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    Kilts for the 2nd Bn, Seaforth Highlanders

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    OK, I recognize this is a little arcane, but then, that's part of what this group does.

    Military kilts were typically "pleated to stripe", i.e., a selected stripe on each pleat. (As opposed to "pleated to sett", so the pattern is replicated in the rear despite the pleats) Does anyone know what stripe the 2nd Seaforth (78th Battalion) chose to pleat to?

    Thanks for your help,


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    Some disussion of pleating:


    Not sure this is anywhere near a complete or accurate answer, but when the army dispensed with the great kilt and opted for the philabeg box-pleating was introduced to economise of the amount of material being used. When the pattern was matched, the style was to centre the same line on every pleat ("pleating to the line"). Pleating to the line is very military, thus some pipe bands adopt this style.

    The modern style for civilian kilts, however, is for the pattern, or sett, of the tartan to be re-created where the pleats are formed (ie the repeat of each sett is hidden within each pleat "pleating to the sett").

    Today the pleats of the kilt can be formed in two ways: a standard continuous pleat, the knife-pleat, or the box-pleat which takes the form of a Z joined by its base line to a mirror-image of itself. Box-pleats are, however, more complex to form and add more to the price of a kilt than is compensated for by any saving in material, in my opinion.

    In the 'old days' (here I go again) the 'jocks' were issued one length of kilt cloth every April. It was 'single-width' (+/- 26" - about the maximum that a weaver can pass a shuttle through a loom) and over the years the length gradually increased from 4 to 7 yards.

    The cloth would be pleated and the fell sewn but not cut. After the cloth started to fade noticably the stiched would be cut and the cloth turned 'round, then stiched up again. A 3rd, and later a 4th period of wear could be had by reversing the cloth bottom-to-top and then turned.

    when the new cloth was issued, the old cloth might be cut-down into weksits or trews, or perhaps piper's shawl plaids.

    The cloth remained HM property, and a soldier risked a 'charge' if he cut it. I think this is why Army kilts have such narrow pleats (no more than 3/4" at the seat is typical)

    This explains why the old Army kilts had such an insanely high 'rise' - plus it was believed that if the kidneys caught a chill you risked cholera! (the US Army issued 'cholera belts' as late as the 1930's.)

    As has been said, pleating to the line is wonderfully simpler than pleating to the sett, and kiltmakers have become literate only within living memory.

    I THINK that box-pleats came about by accident - at least in my regiment (I'm the Kiltmaker to 1st Bn Seaforth Highlanders of Canada).

    If you sew the fell of a kilt but do no other tailoring, over time the 'fell' portion assumes a 'box' shape. In the Black Watch this is called a 'belled' pleat and was still being worn the last time I made kilts for that regiment.

    The Seaforths spent most of their history in India. Much of the 'spit and polish' that the Infantry (well, at least OUR Infantry) holds dear is due to the army of servants that used to be available in that country. My grandad (served 2nd Seaforth 1880-1920) and my dad (1937-57) told stories of waking up to find that ALL their kit had been done as they slept. My dad still marvels about waking up to find himself clean-shaven..

    OK, back to my point.. I suspect that 'box pleats' were inadvertently invented by a Dhobi-wallah with 15 minutes to kill and who didn't want to waste a hot iron. hey presto, box pleats. The Jocks wouldn't mind a bit - it made them look smarter on parade and only cost a few annas.

    I DO box-pleating, because the regiment expects it....and over the years I've learned a few tricks to make it go more quickly - as quickly as a knife-pleated kilt, with just a little more basting....but the fact remains that box pleats are difficult to make and care for and we could all do without them.

    I have much more history on my website (www.westcoastkilts.com)

    Slainte - and watch out for those cold metal chairs!

    Might be worth contacting this guy,a lthough he's in Canada:


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    WOW! I've hit the jackpot again! This site is like a lottery where you always win. Many thanks. From looking at the pictures, it seems as though the white stripe appears more frequently, although I do see a red stripe in a couple of the pictures. Perhaps Graham will render a definitive verdict. (And did the 1st Bn (72nd) follow the same pattern?)

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    May be worth checking the Scottish Military Website & forum:



    Check with The Highlanders Museum?


    Looks like white stripes to the knife edges in this recruiting poster.

    I don't know if the creasing varied between battalions or over time.

    Edited by leigh kitchen
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