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How to Make a Scottish Arisaid

Updated April 14, 2018

Traditional Scottish costuming includes much more than just the kilt. For women of the Highlands, a patterned garment called an arisaid took the place of the kilt, which was worn strictly by men. Arisaids measure 7.5 feet long by 5 feet wide, consisting of a large, continuous swath of striped or tartan fabric. Most modern arisaids feature vibrant plaid fabric, however they traditionally displayed a striped pattern with a fringed edge. Sewing a traditional Scottish arisaid is easy and will take less than an hour to complete.

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  1. Lay the fabric on a flat surface. A tile or wood floor makes an excellent work surface for large fabric such as this.

  2. Measure 1/2-inch in from the edge of the fabric on all sides. Draw a line along each edge using the fabric chalk.

  3. Fold the fabric along the chalk guideline, pinning the fabric in place as you go. Pinning the hem will make sewing the edges easier.

  4. Heat your iron to the appropriate setting for your fabric. Lightly press the hem in place. Pressing the hem creates a sharp edge.

  5. Thread your sewing machine with the heavy-duty thread. Set your sewing machine to use a blind-hem stitch. The blind-hem stitch creates a sturdy edge without pulling or gapping.

  6. Stitch the short sides of the fabric first, followed by the long sides. Feed the fabric slowly through the machine to maintain a straight line. Remove the pins as you go to avoid bending your sewing machine needle.

  7. Add decorative fringe to the short edges at this point, if desired.

  8. To wear the arisaid, hold the fabric behind you with one of the short edges at your ankles. Secure it at the waist with a belt. Drape the fabric in a billowing fashion so that it hangs to the back of your knees. Pull the ends of the fabric around the front of your neck and pin it in place with a brooch.

  9. Tip

    Research your family name and determine if any tartans are traditionally associated with it.

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Things You'll Need

  • Tartan or striped woollen fabric measuring 7.5 feet in length and 5 feet wide
  • Sewing machine
  • 1 spool cotton-wrapped polyester thread
  • Pins
  • Fabric chalk
  • Measuring tape
  • Iron
  • Decorative fringe
  • Brooch
  • Belt

About the Author

Samantha McMullen began writing professionally in 2001. Her nearly 20 years of experience in horticulture informs her work, which has appeared in publications such as Mother Earth News.

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