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Bute Fabrics Mill Visit – How Tartan is Woven, from Yarn to Cloth!

Recently we took a visit across to the Isle of Bute, the location of the Bute Fabrics Mill. Bute Mill have been supplying Houston’s with Tartan Cloth for Kilts and other Highland Dress Outfits for many years. Bute Fabrics weave all of Houston’s Exclusive Bute Heather Range.  The Isle of Bute is also where Ken MacDonald created the Bute Heather Tartan designs, drawing inspiration from the scenic locations around the island.  This article will give you sneak peek behind the scenes of Bute Fabrics Mill and a look at Tartan being woven!

NOTE: Please click on any photo to enlarge it for easier viewing!

On the Boat to the Isle of Bute and the Bute Mill
(L) The View of Rothesay on the Ferry to the Isle of Bute. (R) The Exterior of Bute Fabrics Mill.

The Isle of Bute

The Isle of Bute is located around 30 miles west of Glasgow, at the mouth of the Firth of Clyde. To visit the island you can take advantage of the regular ferry service from Wemyess Bay to Rothesay, the islands largest settlement. Bute Mills are located on the outskirts of Rothesay.

Rothesay on the Map
The Isle of Bute and the Surrounding Area (Map Via Google Maps) - Click to Enlarge

Bute Fabrics have been weaving on the island since they were established in 1947 by the 5th Marquess of Bute. Aside from weaving Tartan cloth, Bute Fabrics are one of the UK’s most respected and highly acclaimed upholstery fabric manufacturers. In 2014 they received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise – the UK’s highest accolade for business success.

The Isle of Bute is also home to popular tourist attractions such as Mount Stuart House – the ancestral home of the Marquesses of Bute – and Rothesay Castle, a 13th century castle ruin in the heart of Rothesay.

Rothesay Tourist Attractions, Mount Stuart and Rothesay Castle
Mount Stuart House and Rothesay Castle are just a few of the Attractions on the Isle of Bute

The Weaving Process

Bute Fabrics weave a variety of upholstery fabrics, as well as Tartan Cloth. We followed the process of Tartan cloth being woven – from the initial Yarns all the way to the finished material!

The start of the weaving process begins with collecting the correct shades of yarns that will be used in your Tartan design. Samples are taken from each roll of yarn and are compared to check the consistency of colour, making sure that the required shades for the design match perfectly. (See Image) To the untrained eye these all look the same shade of orange, but an expert eye can identify slight discrepancies with some of the threads!

Yarn Tests and Warping
Yarn Samples Checking Quality of the Colours. The Yarns are then Places on this Rack and Setup for Warping.

The yarn bob’s are then loaded onto a rack which feeds into the warping drum. Warping is the process of creating tension in the yarns lengthwise, before they are fed into the loom. All the colours that will be used in the Tartan design are racked up, ready for warping.

The warping drum spins round, pulling the yarns that will be used in the Tartan. From here they are then passed through the loom to complete the Tartan.

The different yarn colours are carefully placed in order so that the Tartan design will be produced by the loom. The warped yarns are passed through the loom lengthways, while a shuttle moves across the width of the loom, taking yarn and weaving it through the design. (The yarns moving across the width are called the Weft, while the yarns moving length ways are called the Warp).

Weaving of Tartan Yarns
The Yarns are pulled through the Loom, and the Shuttle Weaves Yarns across the design, producing the completed Tartan

 

Below you can see the Loom in action, with the Warp being pulled through on the left video, and combining with the Weft on the right video. The shuttle is is moving across the yarns at such a speed it is hard to make out! (You can see the St. Mirren Tartan being woven here!)

 

 

From here the Tartan cloth is taken from the loom to an area where it is meticulously checked for any imperfections such as broken threads. All the cloth is checked by hand and eye for any irregularities, making sure that you receive the highest quality Tartan cloth!

Checking Cloth and Tartan
Checking for any imperfections in the cloth and the final Tartan Cloth!

