Tweed forever!!

Every second issue of women’s magazines in the fifties seemed to have an article about how to make an elegant handbag that would look like guineas but cost shillings.  I love that attitude to achievable everyday elegance.  The images that accompany the articles are often just as inspiring as the bag to be made.

Tweed, showing overall effect, and warp and weft threads

Tweed, showing overall effect, and warp and weft threads

I’ve certainly found this fabric inspiring.  It’s a light tweed, with a dark brown warp and a greige weft, so that the overall effect is of a gorgeous taupe with a little creamy fleck to it.  I had enough to make: 

  • a bag
  • a brooch
  • a shawl
  • a cushion.

 I don’t often have enough of a fabric to be so extravagant with it, so it was a real pleasure to be able to play with this one.

This post is about the bag and the brooch.

The set of screw-rods I’ve used for the bag came with these lovely heavy gold chains, again quite unusual.  They demanded something quite formal, such as pleats.

Tweed handbag preparations

Making anything with pleats requires a lot of calculation, as you can see from the pencil scribbles at the botton of thephoto:  lots of measuring and adding up, and then doing it again. 

I’ve inter-lined the tweed with cotton flannelette because it is so light. The interlining holds the fabric out and keeps the pleats soft.   (Using an interlining lets you mark up without it showing on the main fabric.)   If you look closely, you can see that the pleats are graduated in width.  I really like the kind of rhythm this gives to a piece, rather than just have a stiff regularity, especially when the pleats go across, not up and down.

The pleating was done in one process, and then I separated the front and back sections.

The pleated fabric is quite firm, from all the layers—which meant I had to find a way to put the front and back together that would avoid stitching through it all.  (My lovely Pfaff 1471 is tough, but not that tough!)  More calculation and trying around was required to arrive at a gusset that had good proportions and an appropriate length:  the final result is narrower at the top than at the centre, to retain the overall formality of the bag.

Then all that was needed was a lining:

Tweed bag interior

and then … it was done!

Pleated tweed bag with gold chain handles

Pleated tweed bag with gold chain handles

But it didn’t seem to be quite complete:

Tweed bag with brooch

I just had to make an embellishment that could go on the bag, or on your coat or wherever. 


Tweed plus yum!

Tweed plus yum!

Quite what the brooch centre was in a previous life I don’t know.  It looks just right where it is now.  The fringing gives a really good idea of just what the overall effect of  the combined warp and weft colours is.

These pieces made me so happy.  I took them home and gloated over them all weekend!

2 Responses to “Tweed forever!!”
  1. …I’m not really a hand bag kind of guy….but that’s a nice looking bag!…

  2. elenasstudio says:

    Now that’s a compliment! Thank you!

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