Steven Patrick Sim - Independent Tartan Designer
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New Official Soft Toy now Launced! - Abbey McBrothock! Arbroath's Red Lichtie Tartan Westie! Available to buy online


Orders are still being taken for Angus McLichtie, limited bears left. Contact me to enquire if your preferred number is available!

Belle McRock is now sold out!

Kilt Prize draw will be held after Angus sells out!

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Tartan is truly an emotive fabric, and over the past 50 years or so has developed into a multi-million pound industry, dominated by a small number of large conglomerate mills.

Today tartan has a unique record of textile history and, along with the kilt and bagpipes, has come to symbolise the cultural identity of the whole Scottish nation.

Tartan is a pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical stripes in multiple colours, and is particularly associated with Scotland, with the Scottish kilt almost always having a tartan pattern. Originating in woven wool, but now made in many other materials.

Tartan is one of the patterns known as plaid in North America, but in Scotland, a plaid is a tartan cloth slung over the shoulder, or a blanket.

Tartan is made with alternating bands of coloured (pre-dyed) threads woven as both warp and weft at right angles to each other. The weft is woven in a simple twill, two over - two under the warp, advancing one thread each pass. This forms visible diagonal lines where different colours cross, which give the appearance of new colours blended from the original ones. The resulting blocks of colour repeat vertically and horizontally in a distinctive pattern of squares and lines known as a sett.

The Dress Act of 1746 attempted to bring the warrior clans under government control by banning the tartan and other aspects of Gaelic culture. When the law was repealed in 1782, it was no longer ordinary Highland dress, but was adopted instead as the symbolic national dress of Scotland.

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the highland tartans were associated with regions or districts, rather than by any specific clan.

This was because tartan designs were produced by local weavers for local tastes and would tend to make use of the natural dyes available in that area.

The patterns were different regional checked cloth patterns, chosen and worn simply based on preference - in the same way as people nowadays choose what colours and patterns they prefer in their clothing. Thus, it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that specific tartans became associated with Scottish clans or Scottish families, or simply institutions who were (or wished to be seen as) associated in some way with a Scottish heritage.

It is generally stated that the most popular tartans today are the Black Watch (also known as Old Campbell, Grant Hunting, Universal, Government) and Royal Stewart. Today tartan is no longer limited to textiles but is used on non-woven mediums, such as paper, plastics, packaging, and wall coverings.

A clan tartan represents your clan, however it does not necessarily mean this was the same tartan your ancestors wore hundreds of years ago. Traditionally, Highlanders would have chosen any tartan, depending on local availability. You are quite free to do the same. However, today tartan can now hold special meaning, to the wearer, and whenever you wear a tartan you are identifying yourself with whatever that particular tartan represents, be it a district, corporation, family or clan etc. In most cases a person will wear a tartan that they feel identifies them with some part of their heritage.

Whether or not there is a tartan representative of your surname, there is nothing wrong with wearing a tartan other than this.

Today many new tartans are designed as 'fashion' tartans. In many cases these are created with some fanciful 'theme' in mind, or to simply produce some aesthetic design. (These tartans having no connection with any heritage or history at all).

However the wonderful thing about tartan is, quite simply, if the wearer takes enjoyment from and appreciates the tartan, that's all that matters.

Note: some of the above information has been shared under a CC license - Source: Wikipedia.

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