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Trews & Trousers
Truibhas Trius or Trews
Trews were breeches and stockings all in one piece and cut close to the figure. They were cut on the bias, which allowed the fabric to stretch sufficiently to mould the body.
There has been many references from travellers visiting
A 17th century reference to the trews by Martin Martin, a native from Skye published in 1703:
Many of the people wear trowis, some of them very fine woven, like stockings fo those made of cloath; some are coloured and others striped; the latter are as well shap’d as the former, lying close to the body from the middle downwards, and tied round with a belt above the haunches. There is a square piece of cloth which hangs down before. The measure for shaping the Trowis is a stick of wood, whose length is cubit, and that divided into the length of a finger, and half a finger, so that it requires more skill to make it, than the ordinary habit…..
There is a gaelic rhyme about the measuring and making of the trews called
Cumadh an Triusbhais
Aon eanga diag ‘s an osan;
Seachd eangan ‘ am bial a theach;
Is tearc an neach do nach foghainn-
Agus a tri ‘s ghobhal”
A full finger-length to the small,
Eleven nails to the leg,
Seven nails to the band,
There are few whom that wont suffice,
Let it be shaped straight,
And three nails to the fork.
The word nail was used as a measure of length for cloth in the 15th century. It represented the 16th part of a yard, or 2 ¼ “.
It required great skill to cut a pair of trews to match the sett of the tartan.