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  1. #1
    Join Date
    27th October 09
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    Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    I've had my 'tank' for about 15 months now. I'm not a daily kilt-wearer, and I have other kilts that I wear for hiking and such. So my tank only gets worn for certain occasions such as Highland Games, weddings, festivals, etc. If I had to guess, I'd say I wear it perhaps once or twice a month at best. Aside from putting it on to model a new doo-dad that goes with it, I've probably worn it 'out and about' perhaps two dozen times.

    What I've noticed over time is that it fits me differently now than it did when new. When I first got it, I had to put the buckles on the 2nd hole from the ends of the straps. Now I have them all the way at the tightest holes. And I feel like I need my kilt belt tightly strapped on in order to keep my kilt where it belongs.

    Yes, I have lost a little weight during that time. So it's not surprising that I've had to take up the settings a bit. But it seems the change in my kilt fit is disproportionate to the change in my trouser fit. Where my trouser size has changed by perhaps an inch, my kilt size seems to have shrunk by 2 inches or more.

    So I'm wondering if there's more at work than simple body-shape changes. It would make sense that, over time, the fabric would stretch and conform to my body shape, requiring adjustments as it wears itself in to my hips/waist. Even with multiple layers of overlapping wool, stitched together with a stabilizer and such, fabric is still fabric. When subjected to tension, moisture, and heat (i.e. wearing it), the fibers will relax and the weave will stretch to my shape, and thus require readjustment. Especially over the course of a year or more of wearing. Even the leather straps could have stretched a little.

    Has anyone else experienced an unexplainable or disproportionate change in the way their kilt fits over time? Is there a "break-in" period where the kilt tends to conform itself to the person's body shape? Or is it all in my imagination, and I really have lost that much circumference around my waist but not in my hips (where I wear my trousers)?

    More importantly, if there does tend to be a period where the kilt conforms itself to its owner, should people make an allowance for this when they order? In other words, assuming they plan to stay the same weight/size, should they order a kilt just a tad on the snug side so that after it stretches in, it will fit perfectly?

    (Note: I am well aware that I can have the straps/buckles moved to accommodate. I'm not asking for advice on how to make my kilt fit better. The purpose of this thread is more of an academic question on the stretch/flex properties of kilts over time.)

  2. #2
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    Mine have not changed a whit since I got them. I have gone up and down a couple pounds necessitating change of one hole but nothing like what you describe. It sounds like something's slipping. Is it hand made? Do you know the maker? Might be something to consult with them about.

  3. #3
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    I suspect that it is your shape which has changed rather than the kilt - losing a little weight seems to alter the waist more than any other part of the body - and I find that any increase appears at the waistline first.

    Anne the Pleater :ootd:

  4. #4
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    Well, I do find that a kilt can 'settle' a bit, but a few hours wear seems to do the job and the difference isn't anywhere near what you're describing.

    Who made the kilt? If you're missing a stabiliser then the pleats could be giving way at the waist line or something.

    I would certainly advise against 'adjusting' your actual measurements. that's only likely to mess up your kiltmaker.

  5. #5
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    20th July 11
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    Hmmmm.... it could be a lot of things I suppose but an interesting question. The wool in one of my 8rd kilts was woven by Pendleton. Though a tartan, it was not woven specifically for kilt making. It stretches a wee bit when worn but also adjusts back. I have another that is made of a "blended stretch wool" and of course it stretches a bit. None of my other kilts seem to stretch at all, especially my 8yd tank made of pure tight weave scottish wool -- couldn't budge it if one tried! I too lost weight about a year ago and also noticed a bigger difference in the waist of my "dress" kilt than my trousers but then I realized that I wear the kilt a lot higher (just below ribs) than my trousers (between navel and hips) and I just figured I lost more inches from above than below. I also know that I pay a lot more attention to the "fit" of my dress kilt than I do to the others, as I tend to do with "dress" anything as opposed to "everyday wear." Your situation could of course be entirely different ???
    ________________________
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    Reverend Doctor Eccliastica Indefferentia, PhD, MPH, CHt, MPG, DEI

  6. #6
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    Quote Originally Posted by tulloch View Post
    Mine have not changed a whit since I got them. I have gone up and down a couple pounds necessitating change of one hole but nothing like what you describe. It sounds like something's slipping. Is it hand made? Do you know the maker? Might be something to consult with them about.
    It is definitely not the construction of the kilt at play. It's a well-made (in Scotland) kilt, and I see no signs of stress on anything. The material is 16-ounce Lochcarron wool. Machine stitched.

