Clothing Answers

What is the history of a kilt?

The Great Kilt is also known as the "breacan an fheilidh" or "feile mor". The first known reference to this mode of dress was made in 1594 in The Life of Red Hugh O'Donnell in a description of a corps of Hebrideans who had come to The O'Donnell's assistance: "They were recognised among the Irish soldiers by the distinction of their arms and clothing, their habits and language, for their exterior dress was mottled cloaks of many colours with a fringe to their shins and calves, their belts were over their loins outside their cloaks." The Great Kilt was made from wool, often grown on one's own sheep. It could take a year for someone to shear and spin enough wool to make one kilt. The yarn would then be taken to the local weaver to weave into cloth. Looms of the time wove a piece of cloth 27" wide and up to 30" wide. And, like today, cloth is easiest to handle if it doesn't get to be too much of it. Today when you by cloth it comes on a bolt. The thinner the cloth, the more that is on the bolt; the thicker the cloth, the less is on the bolt. A finely made silk may have 30 yards on the bolt, but once folded and wrapped, it would constitute about 8" thick by 21"-30" long.
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