Unlike the other varieties of leather, sheepskin pelts are usually tanned or processed with the fleece attached. Every sheep in this planet do not have white or curly wool. Some have a mixture of both. Moreover they can be black, brown, tan, grey and even off-white. All these variations make the task of recognizing authentic lambskin pelts little difficult. You have to take a closer look at the hide and notice the features of the fleece to decide correctly.
Examining the pelt
This procedure is quite easy and does not involve rocket science. Just grab a wool fiber with your palms and pull on it. If the wool does not come loose from the pelt that means the hide was tanned or processed properly with sufficient care and effort. You also need separating the wool to inspect the pelt closely. Look for the same color of the wool and an even texture across the overall surface. However if you can spot a scar or two you can be certain the pelt is genuine. If you discover a grid backing material from which the wool originates then you can be certain that whatever the item is it is not authentic sheepskin.
In fact a grid backing material in usually found on fabrics that are either weaved or sewn and not sourced from the hide of a sheep.
Shape of pelts
A natural pelt sourced from sheepskin has an odd shape. It is neither large as sheep are not large and robust animals. However when several pelts are sewn together you get a large single pelt
Wool is a natural fiber; it easily absorbs moisture. But it also provides a layer of insulation of dry air right next to the skin. As a good absorbent the fiber also gets dyed easily without the need of making extra effort. Here is a simple test that you can conduct to test for authentic pelts.
Pour little water on a pelt and touch the surface. If it’s the genuine variety you feel somewhat dry and warm on touching the wet area.
As a natural fiber, wool absorbs moisture, but it allows a layer of dry, insulated air next to the skin. This works just as well when it's warm and the body perspires or when it's cold and rainy. Because of wool's absorbent qualities, it easily takes in dye without the need for extra chemicals. To test for a genuine pelt, pour a bit of water on it and touch its surface, which should still feel somewhat dry or at least warm, as wool repels the water, but absorbs its vapors. Highly competent designers having years of experience in crafting authentic shearling coats suggest this procedure to ensure value for your money.
When tanning is done the right way the leather side of the hide the pelt becomes porous, soft and attains a suede-like texture. The thickness of a pelt depends on primarily two factors – the age and the breed of a sheep. Thus you see lambskins with thinner pelts compared to the pelts produced by matured sheep. It is relevant mentioning that lambskin or shearling in particular is always sourced from young lambs and not matured sheep.
Wool fibers are resilient in nature – that is they bend without breaking. Select a wool fiber from a sheepskin and tug on it. On applying pressure it is bound to get stretched and straightened but the moment you release it the fiber returns to its original shape. When you try out the same experiment on synthetic wool or fur you just don’t experience the same phenomenon. Moreover the natural fiber is by default flame-resistant. In other words it resists catching on fire which the synthetic version does not.
Designers making real shearling jackets with fur hood for women assure that when wool is exposed to flame it starts burning but once you remove the source of the flame the burning stops.
Remember these tips while shopping for authentic shearling coats and jackets which are usually priced at premium ranges.
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