If you are planning to upholster or reupholster your furniture, you have likely looked into many different fabrics, in all colours, weights, patterns, and textures. Each kind of fabric has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, tweed is a great upholstery fabric because it is durable, versatile, and can even hide stains well.
Take a look at the information that follows in order to decide whether tweed is the right upholstery fabric for you.
What Is Tweed?
First things first, what is tweed, anyway? It is what is known as a basketweave fabric, and is usually made from wool. The fibers are then woven using either twill weaves or a plain weave. It has a rough and usually slightly raised texture and can be woven with different coloured fibers to achieve different colours and patterns.
Usually, the patterns that occur in tweed fabrics have vertical lines or small squares. These are typically subtle patterns, except in the case of large scale plaids or tartans.
Tweed has Scottish and Irish origins and comes from the word “tweel”, which was the Scottish word for twill. This is because twill is the most popular of the weaving techniques for tweed. Stories say that a London merchant misinterpreted “tweel” for “tweed”, as the merchant believed that the fabric was named for the River Tweed in Scotland– and the name stuck!
Tweed was originally worn by farmers in Scotland and Ireland. After 1848, though, tweed gained popularity with the upper class across the British Isles. This occurred because Prince Albert bought Balmoral Castle in Scotland and then designed Balmoral tweed. After this, all of the other highland estates started to design their own estate tweeds to differentiate themselves during hunting expeditions and similar outdoor activities.
Tweed is used for a variety of applications. It can be used in clothing, as it did emerge as an apparel fabric first. For instance, tweed sports coats were one of the original uses for the fabric. They were first used for hunting, as mentioned previously, and now endure as a warm and cozy fashion statement. You can also see tweed in full suits for men and women, skirts, and accessories.
Tweed can also be used for home applications, like bedding or furniture upholstery. It can come in many different colours and patterns, so you can find a bold tartan or plaid, or could decide to stick with a more subtle colourway.
Tweed upholstery is a great option as there are plenty of options for you to match your home’s aesthetic, as well as the style of your furniture.
Types of Tweed
You may be surprised to learn that there is more than one type of tweed! This is because there are lots of ways to make this type of fabric. Different types of tweed are named for the sheep that the wool comes from, for the weaving technique and pattern, or for where the fabric itself is made.
Below are some of the types of tweed there are out on the market.
Harris tweed is made in the Outer Hebrides, which is an archipelago off Scotland’s northern coast.In fact, Harris tweed is legally protected by the Harris Tweed Act of 1993.
To be considered Harris tweed, the textile must be handwoven by the islanders in their homes, as well as being finished in the Outer Hebrides. The wool that is used must also be pure virgin wool that is dyed and spun there.
Donegal tweed is named for Donegal, of course, which is a county in Ireland. This is where thai type of tweed originated. You will likely recognize Donegal tweed, because it is one of the world’s most popular tweeds. It is easily discernible by the rainbow colored specks through its knobby surface.
Herringbone tweed is another tweed that you will likely find familiar when you see it. It is one of the types of tweed that is so named because of its pattern– herringbone is a broken twill weave, which creates a pattern of Vs on the surface. People believe that it looks like a fish’s bones, and this is where the name comes from.
Saxony tweed is made from wool from merino sheep. The fabric was originally woven in Saxony, Germany. As it is made from merino wool, the textile has a soft, smooth feel to its surface.
Shetland tweed is another kind of tweed that is named for the sheep the wool comes from. These sheep are from the Shetland Islands off Scotland’s northeastern coast. This particular tweed is lighter weight and more casual than some of the other options.
Barleycorn tweed has an interesting weave, from which it gets its name. The weave of barleycorn fabric has a bumpy feel and gives the look and effect of barleycorn kernels on the surface of the textile. It has a heathered, two tone look. Usually, these are shades of the same color, but it can vary depending on the colors of the fibers being used.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use Tweed for upholstery?
Yes, tweed is in fact a great choice for upholstery! This is because basketweave fabrics such as tweed wear well and can also hide stains and spills better than some of the other options out there.
What is the most durable fabric for upholstery?
Leather is one of the most durable fabrics for upholstering furniture, especially for those who have pets, small children, or will experience more wear and tear when it comes to their furniture. However, leather is also one of the most costly upholstery options.
Is Harris Tweed suitable for upholstery?
Yes, Harris Tweed fabric can be used for home projects like upholstery, as well as bedding and drapes. It also meets flame retardancy requirements so it is a safe option for your home.
Is Tweed good for furniture?
Tweed fabric is perfect for furniture because it is durable and can also hide stains well. On top of this, it looks crisp and comes in many different colour options to match your space!
When choosing upholstery fabrics, nylon has a myriad of benefits, however if you would like more information on other fabrics for your upholstery projects, check out the this related article – How to choose upholstery fabric