The Last of its Kind
While a few handweavers still produce tartan fabric using traditional methods, most commercially available fabric is woven on high-speed jet or rapier looms. While these fabrics are less expensive and faster to weave, they don't attain the quality of fabrics woven using traditional methods.
D. C. Dalgliesh is the last artisan tartan mill in all of Scotland. There, many of the warps for the single-width tartan fabrics are still measured and warped by hand and woven to precise specifications. D.C. Dalgliesh still uses flying shuttles that mimic a weaver’s movement, flying back and forth across the warp to create two natural selvedges. Modern mills, by the nature of their shuttles, only produce one natural selvedge and one thicker, less stable selvedge than can easily ravel.
Once woven, D.C. Dalgliesh tartan cloth is hand-finished by professional darners. Every little mistake is carefully fixed by hand, and it is because of this attention to detail that the Dalgliesh tartans have been worn by the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela, and Neil Armstrong.
Over the years, cheap imported tartan fabrics nearly put the company out of business. Fortunately, the mill was bought up in 2011 by Scotweb. The new owners allowed D.C. Dalgliesh to continue to operate according to traditional methods and, through their website, have greatly expanded the mill’s customer base.