Kilt With Sash




I'm not sure why, but I got on a kick, and wanted to make a kilt for Halloween. I searched the internet, and there were some instructions, but they were a bit hard to follow. I ended up using the instructions at (The original site seems to be gone now).

This instructable should stand on it's own, but if you need some insight into the process, follow the link above to see what I followed.

Questions? Please! Ask!

Good Luck and have fun.

Other variations and instructions:
X-Kilt -
Scottish Dance - (Good Reference diagrams).

Step 1: Materials and Tools


  • Cloth (Can be any color, and doesn't need to be tartan)
  • Interfacing (optional)
  • Buckles
  • Leather strips that fit buckles


  • Scissors for cutting cloth
  • Scissors for cutting threads
  • Measuring tape
  • Chalk (standard chalkboard chalk is fine)
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine (optional but highly encouraged)
  • Drill or leather hole punch
  • Sewing pins
  • Calculator (if you need to keep switching from inches to cm like me)

Step 2: Measurements

There are only four measurements required for this kilt:
  • Natural Waist (measured level at the bellybutton)
  • Hip (measured around the largest part of the backside
  • Distance between hip and waist measurement
  • Waist to knee length
It's much easier if you can get someone else to make these measurements, especially the hip to knee measurement.

My measurements were:
Waist: 45"
Hip: 47.5"
Waist to Hip: 5"
Waist to knee: 23"

Step 3: Calculating the Cloth Length

This has to be about the hardest part of making the kilt. First you have to decide how "Pleated" you want it, then you have to decide how wide to make the apron, and finally calculate the total length.

1) Decide on the Apron width. The apron is the front flat part. There are 2 aprons, the front apron, and the under (or back) apron. In the one pictured, I used a ratio of 0.45x the hip circumference. This was just about right, maybe a little less would be good, especially if you are large like me. Using my hip size of 47.5" means an apron of about 21.5". Most calculations can be rounded without issue.

2) Decide on the pleat pattern and under pleat width. You have to decide how wide you want the pleats, and how deep you want them. I wanted the final pleats to continue the pattern of the tartan (see the third picture below). I also wanted narrow pleats. In this tartan, the pattern repeated every 4-1/8 inches. I finally decided that I would use 1/4th of the pattern, or 1-1/32 inches, as my pleat width, and 1 full pattern as the under pleat width, equaling 5-5/32 inches per pleat. So it takes 5-5/32 inches of fabric to extend the kilt 1-1/32 inches around the hip.

3) Calculate the number of pleats. This is calculated by taking the hip measurement and subtracting the apron width and dividing by the pleat width. So in my example, I have a hip length of 47.5", subtracting the apron width of 21.5", leaves 26". 26" divided by 1-1/32" equals just over 25, so we'll use 25 pleats. This then means that we need 25 x 5-5/32"  = 128.9" or about 3.5 yards of fabric for the pleated length alone.

3) Calculate:
Front Apron Hem: Always 10.25"
Front Apron: ___________ (In example: 47.5" x 0.45 ~ 21.5"
Front Apron Under Pleat: Always 6.25"
The pleated Length ___________ (In example: 25 x 5.15" ~ 129")
Under Apron Under Pleat: Always 6.25"
Under Apron: ____________ (In example: 21.5" same as front)
Under Apron Hem: Always 9.5"

Total: ___________ (In example: 10.25+21.5+6.5+129+6.25+21.5+9.5 = 204.5" = 5.68 yards

I suggest getting more than necessary in case you do need an extra pleat, etc, you can always cut extra off at the end, but adding more is tough.

Step 4: Cutting and Hemming

Once you have calculated the amount of cloth you need, cut the cloth to length.

I used the full length of cloth I bought, just in case I made a mistake.

For the height of the kilt, mark the waist to knee length + 2.5", from the top of the fabric, and cut off the remaining and save, this will be used for the sash.

Fold the bottom 1" of the kilt up on the inside of the kilt and sew, this will be the bottom edge of the kilt.

Step 5: Front Apron

Note: the pictures below were made after the fact, I didn't take pictures while making the original, and used some left over fabric, hence the narrow apron.

With the cloth now facing with the outside of the kilt facing up, make a line 1.5" from the top, along the entire length of the cloth, this is your waist line. Make another line for the hip, the distance you measured from waist to hip (5" in my example), from the waist line.

Mark a line from top to bottom 10.25" from the left edge, this is your front apron hem line.
Mark another line from top to bottom, your apron width from the hem line (21.5" in my example). This is the Apron Right Edge.
Mark one more line, from top to bottom, 6.25" from the last line, this is the front apron under pleat.
If you are working with a pattern, you can change these a bit so the patterns line up,  as in the pictures below.

