A term that covers a variation of plaids woven in fine twill wool or worsted, in colours and weaves that have a specific history and meaning, more recently connected with particular Scottish clans. In 1538, King James V of Scotland is recorded as ordering tertane, thought to mean the sheperd’s check made from lowland sheeps’ wool, which at that time would have been in natural colours–creams and browns, black and white.

In authentic tartans, the elaborate plaid designs are woven by mixed colour warp and weft threads.

* Traditionally made for highland kilts, the fabric is tightly woven and dense with a good heavy hand that drapes beautifully–as can be seen in highland dancing–with enough weight to make darts?

* Tartans are extremely durable and a good choice for upholstering sofas and chairs, for curtains and cushions. Dens and study-type rooms welcome the concept and colourations of plaids as well as its hardwearing quality. Bringing one or more tartans into a chintzy floral room will give it a lift. If you happen to have a family tartan, it can be quite fun to use it for one pair of curtains, an odd scatter cushion or window seat cushion.

Tartan designs are also worked in silk to produce elegant shimmering versions.

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