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Good InfoOne of Scotland's Last Master Kilt Tailors Creates Unique Online Course to...

One of Scotland’s Last Master Kilt Tailors Creates Unique Online Course to Keep the Artform Alive

Traditional kiltmaker Marion Foster, the founder of the Askival of Strathearn Kilt College – SWNS

Last week, GNN reported on a specialty highlandwear company reproducing the world’s oldest known tartan for sale today based on a 16th-century sample preserved in a bog.

In other highlandwear news, master kilt tailor Marion Foster has created a unique online course and accreditation program that will help preserve the art form among professionals and amateurs for centuries to come.

The first kilt Foster ever sewed was done in the course of assembling her uniform as a Cub Scout leader, but that was only possible because she meticulously studied the construction of a kilt since there was very little information available about how to do so with traditional means.

She “always had an aptitude for sewing” and even after successfully sewing together a kilt, wanted to know more.

“In my late forties, I heard of a school that one of the military’s master kilt tailors had set up, because he recognized all of the knowledge and skill that had been created over a couple of centuries,” said Foster.

“There is a craft behind the kilt that is dying out, because the people who have known the craft haven’t had the experience and the knowledge to create training programs. It’s been a huge amount of work, but I think it’s very valuable. There’s more than just me out there, and now the knowledge won’t just stop at mine,” she adds.

Called the Askival of Strathearn Kilt College, Foster’s unique kilt tailoring mastery program can be carried out entirely online with twice weekly tutorials over Zoom from her workshop in Perthshire.

She also has videos and tutorials on the basics which break down each step.

“I recognized that information was disappearing. I’m sure things are being lost because nothing was written down,” she says.

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“As I went on, I had the opportunity to have an experienced tailor come and visit me, who really enlightened me about the tailoring, the stitching, and the way you create a garment to fit the shape of the person.”

The Askival of Strathearn Kilt College homepage – SWNS

“Part of what I’ve wanted to do throughout my life is to become an expert and then pass it on and support other people – and I want this craft to continue.”

Marion started offering her online qualifications in 2020, after creating hours of training videos and writing manuals over lockdown. Her hope is that the accreditation will allow her students to set up traditional highlandwear businesses, restore historic kilts, and create special occasion kilts for their loved ones.

“High street shops still want to say that they’re selling handmade kilts, but they’re flat, made to measure, and very different. High street kiltmakers will make a kilt in a day and a half, whereas I’d be doing the fittings and take nine days,” Foster says.

“I’ve got students in America, Australia, Shetland, and Germany… we have a gathering every month with guest speakers, historians, leather workers, and sporran makers to talk about what they do, and we record all those.”

MORE SCOTTISH HERITAGE: A 16th c. Scottish Plaid was Found in a Bog–Now Becomes Oldest Historical Tartan Available to Wear Today

She further explained that kilt restoration is an important part of the training program, and which isn’t offered at the aforementioned high street kiltmakers.

“People come in with historic kilts that have been left to them,” she says. “We have the technical knowledge of how to restore and reweave the cloth, and deconstruct it and reconstruct it to fit that person.”

“It’s amazing to see a filthy First World War kilt be cleaned and restored, the stitching recovered, and made to fit that young grandson or great-grandson.”

WATCH a short interview with Marion Foster below… 

SHARE This Ambitious Woman’s Mission To Preserve History… 

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