Leather Jackets: How It’s Made 

 May 4, 2022

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Leather jackets are expensive, no doubt it is. It should be, especially when it’s an authentic leather jacket and not the one made from synthetic material. But leather jackets are not just about the price tags – we’re talking about durability and lifetime use. A genuine leather jacket can withstand the test of time.

Leather jackets give comfort and warmth. Before they become this cool-comfy piece of cloth, they too have a story to tell.

A quick journey back to the time

As recorded and studied in human history and evolution, the early civilization has already used animal skin as clothing and protection. The old-time favorite cartoon and series, The Flinstones depicts life during the stone age. (If you can remember the characters  Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty and their daily comic encounters.)

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In Babylonia, leather shoes were found in the Tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs. The Roman Empire also discovered that Teutonic nomads were wearing leather garments to protect them from harsh elements. After the discovery, the Romans’ have adapted the use of leather. Later the Romans used leather materials in making their shields. During those periods the Romans tanned the skin before using them. Thus history says that tanning was first documented during the Roman Empire.

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Further study shows that the Cordovan Leathers are from goatskin, originally and nowadays is made of horsehide. In the Rennaisance period tanners guild was more organized all over Europe.

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Over the period, each generation has developed different ways of skin preservation. Genuine leathers are 100% made from animal skin. Skin is peeled off and cleaned thoroughly. Skin is then salted, cured in barrels of brine, and even refrigerated as part of the preservation process. Tanning is the process considered to be the dirtiest and most odorous one in leather production. The tanning was done on the outskirts of the cities far from the community.

The most common raw materials used to make leather garments, especially leather jackets, are antelope, buckskin, lambskin, sheepskin, and cowhide.

Technology and further studies have helped in the advancement of leather production.

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The Process

Trimming and cleaning

Skin is trimmed and sorted according to size, weight, and thickness. Cleaning is very important and a crucial part at the start. Protein or excess meat must be removed from the skin, as this would be the source of bacterial growth in the skin. The skins were then soaked in a drum with detergents and bactericides. A machine is used for hair removal, with the help of some chemical sprays. Next, is the process called de-liming. The skins are washed again, thoroughly to remove the chemicals before it is soaked in an acid solution, final treatment to remove the skins’ collagen

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Tanning

There are three types or methods of tanning that have been used over time, which eventually have a different significant effect on the skin.

The first tanning process and also the one that requires more time is vegetable tanning. The skin is soaked for several weeks to a month in tannic acid.

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The second way is the mineral tanning though it is much faster it affects the color of the leather. This method would require the skin are placed in alum salt-filled drums with paddles that provide a constant agitating motion.

The last method is oil tanning. This practice is much closer to the old ways of tanning leathers. With these methods, fish oil is then sprayed onto the skins.

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Washing and drying

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After the tanning process, the skins go through another stage of washing. The skins then go through a band knife to have a uniform thickness. they are then dried. the skins are usually stretched on frames to prevent the skin from shrinkage while it is being dried. it is then sprayed with water and soap to fight the stiffness and is allowed to hang for a while. once the skins are conditioned they are placed in a machine that makes the leather fiber more loose and flexible. the final drying step is to hang the hides in a vacuum drying cabinet.

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when the skin is already dried, it goes into another process before it becomes a jacket. they are buffed in a revolving cylinder covered with abrasive paper. By having the leather passed under a high-speed emery wheel, this process will give the suede finish to the product. After which dyes, lacquers, and glazes are applied and it’s ready to be cut and manufactured.

Manufacturing process

Creating the Jackets’ Design

Most manufacturers used computers to control their designs. While designers and top-of-the-line brands are very much known for their works, they rely more on the craft of their artists and designers. The old design was not even seen as a hood leather jacket.

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Cutting the leather

Since the design is ready, the patterns are all done. The skins are placed on a table called, spreaders for the final cut. The leathers are usually cut one layer at a time. Tissue paper patterns are pinned or a tailor’s chalk is used to make patterns. The spreading table works on the conveyor system, moving the fabric to the cutting machine. It is either human-operated or the machine runs automatically. The most advance in this system is a computer-generated cutting machine.

The Jacket assembly

A certain order of steps is followed upon assembling the jacket. The order is as follows: the sides are stitched to the back portion, sleeves and under seams are stitched together and the sleeves are attached to the armholes. depending on the design of the jacket the other pieces are added accordingly.

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Molding and Pressing

Several pressing processes are to be applied to the jacket. Heat application, steaming, and blocking will help the transformation of the skin of the leather jacket. The pressure applied is regulated and controlled as this will help shape the jacket style.

The Finished Products

According to https://www.palaleather.com/. The last step before the jacket is displayed in closet stores, is the final inspection. This is to test and check the quality of the leather jacket. Like any other products that are out on the market leather jackets go through a thorough inspection.

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Images Credits to the Rightful Owner

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Author: Ronnie Roberts

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