Determining Square Footage


Designers are typically used to working with bolts of fabric and calculating how many yards are needed for projects. Leather, however, is a natural product that is mostly sold by the square foot. This can sometimes be intimidating for those unfamiliar with purchasing leather. Determining leather needs for a project is a simple process.

There are two important steps that should be taken when determining leather requirements needed for a project. The first step is to calculate how much square footage is required. The second step is to consider the size and shape of the patterns needed before ordering the leather. Let’s begin with calculating square footage.

Upholstery leather is sold by the square foot, however, many designers are used to working with fabric yards. The conversion from yardage to square footage is one simple calculation. The magic number is 18. One 54″ fabric yard is equal to 18 square feet of leather. Simply multiply the fabric yards by 18 to determine how much square footage is required. This calculation takes into account the irregular shape of the hide, plus an industry standard waste factor. For example, a project requiring 11 yards of fabric would need 198 square feet of leather. (11×18 = 198 square feet).

Once the required square footage is determined, the next step is to consider the size and shape of your patterns before placing your leather order. It is always important to remember that leather hides do not have straight edges like bolts of fabric. Leather hides vary in size and have irregular shapes. The maximum length of a typical cowhide is approximately 90″ and the maximum width of a typical cowhide is approximately 72″. While hide sizes vary, it is important to use these average dimensions as a guide when determining leather requirements, instead of relying solely on the yard to square footage calculation. Here’s why:

If an upholsterer needs to cut one 5′ square out of leather, how much leather is required? A five foot square piece is equal to 25 square feet. Since the average half hide is 25 square feet, the upholsterer would only need one half hide, correct? Not so fast. Leather hides are not perfect squares. The length of a hide is greater than the width. So, let’s consider that 25 square foot half hide. The hide would be long enough to accommodate a 60” long cut, but the widest part of a half hide averages only 36”. Therefore, the upholsterer would need one whole hide to cut his or her 5′ square.

You may request Garrett’s Chair Chart brochure, which is a helpful guide that shows approximate square footage requirements for different styles of chairs.  Feel free to contact your Garrett sales representative or customer service representative who are available to assist you in determining leather requirements for your project. If you have any questions regarding specific cutting requirements, we are here to help!

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