Leather Clothing: Patterning and Construction

- This course will be co-taught by Dr. Theresa Emmerich Kamper  and Beke Olbers -
- Course language is English -

This course is designed for those that have always wanted guidance on sewing their own leather clothing. Don't miss this unique chance to make your own shirt, pants, shorts, tank top or skirt under the supervision of Theresa! She has years of experience making custom clothing both for private individuals and museum replications. In addition to her talent for tailoring, she is an expert tanner, specializing in prehistoric traditional tanning technologies. 

This course will cover all you need to know to begin patterning and making your own well-fitted leather garments!

The course will begin with an overview of the possibilities when tailoring and designing leather clothing. You will get to see and feel lots of different clothing, all made by Theresa and Beke. There will be a 'talk' about the options, uses, different leathers for different types of clothing, traditional uses and much more. With all these examples you will surely be inspired to get started on your own (first) item!

You will learn a variety of stitches used for sewing fat tanned leather, as well as which stitch is best used for which type of seam or part of the garment. Each person will make a stitch card to get used to the different stitches and sewing with leather lace.

Of course, the most important step for making well fitted clothing is good tailoring! There is a huge difference in a pair of pants that just fit, or fit brilliantly… This course will get you through all of the difficulties typical of your first time sewing with leather and save you wasting precious leather.
We promise you will leave the course with a garment that fits! 

It is often difficult to understand how to make a 2 dimensional pattern fit a 3 dimensional body! Theresa will walk you through this process so that you create a pattern unique to you!  
Due to the time frame of the course and the complexity of some clothing we limit the kind of garments you can choose from. You will either make a pair of shorts, pair of long pants, skirt, tank top or long sleeve shirt (no jackets, anoraks, shoes, parka's and no furs).

You will learn about shaping...

shaped seams, darts, gussets, puckers, adding in, flare… all those things that make a garment a garment.

After patterning each of you will cut their pattern from leather. This is a step that often causes problems if not done correctly. A classic outcome of a pattern that is not well laid out is that it can twist and turn around your body after use in an unanticipated way. We will teach you how to correctly lay out a pattern, and how to get as much out of one skin as possible. 

We will work with grain-off fat tanned leather which is commercially tanned, or, alternatively you can bring your own. The sewing will be done with either leather lace and/or artificial sinew.

Theresa and Beke will guide you through the sewing of your garment. There will be time for questions that arise while stitching your clothing together and tips and adjustments if needed. We aim at having everyone's garment at least halfway ready at the end of the course…  whether you will be able to fully finish your item will greatly depend on what you chose to sew, how complicated of stitching you chose and how fast you sew.

But, even if you leave the course with an unfinished garment, we are sure you will have learned everything needed to complete it at home. Not only that, you will be able to make more clothing as you will have learned the basic principals of tailoring and working with fat tanned leathers.


The leather:  the price of the leather is NOT included in the course price due to the large variation in the number of skins needed for different garment types and sizes. To have people pay as close as possible for the leather they use, we ask for your choice of garment in advance, as well as your basic measurements.
The leather we buy is commercially tanned grain-off fat tanned roe deer, red deer or sheep skin. 

Of course you can also bring and use your own leather if this is grain-off fat tanned leather (buckskin/brain tan). Roe deer would be perfect for skirts, tank tops, shirts. Fallow deer or red deer works well only for pants, shorts or heavier long sleeve shirts. If you do so, there will be no extra costs for you. Please get in contact in advance if you are in doubt…
We ask you to bring your own fastenings (buttons and alike) as those are of very personal choice.

To give you an idea of ​​the skins needed, based on roe deer skin size:
> 2 - 3 for a tank top or sleeveless top
> 4 - 6 for a long sleeve shirt
> 2 - 4 for shorts
> 5 - 7 for long pants

Estimation of leather prices per garment (these are based on current prices, please be aware that the actual price might differ):

Long sleeves shirt  € 100 - 120,-
Long trousers € 120 - 140,-
Shorts € 60 - 80,-
Vests / tank tops € 60,-
Skirt € 60,-

If you wish you could combine this course with the Buckskin tanning that follows straight after on Monday - Wednesday. This way you not only learn how to sew a garment but how to tan the needed hides aswell - a full package so to speak.
And / or even add the 'Natural Inks & Paints for decorating Buckskin and Leather' to the package that runs on Thursday 23rd.
All three topics are closely related and make for a good complete learning curve!

Or make it a whole week long course and also enlist for the Using the Whole Animal course; and stay the in between day on location.


EXTRA info

Duration: 3 days (Friday 10:00 am - Sunday ± 16:00 pm)
Group size: min 6 - max 10
Prerequisites: basic sewing skills needed (not necessarily with leather, but we want to make sure you have worked with a needle before to make it possible for you to complete your garment)
Catering: this course is self catering, EXTRA provides coffee, tea and cookies
April = your own tent
November = dormitories / group accomodation
April = near Witharen, The Netherlands
November = The Netherlands, North-East
Included: all sewing materials, dormitory and coffee/tea
Not included: the leather pp, your meals



€ 375,= (tax included)
plus the leather costs, exact prices per skin are pending
(for an estimation of skins needed, please read the main tekst about the leather)


€ 95,=


Op dit moment niet ingepland. Heb je interesse? Vul dan alsnog het aanmeldformulier in, dan houden wij je op de hoogte.

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Aanbod samenvatting

  • make your own well fitted leather garment
  • choose from:  short, long pants, skirts, tank tops or long sleeve shirts 
  • learning from expert tanner & tailor Theresa Emmerich Kamper
  • basic understanding of tailoring 
  • overview on possibilities within leather clothing construction
  • different stitches & their uses 
  • patterning & shaping
  • layout of patterns on the hide
  • in's and out's of working with fat tanned leather
  • using store bought fat tanned leather or your own tanned buckskin / brain tan
  • go home with a new garment uniquely tailored for you
  • as well as the knowledge of how to make additional clothing



Theresa is an avid practitioner of traditional living skills and primitive technology of all ki


Op (bijna) al mijn kinderfoto's ben ik met 'vieze' knieën te zien - veel buiten geweest dus.