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    Tartan Design by Houston Kiltmakers

    By Ken and Ewan Macdonald

    Houston Kiltmakers is a 4th generation family-run business, established in 1909.

    Tartan and textiles are in our blood.

    For many years, we've been designing unique, one-of-a-kind tartans for a range of customers, Businesses, weddings and events. We have evolved into experts in Tartan design over the years.


    Ken is the past Vice Chairman of the Scottish Tartan Authority and 3 times past Deacon on the incorporation of Weavers of Glasgow (Est. 1514)

    He has contributed many new designs to the tartan register including our exclusive Bute Heather collection, London North East Railway, American National tartan which was presented to George W. Bush., Glasgow Miles Better tartan which was gifted to Prince Charles (now King Charles) Princes William and Harry, as well as a vast amount of designs for individual customers

    Other tartans to note include RAF Kinloss, Wallace Society, Al Suwaidid of Abu Dhabi and Accord Hospice

    Ken's favourite design of all time was Apollo 12, which was presented to Allan Bean, the 4th man to walk on the moon.


    Ewan is the 4th generation to Run the business and has vast customer experience having worked in the shop for many years.

    He has a great knowledge of tartans, colours, materials and creates beautiful bespoke outfits.

    He has an eye for detail and is becoming one of the top kilt men in the industry having recently helped the Clan Chief of Buchanan and his daughter Lucy design the Buchanan Inauguration tartan.

    He has designed many Corporate, personal and wedding tartans and is normally working on a few new designs every month.

    Some of his designs include Dominos Scotland, Barclays bank Clyde place campus, Robert burns world federation, Celts of Hungary and Skyrora space co.

    Anyone wishing to design their own tartan can be taken through the full process by Ken or Ewan. From designing, registering with the Scottish Tartan Register, to having it woven into the highest quality cloth and made into bespoke made-to-measure kilts, trews, ladies wear and accessories.

    Your tartan can be used on anything from business cards to branding vehicles We'll help you turn your dream tartan into reality

    The Process

    Once you've decided on creating your own tartan, well bring your ideas to life in four easy steps

    Our Tartan Design service includes:

    • Initial consultation via phone, email or you can visit us in the shop. We will get an idea of the colours and approx % of each colour in the tartan, some tartans you like and dislike and an idea about the reason for your tartan.
    • We will create work towards a final design. We do 10 -12 initial first drafts (This can take a little going back and forth to perfect your design).
    • Re drafts till you’re happy with the tartan.
    • Our design team then creates CADs of your final design and we have yarns dyed so you can see exactly how the colours will look to give you a feel for how the tartan will look when it is woven.
    • First drafts normally take 2-3 weeks once we have the brief.
    • Most tartans take 4 to 8 weeks to get right but we can express if you need quickly.
    • Design cost £400 to £500 approximately.
    • Note we do a few charity tartans free of charge.
    • Weaving takes approx. 14-18 weeks from sign off of tartan design.

    Special weave tartan guide:

    Step 1: Design

    Part 1:

    We'll invite you to have an initial consultation with either Ken or Ewan, in the shop, on the phone or we can do it all via email. This is the first stage of the journey where we'll form an idea of the colours, combinations and sett of your tartan. We will then get to work producing computer generated images of your dream design. These will go back and forth for a while to make sure we've made the design in your head a reality on screen

    Part 2:

    Designing a tartan is a very hands on process with lots of feedback going both ways. We make sure your tartan is well designed with good colour and tone mix, is the right size and repeat and has a wow factor. We also make sure your tartan is symmetrical so it will weave and make into kilts well. We will also check the design is unique enough to pass the registration process

    Part 3:

    Once we’ve agreed the final design, we'll have your Yarns dyed and CAD made so you can get an idea of how your tartan will look. Tartan Design costs £400 - £500.

    Step 2: Registration

    We will apply to the Scottish register of tartan on your behalf. We will make sure it’s a unique design and send a stitch count, a picture of tartan and colour tones to the register in Edinburgh.

    Your new tartan must meet the all criteria set out in the Scottish Register of tartan act of 2008. It has to be a new unique design (it can't just be a copy of a previous tartan with an extra few stitches and it can't be a copy of an existing tartan with different colours/ tones). There must also be a clear link between you and the tartan.

    Note we have an easy-to-follow guide we can send to fill out with all the important info. Also note you will be the owner of your tartan and can even be listed as the designer! Normally takes a few weeks to register once we have sent all the info as the keeper of tartans has to check it’s unique and the panel has to approve before it can get registered.

    Cost around £120/£130

    Step 3: Custom weaving your cloth

    Once your design is finalised, it’s ready to go to weave with our expert weavers.

    We weave a minimum of 13m by 1.5m wide – this is enough cloth for 3.5 adult 8-yard kilts, we can also weave up to ½ bolts and full bolts. Some of our customers keep the cloth stored with us for generations.

    We can weave your tartan in:

    17oz heavyweight-pure new wool – This is best for kilts, it sits and hangs the best for gents kilts and isn’t any warmer than 13oz. This authentic kilt cloth is what 90% of customers go for.
    13oz medium weight-pure new wool – This is a good all round weight of cloth. Good for customers up to a 44” waist and seat. We can make anything out of 13oz cloth, kilts, trousers, ties, scarves.
    11oz lightweight-pure new wool – Good for ladies, ties, kids etc.
    Tweed – To give the feel of traditional cloth and has a beautiful mix of colours.
    Cashmere lamb’s wool – if you want a luxury cloth.
    Polyviscose – Machine washable, good for uniforms.
    Brushed lamb’s wool – Soft material for scarves, blankets and wraps (minimum is a full bolt)
    We can weave with a few strands of lurex – see the design guide for more info this gives your tartan an extra lift if you want something a bit different.

    Cloth can be made stain proof so it’s easier to maintain over its lifetime and fire resistance for use in the workplace.
    Weaving can take 3-5 months depending on yarn stock and how busy the mills are.

    Step 4: Making Kilts and Accessories

    Finally, we’ll turn your specially designed cloth into your kilt and other accessories

    We can make fully hand-stitched kilts or hand and machine stitched.

    Argyll Trews, Fishback Trews, Trousers.

    Tartan Waistcoats and Jackets.

    Shoulder Plaids, Shawls, Stoles, Wraps.

    Ladies kilts, Ladies skirts, Kids kilts.

    Ties, Ruches ties, Bow ties

    We can trim tweed jackets with your tartan

    Add an extra dose of Scottish Heritage into your big day with a tartan ring cushion, garter, hand tie, table runner or even a dog bow tie!

    Designed in Paisley

    Made in Scotland

    We would love to help you create your new tartan, so email us anytime at

    [email protected]

    Or Enquire now

    We design tartan for all customer types





    clan tartan

    Clan Tartan

    Special Weave Gallery