Tartan Crafts

Updated April 17, 2017

Tartan is the technical name of the striped pattern that many people call "plaid." Tartan looms large in Scottish heritage, with specific designs made to represent certain clans and families. This idea took off among Scottish expatriates trying to preserve their heritage away from their homeland, and they used their own special tartan for items of clothing or other decor. Today, anyone, Scottish or not, can have fun with their own tartan crafts.

Design Your Own Tartan

Whether or not you're Scottish, designing your own tartan can make a good foundation for other tartan crafts. Having your own custom design will put your personal touch on everything you make with your tartan fabric. While you can certainly design tartan the old-fashioned way with a paper, pencil and ruler, several online generators are available as well. Pick out your colour scheme and the patterns and dimensions of the stripes you want to represent yourself and your family.

Tartan Rug

A tartan rug can look cosy lying in front of a fireplace or hearth. If you already know a thing or two about rug-making and latch-hooking, you can start from scratch, draw up a template for the pattern of the tartan and go your own way. If you're new to rug-making but would still like to try this tartan craft, tartan rug kits are also available that compile all the supplies and instructions you need.

Tartan Kilt

A kilt is the most common and well-known tartan garment, the quintessential part of a Scottish highlander's outfit. Making a kilt is much like making a wrap skirt if you have sewing experience already. What makes a kilt distinctive is that the back half of the garment is pleated, and the front half is made of two overlapping panels. All you need to make a kilt is your tartan fabric of choice, your measurements and a sewing machine.

Tartan Footstool

Tartan can also make a homey-feeling fabric covering for a footstool. Because tartan is woven with several different colours, it makes a versatile accent that can easily match pre-existing decor and colour schemes. Use fusible interfacing with the tartan fabric to make it more stiff and durable, then staple the fabric all around the cushion of the footstool. Pin and pleat the corners of the fabric neatly, staple again and attach the cushion to the top of the footstool.

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About the Author

Michelle Labbe has been writing online and for print since 2004. Her work has appeared in the online journals Reflection's Edge and Cabinet des Fées as well as in Harvard Book Store's anthology, "Michrochondria." She is pursuing a Master of Arts in publishing and writing at Emerson College.