Sourcing the right leather for your design can be quite intimidating when you first start crafting – so here’s a little bit of guidance.
It might seem obvious, but when considering what leather you want to use for your project, it is important to get the right type for the job.
You won’t be able to use the same type to make a sturdy belt AND a delicate purse.
Different methods of tanning make different qualities of leather. Vegetable tanned leather is usually stiffer and harder wearing than chrome tanned leather, making it more suitable for projects such as a saddles, belts and heavier bags. Chrome tanned leather comes in a greater variety of forms and can be used for everything from furniture and shoes to quite delicate items of clothing.
Vegetable tanned leather is made using organic materials such as tree bark and leaves. It is usually a shade of brown ranging from light beige to deep tan. Vegetable tanned leather develops a beautiful patina that looks better and better over the years.
Full grain leather is made from the top grain of the cowhide and maintains its natural texture. It is great for making footwear and furniture and anything that needs to be hard wearing. Corrected grain leather has the surface buffed and polished, leaving a more uniform finish.
Obviously the thickness of the leather you choose depends on what you want to make. That thickness is, strangely, quantified in ounces. The higher the number of ounces, the thicker the leather. One ounce leather is around 0.4mm thick, two ounce leather is around 0.8mm thick – each added ounce represents roughly 0.4mm of thickness.
The usual thickness for furniture leather is 0.9 to 1.2mm or two to three ounces. Leather for jackets and trousers would vary from one to two ounces, or roughly 0.4 to 0.8mm. Thicker leather is used for sturdier items – a belt can be made from anything over seven ounces.
Once you have decided what type of leather you need, all you have to do is find somewhere that stocks it. A Google search will find a tannery or dealer that will sell you what you need and you will be able to check whether they are certified by the Leather Working Group or Sustainable Leather Foundation which monitor the environmental impacts of leather processors and brands.
For more about different types leather, check here.