It’s look is as distinctive as its feel and name – the classic and elegant historic and world wide recognised leader of this fabric known as Harris Tweed.
This exceptional fabric is well known by those who seek fine fabrics and those who tailor fine garments. It is used for all manner of ladies and gentleman’s wear around the world. It is also used in other items like throws, pillows and bags to name a few. Harris Tweed is the kind of long-lasting fabric that renders garments able to last and even be passed down unlike many other types of fibers that fall apart sooner than we’d like them to.
What is Tweed?
Tweed is a rough, woollen fabric with a soft, open, and flexible texture that resembles cheviot or homespun but is more closely woven. It is typically woven in a plain weave, twill, or herringbone pattern. Color effects in yarn can be achieved by mixing dyed wool before spinning.
Tweeds are a traditional Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and English garment that is ideal for casual outerwear due to its moisture resistance and durability. This durable fabric is meant to survive harsh conditions and are often worn in England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland for outdoor sports such as shooting and hunting. Tweed manufacture in Ireland is today mostly connected with County Donegal, but it once spanned the entire country.
Tweed is most closely connected with the remote Isle of Harris in the Hebrides in Scotland, this carefully guarded and manufactured fabric is renowned around the world, and remains a timeless material worn by the well dressed all around the world. To the makers of Harris Tweed, classic, natural fabrics are important as they represent humanity’s important connection to nature and are a legacy of creativity, craftsmanship, honoring the people, land and traditions.
What is Harris Tweed?
Harris Tweed has a unique personality and beauty. Over the decades, hundreds of diverse patterns have evolved, each one distinct yet unmistakably Harris Tweed. Clo Mor (Gaelic meaning ‘The Big Cloth’) Harris Tweed is the world’s only fabric governed by its own Act of Parliament and the only fabric manufactured commercially using completely traditional processes. The wool is dyed before it is spun, which allows for a wide range of colours to be combined into the yarn, resulting in a textile with a lot of depth and complexity.
What Makes Harris Tweed So Special?
Many when they envision tweed, it is immediately assumed that the feel will be scratchy and uncomfortable. This traditional image is related to coarse, dour tweed which is non-existant in this fabric. Harris Tweed is something all together different. This material has a completely different feel, it is tactile, soft, breathable, warm, colourful, durable, and adaptable. Made to be exceptional while retaining its tradition of utility and longevity, Harris Tweed extols all of the attributes and charms of a really luxurious cloth. It’s not what you expect of tweed.
Protected by the Harris Tweed Authority
Harris Tweed is a protected cloth. Every metre of Harris Tweed must meet strict standards and correspond to the legal definition of Harris Tweed, according to the Harris Tweed Act of 1993. If you see the Orb mark on the cloth, you can be assured it was made according to the Act’s specifications.
How to Care for Harris Tweed
Harris Tweed is a high-performance fabric that is long-lasting, durable, and requires little laundering. A properly cared for tweed item can last a lifetime. It is recommend that you dry clean your items whenever possible, however, this may not always be possible. Alternatively, to wash at home, follow some simple guidelines. In the event of mud or obvious dirt, allow it dry then brush it off using a stiff clothes brush to dislodge the dried debris. However, if you still need to wash it, follow these instructions:
- Structured Garments (jackets) If the tweed is tailored and structured, dry cleaning is always a must. Even a minor shrinkage difference between the tweed and the lining will result in puckering, pulling, and a misshapen jacket. Soggy wadding, on the other hand, will never result in a flat and flattering lapel or a sculpted shoulder. Therefore, tweed jackets should be dry cleaned.
- If your tweed jacket is simply crumpled and in need of some care, it can be revived the old-fashioned way by steaming it. Steaming does not clean tweed, however it does lift the yarn, removing creases, odours, and bacteria. Steam carefully, it can be overdone, so steam the jacket lightly while draped over a sturdy, wooden hanger for the best results. Allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes before laying it flat and gently smoothing it down and shaping it with your hands. Be aware that excessive steaming can result in puckered lining and fibre damage, so proceed with caution.
- Unstructured Unstructured tweed garments are surprisingly simple to maintain. When a garment’s composition is simple, it can be safely hand washed. Always use very mild detergent, ideally one formulated for woolens.
- Unstructured Cleaning Most stains can be removed by dabbing them with a mild detergent. It works equally well on water-based and oil-based stains. If it’s a water-based stain, try spot-cleaning it first with a mild detergent before resorting to dry cleaning. Always use a mild detergent to spot clean an oil-based stain. The solvent used in the dry cleaning process may aggravate an oil-based stain. It is possible that it will completely ruin your expensive jacket at times. Juices and soups are examples of water-based stains, whereas grease, oil, butter, lipstick, ketchup, and other oil-based stains are examples of oil-based stains.
- Storage Before storing your tweed garments, make sure they are clean before storing, because fresh stains that aren’t yet visible will oxidise and become fixed during storage. The addition of mothballs, lavender, or cedar chips can help keep moths away from your pieces.
More than Just Clothes
In looking at the available Harris Tweeds there are so many on offer, their options are plentiful as they create a wide range of patterns to choose from, including plain twills, traditional herringbones, and more intricate plaids, as well as new, unusual, and contemporary patterns. Each season, Harris Tweed Producers work with clients to explore new possibilities. Imagine the things this lovely fabric can be made of; including capes, throws, pillows, handbags and even teddy bears. So many options to grace your life and home to optimal enjoyment of this historic, lasting, beautiful and impressive fabric.
For more and to purchase Harris Tweed direct from the maker, visit https://www.harristweedshop.com/