Leather…there are few upholstery materials as evocative as leather. Maybe someone in your family had a huge, tufted desk chair, the leather cracked and worn but so soft. Or maybe your first big purchase was a leather sofa; you loved it so much…until your puppy found it and chewed the cushions.
Love it or hate it, leather is one of the most popular and enduring upholstery materials. Today’s vinyls and recycled (or bonded) leathers are closer than ever to the real thing: they have the look of leather, are extremely durable, and are easy to work with. But, if you want that leather smell and that leather patina, only the real thing – a cow’s hide – will do!
Tips for working with leather
Just as no two cows are identical, no two hides are exactly the same size. Hides have naturally occurring holes, scratches, and scars, but that is part of leather’s allure. No fabric or man made product will patina or age quite like leather. Leather comes in a variety of finishes and can mimic any number of other skins and textures.
|Half and Full Hides Hanging in our Hilliard, OH Store|
Fortunately hides are tanned and colored by dye lot so you can get multiple hides that are exactly the same color. Each whole hide is on average 50 square feet, or the rough equivalent of 3-3.5 yards of 54″ wide fabric. Layout and design is important when working with leather in order to minimize waste.
Sewing leather does present some other unique challenges. It is not as forgiving as fabric – sew it right the first time because the holes will NOT go away. You will need a very heavy duty sewing machine and a leather needle to tackle leather upholstery, not to mention a heavy duty pair of sharp scissors. If adding cording to the edges of your leather cushions, use 4/32 plastic welt instead of tissue welt. Leather stretches with age (but don’t worry – we can always re-stuff those cushions) and it gets brittle over time, so you’ll need to condition it.
Despite the challenges, leather is durable, beautiful, and natural and this makes it continue to be popular! As a special purchase, we have several beautifully colored hides in store – $150 for a full hide or $75 for a half hide. Whether you want to try leather upholstery yourself or have the experts in our workroom do your re-upholstery, we’re happy to provide in-stock hides for you to explore.