The Making of the Kilt: a Conceptual Typography Book

I love Celtic history and mythology, and when I was given the chance to put together a book about anything, I chose…drumroll…kilts!

Law, Kira59

The material hand sewn within the cover (which took much longer and much more out of my fingers than expected) is the Black Watch pattern and was chosen because:

  1. It isn’t owned by any particular clan, and I wouldn’t offend a member of any clan if I used this pattern
  2. It is a pattern which is used by the Scottish Regiment of the UK military which I found especially fitting to use for this book design because:
  3. Tartan patterns as we know them today (aka specifically owned by clans, and lots of rules to follow, etc.) is almost entirely an overzealous English King’s fault. (King George IV)


I decided I wanted the type of pattern used for most kilts, the tartan, to be a prominent part of the design. Words and paragraphs were used to represent the rows of different colored woven threads which, when woven twice, create the distinguished “plaid” pattern. As tartan fabric takes many layers, I played with representing this fact by having translucent pages layer, over one another, so that the entire little book creates the Black Watch Tartan’s pattern.

Law, Kira62

To make this correlation stronger, I got rid of paragraph indentations and instead played with different marks like those pictured below, typography attributed to the Kelmscott Press:

First page from “The Nature of Gothic” written by John Ruskin and printed by the Kelmscott Press

I settled on using two backslashes for paragraph breaks, due to the fact that they resemble the shape tartan stitches look like while being woven. These elements were repeated on Title pages to keep the visual theme throughout the book.

Law, Kira61

To keep the book from being too monotonous or boring, I added subtitles to the body text in a complementary orange color and each section had title pages from the title of each article used (articles chosen were posted as a series of three).

The books pages can be removed from the cover to make it easier to read (the pages change orientation by 90 degrees) and has a blank page insert to place under the page being read.

Law, Kira67

All source material was gathered from articles on, with minor edits for clarity, which were written by Matthew Newsome.

Law, Kira68


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