All You Need To Sew...
Hi, I'm Emma & I make bags. Here's a short piece written by me for Fabworks about bag-making using the new Heart of Huddersfield range of wool tweeds.
As a maker of bags, my fabric radar is almost always set to ‘tweed’, its like I can smell it! I was once driving back from a sewing weekend in Malhamdale, stopped for coffee in the middle of nowhere and discovered a small quilting shop with a whole wall full of the stuff. Heaven! I love using wool, not only can I stitch it on my domestic sewing machine, but it is also hard-wearing and water resistant, which means that it is the perfect alternative to leather for the home sewist when bag making.
Sheep really are clever creatures and using wool is a lot more sustainable than synthetic alternatives, a quality that many of us are more sensitive about these days due to obvious environmental considerations. But aside from these very worthy reasons to use British-woven tweed, let’s be honest, it just looks and feels beautiful and has a timeless quality that sets it apart from all other cloth.
|Handmade bag using Rolling Hills - Birdseye||Handmade bag using Marina Plaid - Twill|
I have been buying wool fabrics from Fabworks for a few years now, so I was super excited when I first read about their new Heart of Huddersfield range of exclusive tweeds, released last month. I, along with many others I suspect, jumped right onto their email announcement that the new collection was live and got quite carried away adding half their stock to my online basket! After a significant rationalisation process – agonizing – I settled on just three and placed the order quickly. I immediately panicked and regretted not buying more!
There are a few things I look for when buying tweed for bag making which, if you are tempted to have a go yourself, you may want to consider. Weight; not all tweed is the same, some cloth can be quite thick and hefty, while suiting weight tweed is usually much finer and more drapey. Too woolly and your seams are going to get pretty unwieldy once you’ve added an interlining to give your bag structure. Too thin and your bag might sag and crumple. When my parcel arrived a couple of days later, I was really happy with the weight of these cloths - not too thick, probably finer than a Harris Tweed for instance, but with a very sturdy almost felted texture to it, meaning it holds its shape well. This is probably the perfect combination for making bags. The cloth is firm, presses beautifully and goes through my sewing machine without any broken needles or scary noises.
Of course, most of that last paragraph isn’t what we’re thinking about at all when we are shopping online. Most of us are just gazing at the beautiful colours and patterns. My sewing obsession totally began with a joy of combining textures, colours and prints. The bags were almost secondary to this, just a handy medium really for playing with the purely aesthetic qualities of fabric. Fabworks have organized their tweeds around different weave patterns, with a particularly cool one they call Birdseye. It’s interesting enough to give your makes texture and subtle pattern, but not scary enough to require any complicated pattern matching! I chose the Rolling Hills - Birsdeye and combined it with this amazing bird print cotton (as the lining) and a coordinating turquoise tweed I had in my stash, for the frame bag pictured. The green leather handles really pull out the greeny hues in the tweed and I also made a leather tassel decoration to incorporate as many of the colours in the bag as possible. It’s these little details that I particularly love spending time on and I think it’s something that distinguishes a handmade bag from something that is clearly shop bought.
|Lining of the Rolling Hills - Birdseye bag||Complimentary lining + Rolling Hills - Birdseye + Turquoise tweed||Lining for the Marina Plaid - Twill bag|
If you prefer something with more pattern, there are also two plaid designs. And there’s something I find particularly appealing about them; the check is symmetrical! Such a simple thing that really will make your life much easier. The difference between a symmetrical pattern and a non-symmetrical pattern is something that we stand and scratch our heads about most at bag making workshops and believe me, choosing a tweed with the first, rather than the latter, will make your pattern matching life a whole lot easier!
Before I started to sew bags, I didn't even know I had a ‘pattern matching life’! The tote bag pictured is matched across the seams and its simple and timeless shape shows off the pattern really well. The Marina Plaid bag’s colours are perfect for autumn, but check out the Marsden Moorland too if you prefer more neutral browns.
Either of these bags can be stitched from just one metre of cloth in total; half a metre of tweed plus half a metre of lining fabric which makes it affordable for anyone to sew with wool. And not only that, but the results of your hard work are useful, easy to show off to your friends and best of all, unlike clothes, they will always fit you perfectly!
For Information and full transparency: I wasn't paid to write this, in money or in tweed! I won’t earn anything from any sales made to bag makers who have been inspired to sew after reading this. George and his team at Fabworks have been totally lovely for inviting me to share my enthusiasm for tweed with you, its been great to follow their progress as a company, particularly their brilliant HoH range. I will be placing a second order pretty soon!
Emma Redfern runs a small bag making business, Hole House, selling bags and teaching bag making workshops.
August 28th 2019: Before launching HoH range
Every tiny detail for our own bespoke HoH collection of woollen fabrics was selected through careful planning and preparation. A unique recipe of textile ingredients that has turned out even better than we expected!
We are so excited! We cannot wait to reveal what we have been working on since the beginning of the year and share the fruits of our labour.
