Nagle Forge and Foundry

Kilt Pins (a.k.a. Plaid Brooches)

What They Are,

How They Work,

Where They Go:

(& why they have two names)!

History, fashion, common usage, & our own stubborn refusal to move with the times and gracefully accept the changes of the modern age (anything post 1840 --actually we have accepted a lot of post 1840 changes, just not when it comes to design...) have conspired to confuse and mystify a number of our Kilt wearing customers, Kilt admiring customers, and other perfectly innocent bystanders. According to the definition of Kilt Pin commonly accepted in modern usage our Kilt Pins are not actually Kilt Pins: They are actually Plaid Brooches, or Shoulder Pins.

Since the development of the modern tailored Kilt there has been a trend to call the small modesty pin a Scot wears on his, or her, Kilt (generally on the front apron somewhere in the vicinity of the knee) a Kilt Pin: It is a pin worn on the Kilt. The large (generally circular) pin used to clasp the end of the Highland Great Kilt to the shoulder is now known as the Plaid Pin or Shoulder Brooch: It is a pin that may, or may not, be worn with the Kilt.

Our persistence in calling a Shoulder Pin, Plaid Pin, or Flash Brooch, a Kilt Pin relates to the methods we use to create these pins and the ways our customers use them. Our Kilt Pins are fundamentally different from any of the other pins that we make. While virtually any pin may be worn on, or with, a Kilt, our Kilt Pins are the only pins that we make that are specifically designed to be worn with a Kilt. We hand fabricate a detachable safety-pin-style nickle pin-back for each of our Kilt Pins. This results in a very strong Brooch that is both decorative and functional. Our Kilt Pins are designed to withstand the stress of being worn as a fastener on a old-style Great Kilt, a modern "piper's plaid" or evening dress "shoulder plaid," a heavy shawl, cape, or shoulder drape. These are 9-Yard Pins: We guarantee our Kilt Pins to hold the whole 9 yards: If you break one of our Kilt Pins, or damage it in any way, we will fix it or replace it.

We make a variety of different Kilt Pins. Many of the designs are based on old Scottish, Irish, & Anglo-Saxon designs. We originally produced our Kilt Pins for the Scottish re-enactment community (people interested in historical forms of Scottish dress) and we still make Kilt/Plaid Pins in a variety of different historical styles. But, because of their versatility and attractiveness, many wearers of the modern Kilt have chosen to incorporate one of our Kilt Pins (Shoulder Brooches) into their dress in some traditional and non-traditional ways.

Many ladies (especially ladies with a brightly colored plaid) like to use one of our Kilt Pins as a distinctive centerpiece in the pre-made rosette of their sash. When not using their pin as a shoulder piece, some ladies remove the pin back & wear the piece as a necklace. Our Kilt Pins can also be worn as a Shawl or Cloak fastener.

Gentlemen also find a number of different ways to use our Kilt Pins. They can be worn at one or both shoulders. And, although they tend to be fairly heavy, a few gentlemen have chosen to wear them as hat pins. We have also occaisionally been requested to modify the fastening mechanism on our Kilt Pins so that they can be incorporated as a fitting on a custom sporran. (All of our Kilt/Plaid pins can --by request-- be modified for use on a sporran or saddlebag. Many of our Kilt/Plaid Pin designs can also be made with a matching belt buckle!)

A word to the wise: Due to modern innovations in metal working, our hand-fabricated Kilt Pin backs are generally a fine enough gauge that they will not damage the medium-tightly woven wool of a modern plaid. However, it is inadvisable to use these pins on a light weight fabric, fine silk, or poly-wool mixture. For a purely decorative Scottish brooch (suitable for a lighter weight fabric) please see our Scottish Pins. If, for fashion purposes, you would like to wear one of our heavier brooches with a lighter weight plaid we suggest having two loops or a bracer sewn on to the jacket or shirt you plan to wear with the shoulder plaid: This will reduce wear and tear on your fabric and ensure that the plaid does not slide out of place.

Click here to see some of our Kilt/Plaid Pins.

Last Modified on 02/23/2015