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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke MacGillie View Post
    My into into the kilted lifestyle was via 18th Century reenacting and the study of period documents. Plaid & Plaids is what they were called in the period, by Scotsmen writing in English, both Regimental Commanders and Quartermasters. Tartan was what hose were made of.

    That will always be my default setting when it comes to the words to describe what I wrap about me and cover my feet.
    Fred, that's true but remember that the military were generally ordering finished garments (plaid) rather than the raw material for making them (tartan). Writing to Lord Loudoun in 1746 the clothier, James Seton, indicate the quality and weight of the cloth for making the regimental plaids and used the word patren as opposed to tartan.

    In the civilian market in the first half of the 18th century the word tartan was widely used to describe the cloth worn or ordered for making Highland Clothes.

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  3. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by figheadair View Post
    the clothier, James Seton used the word patren as opposed to tartan
    Are you sure that the word "patren" is not simply how the word "pattern" is pronounced in Scots? That is certainly how I have heard it pronounced and even Carol Kirkwood, the BBC weather presenter, pronounces it that way.
    Whenever I hear an American use the word "pladd" [sic] I know perfectly well they are talking about tartan, in very much the same way when I hear non-Scots say the word "lock" or "Inverlocky" I just smile quietly to myself.

  4. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdinSteve View Post
    Are you sure that the word "patren" is not simply how the word "pattern" is pronounced in Scots? That is certainly how I have heard it pronounced and even Carol Kirkwood, the BBC weather presenter, pronounces it that way.
    Whenever I hear an American use the word "pladd" [sic] I know perfectly well they are talking about tartan, in very much the same way when I hear non-Scots say the word "lock" or "Inverlocky" I just smile quietly to myself.
    Yes, patren is/was a dialectal form of pattern. The point I was making is that he was using 'pattern' i.e. any sort of decoration as opposed to describing it as tartan even though that word was common parlance at the time.

  5. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Wizard of BC View Post
    The way that I think about it is -

    Plaide - with an e and pronounced with a long A - is a blanket. Something you throw over your shoulders to keep warm. A blanket may be woven in a solid color, Tweed, alternating stripes or heck, even tie-dyed.

    Plaid - without the e and pronounced with a short A - is a fabric of alternating colored stripes. Madras shorts are made from a plaid fabric.

    Tartan - is a specific pattern of alternating stripes. The definition used to be that the warp and weft were the same, forming squares, and there are at least two pivot points where if folded on the pivot it forms a mirror image. (The Welsh Tartans do not fit this definition).

    So all Tartans are plaids, but not all plaids are Tartan, and a plaide may be plaid or Tartan.
    I've often see it described this way, as well-- "plaid" is not symmetrical, "tartan" is. I've never been sure of that explanation, though.

    A lot of Americans also seem to think of "tartan" as specifically tartan-- it is associated with a clan/region/whatever, more formal, more likely to have a very specific definition. Whereas "plaid" is more generic and doesn't "mean" anything, certainly doesn't show up on any registry and may have been invented by whoever wove the cloth that goes into the particular garment, is more likely to be flannel or lightweight cotton (with the design perhaps even printed rather than woven) than wool, etc.; closer to what we might call a "fashion tartan." This kilt is tartan, this plaide is tartan... that tablecloth and that kid's skirt are both plaid.


    Quote Originally Posted by ctbuchanan View Post
    Here in the U.S. one of the largest providers of tartan/plaid shirts is L.L. Bean in Maine. Interestingly they use several terms to describe shirts with the pattern. But they always use the term tartan when associated with a specific clan: i.e. Buchanan Tartan Shirt or Royal Stewart Tartan shirt. But for a "fashion tartan" they will use things like Chambray Plaid Shirt. But then again they have several shirts called "Scotch Tartan" or "mini-tartan"

    So it seems that unless they know a specific pattern is a Clan Tartan, they use plaid or tartan interchangeably.
    I've also seen companies that sell items that are definitely a certain tartan, yet they don't call it such-- maybe afraid of copyright laws or something? I have no idea. I just know I've seen places that will have Royal Stewart listed as "red plaid/tartan" and Black Watch as "blue and green plaid/tartan," and I don't think it's because they don't actually know the proper name.
    Here's tae us - / Wha's like us - / Damn few - / And they're a' deid - /
    Mair's the pity!

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  7. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katia View Post
    I've often see it described this way, as well-- "plaid" is not symmetrical, "tartan" is. I've never been sure of that explanation, though.
    This is, I think, purely an Americanism. I've never heard it in Scotland and it has no basis in history. The oldest version of the Glenorchy is asymmetric and can be dated to at least the mid-18th century.

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  9. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by figheadair View Post
    ...the military were generally ordering finished garments rather than the raw material for making them.
    I could be wrong, but I thought that early on the soldiers were issued the fabric, and the philabegs would be sewn by the soldiers themselves or by the regimental tailor.

    I can't find the book but somewhere there was a 19th century mention of how many ells of cloth each soldier was issued.

    About a plaid being a blanket, I was surprised to see the heavy tartan blankets being sold as "travel rugs". Here in the USA a "rug" goes on the ground, not on your lap!

    With the Scottish-American people I'm around "tartan" is used to refer to actual named tartans, "plaid" to tartanlike patterns that aren't actual tartans.

    So you can have two LL Bean shirts, one tartan, one plaid.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 29th December 18 at 06:17 PM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  11. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post
    I could be wrong, but I thought that early on the soldiers were issued the fabric, and the philabegs would be sewn by the soldiers themselves or by the regimental tailor.
    The records are somewhat sketchy but…….

