The uses of leather are multiple and diverse, and so are its types. Each type of leather differs in qualities, giving options to people who can choose the one that benefits them the most. One such sought after choice used abundantly is sheepskin leather.
You must have heard the name of sheepskin leather a lot, but today we are going to give a deeper insight into this splendid material.
What is Sheepskin Leather?
Sheepskin leather is a type of leather obtained from sheep hide. Sheep leather inherits all the great features from its primary source. The velvety softness, luxurious appearance, flexibility, and lightweight are the distinguishing factors of sheepskin leather, which sets it apart from other commonly used leathers.
To make sheepskin leather, the rawhide of sheep is tanned with the fur intact. This results in one side being soft and fuzzy, while the other side would be smooth and soft leather. In the case of sheep leather, the wool is removed and then the tanning procedures take place.
Qualities of Sheepskin Leather
There are many advantages of sheepskin leather. If you are looking for the following unique features in your leather product, sheepskin leather is definitely the right choice for you.
Sheepskin leather is categorized as one of the lightest leathers. Both the lightweight and supple comfort make it a good choice for garments, such as jackets, coats, skirts, pants, and tops. Due to being lightweight, it makes easy-to-carry bags, and highly comfortable gloves, hats, and footwear.
Although being lightweight and thin, sheepskin is significantly malleable. As it is resistant to wear and tear, sheepskin leather products can last for a lifetime, given you take adequate measures to maintain them.
One of the premium features that compel buyers to opt for sheepskin leather products is its softness. You can identify sheepskin leather with its light weight and velvety touch. The texture is so soft that one doesn't mind wearing a sheepskin leather jacket for long.
Sheepskin leather has fantastic flexibility due to the presence of lanolin in it. Lanolin is a natural oil produced in sheepskin that keeps it warm, soft, water resistant, and stretchy. However, even with the lanolin present, sheepskin doesn't have an oily feel to it.
Although not completely waterproof, leather from sheep is highly resistant to water, keeping it protected in case of a spill or light rain. The lanolin present in the pores of the skin inhibits waterlogging.
An impressive characteristic of sheep leather is being flame retardant. On exposure to flame, sheepskin will shrink and frizzle without catching fire. Due to this feature, sheepskin leather products pass most safety requirements.
Sheepskin's hollow fibers in the sheepskin gives it breathable properties. Unlike usual perception, sheepskin leather stays cool when the temperature of the body is regulated.
Sheepskin is known for its versatility regarding the level of insulation it provides according to the season. Yes, you can stay warm and snug in a sheepskin jacket during winter, but it also has the capability to keep you cool in hot weather.
It would be a worthwhile decision to invest in a leather good made with sheepskin due to its longevity. Besides having considerable tensile strength, sheepskin leather has the waxy lanolin which gives it a unique self cleaning ability. Regular maintenance will keep your sheepskin leather in good shape for years to come.
The quality of sheepskin is determined by the level of seed contamination in it. Seed contamination level is the amount of seeds, thorns, and other stuff caught between the fur and into the skin of the sheep. High seed density causes scars, and eventually weakens the leather. Seed contamination is evaluated into five types:
- No Visible Seed: Premium quality sheepskin without any apparent contamination.
- Light Seed: The term is used when a slight level of seed density is found in the skin covering the leg and belly regions.
- Medium Seed: Skin that covers the legs and belly area has medium seed contamination.
- Heavy Seed: Significant contamination is observed in most of the sheepskin.
- Burry: You need to avoid sheepskin that is burry as hard seeds are usually stuck in the wool and skin, causing scars. However, burry sheepskin is also processed into the leather after removing the seeds.
Types of Sheepskin Leather
Based on the way of processing the hide of the sheep, its leather can be categorized. The breed of sheep also plays a role in determining the type of leather, such as skin of merino sheep gives premium leather that has the ultra soft merino wool on the inner side.
The name given to sheepskin that has all the wool shaved off before tanning and finishing procedures.
When the wool is left on the hide of the sheep, it undergoes a special tanning process that is aimed at restoring the original look of the sheepskin. This type of full grain leather, where the internal side is used as the surface and the wool fleece stays on the inner side is called shearling or nappa leather. Shearling is highly flexible, soft, and comfortable, used to make boots, jackets, coats, gloves, and hats.
Hair Sheep Leather
Hide acquired from the skin of sheep breed that grows hair instead of wool is known as hair sheep leather. The other name for it is Cabretta leather. This elegant and classic material is mostly used to make gloves.
