steek them in that way, or I could steek them in all laying the same direction, to make either the box or knife pleated kilt.
    Last edited by M. A. C. Newsome; 14th June 12 at 04:54 AM.

  10. #10
    Paul Henry is offline Membership Revoked for repeated rule violations.
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    Actually a military box pleat isn't a box pleat, you are right that it is actually a knife pleat folded over, so I think that Matt's description of it being " simply a box pleated kilt made from a nominal 8 yards of cloth" isn't actually very accurate, and it isn't made the way Matt makes his historic box pleated kilts either.
    Whilst it may have a look not unlike a historic box pleat ( only with many more pleats) it isn't! And because of the extra work involved they are often a little more expensive as well.
    Because there are more pleats , yes it would take a little more care in normal use, and it's not unusual to find the there is a tape attached to the inside towards the selvedge edge with the primary purpose of keeping the pleats more manageable.
    It's a more unusual kilt , and I'd say to give it a try if you can!
    Last edited by Paul Henry; 13th June 12 at 04:50 AM.

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