Jennifer McAdam and husband Greg own and operate the House of Tartan in Perth as well as an on-line Kilt Hire firm, and Jennifer came to give us the low-down on kilts – from their general history, the design aspects, and through to the manufacturing challenges. Scottish tartans originally identified families, and because they used natural dyes all those years ago, the colours were muted and soft. However in more recent times generic tartans have been introduced and these thrive on much brighter colours. Originally the tartans were made of very heavy fabrics to combat the Scottish weather, but as their popularity spread around the globe the tartans have become much lighter in line with prevailing weather conditions. Designing a tartan is rather like following a recipe, and many factors have to be considered – such as the size of pattern sets, the required colours and the thread count. These days computer assisted drawings are used, and once the design decisions have been finalised, the kilt is woven and the chosen name is registered. Typically the pattern set crosses the pleats and the kilt ends up being about 7.5 metres long. It requires around 6000 hand stitches and takes about 2 days to make. Kilts are quite heavy – up to around 5 kg (including all the accompanying bits and pieces). The cost these days is from $950 upwards, but they last for generations. Jennifer and Greg had an ambition to design and make their own tartan, and so the Spirit of Australia Tartan was born. It was registered in January 2022 and is a fashion tartan for everyday wear. It consists of blue for the oceans, red for the soils, yellow for the minerals, white for the sandy beaches and grey for our necessary rains. It was worn by Craig Hollywood when he was presented with the WA Local Hero 2022 award in Canberra in June. Thank you Jennifer for coming along!