Help With Tartan - FAQ's
WHERE CAN I FIND MY FAMILY / CLAN TARTAN?
Browse or search hundreds of tartans in seconds using our tartan finder. If you can't find a tartan linked to your family name, see the additional questions already answered below!
MY TARTAN IS AVAILABLE IN DIFFERENT WEIGHTS, WHICH DO I CHOOSE?
Some Scottish tartans are available in up to three different weights. Here's a guide:
Lightweight 11oz - Often used for ladieswear; skirts, scarves, sashes, shawls and certain men’s products such as waistcoats and smaller items, but usually too light for kilts. One square yard weighs approximately 11oz.
Mediumweight 13oz - Suitable for any garment, large or small, men’s or ladies. It's the perfect 'middle ground' choice and is available for the majority of tartans. One square yard weighs approximately 13oz. Most kilts use mediumweight 13oz tartan.
Heavyweight 16oz - Used for men’s products such as kilts, fly plaids & upholstering furniture. One square yard weighs approximately 16oz.
To make it easier, we've hidden heavyweight tartans for ladies products and lightweight tartans for men’s kilt products.
I SEARCHED MY FAMILY NAME AND A DIFFERENT TARTAN APPEARED?
Not to worry, this is supposed to happen. Whether it be due to migration, illiterate scribes or language barriers, the majority of surnames, as we know them today, have evolved over thousands of years. In most cases, scribes would struggle to read or write correctly and names were recorded how they sounded which 'muddied the waters'. In 12th - 15th century Wales, Welsh-speaking was banned by the Anglo-Saxons and Welsh patronymic names were anglicized. For example, John Ap/Ab (son of) Richard would become ‘John Pritchard’, Evan Ap/Ab Owen would become ‘Evan Bowen’ etc.
Our clever search feature scans our entire tartan database and finds the correct tartan(s) linked to your family name.
MY FAMILY NAME HAS NO TARTAN, WHAT CAN I WEAR?
The world of tartan is very flexible, not all designs are specific to a family name. There are various universal (or generic) tartans that can be worn by anyone! Popular examples of these include the St Davids Welsh National, Pride of Wales and Spirit of Glyndwr tartans. There are hundreds of universal Scottish & Irish tartans too which can be found within our Tartan Finder. If you can't find a universal tartan you like, many of our customers wear tartans linked to a name they've traced back through their family tree (this is much more common than you might think)! If you're getting married, you could wear your partner's family tartan.
If all else fails... Don't worry! You can wear any tartan you see on our website, whether you have any links to it or not. The myths you may have heard about the 'tartan police' simply aren't true. There is guidance which can be followed as above, but no strict rules on what you can and cannot wear. It's your choice!
We can also specially design and weave a tartan just for you, an option which has proven very popular with customers around the globe recently! For more info, please visit our Design A Tartan page.
WHY ARE SOME TARTANS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN OTHERS?
Tartans that don’t sell quite as fast as others must be woven in smaller quantities, which means they are more expensive for us to buy or weave per metre.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ANCIENT, MODERN, MUTED ETC?
There may be multiple tartans for a single Scottish clan, eg, Campbell tartan is available in Campbell Ancient, Muted, Dress, Modern & Weathered. These all have the same tartan design (or thread count, which makes a tartan) but the descriptions refer to the various colour palettes available. Here's a quick explanation:
Ancient - Ancient tartans tend to use lighter / more natural yarn shades. Greens and blues are more subdued, red appears more orange etc.
Modern - Modern tartans are darker than ancient tartans. Reds are more of a bold red, blues are more navy, and greens more bottle green. These colours became available in the 19th century when chemical dyes were introduced.
Hunting - As simple as it sounds, hunting tartans were traditionally worn when hunting. These tend to use natural yarn shades and are mostly green in colour. Some tartans do not have a hunting variation, as the tartan already has a green prominence.
Muted - Usually an option between ancient and modern colour palettes.
Weathered - Weathered tartans use a colour palette that imitates exposure to harsh weather conditions. Back in the days of the 'great kilt', men would wear their kilts day and night, to travel and to sleep, so this palette reflects what the tartan would look like in those conditions.
Dress - Dress tartans tend to have a prominent white stripe and are usually associated with Highland dance.
CAN I SEE A SWATCH OR SAMPLE OF MY TARTAN?
Yes! You can order a sample in any tartan you see on our website here.
I'VE SEEN A TARTAN I LIKE, BUT IT'S NOT LISTED ON YOUR WEBSITE?
Every tartan you see on our website is stock supported by one of the major mills in the UK. We don’t list special weave tartans as these are a bit more complicated. That’s not to say we don’t offer them, but we’d prefer to discuss your options in person or over the phone for these tartans, to ensure we can deliver your order properly and professionally in the timescale you have.
If you’ve seen a tartan, and have no idea what it is or if you can get it, feel free to get in touch with an image and we’ll do our very best to help!
CAN I DESIGN AND WEAVE MY OWN TARTAN?
Yes, this is very popular at the moment! You can read more about our bespoke design service here.
DO YOU SUPPLY SCOTTISH TARTANS?
Yes! Although we are Wales Tartan Centres, we work closely with all of the major mills in Scotland to be able to offer thousands of Scottish clan and universal tartans to customers around the world. You can view all available Scottish tartans here.
DO THE IRISH HAVE TARTANS?
Yes. While there are some tartans linked to specific Irish names, the vast majority of Irish tartans available are associated with counties such as Galway or Donegal. Irish county tartans have been around since the 1990’s and most customers trace their heritage back to a particular county, which would then be the tartan they choose to wear. Click here to see all of the Irish tartans available.
Still need help? Give us a call on +44 (0)1792 474 685 or email email@example.com and we'll be happy to help!