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Forum: Highland / Highland - Costumes

Highland - Costumes
How to best hem a kilt? en>fr fr>en
By highlandheritage Comments: 125, member since Wed Dec 05, 2007
On Thu Jan 10, 2008 01:33 PM

Hi! Me again, looking for yet more advice!!
My DD new-to-her kilt is not currently hemmed. I am thinking to hand sew it myself as you have the lines of the tartan to follow.

Should the hem be doubled over? I was thinking not to do this as it might make for even more bulk in the pleats.

Do you iron first as you normally would when hemming clothing? If so how do you manage the pleats as they are now inside out beyond the fold? I plan to have it drycleaned after to freshen the pleats.

Any other tips...like get a professional to do it?!

Thanks again in advance!!

12 Replies to How to best hem a kilt?

re: How to best hem a kilt? en>fr fr>en
By Tartanmum Comments: 549, member since Thu Dec 06, 2007
On Thu Jan 10, 2008 01:57 PM
My only tip - take it to a pro! But then I have NO sewing skills whatsoever. I tried lowering the hem on my daughters kilt but it was so frustrating I gave up. I got a referral for a good drycleaners that does alterations and dropped it off there on monday. (A whole other issue is who you can trust to do the work properly!)They will hem it and then clean it. Not sure what the price will be but, for me, it will be worth it!
re: How to best hem a kilt? en>fr fr>en
By scottiedog440 Comments: 1877, member since Thu Jun 21, 2007
On Thu Jan 10, 2008 03:11 PM
Hi, Just did this myself and it was not too bad. Do press the wool before hemming giving you a cleaner crisper pleat. Use a wool steam setting with a pressing cloth over the fabric. It does take a little care to get the fringe edge correct and then don't forget to roll the extra piece up where the underneath pleat starts at the edge of the top apron, do this after hemming. This keeps that pleat from hanging out under the kilt. Make sure that you press the pleats without fanning them out, keep them in line with the tartan. It is best to stitch them in place first and then pull the thread out later. I pressed both sides for a crisp pleat. I had a little trouble on the pleat with the hip shaping. It should be about 1" wider at the bottom than it is at the stitching at the hip. You may have to repress it a few times to get it just right. Good luck. When you take it to your cleaners, ask them to wrap the leather straps and take care with the pleats. Good luck!
re: How to best hem a kilt? en>fr fr>en
By celtic_reel Comments: 1005, member since Wed Jul 14, 2004
On Thu Jan 10, 2008 03:17 PM
Hemming a kilt is not hard - it's ironing it that gets tricky. It's easy but boring - just follow the lines. I would not double it over if possible. It's not going to unravel, and doubling it over is bulky. When you get to the front edge where the fringe is, just carefully dismantle everything and pay attention to how it was all put together so you can get that fringe back in place. There have also been times when I have shortened the under-apron end that is under the front apron ever so slightly so that it is less likely to hang down below the front apron. For the ironing, you're lucky that you are shortening the kilt and not lengthening it. You won't have to worry about ironing out a crease line. My advice is this: get your dancer to stand at the foot of the ironing board and hold the bulk of the kilt with its weight. Not only does this make it MUCH easier to iron every little pleat without trying to keep the kilt from falling off the board, but it will give your dancer a greater appreciation for the work you are doing on her behalf! Good luck, I'm sure you can do it.
re: How to best hem a kilt? en>fr fr>en
By celtic_reel Comments: 1005, member since Wed Jul 14, 2004
On Thu Jan 10, 2008 03:18 PM
Edited by celtic_reel (99740) on 2008-01-10 15:19:43
Edited by celtic_reel (99740) on 2008-01-10 15:19:58
(double post)
re: How to best hem a kilt? en>fr fr>en
By KSMom Comments: 857, member since Tue Jun 15, 2004
On Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:07 PM
First of all, look at the kilt as it currently is. Even though *most* of the kilt doesn't have a hem, there are a couple of areas which should have a bit of a hem now - that is, 9" in from the side of the underapron to the inside edge should have a taper of 7/8", and also there's about 3/8" taken inside the deep pleat underlying the left edge of the top apron. Keep these in mind. You'll also notice that there are self-facings for the fringe edge, as well as the underapron edge. You'll need to untack these facings enough to hem the kilt. The proper way to do this is to hem first, and then tack down the facings. On the fringe edge, once you untack the facing, you'll discover a separate strip of fabric that is the fringe. You'll also have to untack the fringe edge enough to make the hem as well. Simply fold this fringe up enough to be equal to the new hem. Use a herringbone stitch to hem the kilt, and make sure that the hem increases 3/8" inside the deep front pleat, and increases 7/8" on the inside edge of the underapron. Once you're done heming, restitch the loose fringe edge, and retack the facings. Next, press the hem (use a press cloth which you have wet with water - do not apply your iron directly to the tartan). Next, baste the pleats in the area where you have hemmed, and then reset the bottom of the pleats, again using a press cloth dampened with water. The quantities of steam will nicely set your pleats. Wait until all dries, and then remove your basting.

