We’ve talked about a lot of different exotic skins here on the Pan Am blog. From stingrays to crocodiles, ostriches to pythons, there is an exotic leather for almost every occasion.
One exotic leather that we haven’t talked about much before is eel skin. This material is a surprisingly luxurious choice for larger projects—one capable of allowing you to easily create top-notch fashion wear.
What’s so great about eel skin, and why does it make an ingenious choice for making garments?
Sizing Up Eel Skin for Garments
Individually, eel skins wouldn’t seem like they’re large enough to be suited for garments. On average, a single eel skin is about one foot long and two inches wide—not nearly big enough to fill the panels needed for jacket sleeves or pants legs.
However, eel skins aren’t typically sold as individual hides. When ordering eel skins, it’s actually commonplace to see dozens of hides sewn together to form a large 2’ x 5’ panel. Ten square feet of hide is typically more than enough to fit the demands of panels for dresses, jackets, pants, skirts and other garments.
Additionally, for really large projects, the fact that the hides are already sewn together makes it easier to join more hides without it being noticeable.
The Look and Feel of Eel
When you think “eel,” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Usually a small, whip-like sea creature coming out of a piece of coral, right?
Well, to fit in small spaces and quickly chase elusive prey in the ocean, eels tend to be fast and agile, with flexibility enough to make the average snake jealous. The extraordinary flexibility of eel skin is maintained at the end of the tanning process, producing a superf soft, bendable hide.
This is a perfect qualityfor garments, as the eel skin will not only bend with ease without creasing (great for joints in jackets or pants), the soft hide has a luxurious feel to it that few other leathers can match.
Even better, eel skin has some room to stretch without tearing. This allows for eel skin garments to be worn without the worry of tearing that exists with other leathers that aren’t as flexible or stretchy.
Working with Eel Skins
Because eel leather is so soft, it’s exceptionally easy to work into garments. The supple nature of the hide lends itself well to sewing or cutting however you might need. So, if you need irregular shapes, or need to join two panels, doing so is easy.
The softness of the hide also means fewer broken needles when compared to bonier, more calcium-rich hides. This allows you to sew multiple hides together with less prep work and less time re-threading sewing equipment.
Finally, because eel skins come in 2’ x 5’ rectangular panels, it’s easy to determine yields and lay out patterns compared to other, more oddly-shaped skins.
Get started with your next eel skin project today and create something that’s unique and luxurious!