FAQ’s About Sheepskin and The Sheepherder Garments
What is this fabric?
All of our sheepskin outerwear, slippers and accessories are made of genuine (real, not imitation) sheepskin or shearling. Shearling and Sheepskin are interchangeable terms and they both refer to the natural hide and wool of the sheep. Most hides have silky wool on one side and suede on the other side. Some skins have a smooth leather finish called Antique. Some have a more distressed look called Napa. These are terms the tannery uses and I have passed along. These finishes are more complicated to produce. As opposed to some cheaper qualities of sheepskin or imitation hides, the top quality shearling we use is one piece continuous natural hide – the wool is not mended, sewn or glued to the suede. This means that the wool you see is not a separate lining.
How are these sheepskin coats made?
These products feature top-grade lambskins (another word for sheepskin or shearling) for the body of the garment, with natural deer and elk antler for the buttons and tough nylon thread to sew it all together. All seams on our shearling outerwear are double-stitched and the shearling jacket and vest buttonholes are bound for good looks and durability. We create the buttonholes deliberately snug to begin with as they will loosen up and stretch with use. The hem stabilizers on the sheepskin coats help prevent, to a degree, the natural curling of the garment. The softest and most supple skins are selected for sleeves and collars to assure comfort and flexibility.
Who makes these shearling items?
All of our sheepskin slippers, shearling outerwear, elkskin and deerskin vests are handmade by Diane Blessing at her shop in Alma, Colorado. Yes, it is made in the USA! Diane has been making custom sheepskin apparel and accessories for over 30 years. The custom, handmade quality of her product sets a Sheepherder item aside from your average big-box or chain imported sheepskin item. Diane will custom design and fit your sheepskin jacket or shearling vest to your specifications. This means that you get to pick your color and style and we will tailor the fit to your exact measurements. If you need an especially long, short, small or large item, we can accommodate most any size requests.
Where does the sheepskin come from?
These shearling garments are made from the skins of domestic sheep raised on small farms and ranches generally west of the Mississippi River. They are raised commercially for their meat and the hides are a valuable by-product which is tanned and processed here in the United States. The Antique, Napa and Brisa skins are finished at a sister tannery in Turkey. All work is overseen by my main tannery in Texas.
The sheep, deer and elk that we use for our skins are NOT an endangered species.
To process this quality sheepskin, it takes a system of 21 days with over 100 intricate steps to create the soft, supple sheepskin we use to make our sheepskin jackets, vests, shearling slippers and headwear. When sheepskin is processed correctly it creates a hide that naturally wicks away moisture from the body and that remains cool even in high temperatures. The sheepskin is extremely warm and comfortable but will not make you sweat like a synthetic fabric may. The buttons we use for our sheepskin vests and coats are made from antlers which are shed annually by deer and elk. They are handmade and each set is truly one of a kind.
Can I pick a color that I don’t see here?
No, unfortunately we can only offer our sheepskin garments in the colors that you see featured. The stock and colors of the hides is constantly changing, so this may also change periodically. We try to keep our website up to date with the latest sheepskin color options but due to factors out of our control there may be times when a certain color is unavailable.
Why does the same color look different on some other products?
Sheepskin is a natural product which means that each hide comes from a different animal and is processed individually so it may have subtle changes in color or texture. Our quality guidelines ensure that we get the best quality hides, but they may still differ slightly in shade. If you have questions or requests about your garment color, please contact us after ordering so we can try to best accommodate your requests.
I am really tall and need extra length on my coat arms and legs. Can you do this?
Yes, we can almost always add the necessary inches that you need on length (and conversely, we can shorten a coat or vest as needed). Over a certain amount, additional charges may apply, but we do our best to be able to accommodate everyone.
How long will it take to get my coat?
Our turnaround depends on the time of year and the current demand. We try to give you an accurate estimate upon ordering. In general, we try to turnaround a vest within 2 – 4 weeks of ordering and a coat in 4 – 6 weeks of ordering. Often times it is faster, but during peak holiday times it may be substantially longer. If you need to order a sheepskin coat or shearling vest for a special occasion or holiday please order a couple months ahead of time so that we can meet your deadline.
What if I get my coat and I don’t like it?
We guarantee all of our sheepskin coats, vests, slippers and headwear, as well as our elkskin and deerskin products, for fit . If you get your custom garment and the fit is incorrect, we will make every effort to correct the changes. Please visit our Returns & Exchanges Policies page for more information.