The Tartan (often mistakenly called "Plaid") is the basis for all Highland dress. It is an intricately woven pattern of lines, stripes and squares worn by the Highland Scots before the 16th century (and possibly much earlier - there is a piece of tartan cloth extant that dates from the 2nd century AD). Today the tartan is usually worn to identify the wearer's Clan or district affiliation.
We can order from over 450 stock tartans in modern, ancient, and weathered colours and in weights from 10 oz. light worsted to 16 oz. heavy worsted cloth, rom $60-$75 per yard depending on weight and sett.
We can also custom order any tartan in 54" width, with a minimum order of twelve yards, at a premium price. These take five months for production.
Single width heavyweight tartan can be made up as well, with a minimum of four yards, at $80.00 per yard, with two to three months production time. These can be made up to accurately reproduce original samples and colours, either from pattern books, swatches, or an original sett design.
Contact us for ordering information on custom-made handwoven tartans in correct reproduction colours and setts.
the Kilt
Worn by the Scots as early as the MID-17th century (and possibly before - no, it was NOT invented by an Englishman named Rawlinson!), the kilt is a sewn and pleated tartan garment wrapped around the waist and secured by a belt or straps and buckles. Kilts today are typically made from 7-8 yards of cloth - more for us 'bonus' types; until the 1880's they were made of only four yards of cloth, box-pleated or knife pleated with very shallow pleats. Then some enterprising kiltmaker discovered that if he put more cloth in the kilt, he could charge more for it...and they said Scots weren't very enterprising! Today's kilts are almost all knife pleated to the right, with very deep pleats. This lets the kilt 'hang' better. Also, the heavier the weight of the cloth, the better-wearing the kilt will be, and much longer lasting than a lightweight kilt. Don't ever buy a lightweight kilt! It will wear out at the friction points (waist and where the sporran chain rubs) in two years or less, and not withstand the 'usual abuse' of Highland Games wear!

A NOTE ABOUT KILT WEARING, from Angus MacSnort of Auchtinbuidle:

Many times we see people whose kilts don't fit. They're often too small, with the buckles straining, and worn well below the 'natural' waist with the poor individual's gut hanging over. This results in the hem falling well below the top of the kneecap. The resulting gaposis at the waist also lets their belly hang out below their waistcoat, exposing unsightly expanses of shirting.

These fashion victims also usually have their socks pulled up to their knees, so the sartorial effect is that of a deranged redneck in drag. Make sure your kilt fits. If you gain weight, have it adjusted. Likewise, if you lose weight, have the buckles moved by your kiltmaker. You'll be glad you did. And so will everybody else!

CUILLINN CRAFT do not make kilts here in California. We will be happy to have one made for you by one of Scotland's premier Highland Dress manufacturers. For Custom Tailoring of kilts, day and evening wear, and plaids, go to CUSTOM TAILORING.

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The Belted Plaid - Feilidh-Mhor
The Belted Plaid, or feilidh-mhor is the historical antecedant of the modern kilt, and was popularly worn in the Highlands from about 1600-1800, although it was probably worn before and after those dates - nobody knows for sure. The feilidh-mhor is made from a piece tartan about five feet wide and twelve feet long. Before modern looms it was constructed from two pieces, 28 inches wide by four yards long, sewn together lengthwise. It is first pleated in the middle over a belt (upper left), then wrapped around the waist with the remainder brought up and pinned at the left shoulder as shown (lower left), leaving the sword arm free. The last two pictures show it pulled up around the neck as a rain cloak. This form of Highland dress dates back to the 16th century, and is often incorrectly interpreted by re-enactors today...above is shown the CORRECT way of wearing the feilidh-mhor, from Lady Hesketh's great book TARTANS published in 1960. For more information regarding correct historical highland dress, email pipey@netwiz.net or call 510-569-1689. A typical feilidh-mhor of four yards of double-width heaviweight worsted cloth runs $400, available in about 100 tartans. If you want to be absolutely correct, eight yards of single width cloth, woven to order, will run $1000, and you'll have to stitch it up yourself....




click on each thumbnail for a full view!



