Don't Confuse That Check Pattern For Plaid


Plaid_shirt : plaid fabric textile pattern
Plaid pattern

A simple check pattern

I know some of you are in the same shoe with me when it comes to differentiating between a check and plaid pattern. From the images above can you tell which one is plaid or check pattern? 

According to Wikipedia, a plaid pattern is used as a synonym for tartan; which is a pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colours while a checked pattern consist of crossed horizontal and vertical lines forming squares, still confused? After reading and listening to people’s opinion on how a plaid and check pattern looks like, the truth is majority can’t tell what a plaid pattern is but they are more familiar with the check word not even the pattern. Some just think all cloths with alternating stripes regardless of the pattern are 'checked'.


Originally, Plaid is the name of the material which is used for making kilts. It isn't the name of the pattern on the material; this is called "tartan". In the US, plaid usually refers to the material - plaid and tartan are interchangeable terms there. But in some places the word ‘plaid’ still refers to the pattern which indicates a range of fabric designs and visually related non fabric designs in cross striping. The more correct term is for plaid is ‘tartan” but I will be using plaid more in this article.

A plaid has more varied pattern, but the weaving is done the same way with the warp and weft thread- in the case of plaid, the layout would be more like three red, two white, five yellow, three green, etc. The weaving threads would again follow that pattern, but the result is varied rectangles and squares of colour. The colours are usually deep and intense, far more imposing than many check patterns.


Often it is best to use a plaid only with solid colours drawn from the plaid pattern itself or simple blacks and white. But you can still be creative with it if you are good with colours.

Long-Sleeve Linear Plaid Shirt - Clothing - Kenneth Cole
Kenneth Cole Long-Sleeve Linear Plaid Shirt
Long-Sleeve Plaid Shirt - Man Up for Midday  - Kenneth Cole
Kenneth Cole Long-Sleeve Plaid Shirt
Plaid Shorts - Kenneth ColeBlack Plaid Short - Kenneth Cole
Kenneth Cole Plaid Shorts
Faconnable  Plaid Shirt
Faconnable Plaid Shirt




 A checked pattern is simpler than a plaid. It generally has two colours and all the little squares are evenly woven on the loom. For example, the loom would be strung with three white threads, three red threads and so on. The weaving threads would be an exact repeat of that pattern- three white, three red. Check pattern also seldom involves varying widths of striping being a simple alternating colour stripe in both warp and weft, with all stripes of the same width along both vertical and horizontal. White and pastels often dominate in checked colours.    


Kenneth Cole Long-Sleeve Checked Shirt
Long-Sleeve Checked Shirt - Clothing - Kenneth Cole
Kenneth Cole Long-Sleeve Checked Shirt


Check Shorts - Kenneth Cole
Kenneth Cole Check Short


Men's Dress Shirt Grid Iron Check 100% Cotton 80's/2 ply Wrinkle Free
Check Dress Shirt
Barbour Mens Short Sleeved Shirt





Final words

The difference between a pattern commonly considered a check and a plaid is minor. A check however is usually based on a small stripe, rather than the larger stripes of plaid (tartan). Another difference between a plaid and a check is symmetry: in a check, like the famous Burberry Nova, every line is intersected by the same kind of line - a series of three lines is intersected by a series of three lines, a single red line is intersected by a single red line, and so forth, all at EQUAL intervals, so there are only squares and no irregular rectangular shapes. In a plaid, the spacing might be more uneven and irregular.

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  1. in general how to differentiate between hand made textiles and industrial finishing differs, or the advantages, that are there challeges, of textile design students,in Botswana

  2. I think this is an excellent post. You posted some pictures of patterns that I would have easily thought were plaid. Thank you very much!!!