What’s the Deal with Leather Weights?

A Quick Introduction to Leather Weights

Hi everyone! I thought I’d take the time to talk a little bit more about the leathers I use! I’ve spent a long time working with different kinds of leathers to find the best ones to use for my designs. A lot of it has been trial and error but sometimes that’s the best way to learn!

Leathers are measured by weight, in ounces. The weight correlates to the thickness of the leather. A 1oz leather is very thin and less than a millimeter thick while a 12oz leather is 4.5mm thick. There’s a neat tool called a leather gauge that measures the weight by doing a quick “pinch” to the leather. Depending on what cut of leather hide you buy, the weight will  vary a bit from one side of the hide to the other (which is why a lot of hides are described with a small range such as 3-4oz or 8-10oz). I primarily use cow leather, but there a few designs that have sheep leather as an option.

 I use three different thicknesses of leather (light, medium and THICC) and each one has different types of harness designs created specifically with the thickness and softness of the leather in mind.

View of the edges of light, medium and heavy weight leathers stacked on top of each other.

You can see how the leather thicknesses affect how the leathers roll or bend.

Lightweight Leather

A Small Selection of the Lightweight Leathers

You can see they’re all pretty soft and fold over on themselves pretty easily.

The lightest leathers I have are about 2-3oz. The 2-3 oz leathers are generally just a few millimeters thick, and frequently quite flexible and soft. While the bulk of it is cowhide, I do also have some sheep leather (which is light and doesn’t actually come in thicker weights). This weight of leather is gentlest against the skin so if you’re sensitive, I would recommend harnesses made from this leather. It also has a very slight stretch, making it more likely to mold around the body. 

Since this leather is so soft, you’ll see that I usually design leather harnesses with lots of straps close together (like the Aisling Shoulder Harness or the Ingrid Bolero Bra) or that use bigger chunks of leather and are reinforced with a thicker leather (like the Xenia set where the metallic leather is only 3oz but it’s framed with the thicker 5-6oz leather).  

These are definitely more fashion harnesses and aren’t recommended for heavy play or tugging. I’ve found that this weight of leather comes in the most variety of colors, finishes and textures – from holographic colors to printed designs to embossed textures, these are some of the most fun leathers to shop for!

New Cactus Leather Option!

Medium Weight Leather

The Medium Weight Leathers

Thicker, firmer but will still bend fairly easily.

The second class of leather is a medium weight leather that makes up the bulk of my designs. They are 5-6oz in weight (so about 3/16” thick). I’ve tried a whole bunch of different leathers in this weight, from oil tanned to chrome-tanned. The leathers I use now are a lovely vegetable tanned leather from a tannery in Italy, with a smooth, slightly shiny outer surface and a clean, soft underside. It’s thick and sturdy enough to be tugged on and hold its own shape, but flexible enough to bend easily around the body. 

Personally I feel like this is the perfect weight for leather harnesses that are either for everyday wear (because it can be layered over clothing without being bulky) or that have a mix of very thin straps and very thick straps (like the Song High Neck Leather bra where it’s got 2” wide straps and also ⅛” wide straps). It’s also just a joy to work with! It cuts cleanly and the edges can be beveled nicely as well. (PS beveling is the act of rounding the sharp edges of cut leather with a small hand tool – it keeps the edges from cutting into the skin, and isn’t something that needs to be done on leather that’s softer/thinner than this). 


Heavyweight Leather

The Heavy Weight Leathers

Thick, firm and harder to bend or roll.

And finally, the thickest leathers I use is an 8-10 oz leather. It’s about 5/16”-1/4” thick, and while that doesn’t seem like much on paper, once it’s in your hands or around your body, it’s quite bulky! This leather is great for structural designs that need lots of stiffness and OOMPH. Granted, you can find flexible leathers at this weight, but the vegetable tanned ones I have now is fairly stiff and will hold its own shape. Like the medium weight leathers, these leathers do also need to have beveled edges otherwise they’d cut into the skin.

You can find this leather in the Hubris Leather Harness set, the God Killer Harness set, the Kira Winged Shoulder Harness etc, anything that might need to stand away from the body, or invoke an armor-like vibe. This leather has absolutely no stretch though, so it’s great if you really want to feel “gripped”, and it’ll hold up super well with heavy bdsm play.

So that’s it! I hope that’s helpful for selecting the best harnesses for you! What’s your favorite leather thickness? Do you like the lightweight barely-there harnesses or do you want a heavy leather harness that you can feel as you’re wearing it?

4 thoughts on “What’s the Deal with Leather Weights?

  1. Gemma says:

    I love this behind-the-scenes look and learned a ton; thanks for the write-up! 😊 Your thoughtfulness as an artist is clear in the designs themselves, but this article further highlights that. Stunning use of leather!

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