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Highlandwear

Chalk Tartan Design and Custom Weave

Commissioned by Stephen Chalk and his family for his 50th birthday, we designed and weaved this unique custom tartan for a memorable birthday.

Stephen Chalk and his family Commissioned Ewan to Design and weave this unique tartan for his 50th
What a great Birthday present!
One of the most technical tartans Houstons have ever designed with fire orange and Lurex woven through the weft to match his motorbike!
We hope The family enjoy their tartan for generations to come 
A stunning tartan and over a year in the design phase. The kilts will turn out great.

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Highlandwear Kilt Scotland tartan

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

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Made In Scotland Paisley Scotland tartan

About Ken MacDonald – Owner of Houston Kiltmakers

Ken MacDonald is the 3rd generation to run Houston Kiltmakers and is regarded as a world leading designer Tartans. Among his designs include the ‘American National Tartan’, which was presented to US President George W. Bush in 2004 to commemorate Tartan Day and also the ‘Glasgow Mile’s Better’ Tartan used at the Glasgow Garden Festival, which he personally presented to the British Royal Family.

Ken is passionate about Highlandwear & Tartan, and this has led him to roles as Vice Chairman of The Scottish Tartans Authority and Deacon of the Incorporation of Weavers of Glasgow.

We discussed with him how he got started in the Highlandwear industry and his passion for Tartan.

Ken MacDonald and his son, Ewan - 3rd and 4th Generations to work at Houston Kiltmakers

Tell us about yourself and your journey – how did the shop start, and what has been your role in the industry?

The shop was founded in 1909 by my grandfather William Houston as a gentlemen’s outfitters. Over time it developed to supplying Highlandwear and now that’s what we focus on. Houston Kiltmakers is now a 4th Generation family run business as my son, Ewan, has recently joined us in the shop. Using only the best materials sourced in Scotland where possible, our garments are tailored specifically for the customer by craftsmen & women with many years’ experience. This ensures the finest quality products that will last a lifetime. As we have grown over the years we have expanded and now ship Kilts all over the world!

The store is located in Paisley, Scotland (A town right next to Glasgow), where I was born. From a very young age I received my first Kilt and also wore a Kilt to school. I have always had a passion for Highlandwear and I’ve been lucky enough to have an opportunity to work in this industry. I have been involved in Kilt making and Tartan Design for almost 40 years now.

Pictures of Houston's Shop from the early 20th century to the present day

What does your role with the STA and Incorporation of Weavers of Glasgow entail?

Tartan and Kilts are synonymous with Scotland and these traditions must be safeguarded. As a Governor and Vice Chairman of the Scottish Tartan Authority we have been working hard to try to protect and preserve these key pieces of Scottish heritage for future generations.

I was honored to take the role of Deacon of the Incorporation of Weavers of Glasgow during their 500th anniversary year. This ancient craft has been functioning in Scotland since 1514 and they are continuing their historic work into the 21st century. They still provide assistance to local charities and educational establishments, while maintaining connections throughout the UK weaving industry.

Have you ever designed or provided Tartans for the British Royal Family?

Back in 1988 I was asked to design a tartan for use for the staff uniforms at the Glasgow Garden Festival. The ‘Glasgow’s Miles Better’ tartan I designed was used for these uniforms, and when HRH Prince Charles came to visit the festival he was presented with two Kilts in the tartan for his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. It was a great privilege to be able to present the Kilts to HRH Prince Charles in person.

Left: Ken presenting a 'Glasgow's Miles Better' Tartan Kilt to Prince Charles, Right: A note of thanks from President George W. Bush

Tartan has strong links to the royal family, with King George VI leading the revival of Kilt wearing in Scotland in the 19th century and Queen Victoria had a love for tartan too, her husband Prince Albert designed the Balmoral tartan exclusively for Royal use. It was great to see that the royal interest in tartan is still strong.

Where do you get your inspiration for new design ideas?

I get ideas for new Tartan designs from many places, but I would have to say that a strong inspiration for me is the Isle of Bute. I spend quite a bit of my free time on this small island off the west coast of Scotland at my holiday home there. It is good to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city sometimes to help yourself get creative.

