Back when I was going to school at Amarillo College (2004-2006 range), my Mom and I learned about a little Celtic festival in Amarillo. It didn’t have a lot at the festival, but we found a clan represented there that included last names of our extended family. I bought my first tartan accessory there, a sash in Thompson red. With my family’s general fascination with our heritage, I wanted to have an outfit that reflected some it, and well, I’ve never really liked the look of the other clan tartans we can identify with. So while I found patterns that were inspiration for my Celtic garb, every time I tried to find the Thompson tartan I wanted it was far more than I could afford.
Every now and again I’d search for sources and always come up with the answer that it wasn’t going to happen. But just a couple of weeks ago I searched again, and found an ebay listing for a handmade woman’s kilt in that tartan that was a little small for me, but I had never seen a ready-made women’s kilt in the Thompson tartan. The seller didn’t specify the clan tartan and didn’t know much about it, so I got an amazing deal. I always shy away from altering ready made pieces because I feel like I’ll be wasting a perfectly good thing if I screw it up. I was nervous about taking apart something I considered to be quite precious and putting it back together the way I wanted it. I got it, cleaned it carefully, and last night I reworked it into what I’d wanted for the last decade.
Before altering, the kilt was sized a little small for me and definitely would not be comfortable under a corset like I plan to wear it. After giving it a careful cleaning (soaking in the bathtub with no agitation, rinsing it with the shower-head, and allowing it to drip dry overnight), I started by taking off the buckles, removed its straps, and took the front panels out of the waistband. I didn’t need to pull the whole thing out from the waistband, since I just needed the fronts to be pleated down. The pleats are just about an inch wide, and opened up the front enough to let my linen skirt show underneath. After the buckles were removed, I needed to add on a closure. Thankfully I had one pair of hook and eye pieces left from some of the first Renaissance skirts I’d made. The waistband extends and overlaps the front and now stays on by the hook-and-eye clasp.
I’m excited to wear my new kilt/overskirt to this year’s Sherwood Forest Celtic Gathering outside of Austin, Texas! The gathering will be happening this coming Saturday, September 10.