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Kilts and Kiltmaking

Updated on November 5, 2015


Of all the traditional dress in the world, Scottish Highland dress is the most worn. Kilts are the most worn in ceremonies, Highland games, Highland Dances, and in parades. Since the first use of tartans in the 18th century, Nations, States, Colleges, and even Corporations have registered tartans for private or public use in ceremonies. Individuals have registered tartans for personal or family use. Today, families and individuals do not have to be Scottish to register their own tartan. This lens was posted to help kilt wearers and kilt makers find the resources they need.

This lens will not go into too much detail about kiltmaking. It will point the kilt wearer and kilt maker to the right resources. Children, and mainly teenagers, who are interested in Highland dancing do not realize the initial cost of a full Scottish Highland dress for dances. Though it is more expensive to purchase clan, or Highland dance, related tartan the steps to making a kilt for your beloved Highland dancer is fairly simple. Most of the cost in making a kilt is in the tartan fabric and in the kilt maker's (your) patience. Once the kilt maker gets the hang of [engineering] a kilt, it should take about 20 hours to finish the kilt.

The advantage of kiltmaking over making any other garment is that most other garments must follow a pattern and involves a lot of cutting and trimming. Conversely, a kilt uses no pattern and involves very little cutting of the fabric. The kilt is always sewn by hand unlike a skirt or dress. How the kilt will look will depend on the number of pleats in the rear and measurements of the kilt wearer.

As for me, my first kilt may be made from cotton denim twill fabric. The fabric is about $5, or so, per yard and I do not need to worry about pleating to the stripe or the sett. My first kilt will be for casual and outdoor use. If I can make my first kilt from denim I will be able to make a kilt from any fabric.

Why Men Should Wear A Kilt

Many of the reasons lead me to at least two answers for perspective kilt wearers. A kilt will keep you cool during the summer months and warm during the winter months. A kilt wearing man always wears his kilt for the ladies. To be sure, if the argument whether a kilt makes a man gay comes up remember, the knife in his sock says he is not.

An article at gives a good reason for men to wear kilts. I concur.


Tartan Designer by Tartan Web


Kilts & Tartan

free e-book

Recommended: Free Kilts & Tartan e-book

"Buying your Kilt - Made Easy"

An Expert Insider's Frank Views and Simple Tips by Dr Nicholas J Fiddes

(Governor, Scottish Tartans Authority)

  • Why you should wear a kilt, and what kind of kilt to get
  • How to source true quality, and avoid the swindlers
  • Find your own tartans, and get the best materials
  • Know the outfit for any occasion, and understand accessories

Kilts for Every Occasion

How do you wear your kilt?

See results

Why Women Love Men In Kilts

Because men who wear women's clothing are pathetic. More to come.

A Question for the Ladies

Ladies, which is sexier for men to wear?

See results

Mohawk Valley Living #177 Kilt Maker Barb Tewksbury

Clips from local tv show.

How to make a kilt

Bonnie Heather Greene, the kiltmaker, demonstrates the art of knitting a kilt during the Celtic Fest at Graeme Park Saturday. Greene knits and repairs kits for her shop in Mahopac, N.Y. For more go to

How a kilt is made

This is a 7 minute small insight into the normal 8 hours spent making a kilt. This is one of our best kilt makers at work, she has 30 years of experience & makes one of Edinburgh's finest kilts. We hope you enjoy, if you would like a kilt made up, take a look at or give us a call on 00 44 131 660 3451

'Tartan Designs for Weavers'
'Tartan Designs for Weavers'

Tartan Designs for Weavers

Custom Tartan Designs - By John Orr

Yesterday, I posted my new book for sale through The book is a 74 page collection of tartan designs I have created over the course of 3 years. I decided to compile and publish some of my tartan designs and their respective details so weavers who are interested may weave them. Questions and comments are always welcome. This book is my first major publication.

The Brotherhood of Dirk Tartan
The Brotherhood of Dirk Tartan

The Brotherhood of Dirk Tartan

Over the past two months, I have entertained the thought of designing a tartan to commemorate the life of Dirk Smiler. There are two tartans which are now up for review by Dirk's friends and family. I assume that a (dress) tartan will be chosen for registration. I also hope the chosen tartan will be registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans soon.

When I designed the tartan for Dirk, I wanted it's design to represent how I saw Dirk's persona and show honor and respect for a Titan who left too soon. The chosen tartan will be worn in some fashion, I hope, by Dirk's family and friends on his Birthday and to events that Dirk Smiler may attend.

Once Dirk's family chooses a tartan to honor the life of Dirk and has it registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans, I will no longer have control over its design and modification. All other tartans baring Dirk Smiler's name will be deleted from my Scotweb account. Any tartan commemorating the life of Dirk belongs to the Smiler family, not me.

