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  1. #1
    Join Date
    4th March 04
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    Vintage kilt/fabric restoration

    My father grew up (mostly) in a farmhouse in West Topsham, Vermont.

    His father died last year so he and his siblings have been sorting the old home in preparation for the estate sale.

    On his most recent trip, he found a kilt!
    My Mom called me and describes it as having very shallow pleats- her guess is maybe 1.5" deep, and stitched down from the top about 8" and the wool is heavy and not creased in bad ways.
    I won't get hands on it until next week, but it's apparently in rough shape, notably spots. Looks like mildew.
    Mom sent some camera-phone snaps I posted in my gallery:

    Gallery

    As mentioned, I'll have it in-hand next week, and have a talented dry cleaner in mind, but am inquiring if any members have dealt with such damage.

    If it's not feasible, I'll just have a zombie-kilt! ;-)

    Thanks in advance,
    Last edited by ggibby; 30th April 10 at 08:39 AM. Reason: Formatting
    Find power in peace,

    -G
    FTK

  2. #2
    Join Date
    3rd January 06
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    My first impulse would be to do a warm water wash using a mild detergent - ordinary shampoo probably, so as to physically remove the dirt and fungus from the surface of the cloth. Wool is very resilient, if treated properly - no twisting, scrubbing or rubbing, no sudden changes in temperature and all should be well.

    Dry cleaning might not be the right treatment for that type and level of soiling, though it might improve things once the fabric is fairly clean.

    I once spent almost a week cleaning up a greatcoat someone had inherited only for them to be really upset because almost all the dirt had come out. I washed it - I think - twice in one day and then again on the second day, as the water softened the soiling and I worked it loose very gently.

    If the sewing was done with cotton thread it might very well be rotten and the pleats could fall apart - I don't know any way to prevent that, but it might give you an excuse to have it remade in a way that minimises the visible damage.

    Anne the Pleater :ootd:

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    For what it's worth I would also go with the hand-wash as recommended above before trying a dry cleaner.. and as suggested, it may take 2-3 washes to loosen it all up.

    I have a pair of WWI tartan breeches that took 3 washings (and is slated for a 4th soon) to get most all the 80yrs of muck, dust, and filth out of them.

    But if you can salvage it, from the pics it appears that you'll have an older hvy wt A&SH kilt w/ military box pleats. Hopefully it will fit though too, hey...

    Best of luck!

    Christian

  4. #4
    Join Date
    25th December 08
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pleater View Post
    My first impulse would be to do a warm water wash using a mild detergent ...
    Aren't you a peach. What wonderful advise. It was a pleasure just to read.

    Would you let the fabric dry any between washing or doesn't it matter?

  5. #5
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    I would advise contacting an expert and seeking their advice. Kiltmakers love kilts and treasures like this.

    Give Kathy Lare a call www.kathyskilts.com I'll bet if she doesn't have any suggestions she'll know who to have you call for advice.

    The old adage, "you can measure a thousand times but you can only cut once" probably applies to this vintage kilt. A treasure for sure.

    You might also ask Matt what he does at the STM
    Ol' Macdonald himself, a proud son of Skye and Cape Breton Island
    Lifetime Member STA. Two time winner of Utilikiltarian of the Month.
    "I'll have a kilt please, a nice hand sewn tartan, 16 ounce Strome. Oh, and a sporran on the side, with a strap please."

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    On something with less to lose I'd say let it dry and shake or even beat the fabric to physically jolt the dirt off - but I suspect the pleats will self destruct under such treatment.

    For this I'd wash and allow to partly dry, inspect and note where there are still stains and wash again concentrating on those areas. Check the inside of the pleats too so a not to leave anything eating away at the fibres.

    Allowing to partly dry means that you are not handling the heavy sodden fabric with seams that might not stand the strain.

    There is a record of a shipwreck with a cargo of wool being salvaged after 60 years underwater, and the fleeces were sold, being still usable.

    This is what encourages me to wash wool whenever it might do some good. As long as the possibility of felting is avoided - no combination of agitation, soap and heat, nothing separates the dirt from the fabric like it.

    I use cheap hair shampoo and conditioner on woollen garments of all kinds and they seem to appreciate it.

    Anne the Pleater :ootd:

  7. #7
    Join Date
    3rd January 08
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    What a great find. I certainly hope that you are able to save the kilt. Please keep us posted as to the sucess of your cleaning, etc.
    His Exalted Highness Duke Standard the Pertinacious of Chalmondley by St Peasoup
    Member Order of the Dandelion
    Per Electum - Non consanguinitam

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    It looks like it has a raw edge at the top. Could this be a kilt some reenactor made for himself, perhaps for a Revolutionary War highland uniform...?
    Brian

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Benjamin Franklin

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodsheal View Post
    It looks like it has a raw edge at the top. Could this be a kilt some reenactor made for himself, perhaps for a Revolutionary War highland uniform...?
    No, this is a military Black Watch kilt with barrel pleating which probably dates it to c1930-50. Clearly the original green baize has been removed from the top (raw) edge. Bob Martin is probably the best bet to ask about cleaning it. He will also be able to confirm the date.
    Last edited by figheadair; 22nd April 10 at 03:39 AM. Reason: Spelling

  10. #10
    Join Date
    4th March 04
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    Photos to stoke the thread

    Much appreciation to everyone chiming in on this.

    I just added new photos to the album now that I have the thing in hand. See them here .
    I had to knock the image quality down for uploading, and the texture of the cloth makes it difficult to capture the colors well.

    Just in handling (Vermont-Houston-Key West-New Orleans), the mildew is much less noticeable.

    Also notable is the lack of hardware or even evidence there ever was any, and check out the lining- ouch!
    Find power in peace,

    -G
    FTK

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