Vestis Legis

Primogenitus. Curator. Vancouver. Halifax. Lex. Menswear. Coffee. @vestislegis

The Holiday Tartan Gift Guide

‘Tis the season for holiday Gift Guides, and it always strikes me as odd that DIY pocket squares are omitted from even the most reputable #menswear lists. I’d say a homemade pocket square, hand-cut from a meaningfully select textile is a pretty sweet - Christmas or otherwise - gift idea.

They’re inexpensive to make (the only material cost is the fabric), and they can be gifted individually or bundled together for a more substantial present. Also, in case the Blogosphere has managed to convince you otherwise, pocket squares are in fact as easy to make as they look. Assuming you put even a little thought into selecting the fabric, and minimal effort into finishing the edges, they’re an attractive and creative keepsake. In a nutshell they’re a unique gift for those hard-to-shop-for gentlemen on your list.

Though sourcing, cutting and finishing silk or another fine/expensive material is probably best left to the professionals, linen or wool is readily available at any fabric store, and is easy to work with. 

The three wool squares pictured above are the traditional tartans of the three largest Atlantic Provinces: Nova Scotia (blue), New Brunswick (green) and Newfoundland (red). Good luck finding a sexier tartan than the Nova Scotian. I picked up a metre of each at a fabric store in Ottawa, and if memory serves me correct each metre of cloth made about a dozen 13” x 13” squares. A good measuring tape, a sharp pair of scissors, and a steady hand is all you need to cut your cloth into squares. Finishing the edges is a little trickier.

I suppose I could have finished them by hand, but if that were the case I’d probably still be working on them. Fortunately an experienced seamstress with a sewing machine offered to finish the edges for me. I realize that most people probably aren’t so lucky. However I would expect that for a modest sum a professional seamstress or a tailor could finish your edges for you. I would think a shopping centre dry cleaner that offers “5 minute alterations” could probably knock off a couple dozen pocket squares quickly, and on the cheap.

I thought a bundle of traditional tartan pocket squares were a fitting Christmas gift because they compliment winter tweeds well. Admittedly, they’re a little “heavy” for worsted wool. For my next batch I’ll probably go for something a little lighter, maybe with some interesting deadstock fabric.

If you’re stuck for gift ideas, this is the kind of project you could start this coming weekend and still have them folded and neatly tucked into stockings by the 24th. Good luck.

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