6 Tips for Sewing with Leather

I've been sewing for a very long time but was always really intimidated by the prospect of working with leather. I love the professional touch that a bit of leather can add to a project, but always assumed that I would not be able to sew with it on my home sewing machine.

I started reading up on the process and realized that it was possible to sew with leather on a home sewing machine. It will depend a bit on your machine but most machines will be able to handle it.

You cannot however just sew with leather the same way that you would sew with regular fabric, there is a bit of a technique involved.

I have not attempted (nor will I probably ever) to make something out of ONLY leather. I prefer instead to use it as an accent.

If you're interested in trying to add a bit of leather to your next sewing project here are some tips to get you started.

1. Use a Leather Needle

You need a special needle in your machine to sew through the leather. Leather needles have a special tip that punches through the leather as the machine sews. The tip on these needles can cause fabric to snag, so be sure to test it on a scrap of fabric and leather if you're sewing through both at the same time. Also a touch of "sewers aid" on your needle will help the needle glide through the leather.

2. Do Not Pin

Obviously you can't pin leather. You'll leave a hole in it that will be very noticeable in your finished project. Instead use binding clips or glue to hold the leather in place as you sew. I use UHU glue with my machine frequently and have never had a problem. If you're concerned you can use glue especially designed to be used with sewing machines.

3. Use Strong Thread

When I first started sewing with leather someone told me to use heavy duty thread. That never really worked for me and I often didn't get the result I was wanting. I think it was too heavy. Instead I always make sure to sew with a good quality polyester thread. Do not use cotton, it won't be strong enough. I use the same thread in my bobbin and the top of my machine.

4. Use a Teflon Foot

Your standard metal foot may not glide smoothly over the leather. I have a teflon foot for my machine that I use all the time and love how it glides over leather. Many people have also had great results use a rolling foot.

Teflon Sewing Machine Foot

5. Use Lightweight Leather

I purchase my leather scraps at my local leather store. I stick with leather that is about the consistency of a leather jacket. Leather is referred to in ounces based on its thickness. The thicker the leather the harder time you'll have stitching with it. Try sticking with leather that is less than 3 oz in weight. Speaking of leather jackets, old ones are a great source of leather for your sewing projects.

6. Cut it with a Rotary Tool & Ruler

I have not had good luck cutting leather with scissors. Instead I have a rotary tool that I only use to cut leather. I use a larger rotary tool for straight lines and a smaller one to cut curves. Leather will dull the blades of your scissors and rotary tools, so you do not want to use the same tool to cut both.

credits to: ebay.com