above, left to right: 'Pibroch' interlace pattern hose; NEW 'Braemar' checkered top pattern - perfect for police or sheriff's bands; FEARG hose, a distinctive Celtic pattern; full formal castellated hose in red/white 'caddis' dice.
EMAIL for a colour chart of our stock shades - white, lovat green, lovat blue, charcoal, burgundy, oatmeal, ancient green, and fawn. Price on handknit hose is $135, but I do have a few pair of Pibroch and Braemar in stock.
More from the MacSnort about footwear:
Day Wear Hose (stockings) for casual or formal day wear may be of any colour, although most are of light shades, including lovat green and blue, tan, or brown. Today hose of off-white or ecru are preferred, usually with traditional or celtic patterns, however, for more formal day dress, the hose should match the colour of the jacket. White hose have been popular because they were given away with kilt packages for hire. White hose are NOT considered correct for highland dress except by civilain pipe bands, and even then only under duress. The hose should come to three inches below the BOTTOM of the kneecap, folded down at the top.
'Tulloch' pattern, a 'squared' version of the 'Fearg' interlace, is now available. It is one of the really outstanding hand knit patterns available from our knitter for $139.95 per pair. We're currently working on getting other patterns back in stock; these are hand knit, and they do take time to get.
Formal Hose for evening-wear is patterned, either in red/white dice, tartan, or check patterns of red/green, red/black, green/white, or other combinations. As stated above, white hose are NOT correct for formal wear. Formal hose can have either the normal turnover or can be castellated or vandyked with a wrap or tie garter as shown far right above - very traditional and very much in the spirit of the Highland Gentleman.
A lot of you men are wearing white hose with Prince Charlies for evening wear. This is an adopted fashion because they're cheap, and kilt hire companies put in plain white hose with rental kilt outfits. Go with the Big Boys - go for diced or tartan hose with evening wear - you'll be glad you did!
Machine made Diced hose (#4 shown above) are $229.95 - we can match colours for you if you provide thread samples. Tartan hose are $249.95. I realise that these are REALLY expensive, and you won't want to wear them all the time, but they are much preferred for formal dress than the 'kilt hire look' of white hose. The castellated hose also require special wrap-around garters, shown below - 'Gordons' pattern, copied from an 1895 original in our collection, or the 'Atholl' garter with rosette, taken from a nineteenth-century portrait - these are the same garters worn by Atholl Highlanders pipers today; and the 'Cascade' garter, our own original striking design. Typical colour combinations are red/white, green/white/ blue/white/ blue/green, or the infamous 'Christmas Hose' - red/green. We will need measurements - foot length, height from floor to top of hose, and girth at calf and ankle. PRODUCTION TIME FOR THESE IS TWELVE WEEKS.

Here's a pair of our new machine-made diced castellated hose made to match the colours of Culloden tartan. Guaranteed to make the blue hairs faint at fifty paces! Shown with our Atholl Highlanders garters, these run $229.95; garters are $69.95, shown below.

Here's PM Roger Huth, former President of the Scottish Piping Society of London, wearing his new castellated hose with Evening Dress. Note the 'buckle brogues,' which are the correct footwear . Nice Sherrifmuir jacket, Roger!

Photographed at the RAF Museum
Contact us at pipey@cuillinn.com or call 510-569-1689 for ordering details.

above: Gaelic Knot in green; green Guards pattern garter flashes; Rosette in green; red Guards pattern flashes; Rosette in black; also available in a FEW tartans

To hold your spiffy socks up - particularly the castellated ones - we now offer traditional handmade wraparound or wrap-and-tie garters. Shown at left are: GORDON HIGHLANDERS pattern - $44.95; ATHOLL HIGHLANDERS pattern at $69.95,; "CRIMEA" pattern, as worn by Highland regiments from the 1820s through the Crimean War, $69.95, all three are wrap-and-tuck style. The CRIMEA pattern can be worn with both castellated and regular turnover diced or tartan hose, or hosetops.


We also have the 18th-century style self-tie garters for $29.95 (2-yd) and $39.95 (3 -yd.), which we supply WITH instructions. Our garters are available in bright red, bottle green, black, royal blue, and deep crimson (wine).

In stock colours from the above are: wine, red, bottle green, royal blue, and black. Other colours are available with a minimum order.
We also carry commercially made SCOTS GUARDS pattern garters in red or green, $29.95. We make Rosettes (worn by the Scots Guards, RCAF and several other bands) $49.95/pair, Gaelic Knots (what the Black Watch wear on their kilt aprons) - $44.95/pair, or cockades ($10 and up) to suit your re-enactment needs.GAELIC KNOTS ARE BACK IN STOCK....
custom tailoring
We now represent two of Scotlands finest tailors and Highland Dress Outfitters, and can provide many hard-to find items, such as Military Mess Jackets, Regulation Doublets, tweed Daywear jackets, full military bandwear, hand-fringed plaids, and, of course, kilts. Click on the link above for more pictures and details.
Contact us at pipey@netwiz.net for pricing and delivery.
All images on this site used with permission from Tamarsha B.V. / Twice Blown Music and Sharp and Co Bagpipe Makers LTD