Leather Notes

Notes About Our Leather

Looking at Leather hides


  • Col. Littleton leather goods are made from full-grain cowhide, handcrafted in true Americana fashion. Most of the hides (with the exception of Italian Bridle Leather, which we use primarily for belts) are tanned especially for us at a small tannery just down the road.
  • Our Master Leathersmith hand grades and hand picks the hides from the tannery. All the hides must be within a certain color range and meet our standards of quality or they don’t come home with us. Our double-tanning process uses only wood extracts and vegetable fat liquors to naturally bring color to the surface of the leather.
  • We use whole hides, as opposed to splitting the leather and leaving it half as thick. You may find products on the market made from split hides; the rough side is simply sprayed to finish it off. You lose a lot in that process. For strength, durability and patina, we use the whole hide. You also won’t find any artificial coatings or applied finishes on our leather. The hide’s beauty is naturally brought out through vegetable oils applied during the tanning process.
  • Polished versus Dry-Milled Leather. We use both leathers, depending on the product we’re making. Polished leather is smoother and stronger. When we’re looking for a softer hand, we use dry-milled leather which is tumbled in half-a-century-old wooden barrels to produce a softer, more supple leather. On some products we use a combination – polished for strength and dry-milled for softness.
  • Every hide is like a roadmap to its previous life. If a hide has a faint scar, scratch or wrinkle we celebrate these character marks – they’re all part of the journey. After a rather complicated process at the tannery, the hides come to our talented leathersmiths in the Col. Littleton Workshop who appreciate the uniqueness of each hide. Careful craftsmanship, both strategic and artistic, is required to use each hide to best advantage while maintaining its integrity as it is prepared for its next story.
  • Edge StitchingFinishing the Edges – When a leather product is crafted, obviously raw edges are visible. The way in which these edges are finished says a lot about the quality of a bag or other leather product. On Col. Littleton products, you’ll find that these raw edges are hand coated to match the leather color of the bag. This is a meticulous, labor-intensive and, therefore, expensive process. But, remember there are two things that determine what things are worth – the time it takes to make them and the materials from which they’re made. Edge coating gives the product a finished look and enhances its beauty, so we feel it is definitely worth the time and effort.
  • Edge Stitching – You’ll also notice that almost all Col. Littleton products are edge stitched. Again, this is a labor-intensive step. However, it not only adds to the strength and durability of a product, it also adds another design element and gives the product a finished look.


No. 5 Grip Travel Bag in Steer Hide

One Response

  1. Have you considered making a backpack using the Bridal leather for the straps? Don

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