    I suspect that it is your shape which has changed rather than the kilt - losing a little weight seems to alter the waist more than any other part of the body - and I find that any increase appears at the waistline first.
    Probably so. I'm a bit "hippy" for a guy, just due to my natural bone structure, so I suspect that as I've lost weight, it is changing at my natural waist faster than at my hips.

    Really what I need to do is bust out my cloth tape measure and take the same measurements I took when I ordered my kilt, then compare it to the difference in the holes in the straps and see if they correspond.

  7. #7
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    I, too have noticed something similar. I'm not poo-pooing the observations of the makers and wearers who responded previously, but I can't explain away my change in fit by citing weight loss. I've owned my well-made 8 yarder for about 7 months but worn it many times. I started out right in the middle holes, but now I'm right at the smallest adjustment. No weight loss (if anything, I've gained weight!) or shape change around my midsection. Bizarre.

    Like I said, the kilt is very well made. It is 14 oz Welsh wool, which has a much softer feel than other kilt wool I've felt. Don't know if that makes a difference...
    Mister McGoo

    A Kilted Lebowski--Taking it easy so you don't have to.

  8. #8
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    I was taught to measure for a kilt "snug" with the tape. I am interested in what your measurements are now compared to when the kilt was made.
    Humor, is chaos; remembered in tranquillity- James Thurber

  9. #9
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobus View Post
    Yes, I have lost a little weight during that time. So it's not surprising that I've had to take up the settings a bit. But it seems the change in my kilt fit is disproportionate to the change in my trouser fit. Where my trouser size has changed by perhaps an inch, my kilt size seems to have shrunk by 2 inches or more.
    I just lost a little over 50 lbs. My pants size went down from a 36 (that my belly hung over) to a 34. Conversely, I had to move the buckles on my kilt 3 inches and still put it on the tightest setting, so that's probably a good 5 or 6 inches of leeway (I used to wear it on the loosest setting at my old weight).
    Kenneth Mansfield
    VITAM FORTITER AGERE
    My tartan quilt: Austin, Campbell, Hamilton, MacBean, MacLean, MacRae, Robertson, Sinclair (and counting)

  10. #10
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    Tobus,

    The problem you describe could be a common one. I do see what may be a similar thing on some kilts that come into the shop for alterations.

    To better advise you would you please do an experiment for me.

    Hold up your kilt by the two top buckles. You need to watch the area of the Fell or pleats between the buckles in the back of the kilt. Then pull on the buckles. You are trying to pull them apart just as they are when you strap the kilt on.. Do this firmly with about as much force as you would expect to happen while you wear your kilt, move around in it and bend. Say 20 pounds of pull.

    Do you see any stretch or movement in the area directly between the buckles? Do the buckles or the tabs holding them to the kilt move at all? Is the stress of the pulling taken up by the stitching in the Fell at all? Does it look like the pleats are being pulled apart exposing the stitches.

    If you see any stretching between the buckles the problem may be that the kilt maker forgot to put the stabilizer into the kilt. With the stabilizer in and well stitched down there should be no stretch between the buckles. None, nada, zilch. All the stress should be taken up by the stabilizer. There should be no stress trasferred to the stitching of the pleats.

    If you do see any stretch in the area between the buckles when you pull on them the next step is to do much the same thing on the straps.
    Grab the kilt near the left side buckle and by the right top strap. Pull about as hard as you did on the buckles. You should see no stretch across the apron. No puckers should develop in the apron or apron fabric. The strap hole should not gape open. There should also be no stress visible where the right strap is sewn onto the apron edge.

    If you see any of these things it is a good bet that this is where your problem is. The kilt has stretched by being worn. The internal construction has loosened or failed. Or perhaps is missing altogether.

    If you can determine that this is the cause of your problem don't worry. A kilt maker can fix it. It won't be cheap but will be less than a new kilt or the cost of sending the kilt back across the ocean to the original maker.
    Steve Ashton
    www.freedomkilts.com
    Skype (webcam enabled) thewizardofbc
    I wear the kilt because:
    Swish + Swagger = Swoon.

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