Bag Making With Yorkshire Tweed

Bag Making With Yorkshire Tweed

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!

Happy stitching!

Emma Redfern runs a small bag making business, Hole House, selling bags and teaching bag making workshops.



IG: @emmaholehouse 

Fabworks Online


Fabworks Online


Fabworks Online

Absolutely beautiful bags. I’m very new to bag making but a very experienced soft furnishing maker and dress maker. Do you make your own handles?

Fabworks Online

Hi, can anyone make these bags as they are beautiful?


Fabworks Online

Please tell me where you are based and when your classes are.
Also what prices are your bags please.
Thank you.

Fabworks Online

Can you buy a marina plaid wool bag?

Fabworks Online

Where are the bag making classes held? I’d love to attend one

Fabworks Online

Beautiful bags. Where do you buy your handles from please?

Fabworks Online

Love the bags and fabworks. Keen to hVe a go but lots of questions. Do you use a pattern or did you make it up? Have you used interfacing and where do you source the handles? Oh and how are they attached? How about a quick u tube video? Thanks. Liz

Fabworks Online

Emma. What fabulous bags.
Thank you for taking the time to write this fabulous article. Your bags are stunning.

Thinking that a class with you would be a perfect way to celebrate my Birthday and will be in touch to learn more.

Thanks again.Fabworks fabric and your bag make for the perfect combination.

Fabworks Online

I, too, love bag making – usually make one with tweed or tartan left over after making a skirt. However, I find difficulty in accessing the handles which give such a stylish finish to the bag. Any ideas?

Fabworks Online

I love your opening line it made me chuckle. Think we all pressed the checkout and buy button that day. Think we need a coach trip to this mill and swoon over the tweed.
Thanking you again for been a fab teacher and letting us come away with some fabulous bags. Xx

Fabworks Online

Brilliant post Emma, I love your enthusiasm for material and making bags, it really is infectious. The tweeds at Fabworks are beautiful and combined with your skills and knack of putting colours together – what more could we want. 🤗

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