Sheepskin Leather Facts

Save

Sheepskin is one of three types of leather produced from sheep for use in clothing and other leather goods. Sheepskin is the hide of a mature sheep that has been tanned into leather with the wooly fleece still attached. Shearling is the hide and fleece of a yearling lamb that has been tanned into leather and then had the fleece sheared to a uniform depth, typically between a half inch and an inch. Shearling has a much softer feel and is lighter in weight than sheepskin. Mouton is a sheepskin that has been specially sheared, processed and dyed so it resembles the fur of a beaver or seal.

Making Sheepskin Leather

  • Sheepskin production starts with skinning the animal as soon as possible after it is killed, said the leather merchants at Diamond Leathers. The fresh hide then is treated with an alkaline solution to soften it for the next step, in which any flesh or fat attached to the hide is scraped off. The hide then is rinsed with an acidic solution, stretched tightly over a frame and allowed to air dry. At this stage, it's called rawhide. If rawhide can't immediately be sent to a tannery, it is preserved either by freezing or salting and put into storage for up to a year.

Tanning Sheepskin

  • The raw sheepskin hide becomes leather by being soaked in a solution of chromium salts or of natural tannin derived from plants, mixed with soda ash, sodium chloride, and an acid. The tanning chemicals react with the proteins in the hide to transform it into leather in a process that takes about nine hours. The tanned leather is rinsed clean and then put through softening and finishing processes to impart the characteristics desired in the intended leather product.

How Sheepskin is Used

  • Sheepskin is the warmest lightweight leather you can buy, say the folks at leather fabricator ShepherdsFlock. That's why it's used for a wide variety of cold-weather apparel including jackets, boots, hats and gloves. It can be used with the fleece side in or out, depending on the garment. Sheepskin as a pelt is used as a rug or seat cover. Sheepskin provides a soft yet resilient surface that makes it ideal for bed pads and wheelchair pads that help prevent pressure sores from developing in hospitalized patients. Sheepskin also is used in equestrian saddle pads and covers.

Sheepskin Care

  • Sheepskin is a leather product, said the ShepherdsFlock people, so it should be stored away from dampness that encourages mold, and from high heat sources that can dry and crack the leather. Sheepskin products should be stored in paper bags or paperboard boxes. Never store sheepskin in plastic bags or plastic boxes. If your sheepskin outerwear gets wet, simply spread it out flat to air dry. Never use a blow dryer or other high heat source on sheepskin. Use a soft bristle brush to brush out water spots once the garment is dry.

Cleaning Sheepskin

  • Soiled sheepskin garments should be dry cleaned by a cleaner experienced in handling leather goods, said ShepherdsFlock. Sheepskin rugs and pads can be hand washed in cool water with a soap intended for leather cleaning. Avoid laundry detergents, bleaches, enzyme or "oxy" cleaners. Gently agitate for about 10 minutes. Then gently squeeze out excess water or use the spin cycle of your washer. Never wring out the item. Lay the item flat with fleece side down and allow to air dry. When the item is just slightly damp, brush the fleece side with a fine wire brush and then finish air drying. Never put sheepskin in a clothes dryer, even one without heat.

References

  • Photo Credit sheep image by wilmar huisman from Fotolia.com
Promoted By Zergnet

Comments

You May Also Like

  • What Is Berber Fleece?

    Berber fleece has nothing to do with sheep or other fiber-producing animals, nor with the native peoples of the North African coast....

  • What Is Shearling Sheepskin?

    Shearling is the recently shorn hide of a yearling lamb that has been tanned with some wool left intact on the skin,...

  • How Is Sheepskin Made?

    Sheepskin is the hide of a sheep. It is preserved with the wool attached and used for rugs, clothing and upholstery. Sheepskin...

  • Sheepskin Vs. Deerskin

    Sheepskin and deerskin are both used to produce leather materials. Sheepskin is known mostly for it's soft fleece on sheep hide. Deerskin...

  • Cowhide vs. Deerskin Leather

    You can classify the differences between cowhide and deerskin into three categories: comfort, durability and maintenance. Deerskin is softer and more comfortable...

  • How to Make a Leather Belt

    Belts make a great gift for anyone and are among the simplest of leather-working projects.

  • How to Make a Leather Rug

    A leather rug is a very rich addition to a room. The feel of hair-on cowhide underfoot is warm and pleasant, and...

  • How to Repair Sheepskin Slippers

    Because they are extremely warm and comfortable, sheepskin slippers often suffer much use and abuse. Over time, tears or holes can occur...

  • How to Repair Sheepskin Coats

    Sheepskin coats have many significant attributes, many of which are a result of the remarkable wool-leather combination: it retains its shape, it...

  • Washing Fleece Fabric Instructions

    Polar fleece provides such warmth and coziness that you will find many items made with this warm synthetic fabric. From clothing to...

Related Searches

Check It Out

This Is the Beauty Routine of an Ex-Pat in China

M
Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!