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  • admin 3:51 pm on January 27, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Heritage, information, , , , , , Scottish, , , ,   

    The Scottish Kilt 

    Scottish  Kilt


    The Scottish Kilt is traditionally 8 yards ( 7.4 metres ) of pure new wool.

    Always made in Scotland.
    There are literally thousands of tartans to choose from. We will go into tartan in another post
    The weight of cloth is important to think about.
    16/17oz cloth ( Heavy weight ) is the best weight of authentic Scottish Kilt cloth as it sits and hangs and gives the best swing to the pleats. It is not any warmer than a 13oz kilt.
    For Larger guys heavy weight is by far the best cloth to use as it hangs much better over the belly and holds shape and looks a million dollars!
    13oz Medium weight is acceptable if you are under a 44/46″ waist
    19oz to 21oz is regimental weight cloth – only 6 tartans are woven in this weight now
    Traditionally the Scottish kilt is 100% hand made.
    The kiltmaker will take half a day to check the cloth, check sizes and prepare the tartan.
    The kiltmaker will then take around two days to make each kilt, there are around 6000 to 7500 stitches
    22 to 28 deep knife pleats ( Note kilts can be box pleated if you wish )
    All reinforced double stitched round the key areas where you get the most wear and tear.
    Houston’s make kilts with 3 buckles and straps so the customer has 1.5″ of adjustment either way
    All kilts are cut for growth so that they can be adjusted a few inches in years to come.
    Kilts can be made to normal sett where the pleats at the back are folded to repeat the tartan exactly ( so front and back of kilt looks exactly the same) or they can be regimental sett also called sett to the line where the kiltmaker will take one of the symmetrical predominant pivot lines and sett each pleat to that line so you just see lines down the back of the kilt and the front and back of the kilt looks totally different.. Note 90% of customers go with a normal sett kilt.
    Kilts normally take 6 to 8 weeks to make as long as the cloth is in stock. Kilts can be expressed quickly in a few weeks or a few days if required at a little extra
    If cloth has to be woven then kilts can take up to five or 6 months to make. That is why we always recommend booking at least six months before your function date if you can.
    Houston Kiltmakers is  a 4th generation family business based in Paisley established in 1909 by William.M Houston. Mr Houston’s Great grandson Ewan William MacDonald is now running the business and is passionate about .   At Houstons we have kiltmakers with decades of experience.
    If you are interested in getting a bespoke Authentic Scottish kilt you can come into the shop any time we are open

    or email shop@kiltmakers.com or if you are wanting to talk to one of the best then email

     
  • admin 10:16 am on June 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Handmade, , Kiltpin, , , , Scottish, , , Workroom   

    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!

    ———————————–

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

     ————————————

    *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.

     
  • admin 3:28 pm on January 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , How to, , How to Wear a Sgian Dubh Correctly, , Scottish, ,   

    Sgian Dubh – History of the Sgian Dubh and How to wear it Correctly 

    If you have ever seen someone dressed in a Kilt or Highland Outfit you might have noticed, peeking out the top of one of the wearers hose, a hilt of a small knife. This little detail on the Highland Outfit is the topic of today’s post, the Sgian Dubh.

    Where does the Sgian Dubh go?

    The correct Wearing of a Sgian Dubh

    History of the Sgian Dubh

    There are many origin stories of the Sgian Dubh (pronounced ‘ski-en doo’), but the most common tale is that it had its beginnings as a dagger held under the armpit as a hidden blade. When entering a house a visitor would hand over his weapons and reveal any hidden blades as an act of trust. This hidden blade would be displayed at the top of the sock or stocking for the host to see. This is the position where the Sgian Dubh is worn today.

    In the early days these small knives would have been used as a hunters knife to skin animals.

    In the modern Highland Outfit the Sgian Dubh has taken a more aesthetic than practical role, adding some decoration to the Kilt Hose.

    How to Wear a Sgian Dubh

    A Sgian Dubh should be worn down the sock on the same side as your dominant hand (Left sock if left-handed, right sock if you are right-handed.) It should be positioned with only the hilt (handle) protruding from the top of your hose. (See image)

    Types of Sgian Dubh

    Silver Dress Sgian Dubh with Gemstone Handle

    Dress Sgian Dubh with Purple Gemstone in the Hilt

    In the same way that there are different types of Sporrans for different occasions, Sgian Dubh have variations for when you are wearing them. There are 2 main types of Sgian Dubh.

    Day Sgian Dubh

    Simlarly to the Day Sporran, these Sgian Dubhs are made for less formal events. The handles can produced in many different materials from Stag Horn to Oak and everything in between!

    Dress Sgian Dubh

    Again, much like the Dress Sporran, these Sgian Dubhs are suited to formal events (Weddings, Black Tie events etc.). These also come in many variations, often with the option of customization with a clan crest. They come in many different materials, usually with some metal plating. They can also be made in solid silver for those very special functions! Many variations have a decorative gemstone at the base of the hilt, which can be changed.

    Safety Sgian Dubh

    This replica Sgian Dubh looks just like the real thing, however the sheath does not contain a blade. This is a great safe option for kids (and adults!) to prevent themselves getting cut on the blade. A Safety Sgian Dubh can also be worn in situations where it isn’t possible to carry a blade – traveling overseas to some destinations for instance.

    Safety Imitation Sgian Dubh for Kids and Adults

    A Safety Imitation Sgian Dubh - Looks just like the real thing!

