Nearly all on-line kiltmakers need to source their cloth from elsewhere and that's what gives us at tartankilts.com a real advantage. Not only do we have our own kiltmaking facility, but we are also one of Scotland 's biggest weavers of tartan so we can control the whole process of both manufacturing the cloth and creating the kilt.
At our mill in Keith, a small town in North East Scotland which also contains the Scottish Tartans Museum , we use many different colours of yarn to produce all the traditional tartans for which Scotland is famed. Most are produced on old Dobcross looms which will take over two working days to produce what is termed a 'piece' of cloth in excess of 50 metres long and some 140cm wide. However, before this happens much preparation is required to create the warp, which is the series of threads that run along the length of the tartan. Once this is attached to the loom shuttles loaded with appropriately coloured yarn fly back and fore at high speed to create the weft and so the tartan begins to appear. The completed piece of cloth is then thoroughly checked by hand and any minor imperfections found are dealt with.
Also at Keith are much faster, more modern and computer controlled Somet jacquard looms which are capable of producing our series of themed cloths such as the Dark Island and the Gold Lion Rampant. The operator of these machines can, at the touch of a button, influence many aspects of how they operate such as their speed. These machines do not utilise shuttles but use a pair of ribbons which move from each edge into the middle exchanging the yarns they are carrying as they meet and then shoot back out to the edge. Whatever the type of weaving employed the noise is terrific and the ear defenders worn by all staff are by no means just for show.
Our kiltmaking factory is located in Paisley to the west of Glasgow . Here, we painstakingly make by hand all our kilts, the garment so readily associated by the whole world with Scotland . Different lengths of cloth can be used but perhaps 8 yards (or 7.3 metres) is the most popular. To create this, 4 yards of double width cloth will need to be split in two and then joined together to give 8 yards of single width cloth. This join is never seen on the finished garment as it is hidden deep within the pleats. The first part of the process sees the cloth being marked out with chalk so that the kiltmaker knows where the pleats should go allowing the pattern to remain constant around the back of the kilt. At this point the kiltmaker will take over, sewing in the pleats and shaping the area between the waist and the hips. Strengthening canvas, lining, a waistband, a decorative fringe for the edge of the top apron and belt loops will all be added before it is finally steam pressed and inspected.
So with a constant commitment to quality, a guaranteed attention to detail throughout the whole process and an enormous choice, there really is no better place to buy your kilt or tartans than at tartankilts.com.