Marton Mills


There are a number of high-profile mills in Scotland known for tartan, including D.C. Dalgliesh, Lochcarron, and House of Edgar. When you start sourcing tartan for kiltmaking, especially a traditional 8 yard, knife-pleated kilt, you quickly see where much of the cost of a fine kilt goes; it tends to be pricey!

One alternate material used in less expensive kilts is poly-viscose (often referred to as PV), a polyester-rayon blend. The main producer of poly-viscose tartan fabric is Marton Mills, who are located in England. Their website is a bit confusing (especially at the time of this post; it appears to be broken) and they do not have an online store front, but they do indeed do retail sales in small quantities. Their prices are very affordable, great for a beginner. You’ll need to contact them to request a price sheet. The three fabric ranges to browse on their site (when it’s working again) are Balmoral (10-11oz. poly-viscose), Bute (13oz wool) and Jura (16oz wool). Their selection is smaller than some of the other mills, but decent. From what I understand, sometimes their fabric will come with a tuck-in selvage, and others it will need to be hemmed.

Armed with a bit of Christmas money, I decided to place an order with Marton Mills for fabric for my first tartan kilt. I called using Google Voice; only $0.02 per minute to the UK. Very good customer service, and now the waiting begins. Hopefully I’ll have finished the black practice kilt by the time it arrives.

The tartan? Murray of Atholl Ancient:

Murray of Atholl Ancient Tartan

They don’t have the Munro red tartan, and I really wanted something a little less common than Munro hunting (which is Black Watch) so rather than choose a “universal” tartan such as one of the Stewarts, Holyrood, or Caledonia I chose a tartan which is also affiliated with the town of Athol, Massachusetts. I am currently the Senior Warden of North Quabbin Lodge, A.F. & A.M. in Athol, and both the Lodge and the town a history of amity with the Duke of Atholl. The Duke and his Highlanders have visited the town multiple times over the years, and in 1904 he presented the lodge with a gavel that’s still in our possession. 2012 marks the town’s 250th anniversary and will also probably mark the year I’m installed as Master of the lodge; given the convergence of this kiltmaking obsession, the anniversary of the town, and the Scottish roots of Freemasonry it seemed proper.

I splurged a bit and went for the Jura 16oz wool for the kilt, plus a smaller amount in poly-viscose for a bias-cut waistcoat.