In the traditional Gaelic it is known as the "big cloth" or Clo Mhor. Tweed is one of the most well-known fabrics in the world today. Originally woven by the inhabitants of the Harris, Ulst, Lewis and Barra Islands, this fine cloth is generally used to make suits and overcoats. Tweed garments are timeless, and vintage tweed clothing is much sought after.
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While tweeds are woven the world over, the fabric known as Harris tweed is made strictly in the Scottish Isles of Harris, Ulst, Lewis and Barra. According to the British Isles Harris Tweed Authority, this cloth is known for the excellence of the weave, which is tightly woven wool, hand-dyed in earthy colours. Original Harris tweed is still hand-woven today, rather than machine produced.
Scottish weavers are acclaimed for their wide variety of tartan patterns. The historical Scottish families each had their own tartan pattern, evidenced in the kilts worn by the men and skirts and wraps of the women. Tartan tweed copies these patterns using the traditional tweed twill weave in rough wool. Twill is defined as fabric that is woven with a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs.
In the 1920s, Coco Chanel brought her elegant tweed suits to the fashion world. Using a range of lighter tweeds, poodle fabrics and wool bouclé, Chanel created her famous jackets and skirts lined with contrasting silk fabric and emblazoned with buttons stamped with the Chanel logo.
Linton tweed began manufacture in 1912 by William Linton in Carlisle, United Kingdom located near the Scottish border. Linton tweed is somewhat lighter than its cousin, Harris tweed. It was used by Coco Chanel to create her famous Chanel jacket. Some famous Linton tweeds include the Four-Point Star, Black & White Check and Linton Blue.
The New Tweeds
The new tweeds are machine woven and much lighter than the original Harris tweed. The new tweeds come in a variety of chic colours and are used to make suits, skirts, slacks, hats and outerwear. Tweed came back into fashion in 2004 and continues its popularity today.
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