Houstons can provide special weave tartans not readily available to the market. If you are having trouble finding your desired tartan we can assist and source it for you through the Scottish Tartans Authority. Further to this we can have a tartan designed specifically for you by owner of Houstons, Ken MacDonald to alternatively you can design a tartan yourself using our exclusive ‘My Tartan’ design app available to download for free from the Apple App store. They are woven in 16oz heavy weight, 13oz medium weight, 11oz light weight or even silk fabric. You will also be given the option have your tartan Teflon coated which makes it stain proof and even beer proof! If you wish to have a kilt made in one of these tartans you will need to contact us direct. Special Weave tartans will take considerably longer to make as firstly, the tartan must be sourced if it is a design that is not usually available. Alternatively, if you have chosen to design your own tartan to be made this will also be a lengthy experience as you will need to converse with the tartan design regarding your chosen design. Once you have finalised your unique tartan design there will be a number of stages to have the cloth woven, finished and made into your bespoke kilt!
The time scale for creating a special weave tartan and having it made into a bespoke kilt can be anything from 3 to 6 months. Therefore, if you are looking to have your tartan woven for a specific date we advise you get in touch as far in advance as possible! An express service will be made available to you for an additional cost. With this service your kilt will be delivered in 2 to 3 months.
The cost of a special weave tartan varies depending on the chosen design and the kilt finish. Prices range from £300 to £2000. For a quote please contact Houston Kiltmakers direct via email email@example.com or call us on +44 141 889 4879 outlining the specifics of the bespoke kilt you wish to have made
You have countless options when creating your own tartan. You can have a clan tartan made with your own specific choice of colours to coordinate with a wedding colour scheme. Or you can combine your own family tartan with your bride’s family tartan and create a brand new design to commemorate your special day using our My Tartan app! If you wish to have a design created by Ken MacDonald we can create an ECAD image which is a digital image of what your chosen tartan will look like. Therefore if you are unhappy with the design we can make any necessary changes to achieve your desired design. To find out more about tartans and special weaves read on!
THE “RIGHT” TO WEAR A TARTAN
“Often over the years one has heard people explaining they have the right or that they are entitled to wear this or that tartan…. in fact no such right , in any legal sense , exists for them or anyone else ….the only considerations which govern the wearing of a particular set are usage and good taste”
Quote from Scottish Tartans Authority director Brian Wilton
So the answer to the question “what tartan am I entitled to wear? Is: “any tartan you fancy”
To make life easy to pick a tartan at Houston’s we have over 100 tartan books , the only kilt shop in the world where you can see every commercial produced tartan, and have the facility to weave any tartan if a stitch count exists from our records… We have collated over 600 tartans any one can wear in 8 swatch books in colour bunch to make viewing tartans a lot easier for our customers. At Houston Traditional Kiltmakers we get customers visiting our shop from all parts of Scotland, the U.K., Europe and the rest of the world. Our professional staff will advise on tartans you can wear from a choice of around 14,000 different tartans.
Clans & Septs
- MacDonald ancient
Clan is the Gaelic word for family and originally clans only belonged to the Highlands.
The clan system is closely bound up with Scottish heraldry. The best definition of a clan provided by a heraldic authority is contained in Nisbet’s “System of Heraldry”, published in 1722: ‘A social group consisting of an aggregate of distinct erected families actually descended, or accepting themselves as descendants of a common ancestor, and which has been received by the Sovereign through its Supreme Officer of Honour, the Lord Lyon, as an honourable community whereof all of the members on establishing right to, or receiving fresh grants of, personal hereditary nobility will be awarded arms as determinate or indeterminate cadets both as may be of the chief family of the clan.’
A clan is therefore a community which is both distinguished by heraldry and recognised by the Sovereign. At the head of this honourable community is the chief. He is the only person entitled to display the undifferenced shield of Arms, i.e. without any marks of dependency upon any other noble house.
