Leather products are common and popular in our daily life, but do you really know what is leather fabric? Here is everything you need to know about leather fabric.
Leather, a fabric that is still widely used today and is made from animal hides and skins, has been used for a wide range of products for more than 7,000 years. When animal skins and hides are chemically treated, or tanned, to prevent decay, leather is created. Leather is a strong, flexible, and long-lasting material.
Read and learn more about leather fabric.
What is Leather Fabric?
A natural fabric made from tanned animal skin, leather. Leather has changed significantly over the centuries despite being thought to be the first fabric made by human hands.
However, due to its strength, resistance to water, insulating qualities, and luxurious softness, leather continues to be one of the most sought-after textile products. Leather is one of the most versatile natural textiles, coming in a wide range of designs, quality levels, and colors.
Brief History of Leather
Since it first appeared more than 2 million years ago, leather production hasn’t really changed much. As Australopithecus habilis, the ancestor of modern humans, roamed the planet, it appeared that they began to eat more meat.
They had to create tools to pierce the skin of their prey, though, as they lacked sharp claws or teeth. We’ve found artifacts that prove they were successful.
Here is a quick explanation of how leather is made. By the way, the skins would putrefy if they couldn’t figure out how to clean and tan them. The fur must be removed from the skin of the animal.
Although the fur can be removed in small pieces at a time, it is much simpler to wash it off completely in water and then a vat of lime. The fur on the skin can be removed using the lime solution. After that, you can begin to hang outside to dry before using various methods to be shaped, smoothed, and tanned.
In order to tan leather, it was also beneficial to cover the skin in the tannins found in various barks, leaves, twigs, fruits, and other materials. The man who accused Socrates of destroying youth was a tanner.
To tan the leathers, various earth salts were eventually employed. Leathers of various kinds were used for shoes, gloves, buckets, bottles, and military gear in Ancient Egypt, which is where the practice of using earth salts was invented. Leather was widely used by the Romans as well.
This method for tanning freshly killed ox hide was recorded by the Sumerians in 800 BC. “Take this skin, then soak it in pure Nisaba flour that has been finely ground, along with water, beer, and fine wine. With the best fat of a pure ox, the alum of the land of the Hittites and oak galls, you will press it and you cover the bronze kettle drum with it”.
How is Leather Made?
Rawhide, or untreated animal hide, is used to create leather. Because the tanning agents help balance the proteins in the skin so that they can be used in a variety of ways, the tanning process makes the leather durable and sustainable. Tannered leather can stay supple and durable for a very long time while raw leather can become stiff and dry.
The production of leather can involve the use of a variety of animals and tanning techniques. The three stages of preparation, tanning, and crusting are typically involved in the production of leather.
- The leather object is initially ready for tanning. The hair on the hide must be removed, and some leather are soaked and bleached.
- The leather is tanned after that. In order to produce supple leather, this process involves treating the hides with various tanning agents, such as vegetable oils or chrome salts.
- The leather piece is prepared for its final use, whether it will be dyed or sanded, by going through a crusting process that softens and dries it.
Where Does Leather Come From?
Cow Hide – The most widely used leather is made from cowhide, which is used to create a wide range of leather goods. Leather made from the hide of the adult cow is known as the most versatile leather. Cow leather is a good option for heavy-duty wear because it can be thick, soft, and abrasion-resistant.
Buffalo Hide – While buffalo hide resembles cowhide in many ways, it can also be stiffer and have more pronounced leather patterns, such as deeper groves and cuts.
Buffalo hide leather can be used to create rugged items like bags and shoes as well as garments like vests, jackets, pants, and bags. A jacket made from buffalo leather is extremely durable and can last a lifetime.
Lamb Skin – Although sheep and lamb skin leather is well known for being extremely soft, supple, and lightweight, it might not meet the requirements of motorcycle suits for durable items like motorcycle jackets.
To make clothing like trench coats, pants, and gloves, it is still frequently used. Due to its luxurious feel and appearance, many major fashion houses also favor using this type of leather for their jackets and purses.
It’s crucial to remember that while sheep and lamb skin may work well for fashion accessories, riders should put safety first and spend money on a motorcycle suit that complies with the requirements for protection on the road.
Deer Skin – Leather made from deer skin is the toughest leather available and has high tensile strength, is abrasion resistant, and offers high durability. The deer’s skin has a spongy feel and is incredibly soft and comfortable.
The lightweight, stretchy leather is quite expensive and typically used to make upholstery, handbags, wallets, and clothing. It is also water-friendly and light in weight. Native Americans favored using it for their clothing’s leather.
Goat Skin – Leather made from goat skin is strong, long-lasting, and reasonably priced. It also has a fine, smooth grain. The Goat skin leather is tougher than cow leather and is supple, comfortable, lightweight, and water resistant and it is relatively cheap. Clothing, book covers, gloves, shoes, and bags are all made of goatskin leather.
Features of Leather Fabric
The leather has a number of distinct and distinctive qualities that make it appropriate for use in the fields of leather goods, clothing, upholstery, and saddlery. The most appreciated features of leather are:
- Resistance: the leather has a consistency and a composition that make it very resistant to wear. This characteristic varies depending on the type of animal, the tanning method, the thickness (which typically ranges from a half millimeter to several millimeters), and the finishing, which can increase the product’s resistance.
- Hygiene: this quality is obtained only after various working processes that make leather, a “living” raw material, not subject to the typical phenomena of putrefaction.
- Not subject to humidity: this feature makes leather or leather suitable for the production of shoes and clothing while maintaining a high level of comfort thanks to the good transpiration typical of this type of raw material.
