The Champagne of Cloth – Harris Tweed

So, all my Harris tweed arrived and indeed it is lovely! I got to work straightaway; keen to sew it but without any real purpose for it other than an urge to possess some, I made hisnhers toiletry/ washbags:

The pink:

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The Traditional Herringbone Lovat:

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I lined them with a high quality white PUL, making them water-resistant and wipeable on the inside anyway. That was a royal pain in the proverbial though – I usually use white canvas on the basis that you stick the washbag in the wash and it’s much easier to sew into these bags. but Harris tweed should only really be dry cleaned, so I thought the PUL would be the better option for in between drycleans…

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These were both instantly swiped by my sister-in-law when they came to visit though! I only just got the photos in before they disappeared down South of the Border. oh well, given their high standards, I’ll take that as a compliment!

So what’s the deal about Harris tweed?

Well first it’s the only cloth which has it’s own Act of Parliament. That’s quite a feat!  This is from the Harris Tweed Authority website:

The Harris Tweed Act

The definition of Harris Tweed contained in the Harris Tweed Act of 1993 clearly defines Harris Tweed as follows:

“Handwoven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.”

The Act ensures that all cloth certified with the Harris Tweed Orb symbol complies with this definition and is genuine Harris Tweed, the world’s only commercially produced handwoven tweed.

And did I mention the cloth must be inspected by the Harris Tweed Authority before it gets an official stamp of approval and earns the right to “Wear The Orb”, which is what you see on the label.They call themselves “The Guardians of the Orb”.

Wowsers. It sounds so romantic. I imagine knights fighting dragons, glimmering Orbs of light held aloft, symbols of truth and bravery. Aragorn and the like. Mmmmmm, Aragorn….

Ahem.

This is the label:

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And when you get approved Harris tweed you get a number of labels (strictly metered out and guarded, you can’t just buy them) for use on products you make with it. I am a little bit in love with my labels! They somehow feel very special. Even if Aragorn doesn’t come with these orbs. Sigh.

So I had a little left from the pink tweed fabric I bought, and made a couple of small coin purses:

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and a little zippered pouch for a handbag – maybe to hold lipstick, mobile phone, even a pair of glasses. the batting and the thickness of Harris Tweed gives it a nice padded stability. I somehow like it the most of all the things i’ve made from it so far!

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Photots will never do Harris tweed justice. it feels nice in your hands. Or maybe it’s just that everyone in Scotland and maybe the UK understands its heritage and that’s what it feels like you’re holding in your hands; an ancient history.

This is the website of the Harris tweed Authority, if you’re interested:

http://www.harristweed.org/

I did get rather a lot of the Herringbone Lovat fabric (not the pink one) which is what I feel is the traditional tweed; it looks great on anyone, young, old, male, female, modern, classic. So I imagine I’ll be sewing a lot more with Harris tweed which will be a pleasure. And I still have some handbags to make with it. So much to play with! Hurray!

Till the next time,

Poppy

xx

ps. Am daydreaming now! (am such a geek)

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2 thoughts on “The Champagne of Cloth – Harris Tweed

  1. Hi Poppy, Your work is beautiful I have been making some kindle covers with the Harris Tweed but would like to purchase some more labels. Can you advise me where to get these extra labels for the smaller items? Thankyou x

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    1. Hi Carole, thank you! So is yours! Just looked at your site 🙂 I had this issue too; when you buy Harris Tweed you get a label allowance per metre of fabric, but because like you, so many things I make are small, I needed the smaller “craft” labels rather than the big ones. And more of them. In the end I phoned the Harris Tweed Authority. The lady was really nice. I had to send them an email with proof that I had bought meterage of Harris Tweed and proof of what I make which needed small craft labels (your site is fine). Officially you can then buy a bag of small labels ONLY if you have bought 5 metres (!) of Harris Tweed – but they let me off the first time, so I could try it out, as I don’t usually work with Harris Tweed and I said I wasn’t sure if I ever would use 5 metres…

      Before I did that, I bought new small pieces from Ebay or Etsy, making sure I chose a seller which gave enough small craft labels for my projects.

      Sorry that’s a really unsatisfactory answer. If you can stretch to a 5 metre investment of Harris Tweed, either yourself or with some friends, you’re sorted! Either way I would phone the Harris Tweed Authority and see what they say. Good luck xx

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