Scottish clan events have been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember, and I’m pretty sure I spent the first official Tartan Day at the local mall, decked out in my MacNeil tartan kilt. (The first Tartan Day was held April 6, 1987 in Nova Scotia – based on a one-time celebration in New York – and is now recognized across Canada.) So it’s only fitting one of my early DIYs for our daughter was a Tartan Day No Sew Tutu DIY.
Did you know roughly one in six New Brunswickers are of direct Scottish ancestry? Not particularly Scottish? No problem! Did you know each province has its own tartan – and many cities do, as well. Tartan Day can be a day for everyone!
Each tartan tells a story. Technically, a tartan is a “design which is capable of being woven consisting of two or more alternating coloured stripes which combine vertically and horizontally to form a repeated chequered pattern,” as per the Scottish Register of Tartans. Tartans woven to represent a city or country tend to use symbolic colours.
New Brunswick’s tartan (which I used for this Tartan Day No Sew Tutu) was created in Gagetown in 1959, commissioned by Lord Beaverbrook. The red used symbolizes the loyalty of both the New Brunswick Regiment and the province’s early Loyalist settlers. The ‘beaver brown’ is a nod to Beaverbrook. The forest green represents our lumber history, while the meadow green stands for agriculture. The blue symoblizes our coastal and inland water, while the threads of gold represent our potential wealth. (The City of Moncton also has its own tartan, created in 2000 by Alena MacAlasdair.)
Fun project: you can create your OWN tartan online using a neat program called Croft Weaver. A great activity for young and old alike!
My mother hosted an engagement party for my now-husband and me back in 2010. Part of the decor included some long swatches of Cape Breton and New Brunswick tartan, which of course found their way back to our home. I’ve used them for a few projects and props over the years, but my favourite is the Tartan No Sew Tutu I made for our daughter.
Seriously, how cute is she?! And that lovely Tartan No Sew Tutu was so simple to make I did it in the car on the way from Moncton to Fredericton for the Highland Games.
Confession: it isn’t 100% no sew, I did make a few stitches to hold the elastic together. But that’s it!
- First, I cut a piece of elastic (3/4 inch wide, easily found in any sewing aisle) that would comfortably fit around her waist. I hand stitched the ends together. (I’ve seen folks use stretchy headbands as the elastic, which would save you those few stitches.)
- I cut my tartan into strips that were about 6cm (2 1/2 inches) wide and 15cm (38 inches) long. For her one-year-old waist I needed about two dozen strips.
- I stretched my elastic around a hardcover kids’ book, so that it was tight but not stretched too much.
- Then I folded a strip in half, and slipped it behind the elastic, so that the loop of the middle was at the top and I had two ends of fabric hanging down.
- I pulled the ends up over the elastic and through the hoop, making a loose knot.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat, until the elastic is covered with tartan. Voila!
I love working with actual tartan with its fraying threads. I used pinking shears to cut the strips and didn’t worry about the edges. Five years and a few washes later, we still have this tutu and I still love the way the edges look!
Our then-little Pickle couldn’t resist the spotlight. She searched out her great-grandfather, a radio man and politician, who was in the middle of an interview and climbed right up. Aren’t they both adorable!
For more in Scottish history in New Brunswick, check out the New Brunswick Scottish History website, maintained by the New Brunswick Scottish-Cultural Association.
You can also plan to attend the annual Moncton Highland Games (early to mid June), the New Brunswick Highland Games (Fredericton, late July), the Miramichi Scottish Festival (mid to late August) and any of the other great cultural gatherings each year.
Looking for tartan? You can pick some up easy-to-work-with versions at Fabricville!
If you like our Tartan Day No Sew Tutu DIY, please share & pin!