01.14.2011 - UPDATE!

The Brotherhood of Dirk tartan has been approved by the Scottish Register of Tartans and the registration fee has been paid. By the end of next week friends and family of Dirk Smiler will be able to order garments in his tartan.

01.31.2011 - UPDATE!

The Brotherhood of Dirk tartan is now permanently recorded in the Scottish Register of Tartans. Tartan details can be found at the following webpage. My contact information is publicly listed should anyone have questions regarding Dirk's tartan.

07.27.2011 - UPDATE!

I have deposited $50.00 toward the weaving of a sample of Dirk Smiler's tartan. The sample, to be ordered, is 24" x 24" in size and is woven out of worsted wool. The total cost of the tartan sample is $115.00. Once the Brotherhood of Dirk has been woven into a tartan sample, it will be photographed and posted on this lens.

The tartan sample will be split up and part (12" x 24") will be sent to Dirk's mother. Another part (12" x 12") will be sent to Skot Braunfeld, and the last part ( 7" x 9" minimum) will be sent to the Scottish Register of Tartans. Once the tartan sample is permanently archived in the Scottish Register of Tartans I may finally have my rest.

08.18.2011 - UPDATE!

Molly, a tartan weaver in Fairbanks AK, is sending yarn color samples for Dirk Smiler's tartan design. I should see the yarn colors, first, before the weaving continues. I want to make sure the colors chosen are as close to the "Brotherhood of Dirk" tartan colors as possible. After all, part of the 24" x 24" sample is being sent to the Scottish Registry of Tartans to be permanently archived. Once Dirk Smiler's tartan is archived, he will live forever.

Photos of the sample will be posted to this lens as well as my facebook profile. Friends and family (and their descendants) of Dirk Smiler may still request the thread count and color code for the "Brotherhood of Dirk" tartan at anytime. I have both printed and so does Dirk's mother. Both are also available, upon request, from the Scottish Registry of Tartans.

09.12.2011 - UPDATE!

The "Brotherhood of Dirk" tartan sample is now off the loom and finished. It will be shipped later today or tomorrow. One thing I must do when I receive the sample is photograph it. People will want to see the finished product and I hope they all approve. I will put it on a side table in the living room and away from direct sunlight so the colors do not fade.

09.18.2011 - UPDATE!

I received the tartan sample on Friday. The"Brotherhood of Dirk" tartan sample has been woven for the first time. After a year of designing, registering, and weaving I can finally have my rest. 2010 was a horrible year for me and about 600 others. Now that Dirk's tartan has finally been woven his friends and family can see the finished product. They may, someday, purchase a garment in the "Brotherhood of Dirk" tartan.

'Humanitarian Mission (Dress)' Tartan

'Humanitarian Mission (Dress)' Tartan
'Humanitarian Mission (Dress)' Tartan

This tartan is designed to honour all Red Cross/Red Crescent volunteers. The colours have been chosen to reflect the designer's particular appreciation and respect for the international humanitarian mission of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. Red Cross/Red Crescent volunteers past and present, are welcome to wear this design. Colours: red represents the Red Cross/Red Crescent; white represents its humanitarian mission; grey represents man-made and natural disasters worldwide, to which volunteers respond everyday; black represents those volunteers who have lost their lives while participating in the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. Comments are always welcome.

Orr Senior, Gerald William (San Francisco) (Personal)
Orr Senior, Gerald William (San Francisco) (Personal)

A New Tartan Design for My Immediate Family.

A new tartan is being designed for my immediate family. I wanted to design a tartan using colors taken from my family crest. The surname, "Orr" has no proper tartan but I wanted to design one to represent the family of LTC Gerald W. Orr Sr., U.S. Army (Retired) and his descendants.

12.29.2011 - UPDATE: My immediate family, now, has a new tartan. The pattern was entered into the archives at the Scottish Register of Tartans this afternoon. The registered name of our new tartan is "Orr Senior, Gerald William (San Francisco) (Personal)." I consider this new tartan to be much like a lifetime achievement award in my father's honor. After spending 20 years of service in the U.S. Army and for two tours of Duty in Vietnam; he has earned it. The next step is to submit a sample swatch of fabric to the register to be permanently recorded.