The cloth then goes for finishing and any extra coatings are applied. All our Bute Heather Tartans receive a Telfon coating, making our Kilts stain-proof (and beer-proof!), so water just runs off the material.

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 We had a great day out on the Isle of Bute and thank Bute Fabrics for our warm welcome! Now you have seen where some of our cloth comes from, why not consider having a Kilt made in the material! Visit us at Kiltmakers.com for more information about Kilt, Highland Dress and Tartan!

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Pin Kilts Kilts for Sale Made In Scotland Scottish History Shoulder Plaid Special Weave Tartans Sporran tartan traditions

Made in Scotland – Tartan Kilts and Highland Wear by Houston Traditional Kiltmakers

At Houston’s we take great pride in our Kilts and Highland Wear, endeavoring to provide our clients with the highest quality produce. We strongly support the Scottish Manufacturing of Traditional Highlandwear and look to source products locally where possible – Made in Scotland!

Our Kilts

All our Kilts are Made to Measure, Made in Scotland and Made to Last! We use several local Kiltmakers, all with many years’ experience in crafting Handmade Kilts. Most of our Kiltmakers are based around the Paisley area (on the Central Belt of Scotland) and work from home. Kilt Making was traditionally a cottage industry, and that is still the case today!

Scottish Traditional Kilt

Locally Sourced Tartan Cloth

We source the cloth for our Kilts, Tartan Trews, Waistcoats, Tartan Suits and any other Tartan Accessories from Scottish Mills.* We work with all the remaining Tartan Mills in Scotland to provide any Tartan design our client requests and also have the ability to Specially Weave custom Tartan Designs. We feel that it is important to support this Traditional Scottish industry which has been well-established for many generations. As Vice-Chairman of the Scottish Tartans Authority (STA), Houston’s owner Ken MacDonald continues to work towards protecting Scottish Tartans and the production of this fabric in Scotland for future generations.

Isle of Bute Tartan Mill
Scottish Mills provide Houston's with Tartan Cloth. Photos show Bute Fabrics on the Isle of Bute.

Scottish Highland Outfit Accessories

For our Highland Wear Accessories – Sporrans, Silverware, Kilt Pins, Sgian Dubhs and and other items that complete a Highland Outfit – we look to local suppliers. Bespoke, Clan Crested items are made to order and add a special touch to any outfit!

Houston’s also has an in-store workshop where our Seamstress, Beth, works to craft custom Tartan Accessories for clients – ranging from Shoulder Plaids, Ring Cushions and Ties to Ladies Garters, Tartan Flashes and anything else you can think of!

Sporran and Tartan Flashes Made in Scotland

Houston’s Traditional Scottish Outfits are the Real McCoy – Made in Scotland! We are a 4th Generation family run business, working out of the same store on Paisley’s High Street since 1909 and more than happy to help deliver your perfect Highland Outfit!

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If you have an enquiries, please contact the shop, click here for all the details and online contact form!

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*A small, select range of Tartans are woven in England. Welsh Tartans are woven in Wales. We don’t use any Tartan Fabric from outwith the UK.

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Tartan Variations – Ancient, Modern, Hunting, Dress or Weathered?

If you use our Tartan Finder to search for your family Tartan, you might notice that your name returns several Tartans, each with a slightly different range of colours used in the design. There are a selection of colour variations used in the Tartan industry, and this article will explain the differences between each one.Tartan Kilts on Display

The 5 main variations in Tartan styles are Ancient, Modern, Hunting, Dress and Weathered (sometimes referred to as Withered or Muted). Within these groups you can also have a mixing of some of the style, for example a Ancient Hunting Robertson Tartan, or a Modern Dress Gordon Tartan. (Though you can’t get an Ancient-Modern Tartan combination!)

Ancient Tartan

Tartan’s with the prefix ‘Ancient’ are not necessarily older than other Tartans, it simply refers to the colour palette used in the design. The colours are often softer and lighter to what you would see in a ‘Modern’ Tartan design. These colours are choosen to have a closer link to the historical colours of Tartans in years gone by – produced with the natural dyes available. The colours are pastel-like, creating a softer feel, and giving the look of material that is worn beyond its years.

