Yesterday I shared my Faux Tartanware Boxes with you, so I thought I should give you a little background on tartans and using tartan in your decorating. It’s not all Christmas and log cabins… although can be that too.
Tartan is a centuries old fabric that originally had no significance or symbolic meaning. In 1500s Scotland, different tartans came to be a way to signify a man’s family or clan. Today tartans are appropriated by families or even companies.
For example, this Balmoral tartan is the official tartan of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth, and only she and those to whom she has given permission may wear it. Although, she lets Camilla wear it, so her standards can’t be THAT high.
TARTAN OR PLAID
Before I started looking into tartans and tartanware, I didn’t know the difference between plaid and tartan. Today we use them interchangeably, but originally a plaid was a blanket or piece of fabric wrapped, belted and worn (like a kilt). Tartan referred to the woven pattern itself. Technically tartan fabric is a woven fabric always made from weaving threads to create a pattern that runs both in the warp and weft (horizontal and vertical lines). What we call plaid can be printed, dyed, or woven.
Ralph Lauren on Eye for Design
Today tartan patterns are usually found in spaces that are either preppy (like the Ralph Lauren Home image above) or rustic country.
Tartan can also be used in very sophisticated rooms, as demonstrated by this gorgeous chair update by Rashon Carraway, Mr. Goodwill Hunting. He was inspired by a Tom Ford menswear look, and I think he nailed “elegant tartan.”
If you’d like to add some plaid or tartan to your décor, but aren’t quite willing to bust out the Christmas tree yet, tartan can fit in beautifully with your fall decorations. You can find cozy plaid fabrics in wool or flannel that are perfect for tablecloths or throw blankets.
When it comes to Christmas, tartan is a no-brainer. You can go FULL plaid, like this space featured on House to Home to have a cozy cabin atmosphere.
Or you can add more subdued tartan touches, like these Williams-Sonoma throw pillows. This year I am likely to fall somewhere in the middle of these two looks with my Christmas decorating. There is such a wide range of tartan varietals, and mixing and matching is crazy fun.
If you are intrigued by the endless possibilities of tartan patterns, you should try out the Croft Weaver Tartan Designer. It’s a fun online program that allows you to play around and design your own tartan!
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Tartan is called tartan everywhere except in North America, that insists on using tartan and plaid interchangeably. It drives the rest of the world nuts that North America gets it wrong. Just wanted to highlight that the interchangeable use of the two words you speak about is not happening outside of North America.