A Perthshire-based traditional kiltmaker is offering people around the world the chance to learn the art of kiltmaking from the comfort of their own home thanks to an innovative new online course.
From April, students from all around the world will have the opportunity to master the historic Scottish craft by enrolling on this one-of-a-kind online kiltmaking course.
The course has been developed by Marion Foster, the founder of the Askival of Strathearn Kilt College, near the city of Perth in the heart of Scotland, close to what was once the crowning place of Scotland’s kings.
Marion made her first kilt when she was just a teenager and has spent the last seven years training others in the specialist art.
The teaching programme will be delivered using a combination of videos, the written word and live coaching calls to facilitate a thorough learning experience for aspiring kiltmakers as well as those just making a kilt for themselves, for an occasion or for someone they love.
Marion said:’The kilts I make are in the traditional style using the methods of the Highland Regiment master tailors, but there is very little written material or resources on how to make kilts in this way.
‘Teaching has traditionally been done by people passing on their skills face-to-face. I have always been interested in textiles and first started learning kiltmaking myself around 20 years ago when I became concerned that it could become something of a lost art.
‘Traditional kilts are quite unique in that they are made from one bit of cloth that is folded to fit the body and then hand-stitched.
‘The methods are quite mathematical, it is almost like engineering, but there is so much creativity and artistry involved as well.
‘It takes about a week to make one kilt and probably around 10 to 15 kilts to become competent, and through my own learning experience and my experience of teaching at the Askival of Strathearn Kilt College I realised that aspiring kiltmakers faced a number of challenges learning their craft, including a lack of teaching materials and the costs and distances involved in attending residential courses.
‘I wanted to address those challenges and provide the additional support students need to master the process of kiltmaking whilst at the same time encouraging creativity and respect for the kilt.’
The creation of an online training portal means that trainee kiltmakers now no longer need to take time out of their busy lives and pay for travel and accommodation to access the coaching.
Students who sign up to the course will have access to a variety of online resources, including video tutorials highlighting techniques and material detailing the methodology, to which they can refer to whenever they need guidance.
As travel restrictions around the world are put in place due to the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, Marion said that some people who had booked to attend residential courses at the college found they were no longer able to attend. However, the online programme means that they won’t now miss out, and it is also available to those who want to make the most of any newly available free time.
Marion said: ‘I want to make my teaching as accessible to as many people as possible and technology helps me to do this. It is a great example of how we can embrace new working practices to reach new audiences and keep traditional crafts alive.
‘Because this course is online, students from anywhere in the world can work at their own pace and revisit any aspects of the teaching that they need to as often as they like.’
‘One of the joys of teaching kiltmaking is that students come from a range of backgrounds – we have had trained tailors from opera companies and costume designers from television companies attend the Askival of Strathearn courses as well as people who have no previous experience of sewing – everyone brings their own different skills to the course.
‘Through the online course we hope to create a wonderful forum for people keen to learn and share their knowledge of this beautiful and noble garment, which will in turn help the joy of the craft to grow and develop and help keep this fine tradition alive.’
For further information see online at training.askivalofstrathearn.co.uk