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It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that many patterns were created and artificially associated with Scottish clans, families, or institutions who were (or wished to be seen as) associated in some way with a Scottish heritage.
The Victorians' penchant for ordered taxonomy and the new chemical dyes then available meant that the idea of specific patterns of bright colours, or "dress" tartans, could be created and applied to a faux-nostalgic view of Scottish history.
The weft is woven in a simple twill, two over—two under the warp, advancing one thread at each pass.This forms visible diagonal lines where different colours cross, which give the appearance of new colours blended from the original ones.This was because like other materials, tartan designs were produced by local weavers for local tastes and would usually only use the natural dyes available in that area, as chemical dye production was non-existent and transportation of other dye materials across long distances was prohibitively expensive.The patterns were simply different regional checked-cloth patterns, chosen by the wearer's preference—in the same way as people nowadays choose what colours and patterns they like in their clothing, without particular reference to propriety.Today tartan is no longer limited to textiles, but is used on non-woven mediums, such as paper, plastics, packaging, and wall coverings. Today "tartan" usually refers to coloured patterns, though originally a tartan did not have to be made up of any pattern at all.
As late as the 1830s tartan was sometimes described as "plain coloured ... Patterned cloth from the Gaelic-speaking Scottish Highlands was called breacan, meaning many colours.