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Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Hire Kilts Kilts for Sale Scotland tartan Weddings

Ken’s Creations – Bute Heather Range

A Mix of Kilts in the Bute Heather Range Tartans

Houston Kiltmakers owner Ken MacDonald is a well renowned Tartan Designer. As well as offering a personal tartan design service for customers, Ken has also produced prestigious tartan designs for Kilt outfits for royalty and dignitaries. Over this series of posts we will pick out some of Ken’s design and take a closer look into the story behind them. This article will put the Bute Heather Tartan range under the spotlight.

The Bute Heather Range consists of 10 tartans that while sharing similar styling have very distinct characters behind each design. There is a tartan to suit every colour scheme from the warm Red’s of Autumn Bute, the traditional Purple’s of Modern Bute to the more subtle Blue’s of the Kyles of Bute.

Tartans in the Bute Heather Range include: Ancient, Modern, Autumn, Glencallum, Straad, Grey, Kyles, Black, Midnight and Hunting.

While each design is based on the same sett, the colours used in each Bute Heather tartan means that each Tartan has its own character. Grey tartans are very much in vogue and the Bute Heather range contains 7 Grey tartans, each with a dash of colour through the design.

(L-R) Bute Heather Grey, Bute Heather Ancient and Bute Heather Autumn Kilts

Behind every tartan design there has to be a strong inspiration. Ken cites his time spent on the Isle of Bute as a strong influence towards the Bute Heather Tartan range.

“It’s great to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and take some time to relax. The Isle of Bute provides the perfect calm, peaceful surroundings for me to create my designs by taking inspiration from the landscape.”

“The greys and purples used create contemporary designs, which match with the popular colour schemes used for today’s weddings.”

The Picturesque Isle of Bute

The latest tartans added to the range are ‘Bute Heather Straad’ and ‘Bute Heather Kyles’, which joined the tartan collection in the last year.

The Bute Heather range tartans are woven on the Isle of Bute by the world famous Bute Fabrics, whose fabric is used in many prestigious locations around the world, including the Scottish Parliament and the Queen’s residence of Buckingham Palace!

Kilts and a Dress in Matching Bute Heather Modern Tartan

Tartans from the Exclusive Bute Heather Range and available to both Buy and Hire, and can only be found at Houston Traditional Kiltmakers!

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan traditions

History of the Kilt – Part 4 – Resurgence in Popularity of Tartan and the Kilt

After the dark times of the 1746 Dress Act which saw the wearing of Tartan, Kilts and Highland wear outlawed in Scotland, the 1800’s and beyond saw a reversal of fortunes for the Kilt.

The 1746 Dress Act was repealed in 1782, with a representative of Parliament proclaiming:

King George IV in a Kilt

“Listen Men. This is bringing before all the Sons of the Gael, the King and Parliament of Britain have forever abolished the act against the Highland Dress; which came down to the Clans from the beginning of the world to the year 1746. This must bring great joy to every Highland Heart. You are no longer bound down to the unmanly dress of the Lowlander. This is declaring to every Man, young and old, simple and gentle, that they may after this put on and wear the Truis, the Little Kilt, the Coat, and the Striped Hose, as also the Belted Plaid, without fear of the Law of the Realm or the spite of the enemies.”

After the restrictions on Highland wear were removed, Highland Societies were setup with the aim of promoting the wearing of the Kilt once again.

A great boost was given to the image of the Kilt and tartan by the visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822, where he arrived kitted out in a full Highland Outfit (See pictures).

Not only was George’s trip to Scotland the first time a reigning monarch had visited Scotland since 1650, but the tartan pageantry surrounding the visit meant that the popularity of the Kilt and it’s association with Scotland were raised to a new level. It was exactly the shot in the arm that Kilts and Tartan needed to get them back to being part of Scotland’s national identity.

