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  1. #1
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    Military Box-Pleats: some questions for the rabble.

    In planning ahead for my next kilt purchase, I find myself questioning whether I want to stick with the more common knife-pleating, or opt for the military box-pleat, as seen here in Woodsheal's thread:

    http://www.xmarksthescot.com/forum/f...x-pleat-67686/

    As this would entail a significant (for me) jump in price, I wanted to collect the various facts and opinions that you ladies and gentlemen/dudes have about this style of pleating. Such as, but not limited to:

    1: The actual construction. I've read it described as a knife pleat with the facing folded back. Not being exceptionally bright or all that familiar with kilt making, I'm having trouble picturing exactly what this means.

    2: Does the different pleating affect the kilts "swang?" Increase, decrease, turn it into a confused jumble when you walk?

    3: Are the pleats more difficult to keep intact? I have become fairly skilled at sweeping a knife-pleated kilt--do these pleats require a different method?

    4: Is this construction better-suited to heavier weights (16oz.+)? The tartan I've chosen,



    is a 13oz. medium-weight tartan.

    5: Out of curiosity, is it genuinely used for military kilts, or is it that appellation a marketing flourish?


    I'd like to avoid asking something as terribly subjective as "is it worth the extra cash?" but to those members who own one...do you feel like it was worth the extra cash? Why or why not? I'll admit that part of the draw is the fact that I don't see this style very often--I like the idea of ordering something which challenges my kilt-maker's skills a little more and results in something not commonly encountered.

    I appreciate any input!

    Tyler
    Last edited by LitTrog; 13th June 12 at 03:54 AM.
    Mister McGoo

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

  2. #2
    M. A. C. Newsome is offline
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    The so-called "military box pleat" is simply a box pleated kilt made from a nominal 8 yards of cloth (though in reality it was not uncommon to see these kilts made with much less cloth). In a four yard box pleated kilt, there is generally a good balance in the pleats. Assuming an average size sett repeat for the tartan, and an average sized gentleman, the two sides of each pleat will just meet in the center of the pleat, meaning the pleats running left and right will both be of equal depth.

    Now, when you increase the amount of yardage used in a box pleated kilt, the pleats get smaller, and typically what this means is that the pleat depth on one side gets more narrow, while the depth increases in the other direction. So if you are making a kilt from 7 or 8 yards, the pleats end up looking very much as you have described -- "like knife pleats with the ends turned back."

    This style of pleating was indeed worn by a number of military regiments, notably the Seaforth Highlanders and the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders. It was a hold over from the days when all military kilts were box pleated (pre-1854). After the mid-nineteenth century many regiments switched to the newer box pleats. You also saw a general increase in the amount of material used in making the kilts. So those regiments who retained the traditional box pleat kept the original pleating style, but increased the yardage following general fashion.

    The box pleated kilt also fell out of general fashion by the end of the nineteenth century (though you will still find it mentioned in some turn of the century accounts), and so people began associating the style strictly with those regiments who retained the practice. Thus box pleats came to be thought of as a "military thing" although there really is no more reason to associate box pleats with the military than knife pleats.

  3. #3
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    Lady Chrystel has this excellent image on her website which will hopefully help you understand what is meant by the "military box pleat":

  4. #4
    Paul Henry is offline Membership Revoked for repeated rule violations.
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    Actually a military box pleat isn't a box pleat, you are right that it is actually a knife pleat folded over, so I think that Matt's description of it being " simply a box pleated kilt made from a nominal 8 yards of cloth" isn't actually very accurate, and it isn't made the way Matt makes his historic box pleated kilts either.
    Whilst it may have a look not unlike a historic box pleat ( only with many more pleats) it isn't! And because of the extra work involved they are often a little more expensive as well.
    Because there are more pleats , yes it would take a little more care in normal use, and it's not unusual to find the there is a tape attached to the inside towards the selvedge edge with the primary purpose of keeping the pleats more manageable.
    It's a more unusual kilt , and I'd say to give it a try if you can!
    Last edited by Paul Henry; 13th June 12 at 04:50 AM.

  5. #5
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    To be clear, I should point out that of the five old kilted Scottish regiments (The Black Watch, The Seaforth Highlanders, The Cameron Highlanders, The Gordon Highlanders, and The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders) the majority had boxpleated kilts (only The Black Watch and The Gordon Highlanders had knifepleated kilts).

    With the creation of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, a standardised uniform was adopted for all Scottish battalions, the kilt being the boxpleated kilt of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.

    So, all Scottish soldiers today wear boxpleated kilts. (The exception being the Pipe Bands, who continue to wear the uniform of their original parent regiments.)

    Since the case has always been that boxpleated kilts are more common in the Army than knifepleated kilts, it makes me wonder why the 20th century civilian kiltmaking world focused entirely on the (relatively rare) knifepleated kilt.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 13th June 12 at 05:36 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first white settlers on the Guyandotte

  6. #6
    M. A. C. Newsome is offline
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    Richard,

    Thanks, I keep forgetting that the Royal Regiment kilts are box pleated, as can be clearly seen in this photo.


