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  1. #1
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    Restoring the pleats on a 90-100 year old kilt

    So. I have a bit of a situation. I have my Great Aunt's childhood kilt. She wore it when she was learning to be a dancer in Forfar. She gave it to my Great Grandfather when she came to visit him following his emigration to the United States. I took it out of storage last night as I was tasked with teaching a group of people about Scotland (I brought in my Father's Bodhran, and Targe as well.) While I was showing every the kilt and it's matching vest I noticed that although the overall condition of the kilt is remarkably good considering it's age, storing it in a vacuum seal bag (currently my ONLY way to safely store it) has left the pleats in absolutely dismal shape. The kilt itself is also pretty badly wrinkled.

    I saw on another thread that there is a way to iron a kilt. However I fear that this technique will damage my kilt because of it's age. So I was wondering if there is a more gentle way to restore the pleats and at least minimize the wrinkles? I was thinking of hanging it for a short period of time, from a hanger I use for pants. In the hopes that gravity will help smooth out the wrinkles. However I'm not sure if this will work, and I'm afraid that my closet will be too humid because it along an exterior wall and lacks insulation (thank you hundred year old house). I'm also afraid that the hanger's clamps will grip the kilt too hard and damage the waist.

    ... Please help...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    30th September 08
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    You might try using a steamer on it. That would be a gentle way to help work the wrinkles out.

    Cheers,

    SM
    Shaun Maxwell
    Vice President & Texas Commissioner
    Clan Maxwell Society

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  4. #3
    Join Date
    24th September 04
    Location
    Victoria, BC Canada 48 25' 47.31"N 123 20' 4.59" W
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    A caution - We do not iron a kilt. We press a kilt with a combination of heat and pressure.

    For a badly wrinkled kilt or a kilt that was at some time pressed incorrectly it is highly recommended that you baste the pleats before pressing.

    This is done with inexpensive cotton sewing thread and should take less than an hour.

    Make two or three lines of basting stitches across the back of the kilt.
    You want to ensure the lines of the Tartan go down each pleat the same as you see up at the bottom of the Fell Area where the pleat stitching ends. Failure to get this correct and each pleat will not be the same width all the way down.

    Then ensure that the exposed area of each pleat is the same as you find at the bottom of the Fell Area and continues all the way down to the bottom, Selvedge edge.

    When you are done basting the kilt will no longer lay flat. All the pleats will lay flat and parallel but you will now have to lift the Fell Area up to press the pleats.



    If you find that any pleats have been creased in the wrong place before, you may need to correct the location of the crease. You may find it helpful to use a pressing shield. You can use anything that is heat resistant. I use a piece of Formica counter top material .



    Once you have basted all the pleats so that they stay straight and parallel lay the kilt on a bath towel on the floor. Ensure that the bottom of the Selvege edge is straight. A pillow under the Fell Area to will help to hold it up while pressing.

    Set your steam iron on the wool setting and turn the steam on.
    Lay a pressing cloth on the pleats to protect the wool. Spritz the pressing cloth lightly with water.
    Lift the steam iron and set it straight down on the pressing cloth. You should see the water spritz form steam. The steam softens the woool fibers allowing the wrinkles to fall out and the pleat crease to form. Press down - hard.

    Lift the steam iron straight up after 10-15 seconds.
    Move over the width of your steam iron sole plate and repeat.

    Spritz the pressing cloth.
    Lay the iron on the cloth.
    Let the water spritz form steam.
    Press down as hard as you can.

    Repeat this process until you have pressed the entire pleated area. Lift the pressing cloth and check that the pleats look good. Look for anywhere that the basting may have allowed the pleats to shift out of position.

    When you are done what started out looking like this.



    Will look like this.

    Steve Ashton
    Forum Owner

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    5th August 18
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    Agree 100% with Steve on how to remedy your dilemma. If you want to see what Steve is talking about go to YouTube and in the search engine put in Robert MacDonald bespoke kiltmaker. He has tons of videos that deal with kilt construction and care; in fact he has a video program on how to properly press kilts. He'll show you how to baste the pleats in place, how to properly use a pressing cloth to obtain your desired results. His videos are quite informative.

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