    As you can see there are Sgian Dubh’s for every occasion. All are worn the same, but can give your outfit a different look depending on the event you are wearing your Highland Outfit too!

    Houston’s offer a wide range of both Dress and Day Sgian Dubh’s, some with the option of having Clan Crests attached, customizable Gemstone colours and a variety of finishes.

    You can see our range of Sgian Dubh’s here.

     
  • admin 3:10 pm on August 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Scottish, ,   

    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!

     
  • admin 12:10 pm on June 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Football, Football Team, Kit, national, , Scottish, Sport,   

    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!

     
  • admin 9:29 am on June 9, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Scottish,   

    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!

     
    • Peter MacDonald 9:23 am on February 8, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Leaving aside the arguement about whether Rawlinson ‘invented’ the kilt, the feileadh beag of the early-mid 18th century was quite different to a modern kilt. It was made from the uncut full width of the web, unlined and had drape pleats rather than sewn ones.

  • admin 7:14 pm on November 13, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Irish, Irish tartan, , , Scottish, ,   

    Choosing an Authentic Scottish Tartan 

    The first step in choosing your Highland wear outfit is to choose your tartan. Here at Houston’s we can inform you of the correct tartan for your crest or family name. You can also find tartans, crest histories and video clips explaining everything you need to know as well as a 60 page buy brochure with kilt packs, accessories, order details & measurements, with questions and answers on-line at our Web Site: http://www.kiltmakers.com Scotland has many district, town and clan tartans as well as National tartans for example the Scottish National, Flower of Scotland, Braveheart, Spirit of Scotland, Scotland the Brave, Isle of Skye, Millennium tartan, Monarch of the Glen, Spirit of Bannockburn and our own designs, ‘St Mirren’ ‘Scottish Heather’ and ‘Bute Heather’ collection, Irish Districts, Irish National, Irish Blood, Welsh National, Cornish National, Canadian and some American, like New York and American National designed by Houstons. The beauty of these tartans is that anyone can wear them with pride. Most Scottish clans have their own tartan, if not you will find that they are affiliated to a clan which does.

     

    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.

    If its nae Scottish, its nae good!

    If you are considering buying a highland outfit, no matter what you choose the most important thing is to make sure you are buying authentic Scottish products! The highland wear industry has suffered with the increase of cheap imported goods from overseas. Highland wear is significant in Scotland and those who wear it often speak of how wearing a kilt evokes feelings of pride and Scottish Patriotism. Wearing a kilt makes you feel quintessentially Scottish and this is emphasised by the authenticity of having a kilt made in Scotland by a traditional kilt maker. Wearing a kilt makes you look and feel a million dollars. You can spend as much or as little as you wish on a bespoke kilt pack depending on your budget, but whatever amount you decide to spend, spend it on the real MacCoy! A kilt is a man’s old faithful friend; most men will own only one in their life. It will last you a lifetime, and can be passed down through the generations as an heir loom. A kilt is truly a garment that will last you a life time, but remember… if it’s nae Scottish, it’s NAE GOOD!

     

     
  • admin 3:08 pm on August 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , products, Scottish, self measurement,   

    Authentic Scottish Goods 

    Tartan is unique to Scotland. As part of its national dress it has developed from the roughly woven plaid, coloured from local pigment dyes, in which early Highlanders wrapped themselves for battle to some of the highest quality and intricate designs that can be bought today.

    Your kilt pack is a made to measure outfit and should fit perfectly so your measurements are very important! Houston’s have a self measurement guide which is available to download.  The guide shows you how to measure for your full highland outfit. For further help we also have videos to show you how to measure each item of your kilt pack available to view on kiltmakers tv

    If you are considering buying a highland outfit, no matter what you choose the most important thing is to make sure you are buying authentic Scottish products! The highland wear industry has suffered with the increase of cheap imported goods from overseas.

    Highland wear is significant in Scotland and those who wear it often speak of how wearing a kilt evokes feelings of pride and Scottish Patriotism. Wearing a kilt makes you feel quintessentially Scottish and this is emphasised by the authenticity of having a kilt made in Scotland by a traditional kilt maker.

    Wearing a kilt makes you look and feel a million dollars. You can spend as much or as little as you wish on a bespoke kilt pack depending on your budget, but whatever amount you decide to spend, spend it on the real MacCoy! A kilt is a man’s old faithful friend; most men will own only one in their life. It will last you a lifetime, and can be passed down through the generations as an heir loom. A kilt is truly a garment that will last you a life time, but remember… if it’s nae Scottish, it’s NAE GOOD!

     

     
  • admin 2:37 pm on June 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: app, , , cloth, , kilt weights, , loom, my tartan, Scottish, Scottish tartans authority, septs, special, , , , , , weave, Weavers,   

    Special Weave Tartans 

    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 shop@kiltmakers.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

     Clans

    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.

    Sept Tartans

    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 http://www.kiltmakers.com to find out if you family name is affiliated to any other clan.

    Irish Septs

    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.

    Tartan

    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.

    Weaving Looms

    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

    Modern tartans are woven in rich, dark colours. The colours are always stronger and can be worn with navy blue or black jackets.

      Ancient

    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

    Hunting tartan tends to be woven in darker colours, more commonly in green for a camouflage effect.

     Dress Tartan

    Dress tartans are basically any of the above tartans woven with lots of white through the design. Dress tartans are generally worn by women.

     Kilt Weights

    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.

    Teflon Coating

    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 http://www.kiltmakers.com/tv/

     
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