Modern Lamont with Ancient Lamont Tartan Comparison
Here you can see the Ancient and Modern Lamont Tartans. Note that the Sett of the Tartan is the Same, but the colours used in the Ancient Version are lighter/pastel.

Modern Tartan

As with ‘Ancient’ Tartan’s, the name ‘Modern’ relates to the colours used in the Tartan, not the date of the design. Ancient and Modern design’s tend to share the same sett, the change is in the colour palette used. While ‘Ancient’ Tartan use lighter softer colours, ‘Modern’ Tartans use stronger, darker colours.

Hunting Tartan

Hunting Tartans traditionally were worn when the wearer was on a hunt. To tie in with this, the colours usual are suited to match with the woodland background linked with a hunt – Greens and browns being the strongest colour here.

MacPhail, MacRae, MacGregor and MacFarlane Hunting Tartans
Hunting Tartans - MacFarlane Hunting Modern, MacGregor Hunting Ancient, MacPhail Hunting Ancient and MacRae Hunting Modern Tartans

Dress Tartan

It is often easy to identify Dress Tartan’s with the abundance of white thread used to make up the design (An exception to this is the Dress MacLeod Tartan, which uses yellow thread instead of the normal white). These designs are most popular with Highland Dancing Kilts, though they can also been worn to give a brighter looking Tartan Kilt. Dress Gordon is perhaps the most recongizable Tartan in this range as it has been incorporated into many popular fashion items such as scarves and jacket linings.

Dress Gordon, MacDonald, Gillies and MacLeod Tartans
Modern Dress MacDonald, Ancient Dress Gillies, Modern Dress Gordon and Ancient Dress MacLeod Tartans. Note that the MacLeod Dress Tartan Uses Yellow instead of White

Weathered Tartan

Tartans of the Weathered Styling use a colour palette to reflect the name – tones that are faded, giving a look of the Kilt being aged by exposure to inclement weather. In years gone by the Great Kilt worn by the Scots would have endured the harsh Scottish Weather and terrain. The Great Kilt would be used to protect the wearer from the elements, and would gain a worn and aged look from this. (Weather Tartans are also sometimes referred to as ‘Withered’ or ‘Muted’, depending on what Mill that Cloth is produced from.)

Watson, Sutherland, Murray of Atholl and MacLaren
A range of Weathered (Withered) Tartan - Watson, Sutherland, Murray of Atholl and MacLaren. You can see the Browns and Weather-Beaten Colours used here.

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While there are many different varieties of Tartan to choose from, at the end of the day it is down to preference what Tartan you decide upon. There is no right or wrong Tartan for any occasion – as long as the wearer likes it! Search now for all your families Tartans with our Tartan Finder!

 

 

 

 

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Hire Kilts Kilts for Sale Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History Special Weave Tartans tartan traditions Weddings

How to Choose a Tartan

When picking the Tartan for your Scottish Highland Kilt Outfit it can be quite a daunting task as there are over 14,000 Tartans to choose from. In this guide we make it easy for you to find the perfect Tartan for your Kilt – don’t worry if your family name doesn’t have a linking pattern, there is a Tartan for Everyone!

Tartans for Scottish Kilts

Where to start!

Choosing a Scottish Tartan For Your Kilt
How to Choose a Tartan for your Kilt - There is a Tartan for Everyone!

1. The first place to start when looking for a Tartan is with your family name. Simply type your name into our Tartan Finder and see all your matching tartans! Often you will find that your own name is not part of a clan which has a Tartan, if this is the case don’t worry! There are still many routes to go down to find your perfect Tartan!

2. You can search for Tartans relating to other family names (Mothers Maiden name, Grand Parents names, Uncles and Aunties names etc.) to give you a choice of tartans. Just type the name into our Tartan Finder!