This fabulous venture aptly named the Heart of Huddersfield is a collection of 40+ different fabrics, which are all based on traditional wool weaves - a mixture of herringbones, birdseyes and meltons - each boasting its own special Fabworks / Huddersfield twist. Each fabric is unique within the collection, all with similar medium/heavy weights and aimed at smart dressmaking, tailoring, costume making, soft furnishing and much more.
This wonderful new range of 100% wool fabrics has a traditional wool feel that is stable yet subtly drapey, hard-wearing, naturally temperature regulating and will keep the harsh elements out, all whilst clothing you in a carefully crafted and bespoke style that features a heritage look fit for modern lifestyles. 100% wool tweeds like the ones within the Heart of Huddersfield are easy to sew and will produce stunning results whether you’re a novice or professional, garment maker or interiors fanatic.
We have tried to cater to all tastes and styles, to include classic neutrals and natural colour palettes as well as rich jewel tones and invigorating pops of colour!
To make things truly harmonious, the fabrics are grouped together in themed colour collections, each collection is inspired by nature and the Holme Valley landscape (the area where the collection was spun/woven/finished) at the heart of the collection. This iconic part of Yorkshire has given us so much more than we could have wished for, its landscape and the people; our master weaver and advisor (and their family business) as well as the mills within the Holme Valley are the true inspiration behind the Heart of Huddersfield.
This sentiment resonates with Fabworks and its wonderful staff that make up our small family business. We really are a family affair with father and two sons at the helm and multiple mother and daughter teams all working together along with the rest of the fabulous Fabworks team make us the fabrics enthusiasts that we are. We all have backgrounds in textiles and artistic fields, and when you are from this part of Yorkshire you have only to trace back a couple of generations to find links to the woollen trade. If you want to read more about the inspiration behind the descriptions for The Heart of Huddersfield- look out for our next blog Textiles Is In The Blood (coming soon late September 2019).
Thanks for reading our latest and last blog entry Awaiting The Big Reveal, there's plenty to get your teeth into here if you can read between the lines... The big reveal itself is coming very very soon. Fabworks Bulletin subscribers hold onto your seats!
Creating the yarn combinations was probably the most difficult thing when it came to designing our own wool tweeds
This is the first installment in a series of updates all about an exciting new project we are working on in readiness for Autumn/Winter 2019. You may have seen already on our social media channels, but for those who missed the announcement; FABWORKS HAS A NEW RANGE OF BESPOKE AND SPECIALLY COMMISSIONED WOOLLEN FABRICS!
The bad news is that the collection isn’t for sale just yet, however over the next few weeks we’ll be posting reveals, secrets and behind-the-scenes info all about this brand new wool for A/W ‘19.
In recent years customers have revelled in delight at the trademark colourful wool fabrics on offer at Fabworks, since the arrival of Avoca fabrics to the Mill Shop & Online some 8 years ago. Our new range of wools is inspired by nature and has 100% natural wool fibre composition (yes, they are all 100% wool) there will be something to suit all palettes.
For several years we have witnessed first hand a colourful textile collection courtesy of Avoca, immersing ourselves in woollen fabric and fibres. However having received our last ever consignment of fabrics from Avoca in late 2018, we needed something suitably colourful, different and even more bespoke to replenish our stores, that support both the Mill Shop and Online.
Designing and bringing to life a new and exclusive collection of fabrics has been our main focus since April and writing this blog has actually been a good chance to draw breath since the first roll of cloth from the collection was delivered just a few weeks ago.
Fabworks’ roots are firmly grounded in the Heavy Woollen District that is West Yorkshire, meaning that we have a very good basis to start the new collection from, literally on our doorstep. As the name of the collection suggests, this brand new woollen collection is manufactured in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Keeping it local and working with the heritage-steeped mills of Huddersfield for every stage in the process, from spinning through to weaving and finishing you can be assured that the attention to detail and quality will be second to none. What a fabulous opportunity to be able to offer the best woollen fabrics, produced in the most experienced mills, sourced from healthy sheep, to create a top collection of fabrics, because we know that quality never dates.
Designer fabrics today are manufactured in Italy and other European countries. The Italians are renowned for these first-rate fabrics and of course their fabulous style, but Yorkshire, and more specifically Huddersfield, is known for consistently producing some of the best woollen cloth in the world.
Fun fact. On our Fabworks’ day out, back when the idea was just being born, when we had a tour of the spinning mill at Lightowlers of Marsden, and we were there to witness the production of a yarn destined for fabric in one of the top European couture houses, although we’re not allowed to say who… UK made, locally produced, and exuding quality.
For those of you with keen attention to detail you may have noted that we referred to our new collections, and not just our new collection. Yes, we do indeed have multiple sub collections within the full collection, that we will be launching as soon as Autumn is upon us. Watch this space for more reveals, secrets and behind-the-scenes info all about our brand new Heart of Huddersfield collections.
Wool fanatics you will know the struggle of finding a quality product that is not the same as the rest, well we’ve got just the ticket.
Lightowler spinning mules in action
Finished reels of wool yarn ready to be woven!
We've created a waiting list for the new collection of fabrics that is free & will make sure that you're name is first on the list when the collection is released publicly. Click here for the link!