- Thermal insulation: the skin acts as an insulator between the body and the external environment, maintaining a very comfortable temperature for the wearer. It should come as no surprise that the first people to use animal skin did so in the most arduous winters to protect themselves from the cold.
- Pleasant to the touch: a feature that makes leather one of the most expensive and sought-after materials for creating fashion products and more. It is common to find imitations that, while they may aesthetically resemble genuine leather, cannot be compared to touch and resistance due to the use of substitutes or materials that are completely unrelated to leather.
- Eco-Friendly: the so-called “eco-leather” or “faux-leather” is much more polluting than “real leather” since it is produced with materials deriving from the refining of oil and which do not decompose in nature. While the environmental impact of leather that has been vegetable tanned is almost zero.
- Pleasant appearance: the last quality we list, certainly not of importance, is the aesthetics of the skin. The latter in fact is a “living” material that presents unique and inimitable characteristics that make each leather different from the top. The skin has a distinctive appearance that is enhanced by every mark, wrinkle, and nuance, which frequently also raises its market value.
What Are the Main Types of Leather?
There are quite a few different types of leather, and each of these variations has unique properties:
- Genuine leather: Any leather made from animal hides, whether it is top-grain, split, or reconstituted, is genuine leather. In terms of durability and quality, genuine leather varies greatly.
- Imitation leather: A textile made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or a substance similar to it is known as artificial leather, pleather, or something similar. The characteristics and advantages of genuine leather are closely modeled in the design of synthetic leather by textile manufacturers.
- Top-grain leather: The top layer of an animal’s hide, or top-grain leather, is remarkably strong and durable due to the tightly packed, fine fibers that make up its interior. Top-grain leather comes in a few different sub-variations and varies in thickness.
- Full-grain leather: Full-grain leather is a type of top-grain leather that features the full outer layer or “grain” present in the natural leather fabric.
- Corrected grain leather: This type of top-grain leather is subjected to abrasive treatments by textile manufacturers in order to correct any flaws in the grain.
- Nubuck leather: These short, protruding fibers in the sanded full-grain leather give it a velvety texture.
- Split leather: The hide that remains after top-grain leather has been removed is used to make this kind of leather. Compared to top-grain leather, it is of lower quality and less resilient.
- Patent leather: These split leather types have coatings made of vinyl or polyurethane that resemble real grain. Usually, they are more rigid than genuine top-grain leather.
- Suede: Suede has a smooth, napped finish and is typically made from the skin of young animals.
- Bonded, recycled, or reconstituted leather: Shredded leather fibers are used in this type of leather, and textile companies use latex or polyurethane fibers to bind them together. Bonded leather isn’t particularly robust.
Grades of Leather
- Full Grain – The most expensive and best quality leather is this. Full grain refers to the hide’s outermost layer and denotes its origin. There is no sanding on it. Full-grain leather has a long lifespan and gets better with use. Since full-grain leather is untreated, you might notice minor flaws on it. You can have peace of mind knowing that this kind will endure forever.
- Top Grain – A top grain leather is one that has had scratches and scars removed. Even though it is still resilient, full-grain leather is more robust and strong. This type wears out more quickly because the top grain layer has been separated during the sanding process. This variety of leather is the second most expensive.
- Note: When comparing “Full-Grain Aniline vs Top Grain Leather”, full-grain aniline leather offers a natural, authentic look and feel, while top grain leather provides a more uniform appearance and is known for its durability, making it ideal for heavy-use applications.
- Split Leather – They go by a variety of names, including coated leather, suede, painted leather, corrected leather, and more. This type has been heavily sanded to remove all imperfections, giving it a dull appearance.
- Bonded Leather – They sew the leather straps together to resemble a single hide. You wouldn’t really want to call this “leather” because it wears out pretty quickly. This is the cheapest and lowest quality leather, also known as blended leather. Choose either the top-grain or full-grain leather if you want something that will last.
What is Leather Used For?
Leather products, which include clothing and home furnishings, have a wide range of uses.
- Clothing: Clothing items like leather jackets, leather pants, leather dresses, leather blouses, and more are frequently made of leather.
- Shoes: Leather shoes are a common item because leather is a beautiful and enduring fabric. Boots, loafers, high heels, and other types of footwear can all be made out of leather.
- Furniture: For couches and chairs, leather is a common upholstery material. Leather upholstery is frequently used to cover car seats, and luxury cars frequently come standard with leather interiors.
- Bookbinding: Hardcover books are frequently bound with leather, which is also used on some book covers. The majority of leather used for bookbinding is vegetable-tanned because it makes the leather supple, soft, and easily imprinted with text for the book’s spine.
Conclusion: Leather Fabric
Made from animal skin, leather is a tough material. The primary goal of leather processing is to transform the raw material—obtained at the conclusion of the tanning and finishing processes—into the finished product, and it largely depends on the kind of reference product.
What is Leather Made Of?
Although leather is often made of cows’ skin, it can also be made from the skin of pigs, goats, sheep, dogs, and cats as well as crocodiles, ostriches, and other “exotic” animals.
Is All Leather from Animal?
Real leather (not synthetically made) is made from animal skin, and more commonly cow hides, although goat, buffalo, and exotic leathers such as snake and alligator are also available. Even though it only accounts for 5% of the animal’s value, cowskin is frequently referred to as a byproduct of the meat and dairy industries.
Are Animals Killed Specifically for Leather?
Most leather sold and produced in the United States. is made from the skins of cattle and calves, but leather is also made from sheep, lambs, goats, and pigs. Other animals, such as zebras, bison, kangaroos, elephants, crocodiles, alligators, ostriches, lizards, and snakes, are hunted and killed specifically for their skins.