3. Sometimes it is the case that you will find that your surname will not have a Clan Tartan of its own, but will be linked to a ‘Sept’. Sept’s are surnames that, while not having their own clan, are associated with another clan. For example, instances of the name Reid can be associated with clan Robertson. Members of the Reid family should therefore wear Robertson tartan. When you use our tartan finder it will bring up any relevant Sept matches and link to the tartans.

4. If you tartan search has no clan tartan or Sept matches, don’t worry! There are many regional, national and County tartans that you could find a link with! For Irish names there are tartans for each Irish County, as well as an Irish National Tartan that can be worn by anyone with a link to Ireland. Tartans such as the American National Tartan and German National Tartan are other examples of national tartans with connections to those countries. There is a range of ‘Tartans for Everyone‘, generic designs in a variety of colours that are free to wear. You can also design your own tartan, or have it designed by Houston’s Owner, Ken MacDonald!

Popular Trends and Styles

As with any item of clothing, fashions change over time and different style come into vogue. In recent times there has been a surge in the demand for Grey and Purple Tartans. (You can see a range of Purple Tartans here, and Grey Tartans here) Houston’s owner Ken MacDonald has designed a range of tartans incorporating a colour palette that matches today’s trends. The Bute Heather Tartan range offers a wide variety of grey and purple tartans, each with a flash of colour running through the design.

Autumn Bute, Ancient Bute and Grey Bute Kilts
Grey Bute, Ancient Bute and Autumn Bute Heater Kilts, Tartan Designed by Ken MacDonald

Grey tartans are known for their ability to match with any style or colour of jacket, making them ideal for both formal and casual wear. With a subtle flash of colour through a grey tartan it can create a sophisticated look to your Highland Outfit.

Royal Links

Royal Balmoral Tartan
Royal Balmoral Tartan, Designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria

Grey Tartans have Royal links going back to the reign of Queen Victoria, when her husband Prince Albert turned his hand to Tartan Design. Queen Victoria loved Scotland, regularly visiting her stately home at Balmoral.

The Royal Balmoral Tartan was designed by Prince Albert in 1853, to be worn by the Queen and members of the Royal Family, with permission from the Queen. This Royal Tartans only other approved wearer was the Queen’s personal Piper.

Grey Tartans have often been linked with Royalty for this reason.

We hope this guide helps you to find a Tartan that you love. Remember, there are no Tartan Police, and anyone has the right to wear any Tartan!

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Céilidh Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Kilts for Sale Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History Special Weave Tartans tartan traditions Wedding Kilts Weddings

Special Weave Tartans – Custom Tartans for Kilts

At Houstons Kiltmakers we provide the service of Custom, Specially Woven Tartans for clients. These can be tartans that are not stocked by any Mills or tartans that are not readily available from other sources. Houston’s take you through the whole process from Designing and Registering your Tartan to having it Woven and made into a Bespoke Kilt.

Why a Special Weave Tartan?

There are several reasons why you might choose to have a Tartan specially woven:

Perhaps your family name doesn’t have a link to any Clan Tartan and you want to design a Tartan for your family name, or a Private/Corporate tartan.

Ken MacDonald's Tartan Design
A Collection of a few of the Custom Tartans Houston's has Designed for Previous Clients

You might want to recreate a Historical Tartan with custom thread colours or a unique sett.

Custom Weave Stevenson Grey and Original

Or maybe you just want to have your own Tartan designs woven to be made into a special item.

A popular choice is to combine your own family tartan with your Bride’s family tartan, creating a brand new tartan design to commemorate your special day!

For any need, Houstons are more than happy to accommodate any requests for your new tartan.

Tartan Design Options

There are several options to choose from when considering designing your own Tartan.

Our Owner, Ken MacDonald, is an experienced Tartan designer, having created prestigious Tartans ‘American National Tartan’ which was presented to George W. Bush in 2004 and the ‘Glasgow’s Miles Better’ tartan which was made into a pair of Kilts and presented to Prince Charles for Prince William and Prince Harry.

Other designs include the exclusive Bute Heather Range, 10 tartans inspired by Ken’s time visiting the Isle of Bute.

