When a quilter picks fabric for a quilt, she will look at different parts of a print to select the parts that work best. A well-made striped shirt, or slipcover, is cut so that the pattern matches at the seams. Choosing the best parts of a tartan so that the pattern will look its best is an important part of making a successful needlepoint. One aspect of this is centering the plaid. For a really large sett, like Royal Stewart (the biggest I’ve done), placing the interesting part of the pattern in the center prevents you from having a really large red square smack inRead More →

If you spend much time around tartans, as I have, you begin to recognize that the scale of the pattern differs greatly. Some, like Rob Roy, are small, some, like Royal Stewart are quite large. This can be a real challenge in selecting a tartan to stitch. Since it’s the relative size of the stripes that makes a tartan distinctive, the more stripes there are before a repeat of the pattern, the bigger the scale is. In addition, the width of the narrowest stripe determines the width of all the other stripes. This isn’t an issue in woven plaids because the threads are so narrowRead More →

A tartan is defined by the width and sequence of stripes, called the sett. They are defined and registered through a threadcount, which is the formula for weaving the plaid. The fabric you see is the result of applying the formula to weaving. Threadcounts are never used to create the needlework charts. I look at a good picture of the tartan. These must have colors that are distinct in the picture and be flat. From this picture I find the narrowest stripe. Looking at the picture I then calculate the widths of the other stripes. Once I have this figured out, I then calculate howRead More →

PLAID HAPPENS! As we learned in the article about tartans, a plaid is just stripe made in two directions. We use this aspect of plaids to stitch them as well. As long as you know the colors, the stripes’ widths, and the sequence, you can stitch any plaid. They are all stitched exactly the same way. We’ll use the Rob Roy plaid as the example. Begin by stitching the vertical stripes. The picture above shows the chart for this. Since you stitched every other stitch, the result looks like very odd stripes. Once the vertical stripes are complete, fill in the horizontal stripes. As youRead More →