How to make a Utilikilt-style Kilt

I copied this (without pictures) from this instructibles tutorial for mostly my own easy to read use. The link above has handy pictures too
First you will need to make a couple measurements to calculate the amount of fabric you need. Make sure you write these down as you will also need them when we start pleating the kilt. Make sure you are using a fabric tailors tape, not a metal carpenters tape.
The only 2 measurements you will need are waist and knee length.

First is your waist measurement (measurement A in the picture). Don’t use your pants size, kilts are worn much higher on the waist so measure around at your bellybutton, with the tape measure as parallel to the floor as possible. (This number will be divided by three and used extensively throughout this instrustable so if you want to round your numbers up to make the math easy go ahead. The difference can be covered by the front and under aprons.)
(Note: If your hip measurement is larger than your waist measurement then use your hip measurement. The belt will bring in the waist, or if you know how, go ahead and taper in the waist while pleating.)

Next is to measure your knee length (Measurement B in the picture). Kilts should go down to your kneecaps, ending right about the middle of your kneecaps. The best way to measure this is to kneel on the floor and measure from your waist line, at your bellybutton, down to the floor.

Record these measurements
Waist:
1/3rd Waist:
Length:

For example: my measurements are
Waist: 45 Inches
1/3rd Waist: 15 inches
Length: 24 inches

Now a few definitions:
Front Apron: The non pleated front of the kilt that shows when you wear the kilt.
Pleated Length: The heavily pleated length that comprises the back of the kilt.
Under Apron: The non pleated portion that wraps underneath the front apron when you wear the kilt.
Waist Band: The very top, unpleated portion that runs the length of the kilt
A non-traditional American style kilt, like we are making here, has a front apron (the non pleated front part) of about 1/3rd the total waist line. (Aprons on traditional Scottish kilts are about 1/2 the length of the waist.)

To calculate the amount of fabric for the pleated part of the kilt take your waist measurement and divide by 3, then multiply by 8 and add an inch. This will be the length of the kilt fabric, the amount going around the waist. The width of the pleated part will be the knee Length minus 2 inches.

Pleated Portion length (this length will include what is needed for the front and under apron , do not add the front and under lengths to this ): Waist measurement divided by 3 times 8, plus 1 inch seam allowance
Pleated Portion width: Knee Length minus 2 inches
Waist Band length: Waist measurement divided by 3 times 4 plus 1 inch seam allowance (wait until you finish the pleated portion to cut this piece, I will explain why in step 4)
Waist band width: 7 inches

The length of the fabric will need to buy is equal the the length of the pleated part of the kilt plus an inch for seam allowance (go ahead and get it a little longer for good measure). Make sure the width of the fabric is at least 9 inches wider than your measured length. This will leave you enough fabric left over for the waist band and pockets.

For example my waist measurement is 45 inches. The length of fabric I need will be at least 121 inches (45/3*8+1=121) or 3.3 yards. I rounded up and got 4 yards. The width of the fabric I got was 60 inches, I should have enough fabric to make 2 kilts.

You will need to have:
Sewing Machine (Not Pictured)
Iron (Not Pictured)
Scissors
Tailors Tape Measure
Pins
Fabric pencil or Chalk

You will need to buy
Fabric
Matching Thread
Interfacing (Enough to line the waist band)
22 Snap fasteners (plus the hardware to mount them)
I’ll be using 2 inch pleats in this instructable. This is deep enough for the pleats to hold well, and still looks good.

You will need to cut the pleated portion of the kilt from your fabric using the calculated numbers from step 2.

Once this is cut, fold over both ends 1/2 inch and sew a hem. Then fold the bottom over 1/2 inch and sew a hem here also. I want to note here that some fabric has a “good” or “Front” side and a “bad”, “wrong” or “Back” side. When you hem the ends and bottom, fold over onto the bad side.

Once the edges are sewn, measure in 1/3 your waist measurement on each end and mark with your chalk. This will be the Front Apron and Under Apron.

Once you’ve marked your fabric you can begin pleating. I’m sure you have a very long legnth of fabric so do this on a very long table. place a large towel under the fabric because you will need to iron the pleats every so often.

With the hemmed bottom length of the fabric towards you and the unhemmed edge facing away you will start your first pleat on the right end of the fabric with the pleat going to the right. Measure 4 inches from your apron mark to the left and pull the fabric to the edge of the front apron. Make sure this fold is as straight as possible.

Next measure 6 inches from the fold and pull to within 2 inches of the fold. The fold on top should line up with back of the previous fold underneath.

Make sure as your pleating you measure the top and bottom of each fold to maintain 2 inch pleats. You will want to press the pleats with an iron after every 2 or 3 folds.

Once pressed, pin each pleat at the top, bottom and middle. Continue pleating until you reach the under apron mark on the other end of the fabric.

Once the entire length of fabric is pleated and pinned, bring it over to the sewing machine. Sew down each pleat at the edge of the fold from the top of the fabric down 5 inches. Sewing down the tops of the pleats will allow them to hold their shape much better.
(Note: You should take out the top pins as you sew down the tops of the pleats, but leave in the other pins while you are working on the kilt. It will make the kilt easier to work with. I’ll usually remove them once I’m ready to attach the pockets)
To make the waist band you will need a length of fabric 1 in longer than the top of the pleated portion and 7 inches wide. Remeasure the top portion rather than using the calculation as the length may not be exact after hemming and pleating.

Hem all 4 sides of the fabric over 1/2 inch.

Cut a piece on interfacing equal to the inside portion of the waistband and attach per the interfacing’s instructions.

Sew 1 edge of the waistband to the back of the pleated portion, 1/2 inch from the top, lining up the ends.