Pinch the fabric, and fold over the apron edge so it lines up with the front apron under pleat line, you should have a Z fold of fabric. Pin from the Hip to bottom. (Images 2 and 3)

Make a mark, 1.25" to the left of the front apron edge on the waist line. (Image 4)

Now, skew the fabric so this mark is inline with the remainder of the front apron. Note that the top edge should remain straight. The extra fabric will go into the under pleat. (Images 5 and 6)

Using a similar technique as the right side, do the same for the left side, again, the skewed fabric goes into the hem pleat. There should be about 2" of extra fabric beyond the end, this is the fringe. (Images 7 and 8).

Here is a lesson learned. Later we will add a strap, attached only to the front apron hem. The strap will cause the hem to pull, and cause the kilt to become loose over time while worn. Cut a piece of interfacing 3" by 3", and pin it into the front fold, with the top left corner sticking above the top edge. Trim the interfacing at the top edge. You could even make the interfacing the length of the Apron, and into the Under Pleat, a Trapazoid shape matching the top 3" of the Front Apron, so it is attached to the pleated length as well, removing any possible remaining stretch. (Thinking while writing) (Image 9)

Using a sewing machine, sew a straight stitch, from top to bottom along both edges of the apron, as close to the folds as possible, making sure to catch the interfacing when sewing the left edge (and right if making a full length interfacing).

Step 6: The Pleated Length

The pleated length is from the right fold of the Front Apron to the last fold before the Under Apron. Looking at the second picture, You can see why it is important to have a straight right edge of the apron, as it matches up with the pleats.

Earlier, you chose the pleat length (in the example 1-1/32"), and the the under pleat length (in the example 4-1/8"). Mark the pleat length from the right edge of the Front Apron, and mark the under pleat length from there. Because I used the pattern, It was already marked for me. Now, pinch the first mark, and fold over to the second mark, forming a Z fold. Make this a completely straight fold from top to bottom, parallel with the Front Apron right edge, and pin. (Image 3)

Continue this in the same fashion as the first, measuring off the previously completed pleats edge. Because I used the pattern as a template, I can use it to make sure I'm making the correct folds, as in image 4. I suggest you pin all your pleats before doing any sewing (I made that mistake too). Every few folds, check, by flipping over, and making sure all your under pleats are the same size.

It is during this process that you will need to make the adjustments to the Waist Line so it is the correct length. For example, if your Hips were 36", and your waist, was 30", then you need to make the waist 6" smaller than the Hips. 3" are removed by putting the taper into the apron, leaving 3" more to be removed. Equally spaced in the pleats you will need to make enough 1" tapers to remove the difference in the waist. When you have pinned the pleat you want to taper, mark 1/2" left and right from the pleat fold, and bring these two lines together, adding the extra fabric to the the pleat. Remember when folding the next pleat, that there will not be your pleat width at the waist line, but 1/2" less. From the Hip to bottom is unaffected. (Images 5 and 6)

When you have completed 1/2 the pleats, do a test fit, placing the Front Apron evenly on your front, making sure that the last pleat is about to your middle back. If necessary, add or remove the total number of pleats, to make up any difference.

Continue until all but the last pleat has been pinned.

With a sewing machine, sew the pleats, but only from the top edge to the hip line.

Step 7: Under Apron

The Under Apron is very similar to the the Front Apron.

From the fold of your last pleat, mark a pleat width (In the example, 1-1/32", not shown in pictures), from there mark the Under Apron Under Pleat Length, 6.25", then from this line, mark your Under Apron Length (in the example, 21.5"), and from this line, mark the Under Apron Hem, 9.5". At this point, cut off any cloth beyond the hem line.

Make the final pleat of the Pleated Length, pinch the first line, and pull it over to the second line and pin. (Image 2)

Similar to the Front Apron, make a mark, 1.5" from the right of this last pleat, at the waist, and skew the top fabric so the pleat fold and this line match up, and pin. (Image 3)

Fold the hem in half, to the back, then fold again to the back along the hem line, a "G" fold, and pin. (See the last image for an example).

Finally, mark 1.5" to the left of the Hem Line at the waist, and skew again, and pin. (Not shown).

With a sewing machine, sew a straight stitch from top edge to bottom of both sides of the Under Apron

Step 8: Edging

The edging is quite simple. Cut a 3" wide strip of cloth about 10" longer than the top edge of your kilt. In the example kilt, this would be about 80".

