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Barrington Ayre Shirtmaker & Tailor - A Guide to Tweed

Feb 08, 2017



  • A Guide to Tweed

  • Tweed has become something of a fashion item of late & with the resurgence of this British classic, we thought that we would put together a short guide to help steer you through the huge selection of tweed fabrics & styles available to you.

  • The Background of its popularityTweed was the sporting attire of choice for the 19th and early 20th-century gentleman.

    The English gentry quickly adopted tweed as the ideal outdoor cloth on their upcountry estates. Wearing tweed made hunting, shooting, and fishing comfortable, enjoyable pastimes.

    Tweed also became very popular among the 19th-century Victorian middle classes who associated it with the leisure pursuits of the aristocracy and thus suited their new found wealth and status.

  • Tweed has since become synonymous with field sports, such as shooting and fishing.

    However over the last few years the quality of tweed and sheer selection of designs have meant that it has become a standard in the fashion World.

    Now being worn by field sportsmen, country and city dwellers,men and women, tweed really is everywhere and the choices and designs seemingly endless.

    The following pages will hopefully give you an insight in to what tweeds are available for you to have your clothing made from.

  • Types of Tweed

    This sounds simple, but it is easy to get confused as some tweeds are named after the sheep that produced the wool, others after the region they came from, others from the design, some are brands and others just from the function they provide.

  • Tweeds named after sheep

    Cheviot Cheviot Tweed is named after a breed of white faced sheep first kept in the Cheviot hills of Northumberland and the Scottish borders.

    Cheviot yarn is generally larger, rougher, and heavier than other types of tweed. It is a stiff fabric with a certain sharpness to the touch, and a bright luster. Cheviot fabric is normally woven more tightly, making it well suited for country wear due to its firmness and durability and city wear due to its ability to drape well and hold a crease.

  • Shetland

    Shetland tweed was originally woven from sheep raised on islands of the same name. The wools from these sheep are exceptionally fine with a soft, delicate and a slightly shaggy finish. It is the epitome of a casual tweed.

    These links provide some more tweeds in this range

  • Tweed named after places

    Donegal Tweed

    The name is derived from the Irish county of Donegal. The fabric is coarse which produces a rustic look, and features contrast-colored neps or slubs that produces a casual, sporty look.

    Saxony Tweed

    In the Middle Ages, Spanish sumptuary laws forbade the export of Merino producing sheep from the Christian areas of Spain. As those laws were relaxed, in 1765 the King of Spain sent a herd of Merino sheep to his cousin the Elector of Saxony in 1765. By the end of the century, the state of Saxony had 4 million of these sheep.

    It is unique because it uses two-ply yarn; two yarns that are twisted together to make up the fabric and give it a textured look and feel. This also means the tweed is particularly dense, durable and rain resistant. Saxony tweed has a fine, short pile on its face and is very soft.

  • Harris Tweed

    Genuine Harris Tweed is woven exclusively by the islanders of Scotlands remote Outer Hebrides, and is so exclusive it's protected by its own Act of Parliament!

    The Harris Tweed Act of 1993 states that it must be "hand-woven by the islanders Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra in their homes, using pure virgin wool that has been dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides." Harris Tweed is famous throughout the world for being a particularly warm, high quality cloth

  • Tweed Patterns and design

    Twill A simple weave with a diagonal pattern running through it

    Overcheck A plain twill with a large check overlaid in contrasting colour.

    Herringbone Herringbone is so named because it looks like fish bones. The direction of the slant alternates column by column to create v shapes.

  • Barleycorn Barleycorn tweeds are typically coarse and have a weave that produces the effect of barley kernels when viewed close-up.

    Houndstooth & Dogtooth This pattern resembles the back teeth of a dog. The larger houndstooth pattern is contrasted with the smaller dogtooth.

    Plaid Plaid style tweeds are pretty similar to tartan featuring patterns of horizontal and vertical lines

    Glenurquhart This is a design utilising small and large checks. Usually used in more muted colours

  • Estate (herringbone overcheck) A traditional herringbone pattern overlaid with a basic check. These are often known as Estate Tweeds, as each Highland estate would typically commission its own distinctive version for its gamekeepers and for when hunting, with colours tones chosen to match the estates local landscape and vegetation, for camouflage.

    Striped Tweeds Pretty self explanatory, simply tweeds with distinctive vertical lines to create visible stripes, usually of different sizes

    Check Tweeds A horizontal and vertical pattern used to create small checks. Often seem with a larger overcheck of a different colour

  • Tweed Weight

    Tweeds come in a variety of weights which make them more suitable for certain activities, and this next section will provide an insight into this.

    The weight of your tweed plays a large part in what you are using the clothing for. A heavier weight of tweed is perfect if you are going to be wearing your tweed in the field where as if you are simply looking for a classic tweed suit or jacket to wear on a day to day basis a medium weight tweed is going to be far better for you.

  • Heavy weight

    As the name suggests, this is the heavier side of tweed.

    The most usual weight of heavy tweed that we use is around 18-21oz / 640gms / metre

    This is the perfect weight for those who want to wear their tweed clothing outdoors. It is usually the weight we use for game keepers and Estate workers. One of the favourite ranges that we use is treated with a showerproof finish to provide even more protection from the elements.

    This weight is too heavy for a classic suit or even a sports jacket unless you are after something with some substantial body

    This link shows a few more tweeds in this range -

  • Mid weightThis is our most popular choice of tweed.

    This range of tweed ranges from around 14-16oz in weight.

    This is the tweed to go for if you want a shooting suit that you can wear early season but may require a bit of thermal under garments on the colder days. It is also a great tweed for classic jackets and suits, warm enough to protect you from the elements but cool enough to wear indoors.

    This range also carries the most varied of designs and colours and is possibly a more fashion conscious range.

    Use these links to see more tweeds in this range

  • Lighter weight

    This is the lightest range of tweeds we usually use and they range around 10-12oz in weight.

    Although these are still good hardwearing tweeds, these are usually only used for jackets and lightweight tweed suits. They can be used in the field but only on warmer days.

    This range offers a full selection of patterns and designs This link will give you a full selection of tweeds available in this range -

  • Types of clothing

    These are just a few of the options that you can have made for you from the ever versatile tweed

  • Overcoats

  • Classic tweed sports jacket

  • Shooting clothing

  • Classic tweed suits

  • Waistcoats, trousers, coats and breeks

  • Colours and designs for every occasion

    One of the many joys of tweed is that there is such a huge selection of designs and colours to choose from so you can be as classic or as eccentric as you wish!

  • Essential tweed wardrobe items

  • If you are a lover of tweed or are thinking about adding some tweed to your wardrobe, there are a few key items that will last you for ever and never go out of fashion.

    1. Classic tweed jacket

    This is something that everyone should have in their wardrobe.

    Pick a medium weight tweed and from a design that suits your lifestyle and personality.

    Go with a classic design, with 1 or 2 buttons, notch lapel and 2 vents. You can wear this with jeans, as part of a suit or with smart trousers and a tie. It is incredibly versatile, hard wearing and will become a staple of your everyday wear.

  • Tweed Suit

    2. A Classic 3 piece tweed suit

    If you can afford it, always go for a three piece suit as it allows you to layer up for the colder months as well as allowing you to leave the waistcoat behind and wear it simply as a two piece.

    If you only really want to start with one piece of tweed clothing, I would always buy a tweed three piece suit in a subtle design. You can wear the tweed jacket as a tweed jacket on its own, the trousers as tweed trousers on their own and th