Ken is more than happy to take the ideas you have for a tartan (colour schemes, Setts etc.) and create a personalised tartan with an extra ‘wow’ factor. Ken will tweak his designs until you are completely satisfied with the tartan before it goes for weaving. Often Ken will create a handful of designs from your recommendations, providing CAD images of the Tartans, allowing you to choose your favored design.

You can also try your hand at designing a Tartan – helpful tools such as the STA’s Croft Weaver online application or Houstons MyTartan Apple iPhone/iPad App are good places to start with the creation of your Tartan.

Ken's Bute Heather Tartan Range
Some of the Bute Heather Tartans, Designed by Ken MacDonald

We can take you through the full process, from designing your Tartan, to registering it with the Scottish Register of Tartan, who record new Tartan designs in line with the Scottish Register of Tartans Act 2008.

Tartan Finish Options

Tartan can be woven in a range of weights and materials – we weave in 11oz, 13oz and 16oz (16oz recommended for Kilts). You can also choose your fabric from All Wool, a Wool Mix or Poly-Viscose. We recommend All Wool for a Kilt.

 

Stain-Proofing a Kilt with Teflon Coating Protects Against Spills

Houston’s offer the exclusive service of Teflon coating tartans/kilts to make them stain resistant. This service can only be done at the time of ordering the Kilt. The Teflon coating ensures your kilt it rain, stain and even beers proof! We calculate that over the lifespan of your kilt you will save approximately £180 to £260 on not having to have your kilt dry cleaned as often.

Time Scale for Custom Tartans

The time it takes for the whole process of designing your tartan to having it made into a bespoke kilt can vary from around 3 to 6 months, so it is best to plan ahead and start the ball rolling as soon as possible.

Express services are available, at additional cost, which can reduce the time of delivery of your Kilt.

Costs of a Special Weave Kilt

The cost of a special weave kilt depends on the tartan design and the kilt finish chosen. Prices start from £790, (£660 Tax-Free) (From $1,220 ($1,020 Tax-Free)), customers out with the EU can take advantage of our Tax-Free prices!

The minimum length of tartan to be woven is one bolt length (around 11m Single Width), which means after a Kilt has been made from the cloth there is often off-cuts which can be made into other accessories (tartan flashes, tartan ties etc.). At Single Width (approx. 27 inches wide) it is around £80 per metre (11m provides enough material for a 8 yard Kilt and extra material for accessories such as tartan ties, flashes, ring cushions etc.) and Double Width cloth (approx. 54 inches wide) is around £90 per metre (11m provides enough material for approx. three 8 yard Kilts and material left over for accessories.)

Special Weave Drummond Grey Tartan and the Drummond of Perth Tartan

Further Information

For a quote, please contact Houston Kiltmakers direct via email at shop@kiltmakers.com or call us on +44 141 889 4879, outing the specifics of the bespoke kilt you wish to have made. You can also learn more about Tartan Design here.

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Sporrans – How to Wear Correctly and What are Sporrans for?

Traditional Leather Pouch Sporrans
Leather Sporrans in Old Traditional Styles, Note the Pouch like Shapes

Sporrans come in many different styles and designs, varied for every occasion. This weeks post will cover a history of the Sporran, why it is worn, the different types of Sporrans and look at the range that Houston Kiltmakers stock, from Plain Leather Day Sporrans to Clan Crested Specialist Dress Sporrans.

History of the Sporran

The word Sporran is the Scottish Gaelic word for purse. Most Kilts did not (and still don’t) have pockets cut into the material. This left the wearer with no place to store small items they were carrying – this could have been money, lead musket shot in times of war or perhaps even small quantities of food. The Sporran became a handy pouch that could be worn with a Kilt to give the wearer somewhere to store these items. In modern times these pouches store items such as mobile phones, wallets – even a small hip flask can be concealed inside!

Types of Sporrans

Traditional Sporrans were usually no more than a simple leather pouch. Modern Sporrans come in many different varieties. There are 3 main Sporran Types: Day, Dress and Semi-Dress.

