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When does a Check become a Tartan?

All Tartans are Check patterns, but not all Check patterns are Tartans – why?

Tartan Patterns are affiliated to Families, Districts and Towns, Companies, and Charities. Here are some examples...

Families – Bartlam

Districts and Towns – Aberlour Bicentenary 

Companies – Newmill

Charities - Buchanhaven Heritage

The development of Tartan is a living history. New tartan patterns are being designed all the time and can be registered at The Scottish Register of Tartans.

Tartan patterns are formed by a series of vertical (warp) threads laid out in a predetermined pattern or ‘sett’, crossed by horizontal (weft) threads, usually in the same pattern to form a symmetrical design. The selection of colours and sett are often based on existing Tartan Patterns. For example one Tartan Sett can be made in different colourings; EG Dress, Hunting, Mourning.

While working at Johnstons of Elgin, John designed various ranges of tartan replacing the traditional tartan colours while using the original setts.

Antique – imagining how the original colours made from vegetable dyestuffs would naturally have faded through time

Natural replacing original colours with different depths of natural shades from ecru to dark brown

Grey – replacing original colours with different depths of mixture grey

Autumnal using colours inspired by the rural, autumn scenes of Scotland.

Jacobite changing the traditional colours to a rich palette of burgundy, petrol blue, forest green, and rich tans.

Heather introducing mixture/melange shades to produce a more rustic look. Tartan meets Tweed!

Check Patterns can follow the same rules but do not necessarily have the affiliation to family names, districts or businesses. Exceptions to this would include Burberry, Daks, and Aquascutum etc.



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