King George VI was advised by Sir Walter Scott to purchase a Highland outfit for his visit. He duly obliged and purchased an outfit from George Hunter & Co., outfitters of Tokenhouse Yard, London and Princes Street, Edinburgh, for £1,354 18s (a sum equivalent to £110,000 today). His Kilt outfit was crafted with a red Royal Tartan, which is similar to what we call the ‘Royal Stewart Tartan’ today.

King George IV in Full Highland Dress of his visit to Scotland
King George IV in Full Highland Dress of his visit to Scotland

While some looked on the visit in a bad light, the overall reaction was positive. Kilts were once again an iconic symbol of Scotland and linked once again to the Scottish Identity.

The popularity of tartan with Royalty continued during the 19th century with the reign of

(Royal) Balmoral Tartan, designed by Prince Albert

Queen Victoria. Victoria often dressed her children in Kilts and in 1853 her husband, Prince Albert, designed the (Royal) Balmoral Tartan. This tartan was worn by the Queen and other members of the Royal family with her permission. The only other person allowed to wear this tartan is the Queen’s personal Piper.

The grey of the Royal Tartan Balmoral have recently came back into fashion. The historical ties of grey tartans to the royal family and modern fashions make these tartans popular choices. Houston Kiltmakers exclusive Bute Heather Tartan range, designed by owner Ken MacDonald, uses a base of grey with a dash of different colours to create contemporary tartan designs which is are easy to blend with todays wedding colours schemes .

Kilts popularity has increased since the reign of Victoria, in the next part we will look at Kilts through the 20th century, wearers during the two World Wars and on to the present day.

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Hire Kilts Kilts for Sale tartan traditions Wedding Kilts Wedding Proposal Weddings

Kilt Hire for Weddings Overseas

Houston Kiltmakers have the largest and best range for of Kilts for hire in the West of Scotland, with over 130 tartans, 20 styles of super lightweight jackets with three different button options and over 120 ruche tie colour. We also Hire Kilts overseas for special occasions.

(Click on the Photos to Enlarge!)

Many of our customers come to us with the problem,

”We are getting married in England/Europe/Overseas, but we still want to have the Wedding party kitted out in Kilts, can you help?’

The answer is Yes!
Houston Kiltmakers provide hires all over the world for Wedding parties and can ship full kilt hires ready for your big day abroad! Don’t worry if the full party can’t get into the shop to get measured, we have a handy Self-Measurement form that lets you know all the sizes we need and how to get the correct measurements. Once you have these sizes simply send them to us by phone or email and our experienced expert team will check and double check everything matches up!

We have some flexibility on the Length of Hires and return dates if you are taking them abroad, so relax and enjoy your special day!

Another question we are often asked is,

‘Our Wedding is going to be in a warm place with the sun shining, what weight of Kilt would you recommend as the coolest, and what about the jacket?’

In a Kilt outfit the heat is generated by the Jacket, not the weight of a Kilt. We would always recommend 16oz Heavyweight Kilts. These are not any warmer than 11oz or 13oz Kilts and the weight helps them to sit and swing better, making you look your best for your big day!

As it is the Jacket that generates the heat, all our Jackets are Super Lightweight and have been custom designed over many years to create the best fit. They are made from high quality lightweight Barathea wool, meaning they are the coolest jackets around! We are the only Hire company in Scotland that provides these Super Lightweight jackets and as you will be wearing the jacket for most of the day, you’ll want the Jacket that will keep you the coolest!

Houston’s have spent 20 years getting the cut and block of our jackets just right so they sit perfectly on the wearer. Our jackets are also Stain-Proof (and Beer-Proof!), increasing the lifespan of them dramatically!

And remember, we love to see photos from your Wedding with our Kilts on show, so if you want to email us or post on our Facebook page some snaps from your special day we’d love to have a look! You can check out pictures past customers have sent us here!

