Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Plaid Fad

Plaids are quite popular in antique quilts. Here's a picture of a top with a woven and a printed plaid, probably from 1840-1860. I thought it was Queen Victoria who popularized plaids as symbolic of Scottish tradition during her reign that began in 1837. But I recently read a book about her uncle King George IV who visited Scotland in 1822 decked out in his tailor's idea of a regional costume.

According to biographer E.A. Smith in George IV (page 201):
The "King condescendingly donned what was supposed to be Highland costume…though the Highland dress was still strictly limited to the clans of the northern and western parts of Scotland it quickly became the fashion to adopt it as a mark of Scottish national pride."

Victoria and Albert probably heated up the fad for plaid in the 1840s but George's kilt explains why there are so many plaids in quilts before Victoria's reign.

Click here for more information about the history of tartan kilts.
Disclaimer: As in all internet sources (including this one) you never know how accurate any of it is.

And more thoughts on plaid…


  1. I love how "wonky" some of the old quilters cut their plaids...when I started quilting there were too many rules on the right way to include them in your quilts so I stayed away from them. Thanks for the links...

  2. I love working with plaids, they really give a quilt a homey feeling.


  3. I love the picture you posted, and the discussion of plaids. I also love running across old scraps of plaid anywhere I see them. The really spice up the old pieces. Thanks for the post.

  4. Love plaids! Love that blog link too - that is now on my favorite list.

  5. When I was a small girl, my Grandmother sent both my sister and I a kilt of the family tartan, plus a wee jumper for our baby brother. I loved that kilt, and wore it as often as I could. I kept the entire set of three outfits until about 10 years ago, when they were lost in a move. Lucky for pictures and memories!!