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JJ Chalmers, 33, has shared his gratitude after a seamstress stayed up till the “wrong side of 3am” to create a kilt for him to wear on Strictly Come Dancing 2020. Emma Wilkinson, 27, told BBC Scotland that she had worked tirelessly to make the Paralympic star’s attire for the dance contest last weekend.
How awesome is this!
Emma said in a clip shared on The Nine’s Twitter page: “The cloth arrived at 2 o’clock on Monday afternoon, so I got to work straight away, and stayed up pretty late.
“To the wrong side of 3 o’clock in the morning on Tuesday to get it done, so I could make sure he had it in time for his dress rehearsal.”
The kilt expert admitted that she is usually very quick at producing the garments, and is usually called in for last-minute requests.
She continued: “Well I’m pretty quick which is why I get asked to do these exciting projects.
“[It usually takes me] 16 to 20 hours, but this one had to be on JJ and on the dancefloor. So we managed to sew it and pull it out the bag in just 14 hours.”
JJ retweeted the video on his personal Twitter page, and wrote in view of his 14,400 followers: “How awesome is this?! Thank you, Emma and @NicolsonKilts for your amazing effort and your beautiful work.
“And a Happy #StAndrewsDay to you all, I’m just back from the studio and I’m raising a Wee Dram of Whisky in your honour!”
JJ wore the Cameron of Erracht modern military tartan during his Viennese Waltz with pro Amy Downden.
JJ, a Scottish TV presenter and Invictus Games medalist who was injured in a bomb blast while serving in Afghanistan as a Royal Marine, had been pictured wearing an older kilt in practice but the custom made version with a gold military pleat was donned during his TV appearance.
Emma, who works for Gordon Nicolson Kiltmakers based in the city’s Canongate, said it was the first time one of her kilts has appeared on television.
The team were “delighted” to receive a video from JJ and Amy thanking them for their efforts last week.
She said: “I was a bit teary and I’m so excited about having this kilt I have made on TV.”
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Emma said the team were contacted about making the kilt for JJ having previously made one for professional dancer Anton Du Beke, when he danced with Scottish tennis coach Judy Murray on Strictly.
The young talent is the only kiltmaker to have ever received Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust funding for her craft.
She used the grant to undertake an intensive course at Gordon Nicolson’s Edinburgh Kiltmakers Academy, where she now teaches.
Business owner Gordon Nicolson said: “The show (Strictly) offers a bit of a feel good factor and some light relief with everything going on just now, and there’s been a bit of hype around the kilt as well.”
He also noted that it had been a difficult year for independent businesses with coronavirus keeping many shop doors shut.
On Twitter, fans raved over the fashion forward look, as they praised the “masculine style”.
One said: “You looked absolutely amazing, the dance was incredible and I am still a little moist about the eyes from the music – so fitting for you and your wonderful wife. Can’t wait to see your Musicals Week routine.”
While another replied: “Such talent, beautiful military pleating! It was unmistakably masculine and moved so beautifully.”
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