Chiefship is a title of honour and dignity within the nobility of Scotland. Any claimant to such a title must establish, to the satisfaction of the Lord Lyon representing the Sovereign, that he or she is entitled to the undifferenced arms of the community over which they seek to preside. It is the determining of chiefship which is among the Lyon Court’s central work.
Many of the cases which have come before the Lyon Court in the last 50 years have related to the chiefships of clans. There are now about 140 clans that have chiefs recognized by the Lord Lyon.
A clan or family that has a recognized chief or head confers noble status on the clan or family which gives it a legally recognized status and a corporate identity. A family or name group which has no recognized chief has no official position under the law of Scotland. If you have a name of one of the 140 Clans you can wear any of the tartans under that clan’s name. MacDonald for example has 23 different tartans under the one name.
- The surname Vance has no clan tartan but is a sept of the Galloway District. (Galloway District Modern Red pictured above)
In Scotland, a sept is often a family that is absorbed into a larger Scottish clan for mutual benefit. For example, the Burns family sept was absorbed into the Clan Campbell. The Burns family being very small and of questionable heritage gained legitimacy and protection and the Campbell clan absorbed a potential rival for British affection in Scotland. Each Scottish clan typically has a number of septs, each with its own surname. Septs have rights to wear clan tartans although they often have tartans of their own. You can do a search on www.kiltmakers.com to find out if you family name is affiliated to any other clan.
- Irish National Tartan
In Ireland, the word sept is used to refer to a group of people with both a common surname and common origin. In recent times, Irish septs are sometimes called clans, although Ireland does not have a clan system similar to that of Scotland. Related Irish septs belong to larger groups, sometimes called tribes, such as the Dál gCais, Uí Néill, Uí Fiachrach, and Uí Maine.
Tartans Anyone Can Wear
- Houston’s Own Bute Heather Collection
If you do not have a family or clan tartan to wear you can choose from a vast range of tartans that anyone can wear. You can choose from a range of national tartans such as Scottish National and American national. Nowadays people tend to choose a tartan to coordinate with wedding or colours or purely for its aesthetic value. Greys in particular are currently in vogue and very popular amongst kilt buyers. Pictured above is Houston’s own Bute Heather Tartan Designs which are predominantly woven in greys, purples and blues. As well as being in vogue, grey tartans are also very prestigious and have been worn by prominent figures in Scottish history. John Brown was the personal servant of Queen Victoria in Scotland during her reign. A very famous portrait painted of Brown was painted of him wearing a grey Balmoral kilt. Further to this, the ‘Clan Originaux’ pattern book confirms the genealogy of a grey tartan known as Stewart Mourning. This particular tartan was created after the death of King Albert and worn by Queen Victoria. There are only a few hundred tartans that are privately owned and require permission to be worn.
What tartan can I wear?
Most customers will choose a clan tartan based on a family name. This could be either a person’s own surname or that of a parent or grandparent. However; you can wear any tartan for any occasion.
Traditionally hunting, ancient and weathered tartans were worn with tweeds and day jackets for outdoor functions, hunting and highland games. Dress and modern tartans were worn with formal functions and black tie dinners.
A special weave tartan is very rare and at Houstons we make sure that we use only the finest craftsmen and equipment to create your one of a kind piece. We have a friend who has a single and double width loom reserved solely for the use of Houston Kiltmakers. It takes one full day to weave a special weave tartan. Using a traditional loom to produce Scottish tartans only adds to the authenticity of your bespoke piece. Choosing to have your kilt stain proofed will also help to preserve your kilt for many years so it may be passed on through the generations in your family as an heir loom is you so wish.
Preparing the Wool
When preparing the wool for your kilt we begin with your chosen colours. All wool used for making kilts comes from sheep in New Zealand and Australia. Once the sheep are sheered the wool clipped is washed clean and sent to the yarn dyers to be spun and dyed.
Warping, Weaving and Finishing
Once the yarn is dyed it is sent onto the weaver. The weaver then adds all colour wools to the drum for warping. Yarns are wound on by colour. The yarn is then fed through a weaving machine to be woven.
