A Simple Guide to Leather-Making

Published/Updated on:
November 18, 2021

Made from tanning animal rawhide and skins, leather has a rich history dating back to prehistoric times! From bags to shoes, and furniture to book covers, leather has proven to be very versatile. Even as leather making is now much simpler and faster because of modern technology, much of it still relies on expert craftsmanship. It's no surprise that anyone interested in leather bag-making courses or shoemaker courses will have much handiwork to master.

For all you leather-enthusiasts, we share a simple guide to understanding leatherwork: the skills needed to work with leather, knowing the basic tools, and choosing the right type of leather!

What Skills Do You Need To Work With Leather?

Leatherworkers often set themselves apart from others by their leather crafting skills. In fact, for some fashion labels, these skills have been passed down for generations and are even closely-guarded secrets. As such, it is crucial to master leather crafting skills if you want to create a high-quality leather product. Some basic skills that will help are: 

1. Saddle Stitching 

Source: Werther Leather Goods

This is the most common and best technique for sewing leather. Saddle stitching creates a knot in each hole so that if the thread happens to break at one point, it will not unravel the rest. Even though saddle stitching must be done by hand, it has proven to be even better than machine-stitching in keeping leather goods from falling apart. 

You May Also Like: Sewing Courses in TaF.tc

2. Burnishing

Aesthetics may play a smaller role than function, but it is important nonetheless. Burnishing, also known as cleaning the edges of leatherwork, can really elevate the look of your product. There are various methods of burnishing as it largely depends on the type of look that you want to achieve. Check out this video to see how leather burnishing is done!

3. Skiving

This is a leather-crafting method that involves reducing the thickness of leather in the areas where it is supposed to be bent or folded. Amongst all the leather crafting skills, skiving is often the hardest to master. Do it too fast, and you might tear a hole in the leather. Do it too slowly, and it will be a long time before you reach the desired thickness. 

While there are many other leather crafting skills that you will have to learn, the above three are considered the most important. As long as you master saddle stitching, burnishing, and skiving, you will be able to produce a quality leather product.

Essential Tools Every Beginner Leatherworker Needs 

Compared to other fabrics, leather is a lot tougher to work with and also why it requires almost completely different tools. There are even specialised tools for certain leather working techniques! Fortunately, there are a few basic general tools that you can use to get you started on your leather-working journey. They are: 

Essential Leatherworking Tools

As you gain experience and confidence in leatherwork, you will be able to utilise specialised tools to create even better leather products.

How To Choose The Right Type of Leather

Due to different manufacturing and finishing techniques, there are 3 different types of leather in the market. Each of them has different characteristics and is suitable for different uses. They are:

Layers of Leather

  1. Full-grain leather - Considered to be of the highest quality, full-grain refers to leather that has not been buffed down. It is also very durable thanks to the densely-packed fibres on the topmost layer. As a result, they are typically used for furniture.
  1. Top-grain leather - The leather has its top layer buffed down to achieve a smooth finish. The buffing process also makes the leather more pliable and thus, easier to dye. Due to its softness, it is typically used in making leather bags, shoes, and wallets.
  1. Genuine leather - This refers to leather whose surface has been chemically treated and sanded to give a more uniform appearance. As the process greatly reduces the strength of the leather, genuine leather is typically used for belts and other accessories.

Become An Expert Leatherworker 

As far as most fabrics are concerned, leather still remains one of the most durable and versatile. So, whether you are a fashion designer looking to upgrade their skills or someone who is just interested in leather, the Textile and Fashion Industry Training Centre (TaF.tc) has plenty of leatherworking courses available!

Thasnova Rahman Thamim

Thamim loves writing and has experience handling social media pages as well as writing blog posts. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading and watching films, particularly if its of the science fiction, fantasy, and historical genres. Some of the clients whom she has worked with include ID21, 365 Cancer Prevention Society, Rentokil, and Her Velvet Vase.

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