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The Plaid - how the traditional Scottish Highland cloak or wrap evolved

By Nick Fiddes

Do you know what a plaid is? We'll wager you've some idea. But very few people really understand. Because the word plaid can mean a tartan, a check, a tartan-like pattern, and a fabric - as well as various garments..

The key to understanding plaids is that it's an old Scottish word for blanket or wrap. That's why across the world the word plaid has come to have three overlapping but different meanings. These describe the crisscross pattern of tartans or similar; the fabrics or cloth woven in those tartan-style patterns; and a type of traditional garment worn in various styles.

In Scotland, the word plaid is seldom used to mean a tartan-like fabric. Instead plaid refers mostly to various kinds of draped costume for both men and women. Read on to learn more about each of these.

What is plaid versus tartans or checks? Bet you don't know all the differences!

By Nick Fiddes

First, a confession. Before writing this article, even I was hardly aware of all the uses of the word plaid. Even in Scotland we get a wee bit muddled. So it's little surprise that dictionaries, reference sites, and even kilt authorities also get their definitions of plaid and tartan confused or just plain wrong. But it's really simple, as you'll see.

Casual kilts or five yard kilts - a buyer’s guide

By Nick Fiddes

The first decision facing anyone choosing a kilt is which or the two main kilt styles to choose - traditional or casual. So here we'll explain what distinguishes casual kilt or five yard kilt from its older 'big brother' the traditional eight yard kilt. And if you want yours to do you credit for years, we'll tell you what to look out for when choosing - and what to avoid!

Spotlight on Poly-viscose fabric - its uses, nature, benefits and drawbacks

By Nick Fiddes

An occasional series delving deeper into the qualities and origins of the various fabrics we offer. Although polyviscose makes up only a small part of our vast range of British fabrics, it's one of the least understood materials which we're asked about most often.

Upholstery fabrics in tartan and tweed

By Nick Fiddes

This week I've been upholstering a bench cushion in tartan for the kitchen. While sewing it, I was reflecting just how often people ask us what weight or finish of fabrics is best for the upholstery of chairs, sofas etc. We sell about as much tartan and tweed material for furniture projects as for clothing. So I thought it could be helpful to write up our usual advice for projects throughout your home (or car, boat, caravan, etc.)

Picking the right fabric for upholstery depends on several questions. These include the level of duty the item you're upholstering will see - whether it will suffer heavy abrasion or only see light use. And you might need your fabric to match an existing material it's replacing, or fit the colour scheme of other fabrics in your project. You should also ask yourself if stains, moisture, or cleaning are likely to be an issue, especially for kitchens and bathrooms. Then there's trims and piping to consider, where tartans tweeds can add real distinction. And the size of the furniture piece you're upholstering may affect the scale of the tartan or tweed pattern you choose. Let's quickly drill down a little deeper into each of these questions.

7 universal tartans that anyone can wear (including a big surprise!)

By Nick Fiddes

Probably the most common question we're asked at CLAN Scotweb HQ is "what tartan can I wear?". We always find a few plaids to wear with pride. But which tartans should you wear if you've no connections with Scotland? Here are seven ideas for universal tartans that can be worn by anyone. And we'll save the best for last!

Today some tartans are seen as universal, so anyone can wear these plaids whatever their background. Most famous is Royal Stewart tartan, originally designed for Queen Victoria. Then there's Black Watch tartan, which now commemorates Scotland's most famous regiment. Other examples include Macleod Dress or 'Loud Macleod' to its fans, Lindsay which is so popular it's almost public property, Dress Stewart which is much loved for womenswear, Scotland Forever that is Scotland's gift to the world. Lastly (wait for it!) there's... almost any tartan on earth. Want to know why?

Tartan Tuesday: Clan Fraser of Lovat

By Kirsty McIntyre

Get to know the history of clan Fraser of Lovat - the stars of TV's Outlander!

A Very Scottish Halloween!

By Kirsty McIntyre

On Halloween, here are some of the most notorious Scottish ghosts and ghouls. Perfect for chilling ghost stories as the witching hour approaches...

Tartan Tuesday: Clan Keith

By Kirsty McIntyre

Learn more about one of the most powerful clans in Scottish history.

What Tartan Can I Wear?

By Dmitriy Maslenitsyn

Learn the answers to some of the most common tartan questions we get, including how to find the perfect tartan from the thousands of tartans out there!