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Crash course in leather selection

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  • Crash course in leather selection

    Wonder if anyone out there would be willing to tell us about selecting the right leather for projects.... moccs...fringe...dresses..etc. and how to know how much to buy for a project. :)

    Did I say pretty please? :Angel2
    "We see it as a desecration not only of a mountain but of our way of life. This is a genocidal issue to us. If they kill this mountain, they kill our way of life." ~Debra White Plume

  • #2
    Well, leather selection definitely is driven by the project and not the other way around. Light weight thin hides like some buckskin, goat and lamb works well for wrapping under gourd stitching and is perfect for twisted fringe but aint worth a nickel when one wants to make mocs. Cowhide can be used for drumsticks and to back rosettes and beltbuckles, but I sure wouldn't want to make leggins out of it. The personal preferences of the craftsman comes into play too. I myself prefer elk for making mocs but will settle for deer if I get a thick enough hide.

    As for how much too can never have enough hides...LOL! The project drives this too. If you are making mocs you may only needs about 1/2 a hide or less, but a buckskin dress can take 4-6 hide or more.

    What are you wanting to make, that might help or are you just looking for general info?

    "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Pablo Picasso

    "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift...that is why is it called the Present." Master Oogway - KungFu Panda

    My comments are based on what I have been taught and my experiences over the years I have been around the circle. They should in no way be taken as gospel truths and are merely my opinions or attempts at passing on what I have learned while still learning more.


    • #3
      In my experience, the ultimate garmet material is good, evenly scraped braintan deer or elk depending on the item you are making. However, who can find it or afford it or do all that hard, hard work nowadays....

      Thin commerical buckskin works well, like PB49 says, for fringes, support for gourd stitch, wraps on feathers, covers over rawhide awl cases, things like barrettes, crowns, and ties that are going to have several layers. The thin stuff often has holes, some times tiny ones that aren't readily visible. Medium grades of buckskin are good for bags, ladies leggings that are going to be lined, cradles that are multilayer, and such. Those huge, heavy double suede, German hides are nice for clothes.

      Most commerical non-brain tan hides are helped by stretching. You can get quite a bit more useable hide on some skins. Mist the hide and nail it out on a picece of canvas or oilcloth covered plywood (some plywoods will transfer glue or resin to the hide and stain it). Using brass nails will avoid ugly rust stains. Test a corner of the hide before doing this, as there are certain tanning processes that don't tolerate water well. A quick whirl through the dryer on cool before wetting and stretching will remove all that loose stuff that gets on your clothes from a new hide. (Be cautious of doing this if you use a lot of dryer sheets and they can leave oil marks.) Roll, not fold, hides for storage to keep from setting in wrinkles that like to stetch back out under the weight of your beadwork (this is the voice of painful personal experience, LOL).

      I've used thin white pig skin for linings on barrettes, checkbook covers, necklaces; it's light, cheap and used epidermis side out really resists dirt and body oils.

      I've also used the heavy (one side suede) sheep hides for moccs. Not that wimpy stuff you polish your car with, but the thick ones Cox Hides and Leathers in Albq sell. They bead like a dream and if stretched before the fitting is done, don't stretch out too much during wear. They can be hot tho'. Those hides make nice purses if you can disguise epidermis side or like to work with that side out.

      The how many depends on how the hide is shaped, where the final bullet went in, how thin and ragged the edges are... Commerical-tanned elk in the US is often split down the spine for skinning or tanning. This makes long skinny hides. For garmets I tend to buy big hides and trim them down, so I can avoid having to use the thin stuff on the edges and "armpits" and "elbows" -- the parts the stretch out of shpe easily -- in structural areas that need to take stress.

      Oh well, one woman's opinions:)



      • #4
        Yep, braintanned is the way to go! I refuse to bead on anything other kind of leather.

        BUT....commercial is good for moc soles (especially doubled:)) and fringe, and I did make my girls' buckskin dresses out of commercial. It's good for backing barrettes and keychains.

        I always keep a needle handy in my purse. When selecting a hide I always make sure the needle can go through.

        OMG, my cousin has a brain tanned moose hide for sale that would be PERFECT for mocs, but I can't afford it!:Cry is what it is...


        • #5
          Originally posted by wyo_rose
          I always keep a needle handy in my purse. When selecting a hide I always make sure the needle can go through.
          Oh, yeah. But some sellers freak if they catch you "sticking" their hides. I had a vendor at the Harvard powwow freak-out, LOL.



          • #6
            Gotta be sly with the needle!
   is what it is...


            • #7
              if the stuff feels like Buttah... then usually the needle will go through it qutie easily.
              Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic


              • #8
                :clap: :bouncy: Now this is the kind of info I'm talking about. It was not so much my needing leather/info for "a" project, but thought this would be good for everyone and would be good for archive. ;)

                So...say I am going to make a pair of moccs... what make the best soles? Tops?

                Belt.. concho and beaded?
                "We see it as a desecration not only of a mountain but of our way of life. This is a genocidal issue to us. If they kill this mountain, they kill our way of life." ~Debra White Plume


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