How to make an easy kilt

A kilt is the traditional clothing of Scottish men. It is a pleated length of fabric wrapped around the waist to create a skirt. The back of the kilt is pleated while the front is two flaps overlapping each other. The flaps are traditionally held together with a kilt pin that looks something like a large safety pin. The fabric traditionally used to make a kilt is called "tartan," plaid patterns used to designate distinctive clans.

Measure the person who will be wearing the kilt from waist to knees. Add 2 inches to that number for the hem and seam.

Cut the length of fabric according to your measurement.

Measure between the hip bones, or the two side waist points, of your model. Add 1 inch to that number for closure at the front sides.

Mark the two front flaps of the fabric according to your measurement. Measure from each end of the fabric and place a pin to mark the front flaps.

Measure the full waist of the model. Add 2 inches for closure. Add the number of the front portion of the waist (between the hip bones or the two side waist points). Total the inches of the full waist plus 2, plus the front of the waist again for your waistband measurement.

Cut another length of fabric according to your measurement by 4 inches wide. This is the waist band.

Fold the length of the kilt fabric in half and mark it with a pin.

Make 1-inch pleats all around the fabric between the two front flap marks, beginning at the half point of the kilt length. Beginning in the centre of the fabric, work in both directions alternately. Stop at the front flap mark points. Pin each pleat in place at the top, centre, and near the bottom.

Press the pleats down flat.

Machine stitch the pleats in place along the stop. Start at the centre and sew as far as the marked front flap point at on end. Then go back to the centre and sew in the other direction.

Machine stitch both sides of each pleat approximately 7 inches from the waist down. This will help hold the pleats in place around the hips. The pleats will flare out from that point on down to the hem.

Place the waist band onto the kilt, right sides together. Match the raw edge of the waist band to one raw edge of the kilt (this is the unpleated edge, or front flap, of the kilt). Pin in place and machine stitch.

Press seam toward the waist band. Fold the waist band over toward the back side of the kilt and tuck under the raw edge. Pin in place close to the seam. Press.

Top stitch to finish the waist band.

Finish the sides of the front flaps and the waist band by folding the sides toward the inside 1/4 inch. Press. Fold under again and pin in place. Machine stitch.

Sew the Velcro onto the waist band along the front flaps.

Trim all loose threads.


To determine the amount of fabric you need, measure the waist of the person who will be wearing the kilt. Add the number of inches across the front of the belly. Take the measurement across the back of the hips times 3. You may wish to add a buckle to the front of the kilt and a large pin near the bottom to make it look more authentic.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 to 3 yards of plaid fabric
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Ironing board and iron
  • 1 1/2 yards of Velcro
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

River Lin is an independent writer and consultant. With a Master's degree in teaching English as a second language from Ball State University. She lived in Japan for 15 years teaching and editing. Now based in the US, she works for a variety of clients. Published work can be found in print and online at various websites and