The start of a kilt maker’s journey

My daughter and I have started to learn to make kilts this summer, thanks to Nikki and Amanda at The Kiltmakery in Leith

This blogpost is more a photo essay with a few comments thrown in for good measure.

Day 1 started with a bit about the history of the kilt and tartan (something not unfamiliar to me, but my daughter learned a lot). She then did this with Nikki (move over, Andy the Highlander !)

We were soon at the start of the journey …

Practising kiltmaking stitches on plain cotton fabric
Attaching the fringe
Pleats upon pleats
My dad popped in to get measured for his kilt (which my daughter is going to make). I know I look a lot like him 😉
Tipsy, supreme leader of the Kiltmakery. Doesn’t like postmen or flies 😉
It took quite a while for me to get my left handed brain around the process, so I made a baby kilt first (as I didn’t want to waste my beautiful tartan)
Putting the waistband on at the hotel. Didn’t want to stop once I finally got my head around it…
Putting on her buckles
We visited Robin at his mill in Selkirk. It was really very useful for my daughter to learn how tartan is made and to see the traditional looms and equipment they use there
In her finished kilt, with the sun shining on Leith 🙂
And then immediately starting her second kilt (for her brother) on the last day of the course.
Working on it at home (while I set up a practice toddler kilt on some of Nikki’s leftover MacInnes tartan)
Something old with something new; I’ve got loads of old military buttons & think they look quite lovely on baby kilts (buttons and elastic being easier/quicker to undo than kilt buckles & straps)
Photo taken by my friend Lynn of the wee kilt I had just given to new wee grandson. I’m rather amused it can stand up!

So that, in summary, is what my daughter and I have done this summer.

The last eighteen months have been incredibly difficult for everyone and it has been an absolute delight in having this precious time with my daughter, both of us learning something new and realising that we can actually do something positive.

A lot needs to be changed to make things better for the next generation of kiltmakers. If it doesn’t improve, the craft will simply die out. I really don’t want that to happen.

But that discussion is for another day.


  1. Was hoping that this would be about kilt weaving (I’m a weaver and someday I’ll actually have the time to weave historic kilts and earisaids!). Found it quite interesting. That baby kilt is just precious!


    • Nope, about kiltmaking (although I did have a photo of Robin Elliot and his mill 😉 Alas, tartan -and tweed- will be for another day. I am putting together a blog post on 18th century textile terms which might be of interest to you, should be up in a week or two. I am rather fond of the wee baby kilts, it has to be said 🙂


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