with Leather and Suede
decided to sew with real or fake leather or suede, the next
step is knowing how to choose the
correct leather or suede for your project.
While patterns usually indicate fabric measured by the yard,
most leather is sold by the square foot. To calculate the
number of square feet you'll need for your project multipy
the suggested yardage on the pattern for 54 inch wide fabric
by 13 1/2, the number of square feet in a piece of 36"
x 54" fabric. Multipy the yardage for 45" wide fabric by 11 1/2, and by nine for 36"
wide fabric. Next add approximately 15 percent to allow
for waste. The size of each skin in square feet is generally
marked on the back of each skin. Suede is simply the inside
layer of a cowhide, pig or lambskin with a napped finish and
the same rules of measurement apply.
You might also consider using a synthetic leather or suede
for your project as they can be real bargains at usually less
than half the cost of natural leathers.
Before making your decision consult
the following list outlining the characteristics of various
real and synthetic leathers:
** COWHIDE - Whole cowhides are available in large
sizes measuring from 20 to 25 square feet. Garments such as
coats, pants and jackets can be made from these full hides.
Half hides or sides can also be purchased for smaller projects
such as hats, handbags or belts. Cowhide comes in heavy and
medium weights and offers a wide range of colors and finishes.
** PIGSKIN - Pigskin is a light to medium-weight leather
that comes in both sueded and non-sueded
finishes and is available in a wide variety of colors. Pigskins
are usually small, about 5 to 7 square feet, so they are generally
used for smaller items such as handbags, belts or trims.
** LAMBSKIN - Lambskin is similar in texture to cowhide
although finer. The average lambskin measures about 6 to 9
square feet and is generally more expensive than cowhide.
Also available in many colors, lambskin can be used for a
variety of garments such as dresses, skirts, coats, jackets,
slippers, handbags and hats.
** SYNTHETIC LEATHER - Usually produced as a medium-weight
fabric, synthetic leather is commonly made with a polyurethane
face and a knit or woven backing. Available in a wide variety
of colors and finishes, it can be used for any garment or
craft project in place of real skins.
** SYNTHETIC SUEDE - Synthetic suedes
come in a variety of weights and colors and are typically
more expensive than synthetic leathers. Lighter weights are
commonly used for vests, dresses, skirts, jackets and shirts
while the heavier weights are good for pants, jackets and
** SNAKESKIN - Smaller snakeskins
are usually more delicate than the larger varieties. The color
of snakeskins varies widely and
the glossy finish generally comes from a thin layer of varnish
or plastic used to help protect the skin. Because snakeskins
can be fragile they are used mostly for small items such as
belts, handbags and collars.
** SYNTHETIC SNAKESKIN - Similar to synthetic leathers,
pseudo snakeskins have a fabric backing which makes them less fragile
than real snakeskins.
Sewing with leather, suede and snakeskin can be a real joy
as they are the oldest and most luxurious of all natural materials.
Selecting the proper medium for your project will help you
to create a garment or accessory that you can be proud of
for years to come!