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Football Highlandwear Kilt Scotland Scottish History Sport tartan traditions

Tartan In Sports – Football Kits

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup currently being held in Brazil now seems like the ideal time to look back over the years at some examples of Football Kits here in Scotland that have taken inspiration from the iconic Scottish design, Tartan.  The links between Tartan and Scotland’s favorite pastime over the years have been infrequent but leave a lasting impression when they have collaborated on a Kit design.

One of the first time that Tartan has been used in a Football Kit was back in 1953 where Dundee FC wore this design for their Kit on a tour of South Africa for their 60th anniversary:

 

Tartan Kit Worn By Dundee FC on Their 1953 Tour of South Africa

While many teams at this time had Kits with two different coloured strips or hoops, Dundee pushed the boundary with a full tartan kit. I imagine this design was chosen for their visit to South Africa to show off our traditional national attire overseas.

It took the Footballing world till the early 1990’s to recover from Dundee FC’s tartan getup before Greenock Morton released two Tartan Kits, a Home and Away Kit. The blue home Kit tartan is quite similar to the later registered Greenock Tartan. The away kit has the blue and red’s inverted.

Greenock Morton's Tartan Kits from 1993-1996

Greenock Morton returned to a similar blue Tartan Kit between 2005-2007 too.

It wasn’t only domestic club sides that were getting in on the trend of Tartan Kits. The Scotland National Team’s supporters, known as the ‘Tartan Army‘ were joined by the players on the pitch in dressing in Tartan at the 1996 European Championship in England.

Scotland's Euro 96 Tartan Kit

The kit appeared the normal dark blue from afar, but the intricate Tartan design was more apparent on closer viewing.

After several years without tartan, the 2014 Scotland Kit contains a dash of Tartan spirit. Tartan trim around the edges give a flash of Scottish heritage. There is a tip of the hat to Robert the Bruce also hidden on the top in the form of a Spider. His phrase…

If at first you don’t succeed – try, try again.

…fits well with the ethos of the Scottish National Team!

For the 2014/15 one of the ‘Old Firm‘ has chosen to have a tartan design on their Kit. Celtic’s Away Kit carries a tartan design, showing that the influence of Tartan stretches to the biggest teams in Scotland too. Here is their design:

Celtic Tartan Away Kit for 2014/15

It seems fitting that Tartan and Football go hand in hand, such strong Iconic Scottish symbols. Hopefully in the years to come we shall see more Tartan designs for kits, perhaps even Kilts replacing shorts!

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan

History of the Kilt – Part 3 – Dress Act 1746

Kilts and tartan were not always prosperous in Scotland and sometimes their development was restricted. 1746 saw the implementation of the Dress Act 1746, which put the future of Highland wear, the Kilt and Tartan into jeopardy.

The end of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century was filled with political and religious turmoil around Scotland. Jacobitism was gaining popularity in Scotland in a stand against the Union. From 1688 to 1745 several uprisings from the Jacobite loyal against the British Government. The most famous Jacobite rising from this time are the Risings of 1715 and 1745. (The 1745 Rising was led by the ‘Young Pretender’, Bonnie Prince Charlie, who lends his name to the Prince Charlie style of jacket.)

Bonnie Prince Charlie
Bonnie Prince Charlie

After the failed 1745 uprising support for Jacobitism began to decline. They drew a large amount of their support from the Highland Clans, and in 1746 the government brought in the Dress Act to dampen their support.

The Battle of Culloden
The Battle of Culloden, where the 1745 Jacobite Uprising came to an end.

The Dress Act 1746 restricted the wearing of Highland Dress, Kilts and Tartan. It states:

‘…no man or boy within that part of Britain called Scotland, other than such as shall be employed as Officers and Soldiers in His Majesty’s Forces, shall, on any pretext whatever, wear or put on the clothes commonly called Highland clothes (that is to say) the Plaid, Philabeg, or little Kilt, Trowse, Shoulder-belts, or any part whatever of what peculiarly belongs to the Highland Garb; and that no tartan or party-coloured plaid of stuff shall be used for Great Coats or upper coats…’

This Act several restricted the wearing of Kilts and Tartan outfits. The banning of Tartan cut off a way in which communities and families associated themselves with each other and the banning of Kilts suppressed the dress associated with the Jacobite Uprisings.

