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  1. #1
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    Question Tartan design & fabric weight: Question of general understanding?

    The more Im diving into the world of Kilts & Tartans, the more Im sometimes a little bit confused in details....

    Am I right with, that the squares of a design are getting smaller with higher fabric weight?

    As simplified example:

    A fabric with 13oz has 100 threads on 10 cm and with 16oz 200 threads on 10 cm. Assuming the design with only 2 colors (blue & red....) each with 25 threads in the basic design, it would have a result of 4 rows (blue/red/blue/red) at 10 cm of 13oz-fabric and twice (8 rows) with the 16oz-fabric. Isnt it?

    Which possibilities are given to reach the same size of squares at both fabric-weights?

  2. #2
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    I'm curious about thread count versus cloth weight as well. I own kilts from different weavers, both 16oz cloth, with vastly different sett sizes, even though they seem to have similar sett counts. Is it just the yarn weight that changes cloth weight while using the same threads per inch? Or is the thread density (threads per inch/cm) tighter while using different yarn weights?

    My DC Dalgliesh tartan is 16oz nominal cloth and has 270 threads per sett repeat, with a sett size of 7-1/16 inch, or about 18cm. That is 38 threads per inch, or 15 threads per cm.
    Last edited by Tobus; 1st December 18 at 05:45 AM.

  3. #3
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    Tartan fabric is weighed as one linear yard in length x its double-width or 60 inches. So 36"X60" or 2160 square inches.

    There are two ways that you could make the same amount of fabric weight more or less.

    One way would be to use the same yarn but cram more or fewer yarns into the same inch.

    Another would be to use thicker, heavier yarns.

    In reality it is a little of both.

    One weaver sent me their "Ends per inch" for their various fabrics.
    10oz @ 66 ends per inch.
    13oz @ 44.45 ends per inch.
    16oz @ 36.83 ends per inch.

    Also in general the overall Sett size gets larger the wider/heavier the yarns.

    10oz on the left, 13oz in the center and 16oz on the right.



    You should be able to see that the different fabrics get progressively coarser looking as the weight increases.
    Steve Ashton
    Forum Owner

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  5. #4
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post
    Also in general the overall Sett size gets larger the wider/heavier the yarns.
    Thank you so much for your excellent explanation!

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Ashton View Post
    Tartan fabric is weighed as one linear yard in length x its double-width or 60 inches. So 36"X60" or 2160 square inches.

    There are two ways that you could make the same amount of fabric weight more or less.

    One way would be to use the same yarn but cram more or fewer yarns into the same inch.

    Another would be to use thicker, heavier yarns.

    In reality it is a little of both.

    One weaver sent me their "Ends per inch" for their various fabrics.
    10oz @ 66 ends per inch.
    13oz @ 44.45 ends per inch.
    16oz @ 36.83 ends per inch.

    Also in general the overall Sett size gets larger the wider/heavier the yarns.

    10oz on the left, 13oz in the center and 16oz on the right.



    You should be able to see that the different fabrics get progressively coarser looking as the weight increases.
    Steve, that's worth a 'sticky'. Thanks.

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  8. #6
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    On a related note, I have a question for figheadair or anyone else knowledgeable about the weaving process.

    How versatile are the looms for different weights of tartan? I would assume that each loom is only rated for a certain range of weights/thicknesses of yarns, and that trying to put thread on it that's too thick will break down the equipment as the friction or tightness of the weave goes beyond what it can handle.

    Really, my question is why most weavers these days top out at 16 oz tartan. Is it because their looms can't handle anything beyond that? Or is it just that they choose not to stock the heavier yarns because of low customer demand? If someone really wanted an 18 oz or even 22 oz tartan custom-woven, does it take a special loom that almost nobody has any more?

    Also, Steve mentioned to me that weavers tend to not want to handle tartan "in the grease" because it's messy on the equipment. But I thought "in the grease" simply meant that the tartan after weaving was not sent for scouring/washing/pressing, which wouldn't affect the actual weaving process. Am I wrong?

    I'm really interested in a custom weave of the heaviest tartan I can get, with a larger-than-usual sett size, in double-width (or, as a last resort, a single-width that's woven to a "plaid sett" meant for joining as figheadair describes here), coarse cloth, in the grease. But it seems like there are roadblocks at every turn when trying to find a weaver who is capable of doing it. I'm faced with having to compromise on most of my choices, and still pay through the nose for it.
    Last edited by Tobus; 6th December 18 at 05:50 AM.