How is Sheepskin Different from Other Types of Leather?
Comparing sheepskin leather to other commercially available leathers can give you a clear insight into it. It will also help you decide what type of leather is suitable for the leather goods that you are going to buy.
Sheep Leather Vs Cow Leather
Both sheepskin and cowhide are the most commonly used raw materials, primarily due to the abundant use of sheep and cows in the food industry. Cowhide, however, is used more than sheepskin due to its amazing tensile strength.
Sheepskin is also strong and durable, but cannot match full grain cowhide leather in this regard. Both are warm leathers, as sheep skin has wool on one side and cowskin is heavy and thick.
Sheep leather is quite soft, lightweight, flexible and has a finer grain as compared to cow leather. The former is well suited for smaller goods that require flexibility and lightweight, while the latter is used to make strong upholstery, jackets, large bags and luggage pieces.
Sheepskin Vs Lambskin Leather
The age of the animals is the prime distinguishing factor between lambskin and sheepskin leather. Lamb leather is the leather made from the skin of young sheep, while sheepskin is the material obtained from mature sheep.
Lambskin is a delicate leather as compared to sheepskin, and hence not very durable. It won’t resist wear and tear like sheepskin and get damaged easily. On the other hand, the texture of sheepskin allows it to be a better choice in terms of durability.
Sheep Leather Vs Goat Leather
Goat skin resembles sheepskin in texture and softness, but definitely takes the prize when it comes to endurance. On the other hand, you can identify sheepskin leather through its amazing flexibility. Goat skin leather is thicker but less flexible as compared to sheep leather.
Sheepskin Leather Product Range
Known for its luxurious feel, flexibility, water resistance and quality of being flame retardant, sheepskin leather has numerous uses. sheepskin leather jackets, coats, hats, boots, and gloves are quite sought after. Due to its flexibility, sheepskin is an excellent material for making leather pants, skirts, and all sorts of bags.
Apart from these, sheepskin upholstery, and rugs and shawls made with sheepskin are very popular.
Maintenance of Sheepskin Leather Jackets and Other Products
To ensure a long life and to maintain the splendid look and feel of your sheepskin leather articles, it is important to follow the maintenance steps mentioned as under:
Avoid exposing the sheepskin leather jackets and other products to harsh elements, such as chemical cleaners, heavy rain, or layers of dust. When not in use, keep the sheep leather product in a dust proof cover.
Sheepskin leather stays safe in light drizzle due to its water resistance, but you cannot let it soak completely as it will become hard after drying.
Once in a year, apply a good leather protectant solution on the sheepskin leather to retain its soft and supple texture. Lanolin oil is also a highly effective leather conditioner that keeps the sheepskin leather as good as new. Conditioning the leather after cleaning it is vital to avoid drying and cracking.
Cleaning Sheepskin Leather Jacket and Other Sheep Leather Goods
If you need to clean the sheepskin product, use a barely damp microfiber cloth to wipe it off. Then use a dry cloth to wipe it dry.
A mild cleaning solution of one part vinegar and three parts water is proven to be effective to clean minor stains or accumulated dust. Just dip a cloth in the solution, wring it well, and clean the sheepskin leather with it. Let the product air dry.
For heavy stains such as food or grease, try to blot with a clean damp cloth, or dipped in the vinegar+water solution. Repeat the process till the gunk and stain is removed. However, professional leather cleaners are more reliable as they will clean the leather without damaging it.
Treat spills and stains as early as possible as they will seep into the pores if left untreated.
Don't attempt deep cleaning sheepskin leather at home. Take it to a professional leather cleaning service to restore the original look.
Is Sheep Leather of Good Quality?
Full grain sheep leather with minimum seed density is regarded as a high quality leather that stands the test of time. If you take care of it regularly, it will age beautifully and give a splendid look for decades.
Is Sheep Leather Expensive?
Sheepskin leather is proven to be quite durable. It has got exceptional features such as water resistance and flame resistance, due to which it has got a higher price point than cow leather or goat leather. Shearling leather is made after a unique tanning procedure to retain the original appearance, so it is more expensive than sheep leather.
This was a comprehensive guide on one of the softest and durable types of leather known as sheepskin. Whether you choose sheepskin leather for your garments, accessories or interior design, it is a worthwhile choice. There are many advantages of sheepskin leather, which give you great value against your money, looking absolutely magnificent.