I designed our exclusive Bute Heather range of tartans on the island and they really are a strong influence on my work. The scenery on the Island is beautiful and it’s hard to believe that somewhere so peaceful is only a little over an hour away from Glasgow.

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Visit our Buy site at Kiltmakers.com and our Hire site at KiltsForHire.com

Categories
Highlandwear Made In Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan traditions

Clan Tartans in Focus – Clan Campbell

This article examines the Campbell Clan, looking back at their History, studying their Clan Crests and a glimpse at the associated clan tartans!

The Campbell Clan is one of the largest Scottish Clans and historically one of the most powerful. According to the 2001 census, ‘Campbell’ was the 4th most common surname in Scotland.

Clan History

It is thought that the Campbell’s originally hailed from the Strathclyde area on the west coast of Scotland, with strong connections to the Argyll region.  The clan chief of Clan Campbell has been the Earl of Argyll since 1445, then Duke of Argyll from 1701.

The Argyll region of Scotland and the Campbell Clan Crest

In the 14th Centuary the Campbell’s were strong supporters of Scottish Independence, and fought along side Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314

The Campbell’s are perhaps best known for their part in the infamous Massacre at Glencoe, where troops (including several Campbell’s) lead by Robert Campbell of Glenlyon murdered members of the MacDonald Clan in Glencoe on 13th February 1692.
During the two Jacobite uprisings in the 18th centuary, the Campbell’s sided with the British government and fought against the Jacobite armies. The Campbell’s had four divisions of men at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the last battle of the uprising which crushed the rebellion.

Today, the Clan Chief of the Clan Campbell is Torquhil Campbell, 13th Duke of Argyll, who captained Scotland’s Elephant Polo team to victory in the 2004 and 2005 World Elephant Polo Association World Championships.  Inveraray Castle has been the seat of the Duke of Argyll, chief of Clan Campbell, since the 17th century.

Torquhil Campbell, 13th Duke of Argyll (L) and the Scottish Elephant Polo team in  2005, with Campbell in the centre (R)
Torquhil Campbell, 13th Duke of Argyll (L) and the Scottish Elephant Polo team in 2005, with Campbell in the centre (R)

Clan Tartans

The Campbell Tartan is predominantly green and blue, intersected with a black check. The tartan may look quite familiar to many, as it also goes under the name ‘Black Watch‘ – the tartan used extensively in the UK military.

Inverary Castle, surrounded by Clan Campbell Tartans
A variety of Campbell Tartans

There are variations of the tartan based on different locations around Scotland where certain Campbell’s hailed from. These tartans include: Campbell of Argyll, Campbell of Breadalbane, Campbell of Cawdor, Campbell of Lochawe and Campbell of Loudoun. Each design uses the base colours from the Campbell tartan, but add a thin, coloured line through the design.

Clan Crest and Motto

The Clan Campbell crest is of a Boar’s head and they have the motto ‘Ne Obliviscaris’, which is Latin for ‘Forget Not‘)

Houston’s stock many varieties of Campbell Clan Crested accessories here.

Other Useful Links

The Clan Campbell Society of North America (CCSNA) is a great resource to learn more about the Campbell Clan’s history.

Inveraray Castle, the seat of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of Clan Campbell.

View all the Campbell Tartans stocked by Houston Kiltmakers.

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Burn's Night Burn's Supper Céilidh Highlandwear Kilt Kilt Hire Kilts Made In Scotland tartan Wedding Kilts Weddings

Kilt Hire Guide – Find your Perfect Outfit

Houstons offer the largest and best range of Kilt Outfits for hire in the Scotland, with over 110 tartans, 20 styles of super lightweight jackets, three different button options and over 100 ruche tie colours 

Hires start from £75 and range to £145 depending on the rarity of the tartan selected, your jacket style and the finish of your accessories.

We have our Luxury Purple and Grey Tartan range out for 2017 with 22 grey designs and 15 purple designs. These tartans include our EXCLUSIVE Bute Heather range tartans.

Best to download our comprehensive 84 page Hire Brochure to view our exclusive range.

You can see our new range of tartans and price ranges in our latest Hire Leaflet.

Our Hire site can be found at KiltsForHire.com where you can see all Hire tartans, information and videos.

