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Sheepskin Glossary


This glossary, relating to sheepskin products, is ordered in Alphabetical Order:

Altered Leather - Leather that has had the original surface removed, either through buffing or other methods, usually due to imperfections in the surface), and a new grain embossed into the leather. This is also called corrected grain, and see also embossed leather.

Aniline leather - leather finished with an aniline dye, which is a clear dye, retaining and enhancing its natural appearance. Usually only the best leathers are aniline dyed, as they must be in excellent shape and condition to do so. Note that pure aniline dyed leather has NO pigment (i.e. paint) or other finish.

Anti-static shoe - made with a metal piece in the sole to ensure that static electricity is properly and safely discharged.

Arch support - an area of insole built up and strengthened or an insert to support the foot's arch.

Baby care rug - a lambskin rug that has been selected and tanned specifically for use with babies and toddlers.

Bead - cylindrical decoration employed on the upper parts of a shoe.

Bellows tongue - tongue in a lace up shoe that is joined to the upper at the sides as well as the bottom.

Bespoke - any item made to a buyers specific requirement (either size or other specifications), in the case of footwear a last is usually made of the users feet.

Blake sewn - method of shoe construction in which the sole is attached to the upper and insole by a single chain stitch seamdirectly through the insole inside the shoe to the outsole. No welt is employed.

Blind eyelets - eyelets inserted and clenched on the lining with only small holes visible on the tabs.

Bowron - (GL Bowron) Well known and well respected manufacturer of sheepskin pelts and other sheepskin products.

Box calf - black calfskin leather with square markings and tanned with chromium salts. Brown and other colours are known as willow calf.

Brannock device - foot measuring device created in early 20th century, utilising an adjustable slide piece to show the length of the foot. This device also indicates appropriate width. It is the standard in foot measurement.

Calfskin - leather made from skin of a young bovine animal.

Californian - method of manufacture where the shoe having an upper with a folded-over edge, a sock-lining and a sole having a stitching edge. The folded-over edge captures the sock-lining to form a three-layer seam, which seam is sewn directly to the stitching edge of the sole. Commonly used for casual shoes.

Cap - external toe reinforcement, can be straight, peaked or winged.

Capeskin - Skin from a sheep raised in South America.

Cellulose board - a material used for the insole.

Cemented construction - A shoe or boot making process that uses glue to bind the upper to the sole. Cemented boots tend to be lighter and cheaper to produce than welted boots.

Chelsea boot - Side elasticized ankle boot, with a plain toe. Extremely popular in 1960s.

Cutting - the cutting of shoe uppers, usually done by steel strip dies in a press.

Clog - a shoe with a rigid, usually wooden sole.

Closed front - front of an Oxford shoe or other men’s shoe style having the eyelet tabs stitched under the vamp.

Closing - stitching together the cut components of the outside and the lining of the shoe.

Corrected grain leather - see Altered Leather. See also known as Embossed Leather

Court shoe - a woman's low cut 'slip on' shoe with the heel ranging typically from 1 to 4.5 inches in height. In the UK a closed toe and wide (non-stiletto) heel would be expected. Usually black in colour.

Curried leather - leather finished by a series of processes whereby oil or grease is incorporated to render it waterproof, flexible and very strong.

Derby - men’s boot or shoe with eyelet tabs stitched on the outside or the vamp (see also Gibson).

Embossed Leather - Leather embossed or printed with a raised pattern either imitating or resembling the grain pattern of some animal, or quite unrelated to a natural grain attern.

Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) - chemical compound with rubbery properties appropriate for soles. It is light weight and highly modifiable. It is also used as a basis for strong adhesives.

Eyelet - reinforcement (usually metal) of lace hole.

Flank - on a natural shape sheepskin pelt, it is the area between the ribs and hips, and is the widest part.

Flesh side - the side of an animal skin or piece of leather that originally faced the animal's flesh. This is generally whiter and softer than the hair side. The two sides are often readily distinguishable.

Folding - most usual description of an upper edge treatment where a narrow margin of the edge is folded over, skived and secured by adhesive. Also called ‘beading’.

