Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Homemade Hiking Kilt

Hiking on the upper reaches of the North Fork Skykomish

Last year I was going to purchase a hiking kilt from REI . . . coming back this year I can no longer find the item for sale. Other hiking kilts are available but they don't serve my needs to be light-weight and incredibly easy to put on. So I decided to try making them myself out of an old pair of swim trunks that . . . hey, what does a nudist need with a pair of swim trunks. They've been sitting in that drawer for years!

The end result has been very satisfactory. The kilt is more a cover-up for situations where I need to be (or should be) discrete, but I've found that wearing it is almost the same as hiking with nothing on at all . . . that's how comfortable they are. The kilt weighs next to nothing and will fold up to fit easily into my hat out of the way. It dons easily and fastens with velco strips; no fumbling, stepping or tripping over boots.

Riding my bike I've found that it is just as easy a cover-up and that riding with it on presents no difficulties. The few people I have met while wearing it on a more popular section of the Index-Galena Road have been very receptive of the attire . . . asking how comfortable and, more often, um, 'you wearing anything underneath' :-) My grin answers that question. Of course it comes off and goes into my hat the further away I get into the wilderness.

You could do this with needle and tread . . . if you've got access to a sewing machine the hems will look neater and hold stronger.

Yes, I can sew . . . at least the basics

My wife laughed when I asked her to do the grunt work. This sewing machine was inherited from my mother and it doesn't get much of a workout. But with the boss trying to figure out what the heck I was trying to make and my mutt equally at a loss, I eventually figured out how to thread the needle and get the machine working. Easy stuff, right? Just watch the finger placement or I'd have some hillarious explaining to do to the responding medics.

Sewing the front and back leg seams

The first step is to remove the inner liner if present. Then fold your shorts to find a line descending down the front center. Extend that line down the leg openings and bring the two together. Sew the two folded edges from the crotch on down.

Repeat the process on the back of the shorts, noting that there is a curve from the rump-part onto the legs. Find the natural line, bring the folded edges together and sew them as close to the edge as possible.

Now turn the shorts inside out and cut along the two sewn lines to remove the crotch of the swim trunks. You now have a basic kilt that can easily be stepped into. Let's make it easier by making it a wrap-around. I'm right-handed so I cut down the right-hand side seam to open the kilt up. Since these trunks have a drawstring I moved that out of the way as future option for wearing this garment.

Front and back leg seams sewn together
and a side cut to make it a wrap-around

Sew the cut fabric into sturdy hems for a good appearance

Velco Tabs for closures

The final step was to decide on how to close the kilt when wearing it. The simplest answer was to use velcro tabs. These are the stick-on types. I added a few stitches to make them more secure. Before you place the tabs, try the kilt on and note the best places for a natural fit. I chose to tab only partially down, leaving a slit for leg movement.

Now, start looking for an old unused pair of swim trunks and put them to good use.

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