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Tartan Design

Designing a tartan can be great fun and extremely fulfilling and most new tartans fall into the Personal category or the Name category.

Personal tartans are those designed for the sole use of the owner and can't be woven for other people of the same name unless they have the owner's permission. The fact that they're Personal should be indicated in the name of the tartan. i.e. It should not just be the MacBreeks Tartan but the Ian MacBreeks tartan, or as we enter it into our industry-standard database - MacBreeks, Ian (Personal).

Name tartans are the same except that the owner has given permission for anyone of the same name to wear them and the tartan would simply be MacBreeks.

So the first question to ask yourself is "Do I really need to design a new tartan? Isn't there one there already for my surname?" Some people make the mistake of thinking that because their name is McBreeks instead of MacBreeks that they can't wear the MacBreeks tartan . . . . the two names are the same! McBreeks is just an abbreviated form of MacBreeks just as is M'Breeks and you don't need a new tartan just for a slight spelling variation. If of course your intention is to design a new tartan for you and your family's private use - regardless of how you spell your surname - then you can forge ahead with a clear conscience!

This section takes you through the definition of a tartan, explains about threadcounts, colours, how to actually go about designing your tartan and then some tips on getting it woven.

Good luck!

PS - If your first flush of enthusiasm wears off, then there are other ways of acquiring your tartan.

1. Most weavers have their own design departments and will undertake the task for you. However . . . to get the design work at no charge you may have to order at least 30 or 60 metres, so give thought to what you might need. See more advice at Getting it Woven.

2. There are independent designers around - indeed we at the Scottish Tartans Authority are frequently commissioned to undertake major new designs. We and other independent designers will obviously charge for the service but you may consider it a worthwhile option if you only want a small amount of your tartan woven for a kilt or indeed, you intend using your tartan in a form other than woven..


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