Forepart - front part of a shoe or sole.

Foxing - to repair a shoe using a thin strip of rubber attached by cement around the edge.

French binding - method of finishing the upper using a narrow strip of fabric that is stitched to the edge and folded over to form a smooth finished edge.

Ghillie's shoe - are also a type of shoe with laces along the instep and no tongue. Also nowadays used to reference a low-cut sports shoe with fringed laces.

Gibson - lace up style in which the quarters are laid over the vamp and drawn together by the lace.

Galosh - a waterproof overshoe for protection against wet weather conditions.

Grain - pattern of pores and other surface characteristic of the animal concerned. It is visible on the outer surface of the hide or skin after the hair or wool has been removed.

Grain leather - leather with a grain sufficiently pronounced to be used as a decorative feature.

Grindery - the name for a shoemaker's or leatherworker's materials and equipment, such as staples, rivets, stapling wire ect.

Halogenation - a process of combining the material with halogen in order to improve adhesion of a rubber surface.

Heel - a solid base or support added under the back sole of the shoe or boot. Commonly made as either stacked layers or single pieces of wood or cork covered leather.

Heel breast - front surface of a shoe hell.

Heel Seam - the central vertical seam of a shoe or a boot

Hide - generally refers to cattle hide. Premium sheepskin footwear often use twinface sheepskin to ensure a softer better quality sole.

Infant care rug - same as baby care rug - a lambskin rug approved for infant care use. Strict guidelines cover both the selection of the skin and the tanning process. The rug should be machine washable.

Injection moulding - a manufacturing process where heated plastic is forced into a mould cavity under pressure. Often using PVC or other thermoplastic material this is a cheap method of mass-producing shoes. The sole is flexible, waterproof and although durable it can crack.

Insole - (also called inner sole) this is the inner most sole of the shoe, taking the shape of the bottom of the last to which the upper and the bottom are attached. For a single soled shoe, the Insole is also the Outer sole. It can be made of leather, leatherboard or fibreboard and needs to be flexible and moisture absorbant. Do not confuse it with the insock, with it may be covered by.

Instep - refers to the arched upper surface of the human foot between the toes and the ankle.

Lace - long length of material, originally a leather thong threaded through holes and tied to fasten the shoe. Modern laces tend to be textile based.

Last - A block shaped like a human foot and used in making or repairing shoes.

Lambskin - the terms lambskin and sheepskin tend to be used interchangeably. In reality most sheepskin rugs are made from lambskins.

Lambswool - soft, fine wool from a young sheep, used in knitted garments.





Lamination - joining the faces of sheet materials together. This gives greater strength than each material would have on it’s own and simplifies handling. Examples include laminated linings, which are cut at the same time as the outers, and brittle leathers such as snakes, which are laminated to a backer to prevent splining in lasting and wear.

Lanolin - a greasy substance extracted during the processing of wool. After purification, it is one of nature's purest emollients and is used in number of our lanolin skin care cosmetics.

Last - solid form of wood, plastic or metal which a shoe is built, and imparts its shape to the shoe. When the sole has been attached the last is removed and the inside dimensions of the shoe should then conform to the last.

Lasting tack - small tack used to secure the upper to the insole.

Lasting - operation of stretching the upper over the last so that it conforms to the shape of the last, at the same time attaching it to the insole as part of the manufacturing process.

Latex - A milky emulsion of rubber or plastic globules in water, used in paints, adhesives, and various synthetic rubber products.

Leather - hide or skin of an animal with the hair removed, which retains it original fibrous structure and has been prepared for use by tanning or a similar process designed to preserve it against decay and make it pliable or supple when dry.

Lifts - one of the layers of leather, rubber, or other material making up the heel of a shoe. The lift in contact with the round is called the top piece and is usually rubber or plastic.

Longwool - typically meaning the unshorn wool from a domestic longwool sheep, which will typically be longer than 64mm.

Louis heel - shaped heel, usually curved in at the back and sides, with a breasted forepart.

Medical sheepskin - used on beds, seats and wheelchairs to support the body on a cushion of soft but supportive wool fibers. Genuine medical sheepskins are excellent in the prevention of bed sores. Large sheepskins with a strong tannage are used.

