You can sew leather with a sewing machine if you just stick to these best practices.
A great hobby that keeps you busy for a long time is sewing clothing. Fabrics like cotton, linen, satin, flannel, etc. are easy to sew in regular sewing machines but ever wondered how to sew leather in your home machine?
To work with leather at home, you do not require an industrial sewing machine. You can complete your craft from start to finish in your living room, whether you’re looking to sew a tote or are working with leather for a jacket.
You can successfully make leather pants, hats, or anything else with the help of the below tips and tricks.
Sew Leather With a Sewing Machine
On a typical sewing machine, leather is easily sewn.
- Sewing machine(See the Best Sewing Machines for Leather)
- Leather project
- Matching thread (more details in Tip #2 below)
- Leather needle
- Walking/even foot, Teflon foot or clear tape Iron, ironing surface and pressing cloth
Choose Your Leather Carefully
The kind of leather you should use will depend on the project you have in mind. For intricate projects, gathered leather, or closely fitting clothing patterns, a thinner leather with some give may be needed to accommodate the design. Thicker, more robust leather might be better suited for flatter projects or coats.
Use the Proper Tools
When sewing leather on a sewing machine, you absolutely need a leather needle. The thick layers can be sewn through easily thanks to the larger needle and thread. Any fabric store will have leather sewing needles that will work with your machine.
Additionally crucial is the thread type. The thread should be chosen based on the project, it is advised. A thicker upholstery weight or nylon thread may be advantageous for projects that will see a lot of use. When stitched with standard all-purpose polyester-coated thread, thinner leather is typically fine.
Slow and Steady Sewing
How you should sew through the leather will depend on the machine’s power. Your machine may struggle with thick seams and topstitching. Make sure to straighten the fabric while attempting to hammer the seam or try a different needle (more on these techniques below!) if your machine sounds overworked.
Placing a folded stack of fabric or leather behind your presser foot will help your machine start sewing at the edge of a thicker seam if it is having trouble doing so. The stack will hold the foot horizontally if it is the same height as the thick seam. This will make it simpler for the seam to begin.
No Pins Allowed
Any scuff left on your leather project will last forever. The seam should only be stitched once you are certain it is correct, so take care. Additionally, pins will leave holes in the leather, making it more challenging to hold the fabric firmly in place. Instead, use bulldog clips, metal clips, paper clips, sewing clips, or bobby pins.
Slide on Through
When sewing leather on its own, a presser foot for a sewing machine has a tendency to stick to the material rather than glide over it. Purchase a Teflon foot that fits your sewing machine for the best solution to this problem.
The walking or even foot is an additional foot that functions well. If you can’t find these, you can temporarily make your zigzag foot slide more easily by covering it with washi tape or clear adhesive tape.
Test Your Tension
It is best to perform a test before starting your final project if your machine does not automatically adjust the thread tension. The leather should be tightly bound together by threads. The threads shouldn’t be visible after being pressed to one side and topstitched. See our article on changing the tension on a sewing machine.
To get rid of wrinkles, press leather. Depending on how thick your leather is, use the linen, cotton, or wool setting. To keep your iron and your leather clean, be sure to use a press cloth.
Use a Hammer
Hammering can be used to lower the height of thick leather seams, allowing for easier sewing through. This is particularly useful for topstitched seams and areas where there are three or more layers of leather. Prior to hammering, make sure your leather is covered with a fresh press cloth.
Topstitch Every Seam
As leather does not fray and does not require special finishing, sewing leather is ideal. Projects, however, will lay flatter if they are topstitched in place.
Trim the seam allowance on the side that will be covered after topstitching before stitching. As a result, the seam can lay flatter and the bulk is reduced. It is also recommended to hammer the seam to make it as flat as possible while sewing.
Lengthen Your Stitch
Leather has a tendency to stick to your machine and won’t feed through it quickly. For best results, use a longer stitch than usual when sewing and topstitching leather. As a result, the fabric will be pulled through the machine more quickly, making up for the slow motion and producing the ideal stitch length.
Do I Need An Industrial Sewing Machine to Sew Leather?
No, especially if you’re a casual home sewer who just wants to occasionally sew leather! Any sewing machine that you already have is the best sewing machine to sew with, but there are three important things to consider:
- You need to use a leather needle with your sewing machine
- You need a machine that offers a variable straight stitch length
- You should consider either a Teflon foot, a roller foot, or a walking foot all of which will make sewing leather easier
Long-term time and money savings can be achieved by having a clear understanding of your goals before beginning work with leather. Planning will help you determine how many pieces of leather and how much thread you’ll need if you’re working on a larger project, like a jacket or other garment.
Additionally, your finished product will appear more expert. Your leather sewing projects will have a consistent appearance and feel if you start with enough material.
Conclusion: Sew Leather
Using the power of your machine slowly is the basic rule for sewing leather. If the thread, needle, or machine power malfunctions, sewing through leather can be a frustrating experience.
When working with leather, you don’t need to be an expert to produce beautiful clothing. The right needle, sewing foot, and thread will ensure smooth results when using your sewing machine to stitch through the leather.
Is It Hard to Sew Leather?
It’s not as challenging as it might seem to stitch through the leather. No matter how big or how small your leather project is, it can be straightforward. To make your own leather goods, collect a few necessary tools and master saddle stitching.
Do You Need a Special Needle to Sew Leather?
Unlike regular needles, a leather sewing needle has a special tip that allows it to cut through leather without harming it when creating stitches.
Can I Use a Denim Needle to Sew Leather?
Try using a denim needle on lightweight leather. A smaller hole will be made in the leather by the denim needle. Try using a leather needle on very thick denim in a similar manner. Because it has a sharper tip, a leather needle can easily pierce the fabric.