Natural leather

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.

Typical Hide Sizes

Full size hide - approx 4.5 square metres
Calf skins - approx 2 square metres
Sheep and goat skins - approx 1.25 square metres