Sewing with tweed

Posted by Fabric Godmother on 1st Jan 1970

Tweed is a classic British fabric used in luxury and sporting clothes as well as on the high street. Traditional hunting jackets are made from tweed as are top couture jackets such as the classic Chanel jacket. Did you know that the tweed to make the Chanel jackets in actually woven here in England?
The name originates from a misunderstanding of the Scottish name Tweel (like twill) the story goes that in 1830 a London merchant misread the name and though it was named after the river Tweed in Scotland.

Mode tweed

Tweed fabric is made of a combination of usually 2 or more coloured threads woven together to create a textured effect. Traditionally made from wool, though now tweed fabric can be woven from mixed fibres giving it different patterned effects.
When made from wool tweed is breathable and water resistant making it ideal for outdoor clothing.  
Tweed is very easy to sew with so can be a great fabric for beginner to intermediate sewers ready for a new challenge.  Its heavy weight  making it is easy to handle and the textured surface hides those not so perfect stitches.

Mode tweed

Tweed fabrics, especially if made from threads of different textures, can be prone to unravelling so you need to pay attention to this when sewing with it.
I recommend trying to handle the fabric as little as possible when sewing with it to prevent this unravelling. It is also advisable to leave a day between laying the fabric with the pattern pieces on it and actually cutting it allowing the fabric time to settle.

Cordova jacket fromSewaholic

As you sew remember to finish your seams off properly. For most tweed fabrics a simple zig zag (or over lock stitch if you have one) should suffice. However if you are not lining your garment I would try binding your seams with pre folded bias binding. This will give a really professional finish and you can even have a bit of fun using a contrasting fabric or picking up one of the brighter colours in the tweed.
Tweed can also be quite loosely woven. The loose weave means it is advisable to stabilise you fabric before sewing with it. Especially important if you are using check tweed otherwise you will get droopy lines in your garments.
You can stabilise a tweed fabric all over by ironing a light iron on interfacing the back of the fabric.
Stabilising shoulder seams in very important so they hand nicely and not stretch.  Twill tape is the best for this and done simply by running it along the seam as you sew.
You should also use a tape to finish your hems, or a pretty lace for a more luxury touch. Once you have made your garment remember to leave it to hand overnight to allow the fabric to drop before hemming to prevent sagging hems.
Be very careful when pressing tweed it is a wool fabric with lots of texture that can be ruined with an iron that is used too hot or for too long. I always use a piece of muslin to protect my tweed and leave the iron on for as short a time as possible.
Make sure that your sewing machine needle is new and sharp a 10 or 14 should be about the right weight but do adjust for lighter or heavier tweeds.
You may need to use a special foot spacer on your machine if your tweed is very thick, especially if you are sewing through more than 2 layers such as hemming over seams.

As Tweed can be quite bulky you may like to consider using a lighter fabric for facing or if you are making bound pockets or button holes.  I think silk bound buttons holes look very professional and give a wonderful finish to your garments. Again don’t forget to stabilise them with a little iron on interfacing.

Happy sewing xxx