Clans and Tartans

If you have questions, we have answers. Many people are interested in kilts, and all things Celtic, but are unsure of the history of this famous garment. Read on for some answers to our most commonly asked questions.

Absolutely not. While there are tartans traditionally associated with a family name or clan, that doesn't mean that you can't sport the tartan of your choice if you prefer. By wearing a tartan, you choose to honor the tradition and the family and do not declare that you are a member of that particular family. Or it could just be a tartan you like.

At one stage, tartans were woven by hand. These days, you are more likely to find the weaving happening at specialized mills. Some tartans are even made on old-world looms. Craftspeople will wind, dye, warp, weave, darn, and finish the fabric to provide you with a carefully, lovingly designed garment that is made to last, even in the harshest of Highland climates.

The Celtic Croft tartans are woven all over the world! Our premium wool tartans are all woven in Scotland, while others are woven in Pakistan or the UK. All of our tartans are woven with care by skilled craftspeople and made from humanely sourced wool.

This is a bit of a guess on our part, but one story goes that years ago, makers of tartans used a yardstick to measure the cloth, and they've never gotten out of the habit. Whatever the real story is, we like to think of tartans as having their unique quirks. Using an unusual measurement guide is just part of the tradition and history around tartans that we want to foster.

Traditionally, tartan is made from heavy material, but now tartan can be made in many different weights. Heavyweight tartans are great for chilly climates, durability, and traditionalism. Medium weight is the most recommended weight for kilts because it is durable yet breathable and will last multiple lifetimes. Lightweight tartan is ideal for warm climates and tartan accessories like shawls. When used for kilts, you can expect the pleats to be less crisp than heavier materials. Spring weight tartan is breathable and light. This weight is ideal for tartan accessories.

These days, we are all more conscious about cultural misappropriation, so it pays to be cautious. Perhaps it's a tartan that holds special significance among the clans or intended only for a select group. But as we mentioned above, you don't have to be a clan member to wear most tartans. You would probably want to show your tartan the same respect as you would any garment of significance. So wear it, but be respectful while doing so.

Whatever suits you is how you pick it. Unless you want to associate your tartan with a particular clan or location, all you need to consider when choosing your tartan is what looks good and feels right to you. There are plenty of tartans to choose from, so it's all up to personal taste and what feels comfortable.

Like any garment, there will be differences in how your tartan looks, feels, and lasts, depending on your chosen fabric. Some fabrics are just generally hardier and more likely to stand up to wear and tear. The essential pleats in your tartan might not be as sharp or show up as well if you choose a less durable fabric. Wool is bound to be warmer than polyester. You may want to have tartans made from different materials, depending on where you live and the climate type.

Single-width tartan is roughly 30 inches wide, while double-width is about 60 inches.

Start with your name, or with the name of an ancestor, if your name isn't particularly Scottish or Irish. Your mother's maiden is an excellent place to start. If you're still struggling to find your family tartan, purchase the Tartan For Me Book, or reach out to us. You may find, though, that there is no tartan explicitly registered to your name. But don't let that stop you, there are universal tartans you can wear!