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  1. #11
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    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.
    Thank you for that, Steve. I did this experiment last night, and it is as you described. When I hold it by the buckles and pull, there is stretching between them. And I do see the stitching being pulled on.

    What's weird is that when I lay the kilt open and look around the edges of the lining, I can see the very edge of what appears to be a stabilizer underneath. The lining is black, but there is a layer of firm tan-coloured material below it, which I would assume is the stabilizer. But if so, it is apparently not doing the job. I was pretty disappointed to see that.

    So I guess here's where I eat some crow and say that my kilt is not as well made as I previously stated. The question is, then, what can be done about it? How difficult is it for a kiltmaker to take the lining off, evaluate what's below it, and (possibly) stitch a stabilizer in place?

  2. #12
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    I'd be interested to know who made this kilt?
    - Justitia et fortitudo invincibilia sunt
    - An t'arm breac dearg

  3. #13
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobus View Post
    What's weird is that when I lay the kilt open and look around the edges of the lining, I can see the very edge of what appears to be a stabilizer underneath. The lining is black, but there is a layer of firm tan-coloured material below it, which I would assume is the stabilizer.
    You may be correct here, or possibly not. There should be two internal parts in the back: A piece of hair canvas interfacing, and a stabilizer. What you're seeing may be interfacing... The stabilizer could be made of the same thing, or the kiltmaker could have used a different material altogether. Hard to know without a little exploratory surgery.


    Quote Originally Posted by Tobus View Post
    How difficult is it for a kiltmaker to take the lining off, evaluate what's below it, and (possibly) stitch a stabilizer in place?
    Removing the liner, evaluating what's underneath, and installing the stabilizer is a relatively simple task. I don't know what a kiltmaker would charge; it's mostly labor that you'd be paying for. (If you were nearby, I'd do it for a pint or two at the local pub!! ...but I'm not a professional kiltmaker...)
    "Far an taine n abhainn, s ann as m a fuaim."
    Where the stream is shallowest, it is noisiest.

  4. #14
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    As flyrod said, installing a stabilizer is not a complex job. With good instruction and basic hand stitching skills anyone should be able to do it.

    Notice that I said should.

    The daunting and scary part is taking a razor blade to a perfectly good kilt that you paid a good penny for.

    The Stabilizer is a small, thin strip of fabric. Usually broadcloth similar to a bed sheet. It is sewn inside the kilt between the two top buckle tabs.

    To install a stabilizer would required you to un-stitch the liner, un-stitch most of the hair canvas interfacing, and remove the buckles.

    You then stitch the stabilizer in place firmly sewing it to the pleats and insuring that the stabilizer is just long enough to keep the back of the kilt the original size.

    You then re-install the hair canvas interfacing, stitching it to the kilt and to the stabilizer.
    Then you re-install the buckles by stitching the tabs completely through the kilt, stabilizer and interfacing.

    Finally you put the liner back in place.

    I just finished exactly the same job on a regimental kilt. Total time involved was more than if you did it from scratch due to the disassembly required. Say 4 - 4.5 hours.

    The sewing part is not hard. Understanding what to do and how to do it so the stabilizer and interfacing do what they are supposed to do is not difficult to learn. Barb's book explains it really well.

    As I said the scary part is that first step of cutting into your kilt. Not a job for the faint of heart or those who have never torn a garment apart for an alteration.
    Steve Ashton
    www.freedomkilts.com
    Skype (webcam enabled) thewizardofbc
    I wear the kilt because:
    Swish + Swagger = Swoon.

  5. #15
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    Fantastic topic!

  6. #16
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    If you remember when this thread started I offered to take a look at this kilt for Tobus.

    He mailed it to me and I have now had some time to evaluate the kilt.

    Here are some 'before' photos of what the kilt looked like when it arrived here at the shop.

    This first photo is of the outer apron right edge. You can see the apron taper and the fabric selvedge

    [



    Here is a shot of the deep pleat and the small tuck to prevent the apron tips from hanging down.





