What it feels like to ... MAKE A KILT
IF ANYONE comes in to Kinloch Anderson and would like a kilt made, they can choose from more than 2,000 tartans – if it’s commercially woven, we have it. There are different weights and qualities, and different colourways in each tartan, including modern and ancient.
Some people come in with their family tartan; some do not have a tartan. If they don’t want to wear a clan tartan, there are lots of other options.
There are some tartans that everyone can wear but, when it comes to a kilt, men more often than not want to wear the tartan with which they have an association. There’s nothing to stop you wearing a tartan you’re not associated with, and most people wouldn’t mind, although one or two might. Sometimes when someone gets married they want to create a tartan.
A kilt is made from one single length of material and doesn’t have a hem because imagine eight yards of bulk – it would be too heavy and it would look horrible. The pattern is matched so, when it is pleated, it fits the body but the pattern is still perfect. That is the great skill in making a kilt: chalking the material so you know exactly where to put the pleats. A skilled person would take at least eight hours to make a kilt but it could be more.
A kilt can accommodate a change in size but you can’t lengthen or shorten a kilt because it has a special woven edge,
so that’s why most people wait until their 21st birthday or a little bit later before they buy a kilt.
Once you have all the pleats, the material at the top has to be cut because it would be too bulky. We then put a bit of canvas around the top to strengthen the kilt. It is all hand-stitched and it is marked with the name of the customer and the date it was made. There are also two loops that men would traditionally use to hang the kilt.
I married into the family so I automatically took an interest in tartan and am involved with all aspects of the company. This year is our 150th anniversary and we commemorated it by creating a tartan. Tartan means a huge amount to me.