Leather is so versatile and comes in an incredibly diverse array of colours, thicknesses and types. This article touches upon the 4 key principles when purchasing leather - What are you making? - What are your aesthetics? - What properties will you need? and will you need more than one type of leather or thickness?
To understand the different terminology and descriptions please refer to our Leathercraft Glossary.
What are you making?
What is your project? What do you need to consider, does it need to be firm or soft, to gather up, for example a pouch? Does it need length for the pattern pieces, eg a shoulder strap. Will you need to wet form? What sort of thickness do you need?
What are your aesthetics?
How do you want it to look? Are you going for a sleek ultra-modern neat look, or a rugged, aged look? Do you want to add colour? Are you planning to do embossing or tooling?
What properties will you need?
Does it need to be heat resistant eg a blacksmiths apron, does it need to be suitable for outdoors… Do you want your leather to go through a domestic sewing machine?
Will you need more than one leather type/thickness
Are you lining your project, do you need a thinner leather for pockets or side panels? Do you want a tooled panel, or a contrast strap?
Do you already have a leather that you can alter to make it work for this project:
Could you dye it to get it the correct colour?
Could you wet and dry it to make it firmer?
Could you oil it to make it softer?
Could you back it to another piece to make it thicker
Could you skive it to make it thinner?
As you receive your leather get into the practice of cutting a small piece off and sticking it in a notebook with the description, or staple it to the purchase receipt. That way if you need more you know which supplier it came from and what they called it.
Over time this can become your sample bible. You can also record here what you made from it and what you liked about it.
Bringing this with you when you visit us (or other leather suppliers) will help us to point you in the right direction.
Our website has a section call the The Leather Room and from there you should be able to choose from a wide variety of leather types, cuts and thicknesses. If you need help deciding – send your project details to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help.