A Hume’s guide to caring for country tweeds.
Tweed is integral to country life, nowhere more so than here in Kelso on the banks of the River Tweed. It is a magnificent yarn, tough, durable and warm. Spun in magnificent colours and patterns reminiscent of the rural landscape. Cared for properly a tweed jacket or skirt can last a lifetime.
Natural 100% Wool Tweed
In itself, tweed made from 100% wool is a relatively simple fabric to care for, requiring similar hand, or machine washing and care to woollen knitwear. However, the exact business of caring for tweed clothing depends largely on how a garment is constructed. A jacket and a skirt made from the same tweed can have quite different care requirements.
Dry Cleaning Structured Tweed
All structured, tailored tweed jackets are unsuitable for either hand, or machine washing for the very simple reason that the ‘structure’ of the jacket: the lapels and shoulders, including any wadding used, plus the vents, pockets, pocket flaps and lining will inevitably react to the washing process in a different way.
Even the tiniest difference in shrinkage between the tweed and the lining will result in puckering, pulling and a misshapen jacket. Whilst soggy wadding will never make for a flat and flattering lapel or a sculpted shoulder.
For this reason, all tweed jackets should be dry cleaned.
Full Steam Ahead
If your tweed jacket is simply crumpled and in need of a little TLC it is possible to freshen it up the old fashioned way, by steaming it.
Steaming doesn’t clean the tweed fabric but it does lift the yarn, removing creases, odours and killing bacteria. It’s possible to buy small handheld steamers for around £30-50 that should be up to the occasional job. For the best results, steam the jacket lightly whilst it’s draped over a sturdy, wooden hanger. Leave it for 15-20 minutes, then lay it flat and using your hands gently smooth it down and shape.
Be aware that over-enthusiastic steaming can result in puckered lining, and damage to the fibres.
Hand and Machine Washable Tweed
Unstructured tweed garments are surprisingly easy to care for. When the composition of a garment is simple, such as the Laksen Temple Tweed skirt it can be safely hand washed.
And even a complex garment such as the Schoffel Ptarmigan Tweed Coat with all its features, fastening and trims can be popped in the machine on a wool wash, due to its careful design without structural elements that will be compromised.
Such convenience is an absolute godsend for those who wear their Schoffel Country Coats as they were intended – out in the great outdoors.
As a final word, do ensure you clean your garment before storage, as fresh stains that may not yet be visible will oxidise and become fixed during storage. Using mothballs, lavender or cedar chips help protect against moths.
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