Tartan Ferret


We should really start by pointing out that, somehow or other, America has come to use the word plaid (pr: plad) as being interchangeable with tartan whereas, back here in Scotland, we reserve the word to describe the truncated upper portion of the  great belted plaid, the  feilidh-mhor or breacan-an-feile both  Gaelic terms, the former meaning  "large wrap" and the latter meaning "tartan wrap".  Plaid comes from the Gaelic and roughly means blanket. Having dispensed with the semantics, now we can talk about them!

Long Plaid or Pipers' Plaid 
This is a full length plaid which consists of approximately three and a half yards of  54inch wide tartan (3.2 metres x 137cms) with the ends fringed. In Scotland this plaid is worn almost exclusively by pipers in Pipe Bands, either civilian or Regimental. It is very rarely worn by the individual as it is rather clumsy to wear.

Piper's plaid front  Piper's plaid from the back








Its origin in history was that the long plaid was the upper part of the kilt or feile mor which was used to cover the head and shoulders in bad weather. When not in use it was wrapped around the body of gathered on either shoulder at the back to prevent impeding the movements of the arms as much as possible.

Drummers will wear the fly plaid rather than the long plaid as they need plenty of freedom for their arms and a long plaid would impede that.

Small Plaid or Fly Plaid
There's no set size for fly plaids and they can vary from a small one about a metre (39 inches) square up to a larger one measuring about 1.4 metres (56 inches) square, to an even larger one of 1.8 x 1.37 metres (6 feet x 54 inches). Some have one corner gathered and sewn for pinning over the shoulder, others are ungathered so that it's easier to drape over the shoulders of a shivering partner and/or is easier to press (iron) if it gets crumpled.

It's important to order your fly plaid at the same time as your kilt so that both are cut from the same length of fabric - that way, they'll match exactly. Buying a plaid later on may result in a bit of a mismatch since the fabric may be from a different dye batch or even from a different weaver. Plaid & fringe photos below courtesy of Keltoi Celtic Clothing, Kitchener, Ontario.

Small plaid, rear view  Long laid, rear view


Plain fringe   Purl fringe.

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Scottish Tartans Authority (Scottish limited company no. 162386), Fraser House, Muthill Road, Crieff, Perthshire, PH7 3AY
Scottish Charity Number SCO24310

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