Friday, March 30, 2007

more about ironing wool

I no longer recommend sending your kilt out to a dry cleaner to be pressed.

I recently took 3 kilts to my hitherto trusted dry cleaners to recieve a 'first press'. The regular person wasn't there and I must have spent 5 minutes explaining to the new employee what was to be done. As I turned to leave, she scooped up the kilts and dumped them on the floor next the steam table!

I explained that that was no way to treat $2100 worth of product, took the kilts back, went home and pressed them myself. I have no intention of taking any more work to them.

I encourage you to iron your own 'kit' rather than sending it out to a Dry Cleaner. You can do a better job at no cost other than the time spent.

If you DO iron your own kilt there are two more things to consider:

1) It's better to lift the iron off the cloth while the cloth is still steaming a bit. With experience you'll be able to safely press wool when it's dry, but the little bit of moisture provides a little bit of insurance. whatever you do, keep the iron moving!

2) Wool is a bit 'plastic' when it's wet - it loses it's elasticity and can be shaped. It is therefore REALLY important that you let the wool cool off and dry out before you start rough-housing with it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Kilt Jackets

I listed several options on my website concerning the purchase of jackets to wear with a kilt.

These included: - buying 'off the rack'
- 'cutaways' (modified suit jackets), and
-having the jacket made to measure (Mtm).

I still maintain that buying off the rack is a waste of time and money, mostly because every factory-made jacket that I've ever tried on required some tailoring to make it fit me.

The same advice goes for 'cutaways' - if you have a favorite jacket that fits you well, fine -but unless you are lucky enough to match the demographic that the factory tailors seem to plan for (Hint: " '44' chest" and 60" waistline) you are going to spend an AWFUL lot of time shopping for a good jacket to 'chop'.

On a recent "fact-finding trip" to a half-dozen high-end men's shops I tried on nearly 20 jackets and suit-coats. NOTHING under $600 was worth a second look as far as fit and 'hang' are concerned.

The $1k- to $1300- range jackets were beautiful: the intefacing and linings were properly done, the collars were 'art' and the jackets 'draped' well....but each one was going to require tailoring to conform to my cuff-length and posture because 25 years of Drill has had an effect on how I carry myself.

Another factor (that I didn't know) that the in-house tailor at two stores brought up is that if you cut-away a suit coat, the hip pockets then appear too low relative to the hem. I hadn't considered this because after all those years wearing Highland Service Dress (DEU) jackets (which are cut away) I'm used to low flaps and shallow pockets. Look at the right-hand image above to see what I mean - the hip pocket should be about even with the top of my kilt or with my hip-bone, which is a wee bit lower.

The only advice that I can give is that you go to a good tailor (and the only ones worth your consideration are those who do all the work on the premises) and have the jacket made for you. You will save money; both in 'dollars' and in the sense that the greatest economy lays in buying the best you can afford.

There are two reasons why you should take your kilt with you when you visit the tailor :
- to refer to as you select the cloth for your jacket, and
- so that the tailor can accurately measure you. Those 7 or 8 yards of wool make a difference!

One last lesson (that I learned the hard way):

Always pay the down payment by cash or cheque and NOT your credit card!

This is about the only way to apply 'leverage' if you aren't completely satisfied with the final fit and overall workmanship. If a tailor has a backlog or if he doesn't agree with your opinion, and he already has your credit card information then there isn't much to prevent him from ringing the sale through and getting on to the next project.

I must add that I've never encountered a dishonest tailor or one who didn't take pride in his work, but I was unable to convince a certain well-respected tailor that the Eton Jacket (which you see at the top of this article) he had made for me was about 3" to long to wear with a kilt and I wear it to this day as a lesson to myself.
Compare the jacket in the centre with the Black Watch mess jacket on the left. The centre-back of the BW jacket is no lower than the 'swell' of the backside and the hem at the sides is about equal with the top of the hip-bone (not the navel, as I said in my website). THAT is the effect you should be looking for!
Incidentally, the style of Mess Jacket as worn by the Black Watch is very interesting - note that the buttons (and the button-holes as well, although you can't see them in this photo) go all the way up to the 'notch' in the lapel. This is a vesitgal 'echo' of the origin of the mess jacket - a 'fatigue jacket' with the buttons undone and the 'stand' collar folded down.
A version of this jacket done in black Melton cloth with silver buttons would be a spectacular alternative to the mass-produced Charlie jackets that everyone else wears!

Good luck.

Read this one first!

My Webmaster is the most patient of men, but I have started to notice how pale he gets whenever I greet him with "Hey! I just thought of something....".

So as to maintain both our friendship and his blood-pressure, I have created this Blog as a repository for information that might eventually wind up in my main website (

For example, Under "Highland Dress" I have a couple of paragraphs of advice concerning the selection and purchase of 'Kilt jackets'. I did a little more research (ie "Window Shopping") and have some new opinions which will be the subject of my next entry.

"Me being me" - volube ergo suum (I chatter, therefore I am) I shall doubtless also submit to the urge to prose, pontificate and yammer on about whatever crosses that which I choose to refer to as my mind...but you can skip past that bit, can't you!