Special Offers – 6 Hires for the Price of 5!

Book 5 Hires and the 6th for groom goes FREE on 20 of our top tartans, 20 Styles of Jackets, 140 colours of Ruche Cravats and our Exceptional high quality service! Learn more HERE!

Wedding Extras

To make your Wedding day extra special we take care of every little detail. We offer Tartan Ring Cushions, Hand Ties, Ladies Garters, Ribbon, Ties, Trim for Dresses, Handbags and Button Holes designed to match with your Kilt design. Find our range of extras HERE, these can be made in ANY tartan on request.

We work closely with Joyce Young Collections who co-ordinate Brides, Mothers, Bridesmaids’ & Guest’s dresses with our Tartans. She also has a factory outlet store open Saturdays in Glasgow, with up to 75% off.

Hire & Buy Offer

If you would like to buy a Kilt in ANY TARTAN (over 14,000!) you can receive a loan of all the accessories for one week absolutely free!

Ideal if you have an upcoming event and would like to build up your Kilt outfit through time! (UK Only) More details on Hire & Buy HERE.

Measurement and Shipping Information

Best to pop in to our store if you can to get measured. Your whole party does not need to get measured at the same time, they can come when available, they just need to mention the party name or groom’s name. If you can’t make it into the shop then you can use our easy to use Self-Measurement guide for HIRING a Kilt Outfit.

We ship in the UK using Interlink Express and Worldwide using DHL.

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Kilts for Sale Made In Scotland Special Weave Tartans tartan Weaving Wedding Kilts

Kilt Buying Guide – 3 Simple Steps to Buying a Kilt

Buying a Kilt can seem like a complicated process, but it is really quite straight forward. This guide will take you through the process step-by-step.

About our Kilts

All our Kilts are Made in Scotland. Our Kilts can be cut for growth so through time if you lose or gain weight your Kilt can be altered accordingly, ensuring your Kilt lasts a lifetime.

All our Houston’s Own 16oz Heavyweight ranges K23b & K24 are Teflon Coated to Stain-Proof your Kilt from spillages, even Beer!

Time Scale and Price

Generally it takes 4 to 8 weeks to make kilt if the cloth is in stock, however we do offer an express service for delivery in 2 weeks at an additional cost of £50.

We recommend you start the process as soon as possible – if the cloth is out of stock at the mill it can take up to 4 to 6 months before it is rewoven.

The cost of a Kilt depends on your chosen Tartan, its rarity and your Kilt finish. Buying a full outfit as a Kilt Pack gives you an overall discount of 10%. Kilts start from £288 (£240 Tax-Free), and Kilt Packs from £620 (£517 Tax-Free).

Current Offers

Step 1 – Choosing Your Tartan

On our website, Kiltmakers.com you can browse through EVERY TARTAN, clan histories and clan crests using our Tartan Finder. Search through Sept names and Tartans anyone can wear!

The most common method of choosing a tartan is to pick one with links to your family name. For instance, if your surname is ‘MacDonald’, you could start by searching for all the ‘MacDonald’ tartans, and picking the design you like the most.

While you are searching you may notice that you find several variation of a tartan, such as Ancient, Modern, Hunting, Dress or Weathered. These colour variations are explained here. The

In cases where a name does not have a direct match for a clan tartan, they might have a Sept match. Septs are surnames that, while not having their own clan, are associated with a clan. For example, instances of the name Reid can be associated with clan Robertson. Members of the Reid family should therefore wear Robertson tartan. Our Tartan Finder will bring up Sept matches to names, making it easy to find the tartan for you.

Along with clan tartans, there is a wide range of regional and district tartans. Example include tartans for each Irish County, American National Tartan, German Heritage, Irish National, Cornish National and so on. Even if your name doesn’t link with a tartan, a regional tartan could be a fine choice.

There is a wide range of ‘Fashion’ tartans, which can be worn by anyone. These are usually modern designs, though there are some blends of more traditional colour palettes. Houston’s exclusive Bute Heather range is an example of these tartans.