    Here is a look at the Fell of the kilt. This is a machine sewn kilt using what we call blind machine stitching in the Fell.
    This means that the pleats are aligned, face-to-face, and sewn. then the outer pleat is folded back into position to hide the line of machine stitching.




    You can see where not all the Tartan lines are aligned. This is common with blind machine stitching
    Last edited by Steve Ashton; 8th October 18 at 12:42 PM.
    Steve Ashton
    www.freedomkilts.com
    Skype (webcam enabled) thewizardofbc
    I wear the kilt because:
    Swish + Swagger = Swoon.

  7. #17
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    Here are a couple more before shots.

    The under-apron and reverse pleat.
    Note that there is almost no apron taper on the left under-apron edge. Also note that the reverse pleat is not as deep as the deep pleat. This is common on some kilts.

    [


    Now let's take a look at the inside of the kilt.

    The lining is rather unusual. here you can see the lining in the back of the kilt. The lining material is very thin so it is doubled and in places tripled over to give a good weight.
    You can also see the very deep fold in this lining to allow it to form a curve.





    Here is the lining behind the under-apron. The little white tag you see is the only size or makers tag I could find on the kilt. It says simply 34.





    The unusual thing about this lining is that while there is some type of interfacing built into the kilt it appears to be enclosed within the lining. I have not seen this before but I like it as it gives a very clean look to the finish of the kilt.




    My appraisal so far is that this is a pretty good kilt for a mass produced, machine sewn kilt. The fabric is good quality wool with a good selvedge.
    The stitching is tight and secure with only 8 small loose threads that I have found so far.
    The kilt appears that it should hang well and swish well.

    A Tank? Maybe not if we define a Tank as having to be hand stitched. But a good mid-price range kilt.
    Last edited by Steve Ashton; 8th October 18 at 12:47 PM.
    Steve Ashton
    www.freedomkilts.com
    Skype (webcam enabled) thewizardofbc
    I wear the kilt because:
    Swish + Swagger = Swoon.

  8. #18
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    Steve, is there a stabilizer in there?
    Humor, is chaos; remembered in tranquillity- James Thurber

  9. #19
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    Tobus started this thread with a question about a break-in period on a kilt. He said that the kilt seemed to be getting bigger the more he wore it.

    One of the possible explanations given was that it was possible that the stabilizer and interfacings were not doing what they are supposed to.

    Here is a photo of the back of the kilt looking at the area between the buckles.
    This is one of the areas that takes the most stress when a kilt is strapped on.

    Please note the distance between the buckles as shown by the ruler.





    What I did to evaluate this kilt is to put some stress on the buckles pulling them apart in a similar manner as when the kilt is worn.

    Here is the same area of the kilt as before but now with only 4 lbs of pull on it. I would estimate that in normal wear this area of the kilt could have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 lbs of stress on it.




    With just 4 lbs of stress this kilt has stretched over 1" in just the area between the buckles. When I first pulled on the buckles of this kilt this area stretched a full 2" but I did not have a scale to measure the amount of pull so did not want to use this example.

    Now, here is a detail of the under-apron strap.




    Please note the distortion of the fabric in this area. There is no pull on this strap. It is just laying on my table. This distortion of the fabric is now permanent and is caused by a similar problem as we saw in the back of the kilt.


    Next I will begin to figure out what is going on here and come up with a plan to overcome it.
    Last edited by Steve Ashton; 8th October 18 at 12:53 PM.
    Steve Ashton
    www.freedomkilts.com
    Skype (webcam enabled) thewizardofbc
    I wear the kilt because:
    Swish + Swagger = Swoon.

  10. #20
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    Re: Do kilts have a "break-in" period?

    Great write-up so far, Steve, and it pretty much echoes my concerns/observations thus far. When pulling the buckles apart, the stretch was very noticeable (even though I hadn't really even considered it or noticed it before, except for the fact that my kilt was fitting differently).

    Not having any other traditional kilts to compare it to, I had no way of knowing whether the construction on this one was typical or not. So I'm interested by your comments on the lining and such. The deep folds did confuse me a bit, but I figured that was normal.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what the final analysis yields and the proposed solution.

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