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  10. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobus View Post
    On a related note, I have a question for figheadair or anyone else knowledgeable about the weaving process.

    How versatile are the looms for different weights of tartan? I would assume that each loom is only rated for a certain range of weights/thicknesses of yarns, and that trying to put thread on it that's too thick will break down the equipment as the friction or tightness of the weave goes beyond what it can handle.
    A loom is not a one size fits all piece of equipment and there are specialist looms for certain types of cloth. If we are talking about tartan then a good quality loom is capable of producing a wide range of cloth weights. The key requirement is to have more than one reed so that different densities of cloth can be woven. Different weights of yarn are also required, obviously.

    Really, my question is why most weavers these days top out at 16 oz tartan. Is it because their looms can't handle anything beyond that? Or is it just that they choose not to stock the heavier yarns because of low customer demand? If someone really wanted an 18 oz or even 22 oz tartan custom-woven, does it take a special loom that almost nobody has any more?.
    It's nothing to do with the loom and all to do with the yarn. A 16oz cloth is usually woven with a 2/16 worsted yarn. Heavier yarns are harder to come by, especially dyes yarns in tartan shades. Get the yarn and the cloth can be woven. There are other ways of achieving something similar. In the past D. C. Dalgliesh produced an F1 weight by double slaying their K7 (medium weight) yarn. The result was a superb, dense, 18oz yarn. Unfortunately they no longer weave this weight.

    Also, Steve mentioned to me that weavers tend to not want to handle tartan "in the grease" because it's messy on the equipment. But I thought "in the grease" simply meant that the tartan after weaving was not sent for scouring/washing/pressing, which wouldn't affect the actual weaving process. Am I wrong?
    Your right, 'in-the-grease' means cloth off the loom. It's coarser before it's finished and stiffer but definitely not greasy in a way that would affect a loom.

    I'm really interested in a custom weave of the heaviest tartan I can get, with a larger-than-usual sett size, in double-width (or, as a last resort, a single-width that's woven to a "plaid sett" meant for joining as figheadair describes here), coarse cloth, in the grease. But it seems like there are roadblocks at every turn when trying to find a weaver who is capable of doing it. I'm faced with having to compromise on most of my choices, and still pay through the nose for it.
    Getting a heavier yarn may be the difficult bit (not commercially viable I suspect); The rest however, is entirety possible. My experience is that I have to work out the loom draft for an offset warp as it's a mystery even for an experienced commercial weaver to understand. Once that is done, no problem.

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  12. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by figheadair View Post
    In the past D. C. Dalgliesh produced an F1 weight by double slaying their K7 (medium weight) yarn. The result was a superb, dense, 18oz yarn. Unfortunately they no longer weave this weight.

    ...

    Getting a heavier yarn may be the difficult bit (not commercially viable I suspect); The rest however, is entirety possible. My experience is that I have to work out the loom draft for an offset warp as it's a mystery even for an experienced commercial weaver to understand. Once that is done, no problem.
    Thanks, figheadair, that was a lot of useful information! So, given what you said above, do you think you could do a heavier weight tartan on your (single width?) loom by double-slaying lighter yarns like DC Dalgliesh used to do, and setting it up for an offset warp for a joinable plaid sett? Do you do custom weaves for people?

    If I'm faced with only obtaining single-width for this due to the custom nature of it, I'm probably going to need 16 yards (assuming 9 for the MBP kilt and 7 for the day plaid).

  13. #9
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    I believe that House of Edgar still offer their RW or Regimental weights in double-width fabric. Limited Tartans but it can't hurt to ask about a custom run of Colquhoun (M) Tartan.
    Steve Ashton
    Forum Owner

  14. #10
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    That probably sounds like the only option for a commercial heavier-than-16oz tartan, Steve. Do you deal with them on a regular basis? I've been led to believe that most mills don't deal with individual customers, and that kiltmakers tend to get better responses. If they could do a custom run, that might just get me close to what I'm looking for. I do notice that they describe their regimental cloth as "highly finished", though. If they could skip that part and supply it unfinished or minimally finished, it would be even better.

    Incidentally, I noticed that the chief of Clan Colquhoun, Sir Malcolm, wears what appears to be a custom weave with a large sett (front left in photo below). This would be about what I'm looking for in terms of sett size, though I don't know what weight his cloth is. Compared to the typical sett size of those around him, the difference is huge.


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