Good luck!
re: How to best hem a kilt? en>fr fr>en
By booverly Comments: 1967, member since Fri Jul 02, 2004
On Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:53 PM
www.sewing.org . . .

If you have a large hem to do, try the catch stitch as shown on page 2 of the above pdf. A catch stitch or even a 1/2 catch stitch, will keep your hem secure, give the stitch a little teeny stretch and will ensure that if by chance your dancer breaks a hem thread, the hem will not pull out.
re: How to best hem a kilt? en>fr fr>en
By scottiedog440 Comments: 1877, member since Thu Jun 21, 2007
On Fri Jan 11, 2008 04:31 AM
I learned something new this morning. Catch stitch. This is the way I hemmed our kilt last week. I copied what was used in the kilt before I hemmed. It is a great way to hem, doesn't show on the outside and does not pull or pucker the fabric and presses down really nicely. I had no idea how to describe this to anyone but I really liked using this stitch. Thank you for sharing. Catch stitch!
re: How to best hem a kilt? en>fr fr>en
By highlandheritage Comments: 125, member since Wed Dec 05, 2007
On Fri Jan 11, 2008 06:02 AM
Thank you all! I feel much more confident to give it a whirl. I'll let you know how it turns out!
re: How to best hem a kilt? en>fr fr>en
By Dancemom44 Comments: 473, member since Thu Oct 11, 2007
On Fri Jan 11, 2008 06:20 AM
I do mine on the machine using the blind hem stitch. It is a breeze. The hard part is the ironing. I iron out first, then turn up the hem, iron again, machine stitch, then iron again. When I iron I do it from the front and then again from the back side. Takes a while but it isn't hard.
re: How to best hem a kilt? en>fr fr>en
By scottiedog440 Comments: 1877, member since Thu Jun 21, 2007
On Fri Jan 11, 2008 07:15 AM
When I tried the blind hem it showed too much on the front side where the little stitch comes through. I could not adjust my stitch to make it small enough, so I did it by hand and I like it better. It does not show at all when the catch stitch is used. I'm sure there are many way to hem a kilt. I think it's a similar stitch just done on a machine. Have fun!
re: How to best hem a kilt? en>fr fr>en
By their_best_fan Comments: 298, member since Mon Oct 24, 2005
On Fri Jan 11, 2008 09:56 PM
I baste the hem first as described in the book "The Art of Kiltmaking". This is a fantastic book. It's an extra step to baste, but you want to hem right along a tartan line (except in that deep pleat as others have described), so you can do all the lining up of where the hem goes with the basting. I tell you, hemming a kilt can be tedious because it just goes on and on and on, but it's not hard. Iron out the old pleats and hem first in the area you are going to be working in and then tack the pleats back in place (sew with very big stitches) before ironing it.
re: How to best hem a kilt? en>fr fr>en
By highlandheritage Comments: 125, member since Wed Dec 05, 2007
On Sun Jan 13, 2008 09:36 PM
Pinned, pressed and 1/3 hemmed! Smooth sailing so far. I am using the catch stitch as you recommended Booverly. The illustration/info in the link you provided was great. I did not have to further shorten the underapron (the extra 7/8") as the kilt maker had instead shortened it from the waist.

Thanks for all your encouragement and advise!

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