What is sheepskin leather?
As it comes from the title, sheepskin leather is made from natural skin of adult sheep. It has a nice, smooth texture that resembles “velvet” to the touch. This material is lightweight, resilient, soft and elastic. It can be easily processed through tanning and dyeing while maintaining an initial shape. Most often used for making high-quality jackets and coats as well as accessories and hats.
Since sheepskin leather hides are quite small all clothes are often made from a few pieces. Soft sheepskin leather is easy to stretch and it is characterized by increased density and strength. One of the major types of sheepskin leather is lambskin but I will tell more about it some other time.
Benefits of sheepskin leather hides
Natural sheepskin leather is made by the method of chrome tanning from the skins of sheep and lambs. That is why it has a number of unique advantages:
- smoothness, softness and tenderness to the touch;
- strength and resilience;
- keeping the same shape after the treatment;
- resistance to abrasion;
- high breathable and hygroscopic properties;
- water resistance (poorly absorbs moisture and stays dry in wet and cool weather);
- comfortable in wear in autumn and winter;
- it matches various types of finishes;
Two types of soft sheepskin leather
Genuine sheepskin comes from an adult sheep (can be used with or without wool). This leather material is characterized by durability, softness and elasticity, but at the same time it remains very strong and wear-resistant.
Another type of sheepskin is called Chevreau. It is a stronger and more elastic leather made of young lambs. After skinning, it is treated by chrome tanning or coated with the polymer protection. This leather type is used by shoemakers, for making clothes and hats.
Sheep leather hides are smaller in size than cattle skins, but they are easier to process, treat and decorate due to their thinner structure. As a result, high-quality and inexpensive clothes or accessories can be made from sheepskin (the texture is very soft to the touch). Moreover, sheepskin has a much lower production cost than cattle-based leather types.
Uses of sheepskin leather hides
Genuine sheepskin leather is one of the best materials for making high-quality and durable jackets, coats, raincoats, hats, shoes, etc. Due to the thin structure, natural sheepskin leather is very soft, flexible and easy to decorate with embossing, engraving, and varnishing.
Besides winter coats made of sheepskin, this material is used for sewing high-quality shoes, gloves, belts, and even bags. You see, this kind of material is sanded, polished, dyed.
After the deeper processing of soft sheepskin leather, a very elegant smooth or textured material results in the manufacture of premium-segment shoes, luxury jackets and coats, hats, accessories. Sheepskin also makes a great basic material to imitate the leather of exotic animals, birds and reptiles (crocodile, anaconda, python, etc.).
Sheepskin genuine leather is painted in a wide variety of colors and shades, both classic (black, brown, red, white, beige) and bold bright colors to create yellow, orange, lilac and other products.
How to test sheepskin leather?
It is important to understand that all the mentioned qualities and advantages come only with natural sheepskin leather products. Here is how you can distinguish real sheepskin from fakes:
Touch the material. Real sheepskin heats up quickly and retains heat for a long time. The natural material will cool on hand for a long time – sheepskin has a high thermal property, so the products from it are usually additionally insulated.
Find the edges and seams of a jacket made of genuine sheepskin leather – it should not be tucked up, because the natural material does not foul, delaminate and lose its integrity.
Put water on the material – in a few minutes, genuine sheepskin leather will change color a little, but then it will return to the original shape. In most cases, natural leather products almost do not absorb moisture at all. This test will also help to determine how well the sheepskin jacket is protected from getting wet in the rain. The color of the material should not change – this indicates high-quality water-resistance.
Seed contamination of sheepskin leather hides:
Another important feature to look for is the level of seed contamination of genuine sheepskin leather:
- Not visible seed contamination;
- Light seed contamination is possible, especially in the belly area of a sheep;
- Medium seed contamination may be visible in the leg and belly regions;
Avoid buying the products with a heavy seed contamination because it means the damaged sheep leather hides.
Care for sheepskin leather products
So, you’ve managed to buy a natural sheepskin coat or hat. How should you take care after this piece of clothes to make sure it will serve for many years in almost perfect condition? Use the following expert guidelines for a daily sheepskin care routine:
- You need to invest in buying special leather protection solutions, preferably specifically for sheepskin products. Opt for the products suitable for delicate leather care. I would recommend using a protectant product in spray form. In such a way, you will avoid the negative effects of color streaking after rubbing the care product.
- To avoid any darkening of the natural material, please use a dry, soft and clean cloth. If there are stains, gently and slowly rub the surface until the stain goes away. Never scrub too much or use water – the stain will only be bigger.
- To protect sheepskin leather hides from drying out or cracking, apply a leather conditioner. Do not forget to pre-test a small amount of this product on a hidden spot. For this purpose, please pick a white cloth. Check if the product changes the color of sheepskin within an hour of the application.
- Do you want to know how to store sheepskin leather products at home? Never cover such products in plastic – otherwise, it will dry out. Try to store sheepskin items in a dry and cool place, without direct sunlight. I would recommend using a padded hanger for keeping the proper shape of sheepskin jackets.
Comparison of sheepskin leather vs other leather types
Compared to other leather types, sheepskin is distinguished thanks to its softness. Also due to the sheep wool such leather products are extremely pleasant to the touch. Cowhide leather products are more rugged, even in the most delicate form.
Sheepskin leather is very comfortable to wear while cowhide coats look tougher and deliver more protection. You see, sheepskin leather hides are much thinner than cowhide products. However, it is as durable as other leather types. Definitely, sheepskin is strong and will last for a few seasons. Besides, many sheepskin coats come with wool fleece for additional comfort.
As you can see, sheepskin leather is quite a beneficial material for winter coats and hats. It is extremely soft and durable. But make sure to invest in natural sheepskin leather to get a comfortable coat or hat that will serve for many years. The proper care routines will be also helpful.