03.18.2012 - UPDATE: I put a lot of thought into the pattern I designed for my immediate family. After ordering and receiving a table runner in that tartan I have decided to reduce the size of the pattern so it can be used on other items such as place mats, bags, shirts, dresses, etc. I basically reduced the threadcount, for each color yarn, by about half and repeated the threadcount in reverse order. This way my family, and anyone else who asks to use and wear our tartan, can use one for kilts and the other pattern for both kilts and other things. Tartan details are available at:

Anyone who wants to use and/or wear my immediate family's tartan may do so with prior written permission. I may grant permission simply because a person asked. That is, provided I can have a photo of the garment or other product. I also have a variation with Black on either side of the White saltire. In lieu of Red I have other variations that are Maroon, Corn Flower Blue, and one in "Nandor" Green. Now I understand why tartans were traditionally designed on the loom!

02.20.2013 - UPDATE: I have recently lifted the restrictions on my immediate family's new tartan. It just does not make any sense for me to keep my family's tartan to myself. Questions and comments are welcome.

Common Ground (Dress)
Common Ground (Dress)

A New Tartan Registration from John Orr

Last week I finished designing, and had registered, a new tartan. The "Common Ground (Dress)" tartan is an interpretation of the War of 1812. The new tartan is not intended to be restricted in its use and wear. It may be used and worn by anyone and may be woven commercially and non-commercially.

All I ask is that I may have a photo of its use and/or wear so I may post is to my website and them to this lens. The thread count and color palette, in PDF format, may also be purchased from on eBay for $25 USD. Hey, I have to eat too!

03.13.2012 - UPDATE! I have decided to offer the Common Ground (Dress) tartan as a PDF, at auction, until June 19Th, 2012. Weavers may use and wear this tartan commercially and non-commercially. Send a photo of the Common Ground (Dress) tartan in use and wear. The "Common Ground (Dress)" tartan details are also available, upon request, for $5.00 to cover shipping. Questions and comments may be addressed to John Orr at:

05.05.2012 - UPDATE! For historical reasons, I am offering up the 'Common Ground (Dress)' tartan to the public for use and wear during the year. The tartan design may be used and produced commercially and non-commercially. Go to the J Orr Tartan Design website to download the thread count and color palette details:

Squires of Saint Andrews "The Whole Nine Yards"

The making of the "Great Kilt"! making of the Great Kilt back in the day.. The Commander of the Squires for the new group for children in Southern California, brought his father, (one of the Adults for the group) Floyd Ferguson,, to help show the Making of the Great Kilt back in the day. These Kilts would be unfolded and and used as a blanket at night and then folded again and worn the next day... 2nd Lt. Commander of Squires James Ferguson displays "The Great Kilt" with father Floyd Ferguson.

Squires of Saint Andrews-Queen Mary Scottish Festival 2011

Difference between 5 and 8 yard kilts -

Wheaton explains the difference between a 5 yard and an 8 yard kilt.

Highland Dress and Tartan Resources

If there is not a kilt resource listed here I probably overlooked it. If so, send me an email with a Web address and I will post it. When I have the opportunity, I will alphabetize this list.

Weaving Looms and Weaving Supply Sources

For those who weave their own fabric and want to weave tartan as well, I have added a list of resources to consider. More to come.

'Southern Cross' Tartan

'Southern Cross' tartan celebrating the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Virginia. April 9th, 1865 - 2015; 150th Anniversary.
'Southern Cross' tartan celebrating the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Virginia. April 9th, 1865 - 2015; 150th Anniversary.

The Birth of the Kilt - Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow - BBC One

This is about right.

How to make a Kilt - Part 1

STV's show "Made In Scotland" shows the process of designing and making a tartan kilt.

How to make a Kilt - Part 2

Part 2 of STV's 'Made in Scotland' episode about the making of the kilt.

How to Measure for A Traditional 8 Yard kilt

How to Wear A Full Formal Kilt Outfit with All Accessories

Kilts and Kiltmaking

The Gael - Albannach

A tribute to all the brave Scots who rose up and fought against tyranny!

How to wear a kilt - MacGregor and MacDuff - The Kings of Kilts

How to Wear Your Kilt

Reader Feedback

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    • sierradawn lm profile image

      sierradawn lm 

      5 years ago

      I am having a wonderful time reading this fantastic lens! Outstanding work!

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      A green Squid Angel blessing to you! It's not spoiled, it is Saint Patrick's Day!

    • BlueTrane profile image


      6 years ago

      I don't wear a kilt, but my dogs (Gordon Setters, of Scottish origin) and I participate in the annual Highland Games in my town. Nice lens!

    • lyinseeker profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @SaintFrantic: Thank you. I try to keep it up to date.

    • SaintFrantic profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks excellent lens.

    • lyinseeker profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @junecampbell: Agreed. I hope this lens is a useful resource for men, and women, who want to begin wearing kilts.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 

      8 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I visited Edinburough several years ago and I have never seen anything sexier than the Scottish men in kilts. Here in Vancouver, you sometimes see men in kilts but somehow they lack the aplomb that you find in Scotland.


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