If you can’t find the perfect tartan from the selection available, why not have your own custom tartan specially woven? Houston’s owner Ken MacDonald is a renowned tartan designer and we can take you right though the process from designing the tartan to having it registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans and woven for you.

Step 2 – Choosing your Cloth Weight and Mille

Now that you have selected your tartan design, Kilts come as standard in 8 yards (7.4m). Tartan fabric tends to come in 3 weights: Light (11oz), Medium (13oz) and Heavy (16/17oz). For a Kilt we recommend a 16 oz Heavyweight cloth as the pleats sit and swings better, making you look a million dollars.

A Heavyweight cloth is NOT any warmer than a medium or light weight kilt – it is the weight of the jacket which builds up the heat.

You will notice the ‘Stain-Proofed’ tag on many of our tartans – these tartans have a special Teflon Coating which

We are the only kilt shop to stock a 100% Fine Wool Super Lightweight. The custom cut of the jacket has been perfected over 20 years to give the best fit and each jacket has a stain proof coating.

Step 3 – Selecting your Kilt Finish

Kilt Finishes Explained - Explained

At Houston’s we offer a selection of different Kilt finish across a range of prices. Our range of Kilt finishes are explained in more detail here: Kilt Finishes Explained

We recommend Kilt Finish No. 6 – Super Machine Understitched Kilt. It is made to the  same quality that we make Kilts for the MOD (Ministry of Defense) and all army kilts we make.

Additional Information

Upgrade to a full Kilt Packs, starting from £620 or £517 tax free:  Kilt Packs Guide. On all kilt packs over £600 you get a FREE shirt and tie value £60

Can’t make it to the shop? Our Self-Measurement guides and Videos on taking measurements will help you to get the perfect sizes.

We ship in the UK using Interlink Express and Worldwide using DHL. All orders are fully insured and tracked. Orders out with the EU receive TAX-FREE prices!


Hire & Buy Option

Why not take advantage of our Hire & Buy scheme, where you can buy a Kilt in ANY TARTAN and receive a loan of all the accessories for one week absolutely free!

Ideal if you have an upcoming event and would like to build up your Kilt outfit through time! (UK Only) More details on Hire & Buy HERE.

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We can post out FREE Tartan Swatches/Samples in the UK. Samples overseas require £5 p/p charge, which is refundable upon completing your order.

If you need any help with selecting your tartan, wish to make an order or anything other queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Categories
Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Scotland Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan

Clan Tartans in Focus – Clan Gordon

This article examines the Gordon Clan, looking back at their History, studying their Clan Crests and a glimpse at the associated clan tartans!

Clan History

The name Gordon believed to be of Anglo Norman descent. The first known of the name are said to have saved the King from the attack of a wild boar. This is why many believe a boar’s head features on the family coat of arms.

The earliest record of the name confirms the Gordons settled in the Borders of Scotland during the reigns of William the Lion and Malcolm IV.

Sir Adam de Gordon was one of the commissioners who negotiated with Edward I in order to settle the competition over the crown of Scotland. Sir Adam was a faithful follower of Robert the Bruce and was sent to Rome to ask the Pope to reverse the excommunication, placed upon Bruce after he killed John Comyn.

Coat of Arms and Tartans for Clan Gordon
The Gordon Coat of Arms. Gordon Tartan variations including Red Gordon, Weathered and Dress.

British Army Links

The Gordon Highlanders was a infantry regiment of the British Army that existed for 113 years, from 1881 until 1994 when it was amalgamated with the Queen’s Own Highlanders to form the Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons), which was later merged with the Royal Scots Borderers, the Royal Highland Fusiliers , the Black Watch and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to form the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Ancient, Modern and Dress Gordon Tartans and Clan Crest
Ancient, Modern and Dress Gordon Tartan Variations. The Gordon Clan Crest with the motto, 'Bydand'.

Clan Crest and Motto

The clan crest for the Gordon Clan is of a stag’s head atop of a crown. This is surrounded with the clan motto, ‘Bydand’, which translates from Gaelic to traditional Scots as ‘Bide and Fecht’, meaning ‘Stay and Fight’. The Gordon Coat of Arms features the head of a boar, thought to be reference to the boar killed by an early Gordon in protection of the King.

