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Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Ok, gang. Take a guess as to what this is...

If you said it's a kilt in the new FitzSimmons tartan, then you are correct. But more to the point, this is the one hundredth kilt that I have made! That's right -- number 100. It's a five-yard long, knife pleated kilt, made in 13 oz wool woven by the House of Edgar.

I think it is at least a litte ironic that this is my 100th kilt, seeing as I really specialize in making the traditional four-yard box pleated kilts. And, indeed, most of the 100 kilts I have made have been this style. But there are some knife pleated kilts, lady's skirts, and a couple of tailored belted plaids thrown into the mix.

All in all, it's been a lot of work, but a lot of fun, as well. So I wanted to pause and just say thank you to all of those who have supported my kiltmaking habit by purchasing one of my kilts. I hope you all enjoy wearing them for many, many years to come. For those of you who have ordered your kilts for special events (the above No. 100 is destined to be worn by the groom at a wedding soon -- kilt No. 99 was made for a groomsman), thank you for allowing me to share in the joy of this part of your lives.

So, what do a kiltmaker's first "century" of kilts look like? I thought it would be a fun exercise to just review, in order (as best as I can get them), all of the kilts I have made, identified by their tartan (or other cloth style if not tartan). From the beginning, here they are:

1. MacQuarrie (1815 variant from the Cockburn Collection)
2. Brown Donegal Tweed (non-tartan)
3. Black MacGregor
4. MacLeod of Lewis (Dress MacLeod)
5. Charcoal Grey Windowpane Harris Tweed
6. Hay Hunting
7. Black Watch
8. Hunting Stewart, ancient
9. Lockheart
10. Anderson weathered
11. Armstrong
12. County Galway
13. Roxburgh, muted
14. Galloway Hunting
15. Lovat Grey Ettrick Tweed
16. New York City
17. Anderson, modern
18. Cameron of Erracht
19. Robertson Hunting
20. Buchanan
21. Robertson
22. Ulster Red
23. Lamont ancient
24. Welsh National
25. Ulster Gold (aka Ulster weathered)
26. Gordon (regimental cloth)
27. Clergy ancient (made for a monk!)
28. Black Watch
29. German National
30. Buchanan
31. Mackay
32. Dunblane
33. Dunblane
34. Caithness
35. Caithness
36. Lamont modern
37. Carolina
38. MacDonald of the Isles Hunting
39. Dark Isle
40. Carolina
41. Shaw
42. Ulster Gold
43. McKerrell of Hillhouse
44. MacLeod of Lewis, weathered
45. Angus
46. Perthshire (aka Drummond of Perth)
47. MacLeod of Harris (aka Hunting MacLeod)
48. Kerr
49. County Kerry
50. Fife (aka Duke of Fife)
51. Mackay
52. Gordon of Esselmont (aka Old Gordon)
53. Tara
54. MacDougal
55. Gordon ancient
56. Moncrieff
57. Gordon
58. MacFarlane ancient
59. Cockburn ancient
60. Hunting Stewart (regimental cloth)
61. Scott red
62. FitzSimmons
63. Parr
64. Lovat Green Harris Tweed
65. Parr
66. MacLaren weathered
67. Brewer
68. Brewer
69. Cameron of Erracht, muted
70. Grey
71. Henderson, ancient
72. Royal Stewart (regimental cloth)
73. English tweed unnamed fashion tartan (green/purple)
74. English tweed unnamed fashion tartan (blue)
75. Hay, ancient
76. Clergy modern
77. Lamont ancient
78. Macduff
79. Wallace Hunting
80. X Marks the Scot
81. Campbell, ancient
82. Kelly, green
83. Shaw
84. MacGregor
85. Leatherneck
86. Buchanan, weathered
87. Moffat
88. Arizona
89. Old Buchanan, weathered
90. X Marks the Scot
91. X Marks the Scot
92. MacKenzie
93. MacGregor of Deeside
94. Crawford, muted
95. MacLean Hunting
96. MacNeil of Barra
97. County Carlow
98. Morrison red
99. FitzSimmons
100. FitzSimmons

So, what does a kiltmaker do with the leftover scrap cloth from 100 kilts? Why, make outfits for Kilt-Man, of course!

We have to train the next generation to be proud defenders of the tartan tradition!

(Photo of my son, Josiah, age 2. Mask made of Old Stewart remnant, for those of you wondering).

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Heath Barkley said...

Congrats on the milestone! I've learned that after making two tartan kilts, I'm going to leave it to the professionals. A handmade kilt is a work of art.
During your first hundred, was their one that stuck out as giving you more problems?

Matthew Newsome, FSA Scot, GTS said...


I can't really say that any tartans gave me more problems than any other (though I do find symmetrical tartans easier to deal with). Surprisingly solid kilts are not, contrary to popular belief, any easier to make than tartan ones. Sure you don't have to be mindful of matching up the horzontal lines, but the stripes of a tartan make a handy grid for you to go by, to keep everything level and even. Making a solid kilt involves a lot more measuring and double-measuring to keep things in kilter (pun fully intended).

I also will tell anyone thinking of making their own kilt that you will really be doing yourself a favor by investing in really good kilting material, by which I mean a good heavy weight worsted wool, or a Harris Tweed or equivalent. The heavy weight stuff is really easier to work with, which means you'll do a better job, and the end product will look, hang, and wear so much better. There is a reason heavy weight wool is the traditional material for kilt making!

Anonymous said...

The FitzSimmons kilt looks great! I have a question, where did you find the fabric? I'm asking because it is hard for me to find tartan fabrics in Maryland and my daughter is having her 16th birtday and wants us to wear the family colors (FitzSimmons and Keith clan). If you could help me find FitzSimmons and Keith tartan fabric, I would really appreciate it. Thanks much! Saundra Garcia (

Maureen said...

Matthew, Your site is great with has wonderful info. I am a Fraser of Lovat & would someday like a new long ladies 'kilted' tartan skirt. I have a skirt - bought in 1974. It is not kilted. Do you make ladies 'kilted' skirts. If so, how much would you charge? I forget how much yardage an average one takes & do know it is determined by waist size. I would like it in Fraser Red in large sette (would need to measure the one I have). Please let me know. Many thanks for such a lovely Website & your response. And, I have been in SCA since 1976 (mostly West). Been to many Scottish Games, Tartan Balls & such a lot & miss. ~Maureen 9aka: Dierdriana)