    Paul,
    Some insist that the "military box pleat" is indeed a different animal than the "traditional box pleat" but I will keep insisting that it is not! I'm not doubting your skills here as a kilt maker, and I know you have made both styles, but keep in mind I have a bit of experience in this arena, as well. I have a feeling we are perhaps approaching the same subject from different angles. Could you perhaps explain to me why, in your view, the "military box pleat" is different?

  7. #7
    Paul Henry is offline Membership Revoked for repeated rule violations.
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    Matt, do you mean why a military box pleat is different from a box pleat?
    It's not my view that the MBP and the Box pleat are different, they just are!

    A box pleat by defintion has a "wall" on either side of the face, often that wall is up to about half the width of the face and folds under the face. The wall doesn't have to be half of the face but usually with kilts is approximately that. A Box pleat is often used with ladies skirts and in that case the walls are usually very narrow.

    A military box pleat is a knife pleat folded over onto itself , it doesn't have 2 "walls" on either side,so it's not a box pleat by definition.Because it's formed as an further stage of knife pleating it means the pleats tend to be much narrower than a normal box pleat.

    The ammount of cloth tends to be smaller in an historic box pleat and greater in a MBP but the actual lengths of cloth used are not particularly important, but certainly in a true military kilt there will be more fabric - 8 yards plus perahps.

    I'm not doubting your experience at all or your fondness for a box pleat, but I'm merely hoping to make clear that the two forms of pleating are different,and certainly on this forum there is often confusion between the two.
    Last edited by Paul Henry; 13th June 12 at 06:04 AM.

  8. #8
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    Having been the recent recipient of a very lovely military box in the XMTS tartan, I'll answer the best way I can...

    Quote Originally Posted by LitTrog View Post
    1: The actual construction. I've read it described as a knife pleat with the facing folded back. Not being exceptionally bright or all that familiar with kilt making, I'm having trouble picturing exactly what this means.
    The pix and descriptions provided herein are accurate. To make a military box, you start with a regular knife-pleated tank, then fold all the pleats back onto themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by LitTrog View Post
    2: Does the different pleating affect the kilts "swang?" Increase, decrease, turn it into a confused jumble when you walk?
    Jumbled mess? A little, but not overly. Does it affect the way it hangs and swings? Not perceptibly. A tank is a tank is a tank... Heavy.

    Quote Originally Posted by LitTrog View Post
    3: Are the pleats more difficult to keep intact? I have become fairly skilled at sweeping a knife-pleated kilt--do these pleats require a different method?
    Yes. You have to be more careful in sweeping the pleats, or you will end up with an awful mess that I wouldn't want to be ironing... The very thought of having to clean and press this kilt makes me shudder. But no special technique is required.

    Quote Originally Posted by LitTrog View Post
    4: Is this construction better-suited to heavier weights (16oz.+)? The tartan I've chosen, is a 13oz. medium-weight tartan.
    Not unless you want the weight of the world on your waist. Mine is a very hefty kilt. I wouldn't want it to be too heavy a fabric with all those extra folds.

    Quote Originally Posted by LitTrog View Post
    5: Out of curiosity, is it genuinely used for military kilts, or is it that appellation a marketing flourish?
    Matt answered this very well already.


    Quote Originally Posted by LitTrog View Post
    I'd like to avoid asking something as terribly subjective as "is it worth the extra cash?" but to those members who own one...do you feel like it was worth the extra cash? Why or why not? I'll admit that part of the draw is the fact that I don't see this style very often--I like the idea of ordering something which challenges my kilt-maker's skills a little more and results in something not commonly encountered.
    I am very, very happy to have my military box. It's a piece of art! Would I want any more than the one I have? Not a chance! One is amply sufficient. There IS additional care involved in wearing and caring for it, and it would just be too impractical to wear that all the time.
    Duos habet et bene pendentes!

    To my eye, the peacock -- the male peacock, has escaped his cage, and I don't think anyone's going to be able to corral him or get him back into the cage of conformity. He's on his own now, and he's flying high!
    - Bill Cunningam (NY Times photographer)

  9. #9
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    I love mine! The "swang" is as impressive as a regular knife-pleated tank (as the photo of the troops above shows). As for sitting in chairs, the car, etc. I personally find the box-pleats easier to manage, as the backside of the kilt is sort of a "smooth surface", if that makes sense. Sweeping the pleats and sitting - no problem! Mine is in 16 oz. tartan, so a heavy kilt, but I don't notice any lack of comfort when I wear it. Quite the opposite...!
    Brian

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

  10. #10
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    LT,
    I have no advice for you at this time.........but I'll be happy to answer your all your questions at the conclusion of my tartan orgy later this summer.

    Fondest Regards
    Andy
    KILTED LABOWSKI

    "I imagine a place of brotherhood and peace, a world without war. Then I imagine attacking that place because they would never expect it.

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