History of the 4 yd box pleated kilt
Following are some quotes that illustrate the reality that the original tailored kilt was a four-yard, box pleated kilt, not the elaborate eight-yard kilt we know today.
The wages allowed a man who can plow, sew, etc., is £6 sterling, together with shoes and clothes: he is allowed 4 pair of single shorts, commonly called Brogues, 2 pair of hose, 4 yards of tartan for a Phellibeg, and a short coat and vest of some coarse kind of cloth.
--The Statistical Account of Scotland, 1793
The formal tailoring of the kilt first appeared in the regiments during the early 1790s. Some aspects of these first formalized kilts… were: box-pleating… and the total quantity of cloth being 3 ½ to 3 2/3 yards.
--Bob Martin, All About Your Kilt, pg. 13
During the entire nineteenth century, the vast majority of civilian kilts were: (1) box-pleated, and (2) all pleated to stripe. This is supported by photographic evidence from the 1840s right up to the twentieth century.
--Bob Martin, annotated version of The Kilt and How to Wear It, pg. 44-45
In 1982, kilt maker Bob Martin (then beginning his career) asked Dr. Micheil MacDonald, curator and director of the Scottish Tartans Society in Comrie, for suggestion about the best cloth for a kilt. “Without hesitation he suggested that I offer a kilt of heavy worsted, built from 4 yards of cloth… With his second breath, he told me of the old box-pleated kilts that used at best 4 yards of cloth and many times as little as 3 ½ yards. This would provide a kilt of far less weight and ‘hotness,’ would still hang well, and would muss little.”
--Bob Martin, All About Your Kilt, pg. 7
The last use of the feileadh-beag [the untailored “small kilt”] may well have been in the 1820s (perhaps later), when some of the sketches of Denis Dighton, court painter to George IV, show what may be taken for very loosely belted-on cloth. The rest of these drawings show the box pleat. In Dighton’s painting, “The Honours of Scotland,” 1822, the kilts depicted show wide box pleats.
--Bob Martin, All About Your Kilt, pg. 11
When the tailored civilian kilt came on the scene, at the end of the 18th century, it was built with box pleats, pleated to NOTHING [that is, neither to the stripe or to the sett] and having ties or pins as fasteners… By the early to mid 1820s, the civilian kilt was sartorially formalized; and now we have the epitome of the kilt: 4 yards of tartan cloth, pleated to the stripe with true box pleats (no overlap on the inside), and fastened on one side with buttons, or a pin, or one buckle—and no fringe. This was—and is—a truly balanced garment…
--Bob Martin, All About Your Kilt, pg. 17
The Book of the Club of True Highlanders (by C. McIntyre North, published 1880) states that the kilt should be of five and a half yards. This includes a box pleat under the outside apron to give “fullness” to the front of the kilt. It also states that the newer type of pleating, i.e., knife pleating is incorrect, and that the kilt should be box pleated.
--Bob Martin, annotated version of The Kilt and How to Wear It, pg. 15.
For ordinary wear the kilt may be made of tartan or tweed and may be box-pleated or knife-pleated...
--Robert Bain in The Clans and Tartans of Scotland
Taken from: http://kilts.albanach.org/history.html
Last edited by highlandtide; 19th March 09 at 05:20 PM.
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