Tweed Upholstery Fabric

Tweed Upholstery Fabric - Calgary Interiors

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 Fabric?

First things first, what is tweed, anyway? It is what is known as a basketweave fabric, and is usually made from wool. The fibres 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 fibres 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 outerwear as warm and a cozy fashion statement. You can also see tweed in full suits for men and women, skirts, outerwear 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. 

Tweed Upholstery Fabric - Calgary Interiors

Did you know that Calgary Interiors does custom furniture? We love helping people get that exact right piece for their home. We have a number of different examples that you can look at in our portfolio. We also would love to hear from you about your sofa needs, or any custom furniture needs. On our custom furniture page you can see our latest work, and then contact us to let us know what your dream piece is.

Types of Tweed Fabric

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

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 tweed wool that is used must also be pure virgin wool that is dyed and spun there.

Harris Tweed - Calgary Interiors

Donegal Tweed

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 coloured specks through its knobby surface. 

Donegal Tweed - Calgary Interiors

Herringbone Tweed

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. 

Herringbone Tweed - Calgary Interiors

Saxony Tweed

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. 

Saxony Tweed- Calgary Interiors

Shetland Tweed

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. 

Shetland Tweed - Calgary Interiors

Barleycorn Tweed

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 colour, but it can vary depending on the colours of the fibres being used.

Barleycorn Tweed - Calgary Interiors

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. It is a the perfect tweed upholstery fabric.

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 upholstery 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!

If you would like more information on other fabrics for your upholstery projects, check out the this related article – How to choose upholstery fabric

Ready to elevate your living space with a sofa that’s uniquely yours?

Calgary Interiors specializes in exceptional quality craftsmanship and bespoke design, crafting the custom sofa of your dreams. Our expert team is ready to transform your vision into a stunning reality, tailored to fit your style and comfort needs. Don’t settle for ordinary – contact us today and let’s create something extraordinary together!