Originally posted 2020-09-04 08:00:18.
Tips for Sewing with Leather
Leather is a really great material that is beautiful as well as luxurious. Crafting with or sewing leather is a lot easier than it sounds, especially if you have the right tools. I love sewing leather and it can be done on any household sewing machine. My tips for sewing with leather include a breakdown of things to do (and NOT to do!) to make leather crafting easy and fun!
Disclaimer: This post contains links to products recommended for this project. When the link is clicked and a purchase made, I receive a small commission. Trust me, they are relevant to the post and are actual products I use!
Sewing Machine Needles
As mentioned above, any household machine can be used to sew leather. The trick is to use machine needles specifically for sewing leather. Common machine needles have a sharp point for piercing fabrics or a ball point for separating fibers (used with knits or sheer fabrics). Needles for sewing leather (<–affiliate link!) have a triangular point that actually makes a small hole in the leather allowing the needle to pass through without breaking.
The right thread plays an important part in sewing leather. A super heavy thread, generally known as buttonhole or carpet thread, is not a good choice. It is way too heavy to run through a household machine, and will certainly cause needle breakage or machine damage. Cotton threads aren’t a good choice either because they tend to break easily. Regular polyester sewing thread or all-purpose thread can be used (brands such as Dual Duty or Mettler) and nylon threads seem to work the best.
A walking foot (a foot that feeds the top layer of fabric while the feed dogs feed the bottom layer) is the best choice of a presser foot, though a Teflon foot (<– affiliate link!) will work just as well. The leather will not stick to the Teflon foot which will keep it feeding nicely through the machine with no hangups! And, a Teflon foot is just that… a plain presser foot coated with Teflon to make it non-stick!
Use a long stitch length (a 4 or 5)… A short stitch length will weaken the leather and cause the seam to tear. Experiment with different stitch length on a scrap piece and find the one that works best.
For obvious reasons, pins cannot be used to hold pieces of leather together while sewing. Double-sided adhesive tape for leather can be used but can also gum up the machine needle (keep a bit of rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover on hand if you go this route. Another option in place of pins, is the use of small binder clips (<– affiliate link!). I use them when making lampshades, and they hold everything securely!
Sew Slowly and Use a Wooden Mallet
Never force the leather through the sewing machine. For thicker areas, use a wooden mallet to flatten the seam (similar to using a meat tenderizer to flatten chicken!).
Hopefully, these tips for sewing leather will take some of guesswork and intimidation out of your project, as well as add new skills to your sewing repertoire! Stay tuned for new project posts using leather and if you have questions, leave a comment below!