Tartan design at Houston Kiltmakers

We offer tartan design services at Houston kiltmakers by tartan experts Ken & Ewan MacDonald, experts in their field their designs have been uniting couples, family’s & brands for decades.

Tartan is a rich part of scottish culture and symbolism. Held closely to every Scots heart, tartan is a shared piece of our collective scottish identity. Did you know there are thousands of tartans registered and in circulation, tartans date back centuries to our ancestors who fought for the right to wear tartan and used tartan to identify different clans & families.

With modern technology tartans can now be designed by professional’s and woven into real cloth and registered in the official tartan registry, with many couples, businesses & Scots designing their own tartan.

Tartan design

What is tartan design?-

Tartan also known as plaid is actually a pattern more than anything else as its made from colour co-ordinated patterns of horizontal and vertical coloured threads weaving in-between each other to reveal the beautiful tartan cloth we all know and love.

special weave

But in order to make a tartan design we need to plan the pattern, tartan follows something called the sett which basically means a small square of pattern which is used as the repeat for the tartan vertically & horizontally.

Tartan design possibilities are almost endless with modern technology, usually when booking for tartan design you would work with a professional tartan designer you will collaborate with to design your dream tartan.

At Houston Kiltmakers father & son shop owners, Ken & Ewan MacDonald have 40 years experience in the highland wear industry & professional tartan design practise, designing for big clients such as LNER, Dominoes, Nasa & more.

Tartan design process-

As tartan design can get fairly technical & complicated, the process as a client usually involves working collaboratively with the tartan designer to bring your vision to life. Typically we would take your initial ideas along with picking out some tartans you already like and understand what you like about them, the process usually involves batch drafting design samples for you to review and ultimately end with with your perfect tartan design.


From the designers perspective after taking notes on your ideas, preferences and tartans you like, they use special digital tartan design software to trail and build tartan design patterns and will spend months working on these working closely with you to ensure you are pleased with the final design. Once the design has been approved the stitch code of that particular design is sent to the tartan registry for approval & official registration, this may later on be woven into cloth for kilts or accessories.

Registering a new tartan-

The tartan register keeps record of all the known tartans available including newly designed tartans. some designs are private owned and only for approved use or free for public use registered this is most common with clan tartans, big family names & more.

tartan register

Due to the thousands of tartans registered, new designs are sent to the board to be approved prior to registering this ensures the design is original and doesn’t copy any other private owned tartan designs. Once approved the tartan is officially registered you may chose for it to be public or private, if private it can only be woven with your permission.

Once registered that design stitch code can be sent to mills to be woven if your wanting bespoke tartan kilts or accessories.

Why do people design new tartans?-

People design tartans for a whole variety of reasons, mainly split into 2 uses.

who designs tartans

Firstly being personal so this could be a couple designing a tartan to connect their families for a wedding, some may design a tartan if they don’t link back to a tartan within their heritage or name, some often design a tartan just to have their own piece & connection to scottish culture. People often design a tartan for special occasions or to have a tartan that only belongs to them.

Or tartan design can also be used for commercial and branding use. this is becoming increasingly popular as it creates a striking effect on branding and connects to scottish brand heritage or consumer base. The design can become integrated within every aspect of the brands identity to create a strong brand image.

Tartan design at Houston Kiltmakers-

tartan design kiltmakers

As mentioned before our experts Ken & Ewan MacDonald are industry leaders in tartan design, designing for clients globally and families all over Scotland. They have an impeccable reputation for their innovative & class tartan designs and extensive tartan design experience.

They don’t skip the finer details, they ensure your tartan is exactly what you dreamed it could be and more. If you want a truly unique and bespoke design there is no ideas too little or too big for the Houston kiltmakers tartan design team.

You can browse their tartan design portfolio here.

Our tartan design brochures are available here.

For any enquires or questions on tartan design we would love to welcome you instore or alternatively you can research us at [email protected] or call us on 0141 889 4879

You can browse & read more about our tartan design services, process, pricing & gallery here.

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