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  1. #1
    Join Date
    25th September 04
    Victoria, BC, Canada 1123.6536.5321
    3 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)

    So, just what is a Contemporary Kilt?

    Many of you have heard me use the term "Contemporary Kilt" but may not understand what I mean by it.

    Many automatically think contemporary to mean a modern "Utility" kilt or perhaps one that is machine sewn with construction like that used in blue jeans.

    Quite the contrary. The way I use the phrase is to describe "A kilt which has evolved to meet the needs of today's kilt wearers.

    I describe this evolution as "The DFF&P difference"
    The"D" stands for Durability. Durability equals longevity. Many kilt wearers today wear their kilts more often than the once a year Burns dinner or annual Highland Games. Many of my customers wear the kilt daily and I'm sorry but many guys are pretty rough on their clothing.
    Over the years I have had the opportunity to see many kilts when they come into my shop for alterations or repairs. This has given me a unique opportunity to see many types and styles of kilts. To see the causes behind any failures. I have seen kilts made by some of the largest and most famous names. I have seen military and civilian kilts. I have found some built-in weaknesses in even the best name kilts.

    I have tried my best to identify and correct these weak points to make the contemporary kilt less prone to the common failures.

    1) Kilt wool is very supple. The Twill weave is what give the garment its famous swish. But the Twill weave also causes the fabric to stretch very easily. Even a light pull on the fabric will show stretching. So I have developed a method to build in additional strength to reduce the stretching. This includes extending the stabilizer the full width of the kilt. My stabilizer extends from the outer apron fringe edge all the way across to the opposite, under apron edge. All of the straps and buckles are securely fastened through the outer Tartan fabric, through the interfacing, and anchored to the stabilizer.
    2) The left hand side strap hole is a very evident weak point. Many kilts show tearing around the strap hole. I have adopted an older system of fastening a kilt where there is no strap hole. (This small feature has the added bonus of allowing a Contemporary kilt to be re-sized in a matter of minutes.)
    3) I have added hidden reinforcements and/or other strengthening stitches at stress points. Similar in idea to the rivets that made Levi Strauss blue jeans famous.
    4) If I hand stitch a Contemporary kilt, of course, I must cut away the inside of the pleats. This leaves raw edges that can fray. Most of the kilts I make are machine stitched. I found that machine stitching is far stronger than hand stitches. I also found that with machine stitching I did not have to cut-away the excess fabric so there are no raw edges of fabric. There is no where for the fabric to fray.

    The "F" stands for Fit. All Iconically styled kilts, (and I include all those that are designed like traditional kilts), are meant to be worn at the anatomical waist. This is much higher than guys today have ever worn clothing. A kilt designed like this will have the top of the kilt about three or four finger widths below the bottom of the breastbone.

    It is quite common for guys today not to understand this high waist fit. It is totally outside their experience. They try to wear their kilt like they wear pants which causes the hem to drop below the knees, and more importantly the bottom of the Fell to drop below the crest of the hips and butt. When the the Fell is lower than the hips it will often cause the shower curtain folds seen in the back of many kilts.

    I found that there are three places on the human body where clothing will fit without riding up or sagging down. I describe these as "Full Waist Height", "Mid Waist Height" & "Low Waist Height". I design my kilts to fit where the customer wishes to wear his kilt and where it naturally wants to fit on his body.
    A traditionally styled kilt is one of the only garments today where the wearer must learn to adapt and change his expectations around the garment. I prefer to adapt the garment to suit the expectations of the wearer.

    The second "F" refers to Fabric. There are so many different fabrics available today. Some are almost totally wrinkle free. Some are machine washable. Some are better suited to a climate than wool. Wool will still give the ultimate swish and is far better looking for formal occasions, but if the customer wishes to wear his kilt for some other purpose, the kilt maker should be able to offer the fabric best suited to the intended use.
    But, using fabrics other than kilt wool, does require the kilt maker to have experience working with these fabrics.

    And finally we come to the "P" in the DFF&P difference. A guy just has to have Pockets. A traditional kilt is perhaps the only male garment today made without pockets. Pockets = Not traditional? Well, OK. But it just makes sense to be able to offer pockets to those who would like them.
    I have tried my best to design pockets that can be totally invisible, and which do not bulge if loaded down with all the stuff guys today carry.

    I use the word "Iconic", not to mean how someone accessorizes their kilt, but to mean those style features which have not changed over the years.
    Two overlapping, flat fabric aprons that are approx. 1/2 of the wearers waist.
    A garment designed to be worn at the anatomical waist.
    Some form of pleating formed in the rear of the garment.
    A garment designed to have the hem hit at the top of the wearers kneecap.

    I use the word Contemporary to mean a garment that retains much of the Iconic styling features but which may be modified or evolved to better suit how guys today wish to wear their clothing.

    Last edited by Steve Ashton; 7th January 19 at 10:07 PM.
    Steve Ashton
    Skype (webcam enabled) thewizardofbc
    I wear the kilt because:
    Swish + Swagger = Swoon.

  2. The Following 8 Users say 'Aye' to The Wizard of BC For This Useful Post:

  3. #2
    Join Date
    25th September 04
    Victoria, BC, Canada 1123.6536.5321
    3 Post(s)
    0 Thread(s)
    Some of you follow Freedom Kilts on Facebook. I posted that this last weekend Bobbie and I took the ferry over to the mainland. During the ferry crossing I put the final stitches in a Black Watch Tartan kilt that I have been making for myself.
    This fabric is in the weathered colorway. 16oz weight.
    I choose to pleat to the black stripe in the way that most Black Watch kilts are done due to the size of the Sett.
    This is a full Contemporary Kilt.
    3 pockets
    Designed to be worn at mid-rise.

    Here I am on the ferry. Bobbie says that I got a lot of looks from the other passengers.

    The required pleat shot

    The rear. (yes I had been sitting on the pleats all day)

    And yes, this kilt has pockets

    This is an example that a Contemporary kilt can approach the look of a Traditional kilt.

    Durability -
    It has the internal left strap so no strap hole that would cause a weak point.
    It has the full floating interfacing for vertical stiffness and to allow the fabric to swish and drape naturally. The swish on this kilt is amazing.
    It has the full contemporary style stabilizer to resist the stresses of strapping the kilt on without the fabric distorting.

    Fit -
    This kilt is designed to fit at mid-rise.

    Fabric -
    This kilt is hand-stitched from 9.13 yards of 16oz wool.

    Pockets -
    This kilt has 2 side slash pockets and an under-apron pocket.
    Last edited by Steve Ashton; 9th October 18 at 11:27 AM.
    Steve Ashton
    Skype (webcam enabled) thewizardofbc
    I wear the kilt because:
    Swish + Swagger = Swoon.

  4. The Following 5 Users say 'Aye' to The Wizard of BC For This Useful Post:


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