Clan Tartans

There are several Gordon tartans, with perhaps the best recognized being the ‘Dress Gordon’ variation. It has transcended the world of highland wear and became a popular tartan in other fashion items.

Useful Links

House of Gordon USA, whose mission is to preserve  and promote our unique heritage and Celtic culture.

You can learn more of the heritage and history of the Clan Gordon at House Of Gordon.com

You can see our full range of Gordon Tartans here!

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Kilts for Sale Made In Scotland tartan Wedding Kilts

20% off Houston’s Own Range Made to Measure Kilts!

We are running a promotion with 20% off Made to Measure Kilts in any of our Own Range 16oz Heavyweight tartan cloths. Get a custom kilt in a wide range of tartans from £288 

This offer is available on our Super Machine under-stitched Kilt finish. This kilt finish is 60% hand made, with all the preparation completed by hand cutting the scallops to template. Then the kilt is stitched by machine under the pleats, reinforcing the areas around the buckles, straps and belt loops. Finally the kilt is checked and hand finished, and given a super press to keep the pleats nice and sharp.

Visit Kiltmakers.com for more details about this offer and our other special deals!

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Highlandwear Kilt Kilts Scotland Scottish History tartan traditions

Royal Tartans – Tartan Fit for a Queen (Or King!)

The British Royal family have had long ties with the traditional cloth of Scotland and a great affinity towards tartan. This link didn’t just start with the current monarch, but can be traced back hundreds of years!

The Royal Stewart and Royal Balmoral Tartans

While the Dress Act of 1746 under George II brought a ban on Tartan, Kilts & Highlandwear and dented it broad wearership, when it was repealed it proved to kick-start the popularity in Tartan – both with the general public and royalty.

George IV’s visit to Scotland in 1822 gave a real boost to the traditional Scottish dress has he arrived wearing a full Kilt outfit. This started the real love affair with the royals and tartan.

King George IV in a Kilt Outfit on his visit to Scotland

Queen Victoria continued the link with tartan during her reign, often dressing her children in Kilts. Prince Albert, Victoria’s husband, was a keen tartan designer and attributed as the creator of the (Royal) Balmoral tartan – a tartan to be worn exclusively by the royals and specially selected parties. (The Queen’s personal piper is one of they selected few allowed to be dressed in the tartan.)

The Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Charles are all keen wearers of Tartan

Queen Elizabeth is also a keen supporter of Tartan, often seen wearing the cloth at Highland games or on visits to Scotland. Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales is also often spotted in a Highland Outift on public occasions.

The British Royal family and Tartan have always gone hand in hand. As Queen Elizabeth II breaks the record for longest serving monarch, we hope the link continues for many years to come!

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Highlandwear Kilt Scottish Clans Scottish History tartan traditions

Clan Tartans in Focus – Clan Anderson

This article examines the Anderson Clan, looking back at their History, studying their Clan Crests and a glimpse at the associated clan tartans!

Clan History

The Anderson Clan has links stretching back to St. Andrew, the Patron Saint of Scotland. Anderson literally means ‘Son of Andrew’. The name Anderson was recorded as early as the 13th century. As the name Anderson is so wide spread in Scotland, it is hard to narrow down to a specific area where the Anderson’s originally hailed from. It is generally agreed that the region they most likely call ‘home’ is the traditional district of Badenoch.

Clan Anderson came from Badenoch
Clan Crest for the Anderson Clan and Map of their Origins

Clan Crest and Motto

The Clan Crest of the Anderson Clan is of an Oak Tree and their motto is ‘Stand Sure’. The motto reflects both the Oak Tree and the lasting of the Anderson name – the Oak Tree grows strong and lives for a long time, similar to the Anderson Clan.

Clan Tartan

The Anderson Tartan is a particularly popular design. An elaborate tartan, it incorporates several colours and many thin stripes. Mainly a blue design, it also features green, red, yellow, white and black.

Anderson Clan Tartan
Ancient, Modern and Muted Versions of the Anderson Tartan, the Thread Count and a Digital Image of the Tartan

Other Useful Links

The Anderson Clan Society is a useful place to start if you are looking for more details about the clan.

 You can see the full range of Anderson Tartans that we stock here!