    1725 – Independent Companies; General Wade instructed the company commanders to “…provide a Plaid Cloathing and Bonnets in the Highland Dress for the Non-Commission Officers and Soldiers belonging to their Companies, the Plaid of each Company to be as near as they can to the same Sort and Colour.”

    1746 – 64th (Loudoun’s): James Seaton, wrote to Lord Loudoun with a quote for Sergeants’ and Privates’ plaids priced by the yard.

    I've seen a reference to soldiers of Loudoun's Regiment (64th) being issued 12 yds of cloth for their plaids (i.e. a 6 yd double-width plaid) but don’t know the original source.

    1757 – 77th (Montgomerie’s); An account of the issue of clothing including:

    ‘Sergeants - A Plaid of good Tartan Cloth to be delivered once in two years at 1s/6d p yard’.

    ‘Drummer - A Plaid of good Tartan Cloth to be delivered once in two years containing 12 yards at 1s p yard’.

    1778 - 77th (Atholl’s)

    900 Soldiers' Plaids.
    49 Sergeants' Plaids
    1 Drummers' Plaid (possibly a different tartan)
    And 1606 yds of Scarlet Hose (Dice)

    A year later he supplied Officers', Sergeants' and Privates' Plaids describe by the single width of the cloth and charged for by the yard.

    On balance, it looks like that plaids, rather than bolts of cloth were ordered. That makes more sense from a logistical perspective. We don’t know what the length of the average web of cloth was in the 18th century, nor how much variation there was by weaver or date but any web would only have been enough for probably four 4 yd (8 yd single-width) plaids at most, certainly in the early days. Shipping number bolts of cloth that then had to be divided and made up seems wholly impractical.

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  13. #18
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    Here are some quotes regarding the plaids and hose. It would seem when Additional companies or battalions were raised, that the plaids and hose were issued out ready made, but subsequent issues were just the cloth. Also note that plaids were issued every 2 years, bonnets every year, while hose or the cloth to make them quarterly.


    Order Issued by Maj. Gen. Lord John Murray, Col., 42nd Regt., Regarding Issue of Tartan Hose,
    Athlone, Ireland, Aug. 22, 1755 Standing order at Athlone 22th, August 1755

    It is [Maj. Gen.] Lord John Murrays orders, that whenever the Hoose are delivered out, The
    Commanding Officers of Companys to be Answerable, they are Directly to be Cut & made up in Regimental hoose & See them fitted on the Mens leggs. Not are they to give a… [in binding] there old hose on any pretence untill they are [in binding] to their Officers & he See that they are fairly Wore out,& have his leave for it. –

    Source and Note: John Rylands University, Manchester University, Bagshawe Muniments, I-XI. Correspondence and
    Papers, V. Lord John Murray (d. 1787) and his Wife Mary, nee Dalton (d. 1765), 5/1/1-460. Correspondence, 1-408.
    Bound manuscript volume of copies of letters and regimental orders concerning the 42nd or Royal Highland Regiment
    (1756-7), p. 22.


    42nd Regt. Highland Uniform References in the Order Book of Capt. James Stewart’s Company
    During the French and Indian War, Feb. 19, 1759- Oct. 29, 1761
    New York 6th April 1759…
    R.O…
    The Plaids and Bonates will be delivered out this evening or to morrow morning. The Plaids to be imediatly after they are delivered made up & washed that they may be fit to wear on Tusday morning, & the Bonnats to be cockd and the cockaids fixd according to the pattern formerly shoen in order to be ready for use again the same time. …

    New York 7th April 1759…
    Regtl. Orders..
    The Commanding Officier of companys to cause the men to make up their hose as soon as possible after the tartan is delivered to them.

    Montreal 13th May 1761.

    The Qr. Mr. to deliver out to an officer of each company new clothing consisting of Coats, Plaids, bonnets, shirts, shoes and Hose to complete what is due to the battalion to June next. The plaids when delivered to be directly scoured and to be wore for some time with old clothing to prevent stending the new – but as there is not a sufficient number of plaids to complete the battalion they are therefore to be divided in proportion (to) the strength of the Companys allowing the Grenadiers and Light Infantry a
    larger share. The Commanding Officers are to take particular care that they shall be delivered to the men who are most in want of them and that the old plaids shall be converted to fellibegs in which ye Batn must be completed, no man therefore presume to dispose of his old plaid till a return is given in that the Batn is complete both in plaid and felibegs, the value of each plaid or felibeg is to be ascertained by the Serjts in the Companys to which they belong in case that the men cannot agree that is the price among themselves and if any company should be under a necessity of purchasing plaids from another company in order to
    complete (,) the price in that case is to be agreed by the Serjts of both those companys at the different articles of clothing except the coats & bonnets may be delivered to the men immediately. Such of the Commanding Officers who have no conveniency at their lodgings for stowing the coats and bonnets may, if they chose it, allow these articles to remain in the Store till the coats are fitted…

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  15. #19
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    This thread is a wonderful illustration of why this forum is so enjoyable and so challenging.

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  17. #20
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    I was speaking of philabegs in the 19th century.

    I suppose with the philamore there's not much to distinguish from the raw fabric to the finished garment, but when speaking of the sewn-up philibeg there is, and I do recall seeing that soldiers were issued with fabric (rather than finished garments) in the period after the philamore had been abolished. (Around 1800 IIRC?)
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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