King George IV
King George IV's Visit to Scotland in Highland Dress

The ban would stay in place for almost 40 years, finally being repelled in 1782. The Kilt and Tartan had fallen on hard times, but its popularity would return in the 1800’s through King George IV’s visit to Scotland and Queen Victoria’s efforts to revive the Scottish Icons. Find Part 4 of this series HERE!

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Highlandwear Kilt Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan

History of the Kilt – Part 2 – Development of Tartan and the Modern Kilt

It would be difficult to talk about the history of the Kilt without talking a little about the designs that were on them. Tartan, as the designs are known, was first seen as far back as the 3rd century with the discovery of ‘The Falkirk Tartan‘. This early check design is credited as being one of the first instances tartan.

Black and Browns make up the 'Falkirk Tartan'
Perhaps not as colourful as some of todays tartans, the check design is clear in the early 'Falkirk Tartan'

Through the years tartan has developed. The basic check design has remained the same, but the amount of colours in the pattern and detail in the sett has changed.

The tartan we know today is thought to have fully developed around the 16th century. The differences in tartan patterns and the links to different family names or island residences is thought to have been first observed by Martin Martin in his 1703 writing ‘A description of the Western Isles of Scotland‘, where he said,

…each Isle differs from the other in thir fancy of making Plaids, as to the Stripes in Breadth and Colours. This Humour is as different thro the main Land of the Highlands, in so-far that they who have seen these Places are able, at the first view of a Man’s Plaid to guess the Place of his Residence…

Being able to tell where someone is from by the tartan of their Kilt perhaps is not as easy today with the increased movement of people, but when choosing a tartan a good place to start is with a family name (own name, mothers maiden name etc.). There are no restrictions for what tartan you can wear, so it is personal preference if your family isn’t associated with a clan (or your family tartan isn’t the flashiest!)

Different Tartan Kilts
A display of Modern Kilts

Along with developments to the tartan patterns came changes to the design of the Kilt. In 1723 Thomas Rawlinson introduced a Kilt design that made working in his charcoal factory more practical. Essentially he had removed the Plaid from the Great Kilt, so the wearer was just left with the bottom half. This design grew popular and is what we know as the Kilt today.

'Modern Kilt Invented, 1723'
'Modern Kilt Invented, 1723' - Panel from The Great Tapestry of Scotland

The new design stuck and this is the most popular design for a Kilt today.

———————————————-

In the next blog post we will look at the troubled period of the Dress Act 1746 which made the wearing of Highland Dress (including Kilts and Tartan) illegal in Scotland! Find Part 3 HERE!

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan traditions

History of the Kilt – Part 1 – The Great Kilt

The Kilt has had a long and varying history over the years. It is a story of changes in design, government bans and links to the armed services. This series of blogs will look into the history of the Kilt, from its early beginnings up to what we now call the Modern Kilt.

German print of Highlanders from 1630
One of the earliest pictures of a Kilt, from the mid-1600’s

The first Kilts originated from around the end of the 16th Century. These ‘Great Kilts’, as they were known, are quite different from the Modern Kilts that are popular today. The original Kilts were worn as Belted Plaids, one large piece of material that was wrapped around the waist and belted like a modern kilt, with the rest of the material cast over the shoulder and attached on the front. The upper half could be used as a cloak, to cover the head during the rain, gathered to hang around the waist when not needed and even used as a blanket when camping.

Mel Gibson
An iconic wearer of The Great Kilt was Mel Gibson as William Wallace in the film ‘Braveheart’, though Wallace probably never wore a Great Kilt himself.

