Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tartans and Plaids

Did you know that 
all tartans are plaid
but not all plaids are tartans?

These two patterns are similar
in the fact that they both 
have a series of
overlapping stripes of color.

Stripes can be wide or thin
and are woven in many colorways,
however, a true tartan pattern 
has a matching pattern both horizontally
and vertically with a center point
meeting at a 90 degree angle.

Take a look.
Here is a tartan:

You can see that from the center of the pattern, the same stripe is repeated both to the
left and right to equal their placement from top to bottom. Make sense?

Now take a look at the
 plaid pattern below.
It does not have color stripes
running equally both horizontally 
and vertically.  
You can really see the difference,
can't you?

The stripes are not the same in color, size, or pattern in both directions.
That is how you can identify a plaid versus a tartan.

So based on this information,
can you identify the next four patterns?

So take the challenge!
Can you tell which of the four images above are
plaid or tartan?

Here are some fun 
things that I have seen lately
that I am LOVING.

Monogrammed Wool Ball Caps at Mark and Graham

Barbour Tissington Quilted Jacket can be found here
Custom Stationery with tartan liner from The Fuller Collection
LOVE their items! Here

Cute fox clutch can be found at The Horse and Hound Gallery

Tartan key chains from TartanPup can be found here
Tartan Needlepoint Pillow Cover on sale here

Handsome backpack can be found at NM here

Plaid mugs on sale right now HERE

Burberry Wellies can be found here

Cute plaid/tartan circus bunting can be found on Ebay here

Antique Edwardian Tartanware box can be yours if you link here!


Pinky at Designs by Pinky said...

Thanks Aliso, I didn't know the definition of tartan. This was very helpful. I LOVE plaids too!

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

I had no idea. What a great post, love all the fabulous plaids.

White Weathered Hutch said...

Well I now know the difference between. Thanks!

Liz@ Infuse With Liz said...

Very interesting! I say the first two are tartan. :-)

Karen said...

I remember that but still can be tricked into thinking a plaid is a tartan, when it's not. I actually have a vintage book about all of the different tartans. Love the baseball cap and the note cards. I love the David Fuller's photography.

Sarah said...

Great post for all of Tartan lovers.
This post is tempting me to shop in my slippers. Ha!

Privet and Holly said...

One of my best friends
is from Scotland and I
have Scottish & Irish
(and English) heritage
on my mom's side, so
I've always loved all
the different tartans!
Thanks for showing
how they differ from
regular plaids and for
all of the fun tartan

xo Suzanne

Shirley@Housepitality Designs said...

Such an interesting and informative post plaids!....and I must say those Burberry Wellies are amazing!!!..

LilyOake said...

Tartans in all manners of construction have been around for over 6ooo years - the very first ones being found in eastern Europe and what is now Austria, Germany and the bogs of Denmark.

Here's how i learned it years ago from kilt maker and tartan historian Matthew A.C. Newsroom, GTS (quoted below):

"Plaid" actually comes from the Gaelic word for blanket. That's why the feileadh-mhor (Gaelic for "large wrap") is sometimes also called the belted plaid. Because it is a blanket that has been gathered and belted around your waist.

People, historically, also wore unbelted plaids -- large shawls in other words. And plaid, in the context of modern highland dress, can refer to any of the tailored or untailored garments worn about the shoulders -- be it a fly plaid, piper's plaid, drummer's plaid, or a folded picnic blanket.

So "plaid" refers to the clothing, no matter what the pattern of the fabric is -- even if it is solid color.

But the plaids most often were of a tartan pattern, or course. Which is why the words "plaid" and "tartan" have become so confused. Not only do we have people referring to tartan as "plaid" but I also encounter many people who refer to plaids and kilts as "tartans."

The Gaelic word for tartan is "breacan" which simply means "speckled." Oddly enough, they don't really have a precise word for a tartan pattern. The word tartan itself seems to have entered the vocabulary from the French word "tiretain" which originally referred to a type of linsey-woolsy cloth being imported from France in the sixteenth century. Why and how the word came to be applied to this particular form of pattern isn't really known.

But, in short, plaid is a garment, tartan is a pattern.