Tartan Designer: colour palettes

Simple Colours

Tartans are traditionally recorded only as broad colour descriptions rather than exact shades. So we recommend using the simple colour palette if you are designing a tartan with a view to official recording. Schools and other beginners will probably also find this the easiest choice to work from.

The colours shown in this palette are organised into the ten main colour groups (reds, greens, purples, etc.) conventionally recorded by the Scottish Tartans Authority. Each colour has a mid-, a light, and a darker shade. This reflects how tartans have traditionally been described, with sometimes large variations in how these are interpreted by individual weavers.

The actual shades chosen for the Simple Palette have in fact been taken from the Weavers’ Palette. So if you design a tartan you like with this palette and request us to weave it for you, the results should be reasonably accurate (bearing in mind the inevitable variation in a process like this).

Weaver’s Colours

Our Weaver’s Palette is based on actual photographs of a range of around 100 pre-dyed yarns which are normally held in stock by our weavers. A large scale image of the actual yarn cone for each colour can be seen by clicking on the Enlarge link below each small image in the Palette.

The yarns our weavers hold in stock are, almost by definition, the most common shades used for weaving traditional tartans, so should be suitable for most designs. However, for weaving orders (other than corporate commissions using the Professional Palette) we reserve the right to substitute an alternative within the same broad colour group (e.g. light greens) should the specific yarn chosen be unavailable for any reason.

Please also see our notes on colour variations in tartans and other woven fabrics. You cannot assume that the colours you see on your screen will look exactly the same when woven, and differences can sometimes be great.

Professional Colours

Pro colours will incur a significant surcharge.

Our Professional Palette is more flexible than either the Simple or the Weavers’ Palettes. There is no restriction on the number of colours you can include in a design using the ‘Pro’ Palette. And there is a full-spectrum colour picker, enabling you to include any shade of your choice.

The reason for these restrictions in the two ’standard’ palettes is that we can guarantee the price of weaving in up to six shades using yarns that are held in stock. But more complex patterns are more time-consuming to weave. Non-standard shades also require specialist dying which is not economic for small batches, plus there is an administrative cost of providing samples for approvaletc.

Therefore, if you commission a fabric to be woven using colours from the Professional Palette, there will almost inevitably be surcharges, which might be significant. We can quote for these only on a case-by-case basis depending on your requirements, which we will be happy to do. Our normal schedules and pricing do not apply, and we will discuss your needs with you before proceding.

However, this should be balanced against the fact that we give substantial volume discounts on larger fabric orders. And for corporate customers ordering fabric in bulk we may be able to waive some or all of the special production surcharges. Please enquire.

Categories Help Centre Fabrics Tartan/ fabric design Choosing colours
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