A description from the 1800’s tells how the Kilt:

‘…is certainly very loose, and fits men inured to it to go through great fatigues, to make very quick marches, to bear out against the inclemency of the weather, to wade through rivers, and shelter in huts, woods, and rocks upon occasion; which men dressed in the low country garb could not possibly endure.’

Sounds like the ideal garment for negotiating the rugged Scottish terrain and changeable weather!

These Great Kilts were often made from thick wool in a check or tartan pattern. Certain tartans showed signs of associating themselves with certain areas, islands or families sometime in the 17th century.

Note the Tartan Pattern on the Kilt
Highland Soldier in the Mid-1700’s using his Plaid to protect his Musket from the weather.

In the next blog post we will look at how the popularity of the Kilt grew and the History of Tartan! Find Part 2 HERE!

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Tartan In Sports – Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014

With the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games fast approaching, an event that will be touched throughout with a Scottish Tartan Spirit, there hasn’t been a better time to look forward to how tartan will be incorporated into the Glasgow 2014 Games.

Image Via The Scotsman
The Official Glasgow 2014 tartan will be used for the Medal Bearer's Dresses

Hosting a sporting event is always a chance to showcase parts of the local culture and traditions, and the Commonwealth games is no different. Two new tartans have been designed and registered for the event, the first called ‘The Glasgow 2014’ tartan which will be used for the outfits of the medal bearers at the event. A second tartan, ‘Commonwealth Games Scotland, Team Scotland‘, was also designed to be worn by Team Scotland athletes.

The tartan is being modelled by Gregor Edmunds, one of Scotland's strongest men
The Official Glasgow 2014 tartan will be worn by the medal bearers during the Games.

The ‘Glasgow 2014’ tartan was designed all the way back in 2012 by Shawlands Academy pupil Aamir Mehmood, who’s design was picked out over thousands of other designs submitted by students across the country. The tartan incorporates Scotland’s national colours while the green in the design represents the diversity of the pupils at Shawlands Academy. The Glasgow 2014 tartan is available in Scarves, Ties and other accessories from Kiltmakers.com, just email us telling us what your looking for!

Designed at the start of 2014 by Jilli Blackwood, the Team Scotland Commonwealth Games tartan offers a bold look that will make the Scottish athletes stand out at this edition of the Games. Jilli said about her design, “I felt the women were wearing a female version of the male uniform,” and “I thought it was time to bring the women forward and inject a bit of style into their uniforms.”

Jilli Blackwood Modelling her 'Team Scotland' tartan
Jilli Blackwood Modelling her 'Team Scotland' tartan

By using a colour palette that would perhaps be more traditional regarded as feminine, Jilli has created an eye-catching tartan, featuring pink, blue and light brown tones.

There is quite a contrast between both the tartans, the strong green and blue against the lighter, almost pastel pink and yellow. I look forward to seeing both the tartans worn during the games, it will be a great opportunity for one of our national exports to be shown off on the global stage.

The Commonwealth Games starts on the 23rd of July and runs till the 3rd of August. For more information please visit the Games Official website at: www.Glasgow2014.com

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Hire Kilts Kilts for Sale Scotland tartan traditions Wedding Kilts

Where to Wear – Weddings

The next stop on our ‘Where to Wear’ journey takes us to perhaps one of the most popular occasions to wear a kilt, a Wedding. Whether you are the groom looking to make your big day extra special or part of the wedding party looking to stand out, a kilt can add a special touch to the wedding day.

Check out the Bute Heather range on our site: www.Kiltmakers.com

The popularity of wearing a kilt to a wedding is at an all time high and wedding dresses featuring tartan for the bride are also popular.

While there are no rules on what tartans someone can and cannot wear, when choosing a kilt for a wedding the Groom often chooses to wear their clan tartan (or tartan associated with family name), giving them a sense of belonging which has passed through generations.

