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How a kilt is made: the 7 stages of hand-weaving tartan

By Nick Fiddes

A kilt is one of a man's great purchases, likely lasting him a lifetime. You need to know you're investing wisely. So you want to be confident about where your tartan comes from, who is handling your order with care, and that your kilt is made to proper traditional standards.

Scotweb CLAN is the world's only company that displays almost every rare tartan in every palette, and which even lets you design your own online. These can all be custom woven as single garment lengths for expert tailoring into kilts (and dozens more bespoke items. So who better to show you in detail how it's done?

Weaving tartan: picking and winding your yarns

By Nick Fiddes

When you order your tartan from us, our first task is to select yarn shades for your fabric, usually made with reference to our archive of historic samples that we believe to be the largest tartan library in existence. This is how we choose shades for our tartans, and ready them for production.

Weaving tartan: stake-warping your kilt length

By Nick Fiddes

The next stage in weaving the tartan fabric for your kilt is called stake-warping. The lengthwise threads on a loom are called the 'warp" (the weft being the threads that cross from side to side, which we'll come on to later. Every single-width tartan we produce at DC Dalgliesh is still warped entirely by hand!

Weaving tartan: tying-on to the loom

By Nick Fiddes

When the warp length is ready, our next task is to get it onto the loom. This is perhaps the most impressive skill of all. To make the fabric regular, each yarn thread must pass through a gate of thin vertical wires, called a heddle. Rather than thread each weave through this fine mesh over a thousand times, we keep a remnant of the last weave in place on the loom. Then we can knot the new yarns onto its tail-ends to guide the new warp through the heddle.

Weaving tartan: chain-making for the sett pattern

By Nick Fiddes

A chain is made for every job, because each tartan sett is unique. In a sense this chain is a computer program, which makes the weaving process faster. But it's a very very simple one. In fact, the barrel in which the shuttles holding the weft yarns sit has six spaces, for up to six colours.

Weaving tartan: weaving your fabric on the loom

By Nick Fiddes

Many firms boast about their shiny, fast, modern equipment. We beg to differ. We're proud that our oldest looms are almost a century old. Our single-width machines started life as pedal looms, and the pedals are still there. But we've bolted motors onto them nowadays to to save our weavers' legs! This choice isn't nostalgia, and nor are we luddites. Nor is it to save money either. At DC Dalgliesh we still use traditional production methods for good reason. The very finest tartans can only be produced on traditional shuttle looms. And that's something we care deeply about.

Weaving tartan: inspection and hand-darning

By Nick Fiddes

At last your tartan is visible in all its glory. But the fabric is far from ready. Two important processes remain before we can deliver to you a tartan worthy of the DC Dalgliesh name. The first of these starts with a careful inspection.

Weaving tartan: finishing the fabric

By Nick Fiddes

Quality control is not just a final step in our process. Our reputation relies on getting the product perfect every time. So quality always comes first. Every member of the production team is responsible for checking quality standards at every stage of the process. And if any imperfection arises they are empowered to stop for as long as it takes to rectify the issue, including re-weaving a fabric length from scratch if necessary.

What are Scottish clans? Find your family's clan

By Nick Fiddes

Our modern word "clan" comes from clanna in Scottish Gaelic, which means "children" or "offspring". And a clan is known by its chief's surname. So it's basically an extended family, right?

No, wrong. A clan is much more than that. It's not an ethnic group at all. You don't need to descend from a common ancestor to share the benefits of belonging to a clan. As we'll explain, clans are born of social ties more than blood ties.

Wearing a Sgian Dubh - all you need to know

By Nick Fiddes

Ever wondered about the fancy wee knife you see sticking out of the sock below a kilt? Wonder no further!