Day Sporrans most resemble traditional Sporrans and are used at less formal event (the name suggests it is for day to day wear). They are often made of all leather with no metal cantle.

Clan Crest Engraved on Leather Day Sporran
A Leather Day Sporran with a Clan Crest Engraved

Dress Sporrans are the most formal style of Sporrans, worn at events such as Weddings and other events where you will be looking your best. Usually made in a wide range of Animal Furs, Dress Sporrans usually can be customized with different cantle style and a choice of a Shiny or Antique finish.

Dress Sporran with Antique Cantle in Light Racoon Fur
A Light Brown Racoon Dress Sporran with Antique Cantle

Semi-Dress Sporrans combine elements from both the Dress and Day Sporrans, often animal fur for the body and leather for the Sporran flap. These are sporrans that can be worn for all occasions when you want to look that little bit sharp. Think of it as a smart but casual sporran!

Black Rabbit Sporran, Semi Dress with Clan Crest
A Clan Crested Black Rabbit Semi Dress Sporran

In addition to these variations of Sporrans there are also Specialist Sporrans, which come in many styles and can often be customized with different cantles, clan crests etc. Horse Hair Sporrans are most commonly associated with Pipe Bands and have long strands of horse hair hanging down from the front.

Pipers Horse Hair Sporran
A Horse Hair Sporran, typically worn by a Piper

How to wear your Sporran Correctly

The Sporran, after the Kilt, is one of the most important pieces of your Highland Outfit, so making sure that it is worn correctly is vital. You should be able to draw a straight line down the front of your outfit and your waistcoat buttons, tie, sporran, buckle and Kilt centre line. (See Picture Below) The only exception to this is when dancing with a partner, the Sporran can be moved to the side in this case to prevent damaging the ladies dress.

Sporran should be approx. 3 finger widths below Belt Buckle
Your Kilt Outfit should all be Worn Inline, with the Sporran Hanging Approx. 3 Finger Widths Below

The top of the sporran should hang down approximately 4 or 5 inches from the top of the Kilt – around 3 finger widths below the top of the Belt Buckle (See Above).

 

Follow this link to see the full range of Houston’s Sporrans, many of which can be customized with different Cantles, Furs and some can be engraved with Clan Crests!

 

 

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Hire Kilt Pin Kilts tartan Weddings

Kilt Pins – How to Wear a Kilt Pin Correctly

The Kilt Pin is a small but key part of a Kilt Outfit. Often its function is misinterpreted and it is commonly used incorrectly. This short guide will tell you everything you need to know about the wearing of a Kilt Pin and some of the different styles of Pin available from Houston Kiltmakers.

Customizable Clan Crested Kilt Pins are Available!

The Kilt Pin is attached to the outer apron on the fringed side of your Kilt, around 2 inches from the bottom of the Kilt and around 1.5 inches in from the fringed edge. The Kilt Pin ONLY goes through the outer apron, it does NOT pin together the outer and inner aprons, as is often mistaken. The function of the Kilt Pin is not to attach the two Kilt aprons to one another.

Kilt Pin Only Goes Through Outer Apron
The Kilt Pin only pierces outer apron, not both apron’s.

The purpose of the Kilt Pin is to weight down the outer apron of the Kilt to prevent it from blowing up in windy situations – possibly embarrassing both the wearer and passers by! For this reason the majority of Kilt Pins are made from metal to give them the weight to hold the outer Kilt apron in place.

Our ‘Top Tips on Wearing a Kilt’ guide offers more details on the positioning of a Kilt Pin and other useful information to make sure you look a million dollars in your Kilt outfit!

Kilt Pin’s come in a wide range of styles in both Shiny and Antique Finishes!

We offer a wide variety of Kilt Pins to suit all style and budgets ranging from palladium plated to solid silver. Different finishes are available, either Shiny or Antique. Customizable Kilt Pin’s are also available with any Clan Crest incorporated into the design. Designs for Kilt Pins vary, but the most popular style is that of a Claymore (Two Handed Sword).

See our full range of Kilt Pins HERE.

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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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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!