If you have been wondering what is tweed, you are in the right place. Top performing and highly functional, tweed is a fabric that makes a statement. It boasts a natural feel that gives the wearer a distinct look. This is also a fabric that blends culture as it features a British heritage, American tradition, and an Irish or Scottish style. Tweed has a hard-wearing capacity that has come a long way since it was first made. Today, we’ll focus on what is tweed and what makes it different from other fabrics.
What is Tweed – What is it Made Of?
Tweed is a hard-wearing patterned fabric that was initially used as hunting wear due to its warmth and stiffness. Now, it makes for great suits, coats, jackets and outerwear thanks to its natural protective and durable properties.
Wool was originally the main material from which tweed was processed. However, modern day fabrics and fiber varieties were added into the mix to produce new tweed finishes. Fabrics that are now blended into wool include linen, alpaca, cashmere, viscose and silk.
While we can’t determine why it was first referred to as “tweed”, there is an assumption that the name might have been a derivation from “tweel”. This is quite possible, given that tweed can indeed be woven in a pattern called twill. Then again, it could be that merchants named it after the London River, Tweed, where most of the trade occurred back in the day.
What is Tweed vs. Boucle
Most people wonder "what is tweed?" and whether it is the same as boucle. Generally, tweed and boucle cloths are used interchangeably by most people. However, these two are very different fabrics just by the touch alone. While tweed is thick, sturdy, and tough, Boucle is soft, springy, and loosely woven.
As for the similarities, both tweed and boucle are easy to sew or weave. Also, they are both resistant to wrinkling and tend to retain their natural form. This makes maintenance and the need for ironing very low. However, even with their water-resistant yarns, both of these fabrics need a relative humidity of 50% in order to minimize damage acquired over time.
What makes tweed and boucle so desirable is that together, they create a fashionable fabric with so much texture and character. These firmly woven materials often produce timeless pieces that stay in your wardrobe for years. For this reason, they easily guarantee you a valued cost per use.
What is Tweed used for?
If you are new to fabrics, you are probably wondering "what is tweed?" and how can it can be used.
Tweed is naturally woven to be thick and tough, and that easily qualifies it as an ideal fabric choice for suiting and outerwear. It keeps the wearer warm, while maintaining a fashionable and distinct form and texture.
While these tweed weaves used to be characteristic of rural living, they are now being used in modern times as a fashion statement. That said, tweed is typically sewn into particular articles of clothing, and we’ll go over them right now:
Given that it has a history with hunting and sport, tweed continues its historic tradition as a utilitarian fabric that keeps its wearer warm and safe in the midst of activity. The best part of this practical fabric is that it keeps you dry and lasts a long time. This means that if you have an authentic tweed jacket made with wool or other blends, you can and will wear it for a long time.
Full tweed suits are a distinct fashion statement since they can come off as informal and comfortable yet classy. These suits can also appear academic and proper when paired with the right accessories. Altogether, tweed has a vintage appeal with its homespun aesthetic. Some patterns also come off as traditionally Irish, Scottish, or English.
Interestingly, tweed can also be made into hats and bags that are resistant to weather. This can be attributed to wool’s natural capacity to repel water. These accessories may also come with a camouflaging pattern that can switch from casual to formal. Because of the fabric’s durability, tweed accessories are designed to last long.
What is Tweed Types
Now that you know what is tweed, you probably want to know the type of tweeds available. Generally, there are many ways to process tweed. Sometimes, the different types of tweed are named after the wool-fabric blends. Other times, it may take on the sheep breed that the wool was retrieved from or its place of origin. Regardless of the approach to naming, each of these types of tweed has its own distinct qualities.
The most popular type of tweeds include:
This is also mainly made with pure wool retrieved from the Cheviot sheep breed, which was where the tweed got its name. While soft, it is among the more durable tweed types that can last the wearer a long while.
This tweed variety was first woven by hand or by loom in the Donegal country of Ireland, hence the name. It is characterized as a soft cloth that is flecked, colorful and supple to the touch.
With its origins in the Island of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland, this hand-woven twill weave is thick and course. It is also made with pure virgin wool and with an authenticity that is protected by the Harris Tweed Act.
Named after its twill weaving pattern of Vs or zigzagged fishbone patterns, this tweed is a wool blend. It is characterized by its smooth and soft feel.
Overcheck is distinctly named after its twill weaving pattern, which comprises of large checkered designs in a contrasting color scheme.
First obtained from Saxony in Germany, this fabric has a shorter pile on one side. It is primarily made with top grade merino wool and was initially manufactured in the UK.
This is one of those tweed varieties that are outright named after the sheep breed and the islands the wool was made from. This type of tweed is also indicative of the cultural use in Scotland, specifically on the northeastern coast. While it is thick and water-resistant, this tweed type is a more delicate weave and relatively lighter than other tweed types.
What is Tweed Patterns
Aside from the types, wool tweed is also often woven into dynamic patterns of small squares, horizontals and verticals, as well as jagged or zigzagged lines. Different colored threads and yarns are also woven to produce a visual contrast, in order to lift tweed from its otherwise natural color scheme.
Below are the most common tweed patterns used in fashion:
Flecked and a bit dusty-looking, this pattern adds a Gaussian grain to otherwise plain tweed. This is more evident in tweed formal wear.
As the name suggests, these are tweeds made with yarns that are overlapped to create contrast using an over-check pattern.
This pattern blends the stripes and the houndstooth into a series of zigzagged blocks of color.
While this may look similar to the check pattern, it is more jagged or broken, akin to a dog's tooth. It is also referred to as a pied de poule pattern.
Generally characterized by a lack of patterns, plain tweed can be of a solid color. Alternatively, this tweed can have a mottled fabric finish.
This tweed pattern is distinguished by its parallel side-by-side lines which may either be horizontal or vertical.
What is Tweed Laundry and Aftercare
Most people want to know what is tweed aftercare. Tweed fashion pieces can vary from naturally durable to delicate fabrics. Still, caution should be applied when it comes to laundry and aftercare. Basically, the main determinant should be its source material – which in most cases will be wool.
Wool and most wool blends require dry cleaning only, with very occasional hand washing that should only be done as needed. Another thing you should take into account would be any accessories and detailing on your outfit that can be easily damaged after a spin in the wash. These include the leather buttons, linings, interfacing, and padding.
For more expensive and intricate pieces, a rare dry wash and occasional refreshing using steamers are recommendable. Storing them in areas with a relative humidity of 50% is also vital in maintaining the integrity of your tweed clothing.
Overall, one of the most foolproof ways to care for your tweed outerwear and accessories would be to check the manufacturer’s instructions and laundry symbols on the label. These guidelines are printed on a small tag that is usually attached to the interior hems or seams of your outfit. Follow the instructions carefully, especially if the piece is made with a variety of fibers and fabric blends.
What is Tweed – In Conclusion
If you had been wondering "what is tweed", then we hope that this overview has been helpful. Ultimately, tweed is one of those fabrics that is considered an investment. Its high cost can be attributed to its high value and durability. If it’s pure wool, then it is a considerable classic and may cost you a pretty penny. However, if you want to experience tweed on a budget, check out some practical wool blends that are friendlier to your budget. This is especially ideal if you want clothing that has form and character, without losing its natural and raw aesthetic.
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