Leather is widely used in the fashion industry today in producing various products such as footwear, belts, hats and other clothing e.g. jackets. This means that leather for those products will vary in types & styles and will require a wide range of decorations or patterning to suit different needs i.e. wide range of techniques will be used in pattern making in order for the leather used in the production of the above products to have the right material effects.
These processes and techniques are referred to as leather crafting. In leather crafting, animal hides and skins are used to produce various work of leather art by involving various techniques.
Leather molding — This technique involves soaking of leather in relatively warm water so that the leather material can soften and make it pliable. Thus the leather material can be shaped/molded into leather forms required and when the leather material is left to dry it assumes the shape into which it was shaped.
Leather carving — This is the process of using tools to compress moist leather on a 2D architectural design and thus the leather will result into 3D model which depicts the real leather art intended to be produced.
Leather patterning — This technique involves the use of patterned tools or stamps to create a pre-designed imprint on a leather material.
Leather dying — This process involves the use of dyes which are made of either spirit or alcohol to pigment/stain a leather material.
Due to the wide use of leather to produce a variety of fashion accessories, foot wear and clothing and the great need to have these leather products adapt to the dynamic tastes, styles and trends of the fashion industry, computer technology has been used to complement leather development in various ways which include:
- 2D architectural design and 3D modelling
- Production of custom designs
- Sketching and model drawing
- Pattern engineering and grading
- Leather engineering and manufacturing
- Costing and Documentation
- Project management
To achieve all this, Computers Aided Design (CAD) technology is used in the leather industry. It involves the process of 2D architectural designs and the visualization of the design in 3D concept as well as the design documentation.
A CAD software is used to provide a user with tools to ease the design process, draft documentation and engineer the manufacturing process.
Computers Aided Manufacturing (CAM) and Computers Aided Engineering (CAE) are also used to complement CAD.