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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Monday, March 17, 2014

How NOT to Pleat a Kilt

They're all wearing my colors but J is wearing the Stuart tartan as well.

How NOT to Pleat a Kilt
How to Go Loony in 3,756 Easy Steps

(Click here for a little walkin' around music.) Kiss me I'm Irish (as well as Scot) 

I've always wanted a kilt from our clan tartan. I'm just that way. The old Black Watch tartan is for people who really don't know who they are. I'm a McKusick (among other things). So when Granny went for a visit to Albain (Scotland) and asked me what I wanted, I told her (of course) a kilt.
She came back and handed me a doll saying, "Your kilt is $100/foot! It's not happening on my budget." Good-sized kilts generally run from six to nine yards.

I sighed and resigned myself to admiring my doll from the shelf, sure that I'd never afford it. Luck was with me, though. Our clan needed an editor-in-chief for the newspaper. I stepped up and boldly asked if my payment could be a kilt. "Aye!" the out-going editor said. They shipped me a bolt of luscious tartan cloth and the words, "ádh mór" (Good luck).

Those were prophetic words.
These are the directions I was working off of. For some reason they look much simpler when you aren't wrestling fabric and sewing in perfectly straight pleats.

After exhaustive web checks I finally got some sketchy directions. There should have been something entitled Pleating Kilts for Absolute Dolts. To me reverse box pleats meant about as much as "The homogeneous lamina which lies between the cardioid r=a(1+cos0) and the circle r=2a cos 0."


Finally after my 3rd exhaustive treatise I decided I was ready to head into uiscí aisteach (uncharted waters) and cut into my precious $100/foot material. "It'll be grand," I thought. "They've been doin' this for centuries." Using the floor and several boxes of pins I pleated and pleated to my heart's content, my tongue out and my leanaí (children) jeering. 
You'd think these would be SIMPLE directions.

You have to be very precise about exactly where you set the pleat so that it shows the exact same part of the tartan every time. How deep you set the pleats is determined by how much material you have, how chubby (or not) you are and what part of the pattern you want to show most.

There are apparently very good reasons for the reverse box pleats (or double sett pleats) next to the aprons. At first I forgot about them and just did the regular pleats and the aprons. I even basted in the pleats on three different levels like the directions said to do. Then I held the thing up to me and it was ró-mhór (too big).

You have to understand that I never baste anything. Yeah. I'm a rebel. But this time I was going by the book if it killed me. So I pulled out the basting thread, took out every stinking pin, and reset it smaller. Again I basted everything, just sure it would be iontach (wonderful). I held it up and again it was fós ró-mhór (still too big).

By this time I was ready to find a claymore and somehow do myself in (very difficult to do with a sword that long). But I was chinneadh (determined) to get it right.

So I did it again. This time I tried to hold it up to me before I basted. The fit seemed right so the basting proceeded. It looked pretty good flat. I even sewed about six inches down each pleat to set the pleats. At the end of that grueling session I held my fantastic kilt up and it looked iontach. 

Then I put it on 

and it looked uafásach (horrible).

At this point I was ready to find a match and light the blasted thing. I realized that it needed the double sett pleats to make the aprons hang right. I'd already been dúr (stupid) and sewed the pleats in and sewed them to the waistband. 

So I picked out the edge pleats and inverted them. Now the aprons sat quite nicely. I sewed everything back in and patted myself on the back. The kilt was a
sárshaothar (masterpiece)! I did a little Slip Jig as I kilted myself up. Only to find that...

The uafásach thing was ró-bheag (too small).

I decided then and there that I was the one who would have to lose about three stone of ugly fat instead of re-doing the kilt. To this day I haven't redone it.
All the stinking pleats are in the back. You mostly only see apron. Yeah. Do-over.

But now I'm wavering. Reality is whacking me about the head and shoulders with a clue bat, saying, "Le do ghlúine a cheapann tú go bhfuil tú ag dul chun titim trí chloch? Tá tú ag ól an Kool-aid." (With your knees you think you're going to drop three stone? You've drunk the Kool-aid.)

It might be time to bow to reality and re-pleat the uafásach thing into something I'll look iontach in finally.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, my heck. You're something, Heidi. Love the pic of the fam.