How to Weave Tartans

Choose a minimum of two colors to create the tartan twill weave.
Tartan-muster-gelb image by Zuboff from

Wool, worsted or cotton cloths weaved into a plaid-like form are referred to as the tartan. According to, “Tartan, to the ancient Celts, was first a form of fashion and later a symbol of wealth and power. The more stripe and colors, the more powerful and/or wealthy a person was.” The twill weave is commonly used to create the pattern by interlacing yarns forming diagonal ridges across the fabric. By choosing a specific thread or yarn color scheme, you can see the tartan emerge as you repeat the same weave pattern in the loom.

Choose a minimum of two colors to create the tartan twill weave.
Tartan-muster-gelb image by Zuboff from

Things You'll Need

  • Thread Or Yarn
  • Colored Drawing
  • Hand Loom
  • Drawing Paper
  • Colored Pencils

Choose the tartan colors. You must choose a minimum of two color threads or yarns to make up the pattern during the weaving. Choose up to six colors for the tartan weave.

Draw the tartan on drawing paper with colored pencils according to the selected thread or yarn colors from step 1. Use the colored drawing as a road map to follow while weaving the tartan plaid. The warp threads run lengthwise and the filling threads run crosswise. The filling is also referred to as the weft, woft, pick or shot. The weft yarn primarily is associated with knitting.

Wrap the warp yarn or thread into the loom’s open loops or around the protruding knobs. Keep in mind each hand loom brand is different and available in a variety of sizes. Read your instructions to ensure the warp yarns or threads are hooked onto the loom correctly.

Stretch the hooked warp yarns lengthwise and wrap or insert the opposite ends. Make sure the warp yarns are taut.

Insert the first filling thread over two warp yarns and under two warp yarns. Repeat the over-two and under-two weaving pattern until you are satisfied with the first color stripe. The pattern weave is also referred to as up-two and down-two. If you insert the yarn from the upper right corner, the twill is referred to as right-hand twill, and if it starts from the upper left, the twill is referred to as a left-hand twill.

Pull the yarn end through gently and insert it under-one warp yarn. This weaving method is referred to as the twill weave. Repeat it to construct the tartan. Interlace the filling yarns with the warp yarns to form a diagonal ridge across the fabric. The diagonals are referred to as wales.

Keep repeating the pattern in steps 5 and 6 until the first row is complete.

Insert the filling thread in an under-two and over-two warp yarn pattern until you are satisfied with the next color width.

Insert the filling thread over-one warp yarn. Repeat the under-two and over-two pattern twice or keep repeating the weaving pattern until you are satisfied with the width.

Repeat steps 5 through 9 until the tartan pattern is complete on the loom. The pattern will repeat throughout the tartan weave by starting the filling thread with step 5.