How to buy leather fabric

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether you're making a purse, bag, shoes or upholstering an old piece of furniture, you may need leather fabric. Many fabric shops will not stock leather, so you need to know where to find good leather in the right texture for your project.

Consider the size of your project. If you're not using a pattern that clearly states how much leather you need, measure and add all the areas you will be covering in fabric. Add about 2.5 cm (1 inch) to each measurement for seam allowance. As a general rule in sewing, 2.75 metres (3 yards) of fabric will complete most projects.

Check the upholstery section of your local fabric shop. If no leather is available on the shelves, talk to a salesperson for suggestions on leather suppliers. Also, ask if you can special order fabric through the shop.

Ask for a swatch before buying all you need if you are buying the leather in person from a shop or supplier. Take the swatch home and consider it in its future setting. This is particularly important for an upholstery project.

Leather is also available for sale online. Not all suppliers will offer free samples. Some, instead offer a swatch book to allow you to get a sense of what the leather will be like. For the most part, though, websites will give you magnified, detailed photos of their leather fabrics.

Check charity shops or car boot sales for old leather jackets, bags or skirts. You may be able to re-purpose the leather into a new project.


Always buy more leather than necessary to account for mistakes. You can use the scraps for a smaller project later.

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