If you don’t happen to have a tartan associated with your name, don’t worry! You can pick any tartan you like the look of and we have a wide range of Tartan’s for Everyone. Why not pick from our exclusive range of Bute Heather tartans, designed by Houston’s owner Ken MacDonald on his visits to the Isle of Bute. The Bute Heather range is available to both buy or hire. The Bute Heather range consists of Grey and Purple Tartans that coincide with the colour pallet of today’s weddings.

How to Put on a Kilt – A Video to Help Make Sure Your Kilt is Worn Properly on Your Big Day

On the day of the wedding, it is the job of the Best Man to make sure that the Groom is looking in top shape in his Kilt. He should make sure that the Groom’s outfit is in good order. Ideally your Tartan Outfit should have a pivot point down the middle, with the set of the tartan, Sporran, Jacket Buttons and Tie/Ruche/Bow Tie all lining up (See Picture below). The Sporran should be around 3 finger widths under the belt buckle. The Sporran comes in handy for somewhere to keep the ring safe too!

The tartan shown is Bute Heather Kyles

With the Groom all kilted up, a nice touch is for the Bride’s dress to be matching in someway. Perhaps a small ribbon of the same tartan around the bouquet or on the dress. Another option is for a tartan wedding dress. This way you can have a nice combination of kilt and dress, creating a full tartan wedding. Tartan Wedding dresses can be created by Joyce Young, who has won an OBE for her services to the fashion industry. He tartan dresses range from small touches of tartan incorporated into the design to full tartan dresses.

Whether your hiring or buying, a Kilt can really add a special touch to your big day!

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Where to Wear a Kilt – Céilidh

 In this series of posts we will be looking at events where Kilts are often worn, and will be taking a closer look at some of the more traditional settings for Kilt wearing. To start off we shall look at an event than can take place throughout the year, though they tend to be partnered with certain occasions such as Burn’s night, Weddings and during the festive period. That event is the Céilidh.

Don't get too dizzy with all the spinning!
Set's of 6 dancers whirling around

A Céilidh, is a traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing. Originally they started as assemblies where stories and tales were shared and songs were sung. More recently the music and dancing has taken precedence, but the tradition of guests telling stories or reading poetry still survives in some areas.

Music at these events is usually provided by a Céilidh band consisting of a mix of instruments. These can include, but not limited too, the fiddle, flute, tin whistle, accordion, bodhrán, and in more recent times also drums, guitar and electric bass guitar.

You can get an idea of some of the music and dances in this video of Traditional Ceilidh Dancing at a Scottish Wedding

The music is cheerful and lively, and the basic steps can be learned easily; a short instructional session is often provided for new dancers before the start of the dance itself by one of the band members.

Watch out he doesn't spin you too fast!
A couple spin down the rows of other couples.

The dances involve either couples or ‘sets‘. A “Set” consists of six to eight couples, with each pair of couples facing another in a square or rectangular formation. Each couple exchanges position with the facing couple, and also facing couples exchange partners, while all the time keeping in step with the beat of the music.

More footage, this time a Ceilidh at the University of Edinburgh

From my personal experience Ceilidhs are great fun, with the energetic dance and lively music. The fact that most of the dances are in groups or set’s means that its easy to get involved and there are lots of people to keep you right if you don’t know the particular dance. Ceilidh bands usually have a caller who will run through a dance first as they understand not everyone will know the moves straight off. Ceilidhs are good social events to show off your Kilt with the spins and whirls displaying the kilt in all its glory!

Highland Dress is Popular at Ceilidhs!
A collectiion of Kilts!

Look out for public ceilidh events throughout the year, often around Burn’s night. Ceilidhs happen all year round, for example Sloans in Glasgow has a weekly Ceilidh. Visit Scotland provide a search guide for public Ceilidh events throughout Scotland! Check your local area for Ceilidhs near you, and I hope to see your Kilt spinning on the dancefloor!