Last Updated on 12 months by Susan Mayrich
Nothing more complicated than sewing leather. As you might expect, the same machine that sews fabric can also sew leather. However, there are some differences between the two materials and the way they are sewn together.
For instance, sewing leather requires a special needle because the needle must be strong enough to pierce through the material without bending or breaking.
Sewing leather is different from sewing fabric. Leather is a tightly-woven material, but it’s also flexible and stretchy. It moves around as you sew, creating wrinkles and bulges in the finished product.
There is nothing so complicated when sewing leather. You just need to be aware of a few things, and then you’ll be good to go. To learn how to sew leather with a regular sewing machine, keep reading.
Can You Sew Leather with a Regular Sewing Machine
We’re often asked whether it’s possible to sew leather on a regular sewing machine.
Yes, a good-quality home sewing machine should be able to handle leather with minimal modifications.
The biggest challenge is that leather is thick and slippery compared to other fabrics. This means you’ll need a needle designed for sewing heavy fabric or even leather (look for “leather needle” in the description).
You’ll also want to use thread that’s appropriate for sewing leather, as well as some extra settings like a walking foot or an extra low presser foot pressure setting.
How Hard Is It to Sew with Leather?
It’s hard to sew with leather. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but there are a lot of factors that make it more difficult than sewing with fabric.
Sewing leather is not as difficult as it may seem. The most important thing is to use the right needle and thread. Leather is made of cowhide and requires a thick, heavy-duty thread for sewing.
Leather is slippery, which makes it hard to control your stitching (and it will pull your thread out). Leather stretches when you sew it, which also makes it hard to control your stitches.
Leather is thick and stiff, which means that needles have difficulty penetrating through the entire thickness of the material.
Can Mini Sewing Machine Sew Leather
The short answer is yes, you can sew leather with a mini sewing machine. The long answer is that it might not be the best idea.
Leather is a pretty tough material, but it does require some special attention when you’re sewing with it. You can use a mini sewing machine to sew leather, but you’ll want to make sure that your machine is up for the job.
If your machine isn’t designed specifically for sewing leather, then there’s a good chance that the stitches will get caught in the fibers and break or come out of the material entirely.
What Type of Sewing Machine Can Sew Leather?
Sewing leather is difficult, but it’s not impossible. You’ll need a sewing machine that can handle the task.
The Singer Sew mate 5400 is one of the best sewing machines for leatherwork. The computerized stitch settings make it very easy to use, and its lightweight portability makes it a great option for travel.
The Singer Sew mate 5400 will be able to handle any type of leather, including heavy-duty leathers such as upholstery or horsehide.
Do You Need a Special Needle to Sew Leather?
Depending on the type of leather you are using, you may need to use a special needle when sewing it together. The type of needle depends on the thickness of the leather and how much strain it can take before breaking or tearing apart.
A sharp needle will help pierce through thick pieces of rawhide or heavy-weight leather with ease. This type of needle is best used when sewing vegetable-tanned leathers such as bridle or harness leathers.
It can also be used on unfinished suede, but not on finished suede because it may cause fraying.
What Needle Can I Use to Sew Leather?
If you are planning on sewing leather, you need to use the right tools.
You can use regular needles and thread for hand sewing, but if you want to make a project that is larger than a patch or wallet, you will also need a heavy-duty needle for sewing.
From my experience, the needle size recommended for sewing leather is 90/14 (or 100/16 for thinner cuts), but it really depends on the thickness of your leather. For the thicker leather material, you may need to use a 110/18 size needle
What Tension Should I Use to Sew Leather on Sewing Machine?
Sewing leather is a different process than sewing other fabrics. You may want to use the same tension that you would for sewing denim or other heavy-weight fabrics, but this can cause the needle to break or the thread to snap.
If you have a sewing machine that has a dial for adjusting the tension, set it to 3.5 to 4.5 (for most machines) and test your stitches before starting on your project. If they are too tight, loosen them, if they are too loose, tighten them up a little bit at a time until they sew nicely without breaking the thread or ruining your needle.
What Do I Need to Sew Leather? (Leather Sewing Tools)
When sewing with leather, you’ll need to use special tools that are different from those for working with other types of fabric:
- Regular sewing machine
- Sewing clips
- Leather glue/leather cement
- Pieces of leather
- Leather needle
- Rotary cutter
- Cutting mat
- Sewing awl
- Polyester thread
Tips for Sewing Leather
With a little patience and practice, you can sew leather like a pro. The key is to use the right tools and techniques for the job.
Here are some tips for sewing leather:
- Use the right needle: Use an appropriately sized needle for the thickness of your leather. A thinner needle will cause unnecessary wear on your machine, and create jagged holes in the leather. A sharp needle will pierce through the leather easily, creating fewer tears and holes along the way.
- On the right machine: Leather is a tough material that requires a sewing machine with a lot of muscle. A lightweight, portable machine won’t cut it; you need a heavy-duty model with at least 16 stitches per inch.
- Color thread: Use a matching color of thread for sewing on top of existing stitching or for covering the raw edges of your project (this will be explained later). You can also use contrasting colors if you want an accent color in your project.
- Use quality leather: The better the quality, the easier it will be to sew. Poor-quality leather tends to fray and tear easily, which makes it difficult to sew accurately without losing patience or making mistakes.
- Use Heavy Thread: Leather can also be hard on the thread, so make sure that you use heavy-duty thread when sewing leather. The thickness of the thread will protect it from being damaged by the roughness of the material and will give your stitches extra strength and durability.
- Walking foot: Use a walking foot whenever possible when sewing with leather (if you don’t have one, you can use an ordinary presser foot instead). This helps keep all layers of the fabric moving smoothly and prevents skipped stitches or puckering at corners and edges.
- Trim your seams before stitching: Trimming your stitching after the fact will make it difficult to press your seams flat when you’re done sewing, which makes for an uneven seam allowance. Trimming before stitching also allows you to see better when sewing around curves or corners, so there’s less chance of missing spots and having to go back later on.
- Use pins sparingly when working with leather: They can leave marks on the surface of your fabric and cause unnecessary holes if you accidentally poke through them while stitching. You may use tape instead of pins.
- Sew slowly and carefully: When sewing leather, it’s important to slow down and take your time to make sure that your stitches are straight and even. You’ll also want to keep your machine tension fairly loose so that there’s not too much pressure on the material as it passes through the machine’s feed dogs (the teeth on either side of the presser foot). This will help prevent skipped stitches and puckering in your finished product.
- Use waxed thread: Waxed thread creates a stronger seam than cotton or synthetic thread because it doesn’t break as easily when pulling through large pieces of leather or stitching heavy objects together (like purses). The waxed thread also allows you to make longer stitches without the worry of them breaking while sewing, which means they’re great for sewing seams on bags with thick materials or sewing thicker layers together without puckering at the seam line.
It’s worth noting that leather is not cheap, but it’s also not impossible to work with. You’ll need a machine that can sew with leather and you’ll need some accessories, but once you have all the necessities, leather can be sewn just like any other material you are used to working with.
So don’t be afraid of sewing leather, just do your homework and eyeball your measurements well before you start. With enough practice, you’ll be able to sew most anything in leather.