Working with Tweed – An Adventure

Hello everyone!

This week I’ve been pretty drained between school, work, and planning our move up North. This means I haven’t had a chance to finish anything. At all. I’m so sad. I don’t even have a lot to do! My scallop skirt just needs a hem and waist turn down, though my tweed skirt needs most of the construction done, I’ve only sewn one side seam…whoops.  Since I don’t have a lot to talk about I’ll go over what I’ve learned about working with tweed thus far.

What to Make Out Of Tweed

First off, I really love the look of tweed. I think it’s so cute and I am really going to try and make as much as I can out of it for my upcoming winter in Oregon. I’m sure I’ll need the warmth! If you ask me, tweed can make great skirts, jackets, structured tops, pants. It’s really versatile because it usually has more than one color woven together so it’s easy to match with various things. The tweed I have now is monochrome blue, from white to dark navy. I can wear virtually any color of blue, save for really bright hues, or white, even grey to match it. This is very good news as I plan on making my first blazer to go with my skirt. I’ll use Simplicity 1421 view A for the blazer and will probably make my own trim to use.  I’ll add some inspirational tweed pieces that I’d like to make some day:

tweed coat

This is a Burberry coat I believe, but I couldn’t find the source on Pinterest.

tweed dress

A tweed dress as seen on Dust Jacket’s Bloglovin’ Blog.

tweed jumper

This dress was originally sold on NecessityistheMother on Etsy.

tweed skirt

This adorable skirt was made by Tassadit and shown on her blog, Rue des Renards.

A Zac Posen dress to kill for.

A Zac Posen dress to kill for.

Types of Tweed

As far as types of tweed goes…well. What I bought was only $5 a yard from Hancock’s because this is my first time working with tweed ever and I wanted some tactile experience before buying more expensive fabric. I’ve heard people mention that you should never buy the cheap stuff because it doesn’t really prepare you for the more expensive stuff…but if I’m willing to buy cheap RTW clothing, I’ll buy cheap fabric. I’ll get the same results and if no one but you knows the true price I don’t see a problem. You should also keep in mind that no matter how expensive fabric is, each bolt you buy from will be different. I could buy the same cotton but from two different bolts and that could very well result in differences in grain, color, etc. If that’s the case, which it is, then I’m testing each piece of fabric I have in the first place because no matter how expensive your fabric is ALWAYS TEST IT. I do mean test for everything: how it reacts to different tensions, stitch lengths/types, iron settings, steam settings, washed, dried, straight seams, curved seams, French seams, etc. Testing for all of these things will help avoid so much heartache and frustration later on it’s just worth taking the time for it. Even with regular cotton I still test on scraps because let’s face it, you will never be able to know for certain how a certain fabric will react.  Clearly this is something I feel passionate about.

Shia gets me.

Shia gets me.

Back to the original topic: Types of Tweed… If you’re buying tweed you need to look at what it’s made of just like anything else. Often you’ll see some polyester mixed in there, or maybe it’s a wool tweed. Make sure that you’re buying what you need for your project. I need warm tweeds so I’ll go for more wool, or at least avoid polyester. It’ll be tough but it can be done. The content will also affect drape but considering tweed is stiff regardless, I’d still stick with structured items. My circle skirt is not structured but the tweed is light enough that it drapes well and it’s a little heavy so there isn’t any bunching near my hips. Some heavier tweed would not do well with gathers, so that’s something to consider as well. Really, it’s just like shopping for any other fabric.

Paying attention to the contents is important though because it may affect washing procedures. Mine is dry clean only…and I have yet to do that. I probably should. I figured I’d hand them a garment when I’m done and go from there. I’ve sized this skirt so that as long as it doesn’t shrink more than 1.5″ off the waist, I’ll be alright.

Sewing With Tweed

This is where things get tricky. Tweed is very prone to fraying, to the point of insanity. The very first thing I had to do after cutting each piece was overlock the edges because if I hadn’t even just a few minutes of handling will lead to frayed edges that would affect my seam allowance.

It frays very easily, and due to the size of the various threads, it can mean a lot is taken out of your seam allowance very quickly.

It frays very easily, and due to the size of the various threads, it can mean a lot is taken out of your seam allowance very quickly.

Speaking of cutting tweed, I’d highly recommend using a rotary cutter to do so. I used scissors and it seemed to work out well but considering I haven’t done too much with it yet except for overlocking I’m not sure if I cut off grain or twisted it yet. I’ll know soon enough! It does get a bit slippery, even though it’s a chunky thick fabric, which is why cutting with scissors made me nervous. So also keep in mind how good you feel about cutting slippery fabrics because you may feel just fine using scissors where I felt like I wished for a rotary cutter so bad!

When I was sewing the tweed, I did test on scraps first. I want to do flat felled seams on the side for stability and I really needed to test this technique because I had never done it before. Thankfully it’s incredibly simple and with some good pressing I feel my first attempt came out quite good! It’s very similar to a French seam, which I adore, so this one came pretty easily after doing a shirt in nothing but French seams.

Preparing the flat felled seams by trimming one side of the seam allowance.

Preparing the flat felled seams by trimming one side of the seam allowance. Overlocked seams for the larger side of the seam allowance will get turned down.

Regular tension on my machine was good for this fabric and a medium stitch length was good for two layers. Doing the flat felled seam, I upped the length just a tad because that extra layer was significant enough to call for it. I have just been doing a straight stitch so far and haven’t run into any problems. With my tested felled seam, I pulled on it every which way to test for weak points and found none. It’s a pretty solid seam technique though, used for jeans, so I’m not surprised. What I did find interesting was that it was a little tough to sew with such textured fabric. As you can see below, the strands woven together range in thickness, which creates that fun tweed texture. I didn’t have problems so large that I have to change what I’m doing, I just have to take it slow to make sure my lines are sewn straight.

The completed test seam, a little uneven, but good for my first try and even without pins!

The completed test seam, a little uneven, but good for my first try and even without pins!

And that’s all I have for today! Have you sewn with tweed? Share some tips, tricks, stories, finished projects, anything you’d like in the comments. I’d love to see what you’ve all created! Thanks for stopping by, and please subscribe if you’d like weekly updates.

Until next time…

—Bethany Out

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14 thoughts on “Working with Tweed – An Adventure

  1. All those tweed garments are FABULOUS. That coat! That cute alone skirt! That last dress 😍
    I honestly have never considered sewing with tweed at all since I live in an extremely hot desert…but maybe I need a tweed skirt for wintertime!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oooh, In high school sewed a tweed skirt (with suspenders – ugh, but it was in style, honest!) and it was one of my favorite outfits. Black/white houndstooth, wide waistband, either gathered or pleated skirt. But I don’t remember it being difficult, so perhaps it was a wool blend and maybe not a tweed. So, never mind. I love tweeds and your blue one here is absolutely gorgeous. You showed some really great examples; that Burberry coat? Beautiful. What an adventurous and determined sewist you are!

    Like

    • It’s funny you mention the suspenders, I’m actually wanting to make some for the winter! A circle skirt, suspenders, high waist, the whole nine yards. I love the pinafore style and am working on some white flowy blouses to go with them, haha.

      Thank you! I love this tweed too, I’m glad I got it for such a good deal. They really try to make things easier for sewists today.

      Like

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