Once the tartan is woven it is cut off and sent to the finishers to be washed, checked and if requested Teflon coated, to be fully finished.
- Houston’s own Straad Bute Tartan
The tartan is then sent back to the mill for a final inspection and then sent on to one of our kilt makers.
Types of Tartan
Modern tartans are woven in rich, dark colours. The colours are always stronger and can be worn with navy blue or black jackets.
Ancient tartans are woven in soft, lighter colours. Ancient tartans can be worn with black or a range of tweed jackets.
Weathered or Muted
Weathered or muted tartans are woven in faded and muted colours. This gives the tartan an older appearance. In olden days, these tartans were coloured by natural pigment dyes.
Hunting tartan tends to be woven in darker colours, more commonly in green for a camouflage effect.
Dress tartans are basically any of the above tartans woven with lots of white through the design. Dress tartans are generally worn by women.
Kilts come in several weights of cloth. The 11oz cloth is very light weight and more suitable for ladies skirts, gents trousers, waistcoats, children’s kilts and some professional dancing kilts. For gent’s kilts, we recommend anything from 13oz medium weight to 16oz heavy weight cloth this being the real “Rolls Royce” of kilts. All of our kilts are 8 yards, traditionally handmade in pure wool. The heavy weight 16oz kilt cloth sits, swings and looks a million dollars, compared to a 13oz medium weight kilt, and it is NOT any warmer. It is the weight of the jacket which makes the heat difference. All of our Houston’s jackets are super light weight and stain-proofed.
19 oz kilts are generally for regimental wear but are available in around six tartans.
16 oz/17oz kilts are the largest range available with a choice of around 14,000 tartans. Heavy weight kilts are the best as the kilt sits and swings better. Heavy weight tartans can also be Teflon coated making them stain proof. Contrary to popular belief, heavy weight kilts are not any warmer than medium or lightweight kilts. It is in fact the top half of your outfit such as your jacket and waistcoat that generate heat. The majority of jackets are heavy weight however; Houston’s have perfected their own super light weight jacket which has a great cut and comfortable fit.
13oz Medium weight kilts are normally produced for Irish and Welsh national tartans. Medium weight kilts come in a choice of around 1000 tartans
11oz light weight cloth would normally be woven for ladies skirts, gents’ trousers and waistcoats, children’s kilts, children’s trousers and ties. Kilts do not have a hem around the bottom of the garment however; children’s kilts can be cut for growth. A hem of around 2 to 3 inches will be added, and can then be let down when the child grows a bit taller.
8 oz fabric is used to make coordinating ties or bow ties and also ladies dresses.
Wool, like the 11oz lightweight cloth can be used for ladies and gents’ trousers and waistcoats.
Silk is available in 80 tartans and can be used to make ties, bow ties, waistcoats and ladies dresses.
Cotton and Poly Cotton can used to make napkins and shirts. It is also used for school uniforms and corporate wear.
Poly Viscose is a washable and stained proof fabric generally used for school uniforms, children’s highland wear and corporate wear.
Houston’s also have an exclusive service of Teflon coating tartans/kilts to make them stain resistant, this service can only be done at time of ordering the kilt on all our own Cloths. All kilts are individually hand tailored to your own specification in a range of 6 different available kilt finishes from handmade kilts through to machine-finished kilts.
Teflon coating ensures your kilt is rain, stain and even beer proof! The fabric is even beer proof! The wool has the same handle and is fully breathable, making them safe to wear to rugby and football matches.
We calculate that over the life span of your kilt you will save approximately £180 to £260, not having to get your kilt dry cleaned as often. This also helps the environment. The Teflon coating lasts a minimum of 18 dry cleans.
FURTHER HELP AND INFO
Owner of Houston’s Ken MacDonald has had his own kilt for over 30 years and it is well maintained due proper care and storage.
For further information on tartans as well as advice on what to wear and how to wear it please view our helpful video clips at www.kiltmakers.com/tv/