Last Updated: 4/12/99

Kilt Pleating 101

So you want to wear a kilt?

Sorry, can't take responsibility for that line, apparently it is the title of the definitive SCA treatise on the subject.  If you can get me a copy, please let me know, I'd love to see it, just for my own curiosity.

When I first donned my kilt, pleating was the most mysterious aspect of the whole thing.  It seemed like it really couldn't be that tough, just put in the folds and wrap it around you.  That is, until you are staring at a bolt of wool and have no idea what to do first.

Well, that's where I come in.  I have prepared two photo series on the pleating great kilts, and textual instructions, as well, which are below.  You'll probably do best to print this out, unless you happen to have a computer nearby when you pleat your kilt.

I have only listed two of the dozens of ways the kilt can be pleated here, and even fewer "finishes".  There is no single "right way", as scholars can't even decide with 100% certainty among themselves that the Celts even wore the dang things as we do!  Go to my Faire Links page and read through the Celtic resources there if you want to study more into researching the historical aspects of the great kilt.

The two ways in question here are the most common ways I have seen at the various and sundry recreational events I have seen scattered across the country.  There is the short pleat, and the full pleat.  These could very well be my own terms, I have forgotten, but feel free to use them.  The full pleat is the more historically-correct way to pleat it (note: see above paragraph), but the short-pleat can be easier for beginners, as there is simply less of it.

Let me also note the following: I am 6'3" tall, and wear a 60" wide by 10 yard long plaid of a finer wool than most.  If you are shorter than me, or have a significantly rougher/thicker wool kilt, there are other ways of doing this that may work better for you.  But meanwhile, I present the following:

Kilt Pleating 101 A: A series of photos for the "short pleat" method, in which the kilt is folded in half the long way, leaving a much shorter width of wool to pleat across.  Text will follow when I get my act together!

Kilt Pleating 101 B: A photo series and textual instructions for the most common, straight forward "full pleat".  This is the pleating method I use most often. On hot days, the pleat ends as it does on this page, as it is the coolest of the basic methods. On cooler days, or when I just want to look my best, I'll finish the look off with methods detailed below.

Kilt Pleating 101 C: A series of photos showing alternate ways of finishing off the pleat, including over the shoulder pleats. Note: These methods are based on the pleating style detailed in Pleating 101 B, above, so get that style down first before you try these out! These are the methods I use when the weather is cool enough that the extra wool at my back won't kill me!

Women in Wool: A series of photos showing some of the ways used for airsaid's, the tartan fabric sometimes worn by Celtic women. Not much to see here, now, but I'll see what I can do in the future.

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