Striped tweed for upholstery

There is nothing I like more than having a client who has a good idea and knows what they want; this project started in early 2021 and during the following few months the client’s ideas gelled into a beautiful tweed design destined for upholstery.

The simple striped design of herringbone twill featured colours specifically chosen and dyed for the project and the spinning and dyeing of the yarn took place at a local mill The yarn is 50% Castlemilk Moorit and 50% Shetland from animals raised in Scotland by my client which means that from farm to mill, from mill to weaving studio and weaving studio to finishers is only around 130 miles; pretty good going in today’s global economy.

Ten metres of cloth were required which meant that, with a shrinkage rate of around 10%, I needed to weave closer to 11.5 metres of fabric. Measuring that amount of yarn over 700 times (the number of threads in 120cms width of cloth) takes time and concentration; just one thread out and the whole design can be ruined. Once measured, the warp has to be transferred to the loom where, in a number of stages, it is prepared for weaving. Without going into too much detail this is the method I use for dressing the loom; attaching the warp chains to the stick on the back beam and spreading the warp in a raddle to ensure the correct width is achieved; winding the warp onto the back beam; threading each individual thread through a heddle to achieve the required herringbone pattern, sleying the reed and finally, tying on the warp to the front beam ready to begin weaving.

Only when every step has been successfully completed and the tension checked can weaving begin. Fortunately, in this instance, stripes were required so I was able to weave with just a single colour in my shuttle which saves time.

In normal circumstances, I would finish a length of tweed myself by fulling it in the bath but ten metres was far too much and, especially as it was to be used for such a special finished item, I recommended it be sent to Schofield’s Dyers and Finishers in Galashiels who are used to dealing with hundreds of metres at a time. The finished cloth was delivered to my client and she has since spent many hours painstakingly upholstering a beautiful winged chair; this is a project that can be traced through every step of its creation and, I think you’d agree, the results are magnificent!

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