Get your iron hot.
Fold a little less than the top third of the strip (a little less than an inch), and iron, to get a fold that will hold it's shape. (Image 2).

Fold the remainder in half, and iron again. The result should be another "G" fold. (Image 3)

With the first fold's edge to the front of the kilt, place the edging along the entire top of the kilt, and pin in place. (Image 5)

With a sewing machine, sew a straight stitch along the bottom edge of the Edging.

Step 9: Iron the Pleats

On a large flat surface, place a damp (not wet) towel flat, and lay out the kilt. Line up the pleats straight, and iron a nice sharp edge into each pleat. I found it easiest to start from the Under apron, straighten the last 8 pleats or so, and iron the last 4 or so pleats, straighten out a few more, and continue in this fashion until all pleats are straight and sharp folds.

It is recommended to baste the pleats in place before ironing to get the straightest pleats. Basting is a large zig-zag stitch the size of the pleat. I didn't do it this way as I did not have the time to do so.

Iron the aprons, and their hems at this point as well.

Step 10: Add the Buckles and Straps

For this step, you will need 2 buckles, 2 pieces of leather for the buckles, and 2 leather straps. The color, size, and type are up to you, but I suggest larger buckles, and heavier leather than I used.

For this kilt, I used 5/8" buckles, so I cut two strips of 5/8" x 3.5" leather to secure the buckles, and cut 2 5/8" x 8" strips for the straps.

For the buckle pieces, fold in half, round the open ends, and make 2 parallel 1/4" cuts into the fold. Unfold, and use small scissors (such as the thread scissors), or an x-acto knife to complete the half circles at the ends of the cuts, as pictured below. Add buckle as shown, and about 1/8" from the end of the slot, sew a straight stitch to secure the buckle in the leather. If using a sewing machine, a zipper foot would be ideal here.

Trim the 8" strips round on one end, and a rounded point at the other. Using a leather punch or drill, make holes along the strip 1-1/2" from the rounded end, about every 3/4" or what ever interval works for you.

At this point, test fit the kilt, and mark where the ends of the aprons are on the kilt.

On the front apron side, at the mark you made, you will need to make a slot for the strap to come through from the under apron and attach to the buckle. I used the one-step button hole maker on my sewing machine (After quite a few test runs), with the button foot set to about 1.5 times the width of my strap. There are also other instructions on the website on how to do this without the button hole maker. (Image 3)

To the right of this hole, attach one buckle setup about 1/4" away. (Image 3)

On the under apron side attach the buckle 1/4" to the left of the mark you made. (Image 4)

Attach the first strap to the right edge and the outside of the under apron, and sew through the entire apron. If the kilt is too loose, adjust the placement of this strap to pull more of the under apron around, and cinch it up. (Image 5)

Attach the second strap to the left side, inside of the Front Apron, but only sew through the hem and the interfacing. No threads should show on the outside of the Front Apron for this strap. (Image 6)

Step 11: Enjoy!

I was going for more of a punk rocker look, hence the kick-a boots (available at, but if you're looking for more of a Scottish warrior look, then take the remainder of what you cut off the entire length of cloth, tie the ends together in a knot, and make a few loops, and place over your shoulder, for a sash.

You should also have a large kilt pin on the open corner of the Front Apron. It does not attach to the Under Apron, just gives the front apron some more weight.

You may have noticed the odd pleats at the back of my kilt. I was in a hurry, as I only finished my kilt 30 minutes before my Halloween party I was going to, and the kilt was too loose. Similar to the tapers used in the pleated length, I sewed a couple pleats over to take out some more of the waistline. It was a good quick fix, but I was hoping to get it right the first time.



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    35 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 4

    In this step for the hem you might consider turning the raw edge under 1/8 inch then pressing it prior to making the hem. You'll have a 3/4'' additional turn under but you won't have a potential failure point if the raw edge ravels.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    The comments below show the exact reason why not many clear instructions for Kilts exist. There are so many people willing to complain that this or that isn't "traditional" and not enough willing to just help out the community that, perhaps, isn't looking for something to wear on a daily, or even weekend, basis.

    I for one, applaud your instructable. This is exactly what I needed to find for my Halloween costume. I'm not looking for a "traditional" kilt, just something I'm going to wear 3 times.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    You're exactly the person I wrote this up for. Be sure to post a pic of your completed kilt.

