Full-Grain Leather for Shoemaking

The highest quality of leather, using the top layer of the hide and retaining the natural grain. Full-Grain Leather durable, breathable, and develops a rich patina over time. 

Common Uses: High-end dress shoes, boots, and luxury footwear.

Types of Full-Grain Leather for Shoemaking suitable for the Upper 

cutting leather patterns for dr.martens boots

Baby Calfskin

Description: Derived from the hides of young calves, known for its softness and fine grain.

Thickness: Typically 0.8 - 1.2 mm.

Benefits: Extremely soft, smooth, and has a luxurious feel.

Common Uses: High-end dress shoes, women's footwear like Flat ballet shoes, T-strap pumps, Slingback Pumps, High Heels pumps or sandals.

Box Calf Leather

Description: A type of calfskin that's been chrome-tanned and aniline-dyed.

Thickness: Usually 1.2 - 1.5 mm.

Benefits: Smooth finish, consistent color, and relatively easy to maintain.

Common Uses: Dress shoes, particularly Oxfords and Derbies.

Kangaroo Leather

Description: Lightweight and strong, sourced from kangaroo hides.

Thickness: Usually 0.7- 1.2 mm.

Benefits: Highly durable, yet thin and flexible.

Common Uses: Athletic shoes, especially soccer cleats

Ostrich Leather

Description: Recognizable by its unique pattern of bumps or quills.

Thickness: Typically 0.8 - 1.4 mm.

Benefits: Luxurious texture, breathable, and durable.

Common Uses: Exotic dress shoes, boots.


Description: Sourced from goat hides, it's supple and has a distinctive pebbled texture.

Thickness: Usually 0.8 - 1.2 mm.

Benefits: Lightweight, flexible, and resilient.

Common Uses: Casual shoes, loafers


Description: Sourced from pig hides, it's often used for its breathable properties.

Thickness: Typically 0.6 - 1.0 mm.

Benefits: Naturally breathable and has a unique texture.

Common Uses: Inner linings of shoes.

Stingray Leather

Description: Distinctive for its caviar bead-like appearance.

Thickness: Usually 0.8 - 2.0 mm.

Benefits: Extremely durable and water-resistant.

Common Uses: Exotic footwear, decorative shoe accents.

Elephant Leather

Description: Known for its toughness and unique wrinkled appearance.

Thickness: Typically 1.2 - 2.0 mm.

Benefits: Highly durable and has a distinctive texture.

Common Uses: Rugged boots, exotic footwear

Despite the fact that each of these leather varieties has a different stretching quality, the pattern making techniques using these types are the same.

Leather for lining

Among the full-grain leather varieties, Baby Calf, Goatskin, and Pigskin are best suited for lining.

These leathers are chosen for linings primarily because of their comfort and breathability, ensuring a pleasant experience for the wearer.

If you want to know what is lining in shoes, you are welcome to read this article:"Shoe Parts"

Leather Selection Tips for Beginners in Shoemaking

Here are certain types of leather that you might consider avoiding, especially during the early stages of your shoemaking journey.

Patent Leather: Often made from split leather, it can crack during lasting or folding, especially with pointed toe shoe lasts. The quality can vary, with some being made from older animal hides or hides with imperfections.

Suede and Nubuck Leather: These can easily get dirty during shoemaking processes like cutting, sewing, and lasting. Cleaning can be challenging, and sometimes stains are permanent. Protective plastic covers exist, but beginners should avoid these leathers initially.

Other Leather Types:

Sheepskin: Some people may be allergic.

Kangaroo Skin: Durable and strong, making it challenging for beginners.

Horse Skin: Also very durable.

Exotic Leathers: Types like crocodile, snakeskin, and fish skin are costly. Beginners should avoid them until they've honed their skills to prevent wastage. If you want to learn about other obstacles you can face and how to prevent them, read this article:"8 common mistakes that beginners do". Also, here is a comprehensive guide for beginning shoemakers on how to make shoes.

Online stores to buy leather for shoemaking

Here are some online stores where you can purchase various leather types mentioned above:









All Shoemaking Supplies 

If you want to make shoes there is no way around it, you will need knifes, hammers, leather, glue, shanks, boards, and everything else to get the job done.
For that purpose I have created a detailed list of everything you need to make shoes.