LEATHER BUYING GUIDE

Below you can read our leather buying guide. We have put this together carefully to assist you when choosing the right leather. Please contact us for any further questions!

 

LEATHER TYPES

The leather sold at Walter Reginald are all by-products of the meat industry, meaning there is very little wastage. Our leather is sourced globally from different kinds of animals such as cow, lamb, horse, goat, pig, python, fish, stingray and many more. The diagrams below will help you to understand the average measurements of such skins in both footage and centimetres for any projects where the size of a singular skin may be integral to the design.


 *please note that all measurements are approximations only and every skin will be different in shape and size. There will also be anomalies that exceed standard measurements or are well below standards as these are natural products.

TANNING

The skins arrive from the abattoirs to the tannery and are inspected and sorted. They are put in to large drums and are soaked and hair removed if necessary. Once they have been washed, they are ready to be tanned.

The skins are prepared and trimmed and placed back in to the drums with a chemical solution, including chrome to make a stable base and stop the skinsputrefying. The skins are generally then split. A machine slices the leather into two layers. The layer without a grain surface can be turned into suede or have an artificial grain surface or laminate applied. The top sides are finished usually with the grain or buffed in preparation to have foil finishes applied. Any shavings are sent to be used for bonded leather. The skins are then ready to be dyed. They are put back in the drums to be dyed through with specific colours and then have various finishes applied. Minimum drum loads are generally 500ft, 1000ft and 3000ft. In terms of the tanning, the two most commonly used methods are chrome and vegetable. With chrome, there is a larger range of colours achievable which are more vivid with a better depth of colour. Vegetable-tanned leather, using plant extracts, traditionally has more earthy tones. These leathers are commonly used for saddlery, belting, and larger accessories. This type of tannage is also suitable for wet-moulding, embossing, printing and dyeing. Today the range of colours and effects available makes leather the natural choice when considering luxury items which improve over time.

FINISHES

There are various types of finishing methods such as: full grains, embosses, laminates and foils. NAPPA – The generic name given to the grain side of the finished leather of cow or lamb. Generally this has a smooth surface. Methods such as washing or shrinking are then applied. Nappas are most commonly used for garments – in particular outerwear such as jackets although we do sell these products for small leathergoods and handbags. ANILINE – The skins are drum dyed and dried naturally. No finish is applied. Buttery soft, it can be prone to taking up grease or moisture. PIGMENTED – The skins are drum dyed and dried and then a spray pigment is applied to the top of the skin. This makes the skins more durable as the pigmented layer acts as a barrier to stop moisture being absorbed. NUBUCK – The grain side of the skin, using very high quality leather. The grain is buffed to give a soft ‘sueded’ look. It can stain, so needs a stain resistant finish applied , either at the tannery or when the product is made up. SUEDE – The reverse side of the nappa – (inside of the animal). Generally, suede is split to make a fine finish. In the case of lamb and goat, the grain side left is very thin and often used for skivers in the bookbinding industry. All animal skins can produce suede – often referred to as a split which can be used for garments, linings and accessories. SHEARLINGS – The generic name for wool skins – generally used for garments. Fur is on the grain side. Reverse is often left as a suede but can have a finish applied.

CALCULATING COSTS

Calculating how much leather you will need can prove a difficult take due to the dimensions of skins and confusion between square footage and metres. Below we have drawn examples of products generally made by our customers with details of how much leather is needed approximately and the rate of conversion from square feet to metres. We recommend speaking to your manufacturer for confirmation before placing an order on any leathers to avoid any mistakes.

Standard Mens Jacket size S: 40 ft required. Can use any type of leather, however cowhide or lamb nappa are most preffered. Leathers 0.6-1.0mm are generally best.

Handbag: 4-8 ft required depending on size of bag shoes/ trainers: 2 ft required. Calf is an amazing option for any type of accessory, however cowhide can equally be as good. Leathers 1.2-2.0mm are generally best.

Sofa: 200-250 ft required. Cowhide is most defintely the best option for upholstering on sofas due to its durability and the sizes of the skins allowing designs using very minimal seams. Hides between 1.0-1.4mm are generally best as the leather generally needs to be stretched and turned.

IMPERFECTIONS

Leather is a natural byproduct of the meat industry. The animals are formed for this purpose and therefore will exhibit many natural markings in the form of bug bites, scars, defects, stretch marks and branding marks. These are all signs that you are purchasing genuine leather. At Walter Reginald we strive to supply the best skins possible. This being said, when purchasing please expect skins to contain some natural imperfections.