    I'm no expert in kilts and just looking into trying one, but your Instructable is cool. The picture to me shows a recognizable kilt. I think that is what matters, that the average person will recognize it and it looks cool. For the purists, maybe it is not "correct", but I don't think you have to make a formal garment if you are not going to use it for something formal. I like the "utilikilt" and other new style practical garments (think they are called cargo kilts). Good luck. I remember thinking kilts were cool since I was a kid when a famous wrestler wore one.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Not a bad kilt at all, though I prefer the Feile Mor or Great kilt that is actually an approximately 9 yard by 56" piece of wool tartan that you have to fold every time you want to wear it. they are not cheep though mine cost near to $400US and had to be ordered from scotland because I wanted my clan's tartan. I have become acomplished enough at wearing though and can get dressed in 20 min, 15 if I don't care if my pleats are strait... If you are interested in a great kilt, fitted kilt, or finding your family tartan look up Angus Harvey great guy and wonderful kilt maker.

    5 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, I was reading info about them too. And yeah, 9 yds. is tough. All the fabric at the local JoAnn was limited to 8 yds, and it's only cotton, no wool tartan in stock. I live in Rhode Island, and we actually have a state tartan, but the only place selling it wants $85+ per yard... ouch!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    If you think Rhode Island is a tough place to buy wool tartan, pity us poor PHOENIX residents!  I went looking for wool to make a cloak - winter medieval event - and in eery single fabric store, chain or not, I got the same reaction: a blank stare followed by "But this is Phoenix!"  I ended up making my cloak from 4 - yes, 4 - military surplus blankets.  Lined it with cotton (hand-dyed it to match) and interlined it, since it wouldn't be seen and I'm always cold, with double-sided polar fleece!  Darn thing weighs a ton, but boy, oh boy, was I WARM!  Even in January, at the top of the mountain just outside Tucson.  Oh, the memories . . . And yes, the kilt-clad were among us!

    That's awesome, both that you made your own and that you recycled milsurp wool blankets. In case some readers forget, the Southwest is HOT, but it also gets COLD, and there are some places with snow 'bout year round.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Old post, I know - but I need to post a correction.
    Historically, the Great Kilt was 7 - 9 yards of narrower fabric - as woven on the looms of the time. This 7-9 yard piece of fabric was then cut into two pieces, 3.5 - 4.5 yards in length, then the two were sewn together to about 56"

    Kilts as long as 8 yards are relatively new - the last 150 years or so. And that should only be Feile Begs, or tailored kilts as shown here.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    That's what the expression 'the whole nine yards' comes from, I am told. Nine yards is also the length of a shroud.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I for one applaud your efforts!!! Great job! As a fellow Rhode Islander, perhaps you will come out to show it off at the RI Scottish Festival in June!!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Actually the major difference between a kilt and a skirt is if you wear anything underneath it...


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    While the sporran is traditionally used, I had no need of one, and, more importantly, didn't have time to make one. The sporran serves no other purpose than to be a storage device, and it's Gaelic meaning is "purse." Also, in modern kilts, the sporran is replaced with pockets in the apron.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     A traditional kilt is the actual fabric and the sporran. The fabric without the sporran is known as the Irish kilt which doesn't have the sporran and doesn't have a tartan pattern on it. 

    Sorry if I've been annoying, things like this just niggle at me.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    A traditional kilt is just that: the kilt.  All else is just accessory.  My pants are still my pants, even without a belt.  I've been doing the Scottish thing for decades, and, well, you're wrong.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     Okay, what I said might not  be completely right but we all make mistakes. 
    I am Scottish and I can tell you that if you were to turn up to a Ceilidh or something of the sorts you would be laughed at if you didn't have a sporran (unless your a woman of course). The socks, Sgian Dubh and such don't matter as much. I'm just saying what I've been taught, I didn't mean to cause so much controversy. 


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Of course!  At a party with the formal wear, you would look rather bare without the Sporran.  Women have purses, anyway. =)  On the field I prefer either nothing or a =believe it or not= fanny pack.  Controversy?  Nah.  The Scots are just raggin on you.  If you're gonna talk about us, be it good or bad, we're gonna make you learn it right so ye can spit at us or praise us properly.  hehe...


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    umm, no. a traditional kilt is just the gaelic name for a skirt, made of a clan's tartan. the sporran is just something else you wear. An Irish kilt is usually just a solid colour. The addition of a Sporran means nothing, if that was a point in it being a kilt he would have to go with the proper shoes, socks, carry his dagger, and have his proper shirt and jacket to go with it.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Actually the Sporran has it purpose, they wear different types for different occasions. You Would commonly be laughed at for wearing the wrong one.
    The dagger, socks, shoes, jacket, didn't need to be worn unless you in uniform most today just wear a T-shirt. Also during the middle ages  they usually wore only the kilt and boots, with the sash, sometimes a shirt or poncho made of animal skin.