Please note that our stores open at 10am every Wednesday to allow for Staff Training.

The GNK Standard - Protecting Future Heritage

Raising & upholding new standards of handsewn kiltmaking at Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers

We pride ourselves in creating beautifully handmade kilts, tailored to perfection and designed to last a lifetime.
Our team of kiltmakers are experts in their field with years of experience between them. What really sets us apart from our competitors is that our kiltmakers are extensively trained in-house within our Edinburgh Kiltmakers Academy, where commitment to detail and dedication to our craft is leading the homegrown Highlandwear industry forward to new standards of craftsmanship.

The Kilt: Overview


Every kilt is made from 8 to 9 yards of 100% wool cloth of the highest quality
Each of our traditional kilts is entirely hand sewn by one individual artisan, from our team of skilled kiltmakers to exacting standard.
So what is the Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers standard?
Our first step is to carefully evaluate and measure your body shape to ensure that the kilt we create will be tailored to fit perfectly and allow scope for future alteration. We aim to craft a kilt to last a lifetime.

Handmade Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers Kilt


A Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers handmade kilt - notice the two flat aprons, the front apron with subtle fringe and the pleated section between


The Kilt: Construction


    • 1. True and proper kilts are crafted by hand using 100% wool cloth, with a yardage no less than 8 yards (adult gentlemans kilt)
  1. 2. Your chosen cloth will be carefully cut to length, and then the tailoring of the length begins.
  3. 3. Two flat aprons sit one on top of the other at the front of the body,when the kilt is worn with the pleats running around the back. The aprons are perfectly sized to fit and flatter your shape.
  5. 4. Each pleat is meticulously plotted, either recreating the tartan itself when pleated to the sett., or alternatively, matching stripe to stripe follows the military tradition of pleating to the stripe. Our kiltmakers are happy to demonstrate pleating options for your consideration.
  7. 5. Your Gordon Nicolson kiltmakers kilt will have no less than 27 pleats (in most cases) however we always aim for more, for increased fit.
  9. 6. Necessary pleat sizes are carefully calculated using mathematical equations and are chalked onto the cloth, each pleat tapering slightly to create accurate shaping around the bum and into the small of the back - the most precise element of your kilts construction.
  11. 7. Each individual pleat from the lower hip area to the waist is now precision handsewn in place, one to the other. Upwards of 3000 stitches will be used per kilt, ensuring the horizontal lines are all perfectly matched and each pleats is perfectly proportioned and uniform.
  13. 8. We reduce bulk inside the kilt by cutting away excess cloth and reinforce our kilts internally with canvas, so the wool may keep its shape when you are moving or sitting.

9. The kilt is held in place with three perfectly placed buckles in a finish of your choice, attached with handmade tartan chapes. The single buckle connects subtly to the under apron strap through a neatened hole between pleats. The twin waist and hip buckles connect over the pleats to the front apron straps.

  1. 10. The waistband is added, measuring approximately 1.5cm wide, and is carefully placed to pattern match the body of the kilt. A cotton lining runs around the internal body of the kilt for comfort.
  3. 11. Sporran loops are attached near the waistline - note these are not for a belt to run through, but are to secure your sporran chain.
  5. 12. The front apron is finished with a three layer fringe - a nod to the unfinished, rustic form of the tailored kilts predecessor, the Feileadh Mor.
  7. 13. Finally a pair of handmade matching tartan flashes are added to elastic garters, to be worn with traditional kilt hose, to finish your kilt ensemble.
  9. When you collect your kilt you will notice rows of large white basting stitches holding the lower, loose portion of pleats together - we press our kilts twice before they reach you, and this stitching ensures your pleats are clean and crisp. We recommend that you carefully remove the basting stitches just before you are about to wear the kilt for the first time.

Lets Take a Closer Look at What Some of These Details Look Like

Front apron of a Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers Kilt
Beautifully hand sewn kilts on a Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers kilt
Handmade Gordon Nicolson kiltmakers kilt with carefully places sporran loops
  1. The Front Apron - is the front of the kilt and is visible when worn. The fringe is perfectly proportioned to 1 neat cm and made up of 3 layers. The apron is perfectly fitted to be flattering to your shape and held in place with a waist and hip leather strap.
  3. The Pleats - fundamental to the engineered fit and movement of the kilt, handsewn pleats are carefully measured out, chalked, tapered and sewn, ensuring the perfect fit around the body, recreating the sett or stripe of the tartan.
  5. The Sporran Loops - Subtly placed along the pleat as shown, they are perfectly proportioned to the pleat size also. Each kilt has two loops and hold the sporran chain in place.

Carefully attached buckle to a Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers handmade kilt
Perfectly tacked pleats on a handmade Gordon Nicolson kiltmakers kilt
The finishing touches on a handmade Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers Kilt
Handmade flashes accompanying a kilt by Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers
  1. The Buckles - The kilt is held in place with three perfectly placed buckles in a finish of your choice, which secure the three corresponding waist and hip straps in place.
  3. The Basting - these important stitches in white thread, keep the pleasts together ensuring that they are perfect for pressing before your first wear. Keep them in until you are ready to wear to ensure that your kilt stays beautifully pleated!
  5. The Finishing Touches - Each kilt is complete with a cotton lining to make the garment comfortable for the wearer. Finally a label is added - our seal of approval.
  7. The Flashes - Handmade in your chosen tartan to complete the kilt and your highlandwear outfit. A kilt is a sustaintable garment and we try to ensure that there is as little waste from the off-cuts created when cutting the cloth to length.

The Kilt: Aftercare


A kilt is for life if you do your bit in looking after it!

Leave the white basting stitches in until you plan to wear it, then carefully cut them with small sharp scissors and gently pull the stitches out.

Moth are a killer for kilts - stay vigilant, keep your kilt in a kilt bag and if there is sign of moth damage, put your kilt in the freezer to kill off any mites.

Kilts don't require much cleaning if they are aired out from time to time, but if it does need a clean and press, we recommend dropping by us again for it to be expertly carried out.

You can find out more about cleaning, alterations and repairs here.