Leather Sewing Needles – Choosing The Right Needles For Leather Projects

Choosing the right needles for sewing leather can be stressful especially if you sew leather on a regular basis and you’re dealing with leather that comes with different thickness.

Everyone knows the needle that’s needed for regular fabric but most can hardly find the right needle for leather stitching.

You don’t need to panic anymore because in this article I’ll share some tips that will help you choose the right needle for leather sewing needs.

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First when it comes to needles there are different types and varying sizes.

Just like your normal fabric there are different needles for each garment type, so it is for leather.

Before choosing your leather needle you have to know the thickness of the thread you’re going to use and also the thickness of the leather.

Just because a needle work for particular leather it doesn’t mean it will work smoothly on another leather garment.

For starters let’s explain the different parts of needle so that you can identify the type you need during your projects.

The shank

This is the part that’s attached to the sewing machine.


This is what defines the size of a needle. If the size says 75, it means the blade diameter of the needle is .75mm.


This is the body of the needle; it’s the length that runs from where the needle is attached to the sewing machine to where you hold the thread.

Point and tip

This is the length, shape and size of needle and varies according to the type of needle.


This is the indentation that allows the hook to grab thread under the sewing machine throat and ensures you make a proper stitch.

Types Of Needles

Basically there are 3 types of needles, there are plenty of them though but these ones are the most commonly used especially for home use.

Universal needles

They come with rounded tip and are used on woven or sturdy knits (Not all of them though).

Jersey Needles

They come with medium ballpoint tip that’s designed specifically for knit fabrics.

This type of needle scan slip between knit fibers, it doesn’t damage the knit and don’t easily break when in use.

Stretch needles

This needle is similar to jersey needles in the sense that most people misinterpret them.

They come with medium ballpoint tip; they have special scarf and a special eye that help the user in stitching stretchy fabrics and elastic. This type of needle is a good option for swimwear.

Needle sizing

Let’s not try to complicate things here; there are two sizing systems available, European and American sizes.

You’ll find American sizes ranging from 8-9 and for European sizes they’re from 60-120.

Larger number means larger blade size of the needle, the number always displayed on the cover, e.g. 70/10 and 60/8.

Another classification you need to know is for home sewing machines; they’re classified as 130/705H system and are written on the label also.

Whenever you saw that number it means it’s for home sewing machine, and most of the time they come with flat shank and a scarf.

Needle Lifespan

Generally speaking needles for home sewing machines don’t last long, I mean it’s just a matter of a few hours when in use and it’ll break.

Sewing machine needles come with a lifespan of 6-8 hours when in use and this can be even less when you’re dealing with thick and heavy fabrics.

But the good news is that they don’t cost much and are the least expensive components of a sewing machine.

If your needle breaks within few hours, it doesn’t mean they’re bad, just replace them and move on.

If you however break needle every few minutes, now that a serious problem you want to fix.

If that happens often you know it isn’t the right needle for the fabric you’re working on, you need to search for the right size.

Needles For Leather

If you try to use normal needle on leather even a soft one, you know that your sewing machine will be slow, that’s if you’re lucky the needle can pass through, but with difficulty.

In the end it will end up breaking within minutes, even if you managed to continue work you’ll get exhausted.

The ideal needle that’s needed to go through leather smoothly is long spear shaped needle.

It can go through the leather smoothly without resistance when you’re making the stitch.

Even when it comes to leather stitching there are different leather needles.

It all comes to the thickness and type of leather you’re working on.

So as a precaution you need to do a little test on every piece of leather you want to work with to ensure it can pass through.

And to get the right size for your project always consult an expert in the field to advise you on the type of needle to use.

If you don’t know anyone that might help you can take advice from the store owner where you’re buying the needles.

Why Needles Break?

It means you’re not using the right size for the material you’re working on. If you try to use size 70 to sew denim it will definitely break in no time. Denim needles have a small angle at the end allowing them to pass through layers with less tension.

Should I change my needles after some time?

Most of the time your needle will break before worn out.

But even if your needle doesn’t break and you’re having problem with your stitching the first thing you want to replace is your needle.

It’s recommended that you should change your needles after 6 hours if you’re working consecutively.

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As mentioned earlier spear shaped needle is needed to handle leather sewing, but in the end it all depends on the type of leather you’re going to work on.

You shouldn’t make the mistake of using normal sewing machine needle on leather, it just won’t work, and you have to find the right needle that suitable for your leather type.

And when you’ve tried different needles and didn’t work you know that your machine can’t handle the project.

You need to upgrade to a better machine that’s suited for leather projects.

Looking for a sewing machine that’s capable of sewing leather? Read our article on best sewing machines for leather.

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