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Plaid Upholstery Fabrics


Red Plaid Upholstery Grade Fabric

Red plaid upholstery fabric

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plaid green and blue fabric
cotton plaid print

Plaid Fabric has a History?

Yes! Did you know that our modern plaid fabrics originated (mostly) from the Celtic culture? We all know that the Celts were in Scotland and Wales but did you know that once their culture spread throughout Western Continental Europe, the Iberian Peninsula, Ireland and Great Britain? For three hundred years, they WERE the culture of Europe from 1200 BC to 700 BC but were present until around 500 AD before ending up on the edges of civilization in the Northern reaches of Scotland, Ireland and the outer banks of Wales and Eastern England. In Austria, a very well preserved Celtic burial site, dated 800-600 BC, was found to contain plaids or tartans fabrics. Prior to that, some plaids were found in China, dating back to 3000 BC, wrapped around a mummy. Also Madras Plaid, mostly used in clothing applications, comes from a village in India by that name and has been used there for centuries. Virtually, any place that had discovered weaving quickly developed some sort of plaid design.

One of the trademarks of the Celts was the Tartan or the plaid woven material that they used for blankets, or pladgers in Gaelic, and clothing. This was probably brought about with the meetings of the clans in a local region as these checkered or striped plaid fabrics were usually associated with a particular isle, rather than a family or tribe. Women would have had opportunity at these festivals to share ideas that would translate into similar colors and patterns. For centuries, this was the standard.

The average Celtic soldier would fight in a pair of Braccae, or wool trousers and a light cloak, which may have borne these early colors, not for identification but simply because that is what was woven, but there was no stylized Tartan plaid as we now know it until around the late 1600’s, when various rebellious clans (the Jacobite wars against English dominion) became known for the wearing of tartens by the English, although they were still not a defining mark of identification as to the name of the clans involved.

The story for plaid as we know it truly begins in the late 18th century, after English dominion had occurred in Scotland. Regiments were formed by the English government of the Highlanders in Scotland and originally, the first regiment was assigned a plaid (which later on became known as the Black Watch). Personal plaids were forbidden throughout the whole country with the Dress Act of 1746 with the association of the tartan with the Jacobite movement. The only plaids allowed were military until this was appealed in 1782. As more regiments were formed, more plaid patterns emerged but it was not until the visit by the English court in 1822, that plaids became fashionable. Many of the clans quickly adopted patterns for their clan trademark at this time, since prior to this, many had did not even laid claim to a certain pattern or knew they were supposed to do so.

These patterns exploded into London High Society with industrialized factories now producing them, as well as a romantic view of the now incorporated Scottish Highlands, with English nobles and royalty buying and building castles in the conquered territory. Adopting or creating one’s own plaid became the trend and this was the beginning of family or clan plaids, outside of military identification.
These Tarten patterns came with the Scottish immigrants who settled the new colonies of North America in the form of blankets and the occasional man still brave enough to wear a kilt on these shores. The Gaelic word for blanket was Pladger, which was hard to pronounce for most on this side of the pond and the word eventually was shortened to Plaids.

Just prior to the Civil War, the industrialized American factories began to produce the red and black plaid shirt which has been credited to a descendant that came to the U.S. from the Rob Roy clan in Scotland. This shirt, made by Woolrich since 1850, is still being sold today and is now called the Buffalo plaid, after that Rob Roy descendant, Jock McCluskey, who actually ended up in Montana as a trader in Buffalo pelts with his Rob Roy tartens and pladgers.

Since the time it first appeared on a blanket, the woven criss- cross of the plaid fabric has not left the catalog of fabric patterns available to the home and clothing industries. From the tartens have descended multiple types of weave styles as well as types of fabrics in any color imaginable to suit kitchens, pillows, even curtains. It is found in high design clothing shops in New York as well as the churning factories of lower end goods in China. Whether it is a brightly patterned gingham in the spring or a luxurious wool for fall, it reminds us of our past and brightens our present with its varieties of ideas and uses. Yes, Plaid fabric does have a history- and continues to have a future for as long as man has imagination.

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