What Is A Plaid?

Posted on February 12 2016

What Is A Plaid?


A woven plaid is a color effect created when multi-color vertically running stripes, intersect with multi color horizontal stripes. Depending on the arrangement of color, the resulting appearance can be a pattern of squares, rectangles, lines, or all three. Visualize these well-known variations: Buffalo, Madras, Tartan, Hounds-tooth, Windowpane, Gingham, and Glen. These plaid patterns are not only the resulting magic of color interplay; they are anthropological documentation, woven yarn reflecting era and legend.


A Few Types Of Plaids

Consider the Madras plaid. Its origin is in the 1800’s. The name is eponymous with the location of the original design and production, Madras (now called Chennai), India. First woven in the 1200’s, what defines this plaid is the lightweight, short staple cotton fabric that is the constituent base. Originally a solid color, it was printed upon. The addition of colorful yarns in warp and weft became the creation of the now famous plaid. There are hundreds of color variations of the Madras plaid.

royal stewart plaid

Perhaps you’ve heard of Black Watch or Royal Stewart (above)? These are the names of two different Tartan Plaids. Originating in the Scottish Highlands, a Tartan fabric would be purchased locally from an individual weaver producing a particular color pattern, most often chosen around the availability of dyed yarns. Typically woven in wool, they became the heraldic patterns specific to the clan of the region. At one time the word plaid inferred a Tartan.


Perfecting Plaids

Plaids have become synonymous with their manufacturers, trade-marking their labels. The Burberry Plaid is unmistakable. To be great, the hand of the weaver must be evident - a signature must be achieved.


Our cotton checkmate blanket takes reference from the perfectly square checks of a Gingham or Block Plaid. Instead of using color stripes, a weave construction creates the squares, and solid natural or white are transformed into graphic interpretations.

cotton stitched plaid

Stitched Plaid is a standout example of a simple repeating detail adding texture and definition to a refreshingly subtle cotton blanket. Delightful surfacing then retreating effect yarns create a windowpane pattern.


Corner Houndstooth, instantly recognizable, a hounds-tooth weave is a classic highlight to each corner of this gray on gray Cotton/Alpaca throw. When folded, the pattern prominently appears as if a separate detail. The word Plaid originates from the Scottish Gaelic word plaide, meaning a rectangular shaped fabric or garment, a blanket, often a woven Tartan. History creates tough competition when trying to be original!