Strictly Come Dancing: JJ Chalmers Swings into the Quarter-Finals in a Handmade Kilt

A true high point in not only an incredibly tough year...but my entire career.

Everyone at Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers waited in anticipation watching the Strictly Come Dancing Results show to see if JJ would make it through to this week...and sure enough, he did along with professional dance partner Amy Dowden. Immediately we sprang into action knowing the time to get JJ's kilt from cloth to dance costume was tight!

JJ's kilt was to be made from Cameron of Erracht Modern - Lochcarron of Scotland making sure it made it to Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers HQ by Monday. As soon as it was in my hands, I got to work! In total I spent about 14 hours on the kilt, staying up til 3am on the Tuesday morning before a full day of teaching at Edinburgh Kiltmakers Academy, to ensure the kilt was ready to go first thing on Wednesday morning.

Gordon and I had to work together to work out the sizes, along with a video of measurements being taken by Strictly's team - we knew our expertise would see us through, but there was still nothing more nerve racking than waiting to hear if the kilt fitted! Despite the very quick turn around I made sure the kilt was 100% up to my usual high, GNK, standards! Each and every pleat was perfectly hand tailored, in this case going for the stripe as a nod to JJ's Royal Marines past - the stripe is typically worn by the military, and being moved by JJ's personal story, we wanted to pay respect to it through the kilt too.

I still cannot believe the response to the kilt! We were named in features on BBC Two's Strictly It Takes Two, the Zoe Ball BBC2 Radio Breakfast Show, The One Show and in articles in The Scotsman and the Edinburgh Evening News! Read the full article here.

I was so excited to receive a personalised thank you video from JJ and Amy acknowledging all the hard work that had gone into creating the kilt! The message was very much appreciated and watched again and again...and again....and again! But, I'm keeping it private between myself and the GNK Family.

Watching the show was extremely moving. Not only were JJ and Amy absolute perfection on the dance floor, the kilt swinging beautifully throughout the emotional Viennese Waltz, but it made me think of those who I know would have been so proud of this achievement for me. As a wee girl, I would watch Strictly with my Grandparents, who absolutely loved the show and religiously watched week to week, season to season. I had hoped to one day be part of the Strictly costume team, sitting with my drawing materials quickly sketching the outfits the dancers wore as they came on screen to dance! Even after my Grandad passed, my sister and I would visit our Grandma especially to watch the Strictly final with her before dementia caused her to have to move into a Care Home. Due to Covid19 restrictions, we couldn't watch this special edition of the show with her, to help her understand how special this particular episode was to us. Knowing how proud this moment would have made them made watching even more emotional but, equally, this moment in my career even more meaningful - so here's to them and their support that lead to this point too.

I was inundated with likes, comments and messages, my parents were also met with endless texts and phone calls even being stopped where we live by our neighbours to chat about "THE STRICTLY KILT"! To be a proud kiltmaker, always striving to produce the best work and share the skill as much as a I can, this truly is a real stand out moment in my career so far. To watch the kilt you created with your very own hands on behalf of a team you deeply care about along with millions of other viewers....well there are no words, and I don't think Strictly will ever understand how grateful I was for this opportunity as part of Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers and the Edinburgh Kiltmakers Academy.

Watch JJ and Amy's stunning performance here!