How to Make a Sheepskin Coat

You can sew a luxuriously warm, artful sheepskin coat of your very own. All you need is a little patience, a little skill, a modest amount of money, and a few tools.

| November/December 1973

  • 024-010-01i1
    Diagram of a furrier's machine stitching a skin together.
  • 024-010-01i3
    The author at work sewing segments together with his furrirer machine.
  • 024-010-01i4
    The author on a winter day posing in a finished sheepskin coat with his child.
  • 024-010-01i2
    Other assorted hand tools that are useful when working with sheepskin.
  • 024-010-01i5
    The furrier machine a Maryland sewing dealer gave the author.

  • 024-010-01i1
  • 024-010-01i3
  • 024-010-01i4
  • 024-010-01i2
  • 024-010-01i5

Sheepskins, interestingly enough, still come from sheep. Most of them, once they take leave of their original inhabitant, get dyed ugly colors—after first being bleached white—and then end up as doormats, teddy bear skins, or bed rugs. A few go to head shops or exotic import places as novelties, where they can be purchased for the average price of $25.00. And a select handful actually become sheepskin coats which can be admired from a distance, but which are really just too expensive for the average person to buy.

Expensive or not, however, a sheepskin coat will probably sound like a pretty good idea to you when the snow begins to fly and the temperature drops and drops and drops. Well, before winter completely takes hold, you can—with a little patience, a few tools, not a great deal of money, and even less skill—make a sheepskin coat that will be both luxuriously warm and your very own work of art.

First The Sheepskin . . .

You can find sheepskins for sale in most large cities, usually as part of a leather jobber's stock. If you live in the West, Southwest, or parts of Canada, you may be close to a tannery . . . which is the ultimate source, outside of the sheep themselves. The skins can be mailed or shipped by UPS, so you don't necessarily have to make your purchases in person.

The hides come either bleached white, dyed—any variety of colors—or natural. The naturals, which are neither bleached nor dyed, are most exciting to me because of their varied shades and patterns. You can't expect a perfect match in naturals, but you do get beautiful skins that will allow you to produce highly individualistic creations.

You also have a choice of wool length. Fleece that's 1/4 to 1/2 inch long is called shearling and is the shortest length available. This is what you want if you're going to make coats with the wool on the inside. Next is a length of 5/8 inch, followed by 1 inch and sometimes 1 1/2 to 2 inches. These longer fleeces make impressive coats when you put the wool on the outside.

Sheepskins are sold by the foot or by the skin. The individual hides, on an average, are 7 to 8 feet long... with 6 feet being considered a small skin and 10 feet a large one. I presently pay $6.00 for shearlings and $10.00 to $12.00 for skins with longer fleece. (The cost of sheepskins, like everything else, has probably skyrocketed since this article was written. - MOTHER EARTH NEWS.) I also buy - from Chicago Tanning - shearlings that have their leather sides dyed a light brown. These cost $1.00 per foot. The advantage here is that you can make a coat from these without worrying about dying the hides yourself.

Johan Louw
7/5/2012 5:39:23 AM

This is a GREAT article. Where can i get a pattern for a sheepskin coat

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: February, 16-17 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters