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Scottish tartans

autumn | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

My husband has his heart set on having me make him a plaid vest. However, all the fabric I’ve found on-line is over $40/yard. I just can’t see paying that. It doesn’t have to be imported from Scotland, just a nice — probably wool — plaid suitable for a vest. It might have to be lined. I’d appreciate any ideas you might have about where to find this fabric. It should be an authentic clan tartan.


  1. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #1

    Autumn, you have just contradicted yourself. An authentic wool tartan is made in Scotland. And yes, it is going to cost upwards of $40.00 a yard. That is why they are authentic. They are woven in the traditional colours and patterns, usually by hand, like the authentic Harris Tweeds are. Some mills will machine weave wool in the more common tartans or the universal tartans and sell them for a little less, but they are not marketed as authentic tartans. A good quality wool is still going to cost a pretty penny. Depending on which clan you are looking for, you may be able to find it in a blend, but that depends on how common of a name it is. They are out there, it is just a matter of finding it. It is a lot easier when plaids are in fashion. Your best bet is to contact the online stores. They often have stuff they do not show online. Cathy

    Edited 10/6/2008 2:43 pm ET by ThreadKoe

    1. autumn | | #7

      I guess I meant by "authentic", that it was a clan tartan, not that it was made in Scotland. I know you can buy various plaid fabrics that are "real" clan designs, but I don't know where to go to get them.

      1. damascusannie | | #8

        Not really of any help but just a Bader-Meinhof moment today at the thrift store where I found a beautiful Woolrich kilt-style plaid skirt. I've wanted one of these for thirty years! And then, to cap it off, there was a beautiful deep salmon Pendleton wool sweater that perfectly matches the narrow salmon colored stripe in the plaid, so I got a high-quality 100% wool outfit for winter for $7 TOTAL! I can't wait to wear it!

  2. jane4878 | | #2


    I just bought double wide (54") Macrae purple dress tartan for $80/metre and that's a good price.  There are different weights--Scotwebstore is a good place to check out what's available in different fabrics and weights.  It also depends what tartan he wants.  I found some nice Canadian made poly/viscose tartan in Black Watch, Thompson's Camel, Nova Scotia and Maple Leaf at Marshalls for $8-$13/m.  You can get Black Watch and Royal Stewart in everything from 21 oz wool to cotton and flannel.  You should not buy a tartan that is not made in Scotland.  Some authentic tartans are also made in Canada, but they're no cheaper.  You could try finding an old kilt in a second hand store and some of the sites that sell tartans for highland dancing occasionally have sales.  You may have to bite the bullet and buy him some.  If he's OK with it--only the front has to be tartan.  I've been searching for quite awhile and finally took the plunge--I bought 3.5 m. for a kilt for my daughter.

    If you're anywhere near a Highland Games you may be able to find booths at the games that sell tartans.


    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #4

      Sorry Jane, should have thought to direct this inquiry directly to you! Must have had a cheesey moment. tee hee. Thanks for the help. Cathy

  3. Malindi | | #3

    Is your husband entitled to wear a clan tartan? If he hasn't Scottish ancestry then the only plaid he should wear is the Black Watch.

    1. jane4878 | | #5

      I think tartan choice is more rigid if you have a clan. There's lots of non specific tartans. i.e Flower of Scotland, a lot of the provinces and US states have their own, various countries, various military services (armies, regiments, airforces etc) Scotwebstore has an e-book on line about kilts and it includes suggestions on what tartans non-Scots can wear. There's even a beautiful black on black tartan. (Dark Isle I think) Only a handful of tartans are exclusive. In Highland dancing a lot of the dress tartans can be worn by anyone. There's no law that you can't wear a clan's that you don't belong to, but you might feel like a bit of a poser.

    2. autumn | | #6

      Actually he is, but I think anyone can wear whatever plaid they want to -- unless you are in Scotland and are afraid of being beaten up.

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