Mineral tannage - tanning with salts of metals, for e.g. chromium, aluminium or zirconium.

Moccasin - these are constructed where the upper and sole are in one piece, and the shoe is closed by stitching in the vamp and not at the back. These are generally recommended for indoor use as they areflexible and comfortable. Although possible for outdoor use, they are not recommended for heavy use.

Monk shoe - shoe fastened at the instep by a broad strap with a buckle towards the outer side.

Mule - slipper or shoe without quarters, held on the foot by the forepart only.

Neoprene - is the Du Pont trade name for an oil-resistant synthetic rubber. Used chiefly in paints, putties, linings for tanks and chemical apparatus, and in crepe soles for shoes.

Non-woven insole - material made from random laid synthetic fibres and bonded with a small proportion of synthetic rubber or other polymeric materials.

Nubuck - cattle hide leather, buffed on the grain side to give a velvety surface. White or coloured.

Nylon tape - tape for reinforcing lines and points of weakness, particularly straps and top lines.

Oxford shoe - men’s style with the quarters stitched under the vamp.

Patent leather - Real or synthetic leather with a smooth, shiny surface on one side, as it has been given a high gloss finish.

Pearlised - leather given a pearlescent surface or finish.

Pelt - an animal skin that still has the wool, fur or hair still attached.

Pigment finish - leather finish containing fine particles of pigment, can mean painting the leather, as opposed to dying it.

Plastic upper materials - technology in recent times has meant a surge in the use of these.The two main materials used are PVC and PU. The best PU’s are finished to give the appearance of fine leather. although not necessarily cheaper than leather they save on the labour costs. Although it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between PU and real leather, (stitches sinking into the material, and the reluctance of designers to leave raw edges point to PU), they are non permeable meaning hot, odorous feet and cracking after prolonged wear.

PU - polyurethane.

Shearing - sheep wool used for slippers. There are synthetic materials simulating shearing as a low cost alternative, be sure that you are buying the real thing.

Shearling - a yearling sheep that has been shorn once

Sheepskin - a widely used term to cover lambskins and shearling. A by-product of meat and wool industries. Australia and New Zealand being providers of the world's premium sheepskins. It is a versatile material which can be used in a diverse range of products. It is what this website is all about.

Shorn - where the wool has been clipped to a shorter length.

Slinkskin - This is the skin from prematurely born lambs that do not survive. They are one of the world's softest and lightest double face leathers. They cost a premium.

Softy leather - general term for very soft and flexible upper.

Split - if hide or skin skiver is split over its whole area into two or more layers each is called the grain split and the flesh split are the most common but in heavy hide there may be a middle split.

Suede - leather given a nap surface by carefully controlled abrasion. There are many synthetic simulated suede products. If you are in doubt, ask clearly if it is real suede.

Tanning - the tanning of raw sheepskin is carried out by a tannery and involves numerous stages to create the end product. Read about it in our Sheepskin Info pages

Tongue - extension of the vamp over the instep, below the eyelet facings.

Tread - widest part of a sole forepart in closest contact with the ground.

Ugg boot ® - although ugg boots was a generic term in Australia and New Zealand for sheepskin boots made there for many years, Deckers Outdoor Corporation in the USA managed to acquire the trademark. Deckers market their Ugg boots under the brand UGG Australia ®. This can be confusing as the boots are mostly made in China. Despite many suppliers offering quality sheepskin boots that ARE made in New Zealand or Australia, they are not allowed to refer to them as UGG boots!

Unshorn - the wool is left at its natural length and not trimmed thus providing an untouched natural wool fiber.

Upper - portion of the shoe that covers the upper surface of the foot.

Vamp -part of the upper between the toecap and the quarters, including the toe in the case of capless styles.

Vegetable tannage - tanning with vegetable tannins. The other main group of tanning agents are mineral salts.

Vinyl - commonly used synonym for PVC.

Woolskin - sometimes used in reference to sheepskin but also confusingly sometimes used to refer to an artificial material made from weaving lambswool into a fabric backing.



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