Since leather is a natural material and each hide is unique, the following dimensions,
surface areas and conversion factors represent average hide sizes and shapes. In
the case of specialist hides, the factory must always be consulted for advice before
any orders are placed with suppliers, to ensure sufficient material is available
to complete an order. In some cases, we will ask for a sample hide to be provided
so our expert leather cutters can make an assessment as to the likely yield and
suitability for the intended purpose.
The industry-wide formula for converting fabric meterage to leather square meterage
is one linear metre of 137cm wide fabric equals 1.65 m² of leather, based on
hides averaging a 4½ m² surface area. In imperial, this equates to 1
yard of fabric equals 18 square feet of leather.
Due to the irregular shape of the hides, there will always be a certain amount of
hide that cannot be used, though this formula normally takes that waste factor into
account. When using hides smaller than 1.65 m², we should be consulted to determine
whether more leather is required due to decreased yield from smaller hides and/or
whether seams will be necessary to upholster the piece.
We normally work with three different hide sizes:
- Full cow hides (typically 4½ m²)
- Calf skins (typically 3 m²)
- Sheep and goat hides (typically < 1 m²)
A typical cow hide is about 2 metres (7 feet) long from top
to tail, and 1.8 metres (6 feet) wide at the middle of the hide. Of course, the
problem is that it’s in the shape of a cow and more importantly every hide is different;
any estimate is always just that - an estimate. This is leather, a natural
product that unlike fabric, does not come on a roll!
To the side, you should see an illustration of the three typical hide shapes and
sizes that we use. It's fair to say that the full cow hide is by far the most
popular, partly because it is the most common size available, (and therefore has the
largest choice of finishes and styles), plus it is a proven, durable
material which improves with age as it gains the patina and character that only
time and continual use can bring.