UNDERSTANDING HIDES – COW SIDES

Here we have 2 HALF hides of COW leather. The NECK is the narrow portion at the bottom of the image, tail is top. There are other ways to cut the hide, but that is a different topic. We are showing a hide SPLIT right down the middle, along the spine area. These pieces are obviously from 2 different hides, not even from the same tannery, but the points are still made. They are the general shape of a full grown cow, when prepared for tanning. The neck and knee area where the hide finishes will be approximately the same for all. Upholstery leather needs are often handled with FULL hides. This is simply because the pattern areas without obstruction, are larger. Half hides can fill needs from smaller upholstery needs such as chair seats to garment uses such as pant legs. I will repeat points often, but if you have not read elsewhere, cow has a durable tensile strength (any material’s maximum point before breaking), translating to less stretch and thinning and therefore less breakage and tearing. Cow can be milled – a process to soften the hides, but will typically be stiffer and less draping than say, lamb leather. So, even when cut thinner for a garment use, the skin’s hand, how it feels, will be less supple than lamb leather at the same weight/thickness. Upholstery use tends to be thicker most of the time, translating to twice or more of the garment weight/thickness (EX; .4 Millimeter = 1 ounce, very thin, .7 or .8 Millimeter still being in thinner garment range, going to 1.6 or 2 Millimeters, with a weight of 4 or 5 ounces for other uses, all the way up to 2.8 Millimeter, 7 ounces, some tanning even at 9 ounces, for a very thick hide)  So, here we have 2 halves, factory measured somewhere around 20 square feet each, so this would be a 40 square foot (an approximation for the example) Full Hide if it had not been split. One hide is slightly larger, being indicative of that breed’s different size and maybe being harvested at a different age as well. They both show the narrowing in the neck portion, one cut with slightly more arch on the back area, and the other showing a fuller belly area. We must always remember, this material is Natural and Intact, so we are going to encounter different shapes and sizes so long as we are working with animal hides, not rolls of fabric and other man-made or manipulated materials.

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