Fold over, covering the front 1/2 inch from the top of the pleated portion, press and sew the edge and along the sides.
Now you can do what you all have been waiting for, try on the kilt.

Hold the kilt around your waist where you would naturally be wearing it. Wrap the left side over the right side until it is snug. Mark with a washable fabric pen where the waistband stops on the right (you may want someone to help with this).

Now place the kilt on a table face down with the waist band towards you. Fold the under apron (on your right) to the center of the kilt. Then fold the apron over the under apron matching up to the mark you had just made while wearing it.

Now you can mark where the snap fasteners will go. The will be about 1 inch from either end. This is a wide waistband so use 2 snaps at each end, on the top and bottom of the waistband. You will have 2 at the edge of the apron and 2 more through the apron to the edge of the under apron. Punching the hole through both layers at the same time is best to ensure they match up. Attach per the instructions that came with the snaps.

Now we’ll attach some snaps to the face of the apron. This is for both decoration and to hold the apron down while wearing the kilt. There are several possibilities you can do in regards to the pattern. I usually run 2 rows of 3 tapering to the center. You can experiment by placing the snap tops in various patterns until you get something you like. Make sure the apron and under apron are centered before punching you holes through both layers of fabric (pin the apron and under apron together to prevent it from moving). Again, punch the holes through both layers at the same time to ensure they match up.
You will need a 1 inch wide strip about 30 or so inches long, depending on the number of belt loops you want. I use 7 belt loops as you will see below. The belt loops will end up about 1/2 inch wide.

You will need to fold the edged to the center of the strip. Pin the folded strip about every 3 inches.

Once it is fully folded and pinned you need to press it with an iron. Go a couple inches and then pull out the pin and continue to the next, removing pins as you go.

Once the entire strip is pressed take it over to the sewing machine and sew down each flap.

Cut the strip into shorter pieces, 1 inch longer than the width of your waistband. They should be about 4 inches

To attach the belt loops you will fold the ends over about 1/2 inch and sew to the top and bottom of the waist band. You are going through quite a few layers of fabric, so be sure you are using a strong needle and take it slow, moving your machine by hand if needed.

You can use what ever spacing you like for the belt loops, I use one on each end of the apron, one on each hip, one at the m\iddle of the back and one for each space between the loop at the back and between each hip fpr 7 total loops.

If you want you can wear the kilt as is now, but it is a cargo kilt so we’ll move on to the pockets.

We will be making the pockets separate from the kilt and then attaching them. This is both easy and allows the pleats in the kilt to move. We will have two side “Cargo” pockets and a back pocket. The measurements are approximate, don’t sweat it if you’re a little off. Also, feel free to make the pockets bigger or smaller if you wish.

First the back pocket. Cut a piece of fabric 7 inches wide by 15 inches long.

Hem both short edges 1/2 inch.

Fold 1 short edge over 5 inches, making sure the hemmed edge is facing out. Then fold the other edge over about 1 1/2 inches, again facing the hemmed side out. (there should be about a 1 inch gap between these flaps)

Sew the long edges together about 1/2 inch from the edge.

Once the pocket is sewn together turn it inside out, or rather rightside out since you should have sewn it together inside out.

Press with an iron.

Run another seam alone the long edge about 1/4 inch in from the edge. This will hold the flap in the gap down and keep your pocket flat.

Now fold the short end over the long, with the gap coming down over the front of the pocket and attach the snaps.

Now the cargo pockets.

First cut a piece of fabric 9 inches by 28 inches.

Hem the short edges 1/2 inch.

Fold 1 short edge over 9 1/2 inches, making sure the hemmed edge is facing out. Then fold the other edge over 2 inch, again facing the hemmed side out. (there should be about a 2 inch gap between these flaps)

Sew the long edges together about 1/2 inch from the edge.

Once the pockets are sewn together turn them inside out, or rather rightside out since you sewed them together inside out.

Press with an iron.

Run another seam alone the long edge about 1/4 inch in from the edge. This will hold the flap in the gap down and keep your pocket flat.

Now fold the short end over the long, the fold of the crease should be right in the center of the 2 inch gap. Then attach the snaps on the flap. (pictured are 3 snaps along the top. They will be to attach the pocket to the kilt and explained in the next step)
To attach the pockets we will sew the back pocket to the kilt and use snaps to attach the cargo pockets, making them removable.

To attach the back pocket first put on the kilt and have someone help place the back pocket in a “natural” position. Have them pin it into place, butting the top of the pocket to the bottom of the waist band.

Once pinned, open the flap and sew through the back of the flap (in between the flaps) onto the kilt.

To attach the cargo pockets first get someone to help to place them in position and pin them. They should be positioned on your sides at the hip, about 3 or 4 inches down from the bottom of the waist band.

Once pinned, position 3 snaps across the top. The snaps will go all the way through the pocket, from the front to the back, as seen the the picture. The back part of the snap will go through the kilt allowing you to snap the pocket to the kilt, and remove the pocket if you want.
Now that you have your Cargo Kilt wear it and enjoy. Share your own pics in the comments.

Clean it per the fabric’s directions, and use starch when ironing to help keep your pleats crisp.

Feel free to modify as you see fit. You can use buttons instead of snaps, or velcro to fasten the waistband. I think next I’ll try attaching the cargo pockets with grommets and carabiners.


2 Responses to "How to make a Utilikilt-style Kilt"

  • Thanks for these instructions. I had also found the instructables site and your posting saved me at least an hour of cutting and pasting so I had a printable document.

    1 Tree Frank said this (May 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm)


  • I agree with Tree Frank — the instructables link is great, but it’s hard to get a complete set of instructions. I appreciate that you took the time to put them all together. I’m going to try this kilt this weekend.

    2 One Yard Projects said this (February 1, 2013 at 8:27 am)


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