The Ultimate Guide to Harris Tweed Fabric

The Ultimate Guide to Harris Tweed Fabric

There’s something utterly special about owning a unique item, be it an heirloom, a rare souvenir, or a home decor item made of a luxury, timeless textile like the Harris Tweed Fabric. 

Despite being coveted for its incredibly high quality and plush texture, Harris Tweed is still a mystery to many of us. So, we’ve put together this article to answer all the questions you might’ve ever had, from the history and origin to the different types and uses of the material. 

What is Harris Tweed Fabric? 

People often confuse Harris Tweed as a brand when it is actually a type of cloth woven in special industries on the islands off the northwest coast of Scotland, beyond the Isle of Skye. The material offers a dense texture, life-long durability, and fascinating flecks of color. It is an all-natural product that requires years of training to manufacture — and can only be handwoven by the islanders in the Hebrides of Scotland. In fact, the tweed fabric is protected by an Act of Parliament, the “Haris Tweed Authority.” It is a body protecting the livelihood of the islands and the quality of the product. 

The Mills on the Islands: How is the Fabric Manufactured 

There are three mills on the islands: Stornoway, Shawbost, and Carloway, with Carloway Mill being the oldest and most artisanal. Men mix piles of mixed tweel wool and feed them into a hopper that “teases” or “cards” the wool into yarn. The step is super fascinating in the sense that an apparently simple brown jacket can be manufactured from yarn consisting of many, many different hues. 

The yarn is then brought to the home of a weaver on the islands. The weaver retreats to his weaving shed to begin pedaling the loom and create a cloth from all the spun fibers. How the cloth is prepared varies with the understanding between the mill and the weaver. Apart from the color of the yarn from which the cloth is made, the weaver also considers how it is intertwined. Is it herringbone? Is it twill? 

Once the weaver's work is done (and they often work at odd hours, like through the night), the cloth is collected by the mills and returned to their place of work for washing, darning, pressing, and finishing. In a world of automated production, an industry with such skilled craftsmanship is so alien, so artisan to us. Yet it is the very same reason that adds to the specialty and uniqueness of Harris Tweed. So, as you hold your item of the Outer Hebrides, remember to appreciate the special history of the product, where every inch has passed through the loom of a skilled weaver. 

Types of Harris Tweed

The delight of Harris Tweed is the inspiration and beauty it draws from the natural world. Its inviting colors and textures are greatly influenced by the beauty of the the windswept Scottish Highlands and Islands. With so much charm and beauty of nature, it is not surprising to see endless different types of Harris Tweed in existence today. 

There are, however, some popular patterns being featured in products around the world. You might even already own one such style! 


History: The origins of this iconic pattern are traced as far back as early weaves from 360AD Scottish Lowlands. The style was formally included in the royal household’s uniform in the 1930s. From then onwards, it has been embraced as a luxury weave owned by the elite and famous. 

Appearance: Also called dogtooth, houndstooth is a duotone textile pattern recognized by abstract four-pointed shapes, often in black and white (though other colors can be used too). The classic pattern is an example of tessellation. 


Credit: Pure Fabrics

History: One of the oldest patterns that dates back to the early dates of Harris Tweed. Its appearance is inspired by the shape of a herring’s skeleton — one of Scotland’s most abundant fish in the early ages. 

Appearance: Herringbone has a distinctive V-shaped weaving pattern. It is basically a zig-zag design consisting of columns and short parallel lines, with all lines in one column sloping downward and all lines in the next column sloping upward. Example: Harris Tweed Grey Herringbone

Plain Twill 

Credit: Pure Fabrics

History: Dates to ancient times. Evidence of the style’s existence was found in Asia, Africa, and Europe as early as 700 AD. 

Appearance: Despite its name, the design is far from plain. The yarn is woven in distinct diagonal lines that give the fabric its texture. Since the cloth is single-colored, unlike other patterned styles, it is often considered the ‘plainer’ choice. Example: Harris Tweed Norse Dark Blue Plain Weave


Credit: Pure Fabrics

History: The pattern originated in the 8th and 6th centuries BC. During that period, each clan or family owned a unique plaid design. The fabric made a strong comeback in the 1970s.  

Appearance: Plaid tweed consists of cross horizontal and vertical bands in woven cloth in 2 (or more) colors. Example: Harris Tweed MacLeod Tartan

Uses of Harris Tweed

Being a distinct fabric that cannot be replicated, Harris Tweed is used in many daily-use products, each carrying a meaningful, sentimental value. 




  • Jackets
  • Coats
  • Blazers
  • Vests


  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Bags
  • Gloves

Home Decor

  • Cushions and throws
  • Curtains
  • Blankets and table linens 
  • Upholstery fabric


  • Boots
  • Slippers
  • Loafers

Technology Accessories

  • Laptop sleeves
  • Tablet cases
  • Phone covers


  • Notebooks 
  • Journals
  • Diaries

Pet Accessories 

  • Pet beds
  • Collars
  • Leashes


How to Choose the Right Harris Tweed for You

Credit: Pure Fabrics 

When choosing Harris Tweed for home decor products or clothing items, there are a few things to consider. First, think about the overall look you want to create, and if it’s a clothing piece, also think of the occasion. For a classic, timeless look, Herringbone is the perfect option. If you want to create a stunning statement, a bold plaid can add a head-turning pop of color. Considering the colors embedded within the pattern is equally important. Make sure to imagine and plan how they will complement the other decor in the room or the rest of the pieces you’re wearing. 

How to Clean Harris Tweed

Given the expertise that goes into the production of the exclusive material, you obviously want to keep it in good condition. We’d recommend getting the products dry-cleaned at a professional outlet. Tip: Leave the item to air for a bit. This allows minor odors to disappear on their own. 

If you want to hand wash the fabric, keep the following tips in mind for effective results. 

  • Wash in water no hotter than 30°C. 
  • Use a wool-specific washing detergent. 
  • Do not handle the fabric roughly.
  • After washing, rinse the item through clean, cool water. 
  • Do not tumble dry or dry directly over a heat source. 

How to Recognize Genuine Harris Tweed

Planning to splurge on a Harris Tweed item to treat yourself or to gift it to a loved one? Here’s how you can make sure the fabric is fully authentic. 

  • Genuine products always have a Harris Tweed Authority Orb Mark ironed onto the fabric. 
  • Every genuine Harris Tweed product comes with a ‘maker’s mark.’ This signifies which of the authorized weavers have produced that particular fabric. 
  • Choose a reputable retailer, such as Pure Fabrics, to be sure they have sourced their stock from authenticated manufacturers. 


Final Words 

The feeling of owning a luxurious Harris Tweed piece is unmatched — and if you, too, are inspired by the Harris Tweed Revolution, head over to our brand, Pure Fabrics, to find an impressive range of the fabric! 

Back to blog