Chances are you’ve tried to sew leather once and it seems to be quite unapproachable, but I’ll tell you that just like every other aspect of sewing – you need to learn how to do it properly.
Any good sewing machine for home use can handle leather with ease; it’s just that you need to get some hints on how to get started.
There are some modifications that need to be done on your machine and also there are needles designed to go through hard materials like leather with ease.
Leather is entirely different from your normal fabric, you can’t pin leather, you can’t iron leather and even the presser foot will stick most of the times.
You have to take a lot of precautions if you want to handle leather especially if you want to create different patterns on it.
In order to cut leather you need the sharpest tools that are available.
Don’t even think your normal needle, blade or scissors will work on leather, cutting leather requires clean cut if you really want the finish to look professional as if it was designed with an industrial leather cutting machine used by companies.
For thick leather you need rotary blades, if you don’t know how to use rotary blades you can use sharp scissors for your leather cutting needs. For soft leather you can use sharp knife also, it will also do well.
Sewing leather starts right from your cutting, and if you want the best results you have to invest in high quality cutting tools and must keep them sharp all the time before you begin working on your projects.
These are some basics for cutting leather; let’s now move on to share the dos and don’ts of sewing leather from home with your sewing machine.
Tips For Stitching Leather With A Sewing Machine At Home
Use Sharp Needle
You need to use the sharpest needle to sew through any leather material out there; even soft leather can’t be stitched with normal needle. You have to replace your needle every 6 hours at most.
Most sewing supply store have the needles you need to cut leather, if you’re still not sure how to select the right needle you should cut a sample of the leather and present it to the store owner so that he can make recommendations.
The best needle for cutting leather though is the one with a small triangle shape at its tip; this shape makes it easier to pierce most leather materials with ease.
You can also use twin needles that come in different spacing, twin needles are the perfect option when it comes topstitch since they can make 2 parallel rows in 1 single pass.
Use Strong Thread
The next tip is to use a strong thread such as Nylon thread when working with leather material.
If you use the normal thread you’ll end up replacing thread every few minutes, strong thread is more suitable than thread used for other fabric.
Use Walking Foot
Sewing leather demands walking foot or a Teflon Non Stick foot.
This will help balance your pressure and will ensure you go through leather just like you do with your day to day fabric.
Use Soft Leather
Home sewing machines can sew different leather but it’s advisable to use soft leather on your machine.
This will ensure your tools last longer, as mentioned above you need special needles designed to handle leather, still if your leather is thick and hard it’ll be difficult to stitch with the normal sewing machine.
Use Industrial Machine For Regular Projects
If you’re planning to work on leather regularly you should definitely consider buying industrial machine.
With industrial machine you don’t need to buy extra tools that will handle sewing leather, all the necessary tools are installed.
You also don’t need to worry about the thickness or hardness of any leather; industrial machines can handle hard and soft materials easily.
Use Blinder Clips
You need to use blinder clips for holding edges together when cutting or sewing leather.
You can’t use pins like you do with normal fabric because they’ll create holes which will be visible on any leather material and will mar the leather.
Adjust Stitch Length
Even with the perfect needle you need to adjust your stitch length when working with leather.
The stitch length has to be longer than the normal length used in fabric.
This is applicable when it comes to seaming and topstitching, this ensures that the leather isn’t weak or perforated.
Use Tissue Paper Under
This is applicable when you’re dealing with thick leather as it will stick to the bed of the machine when you’re working on it.
Placing tissue paper under will ensure that you can move the leather easily without sticking to the bed of the machine.
Press Leather Seams
In order to avoid damaging of leather surface you need to finger-press seams; this should be used on both real and faux leather.
Your seam allowance can be in one direction or can be open, it just depends on how you want it to look and topstitching will ensure they remain flat.
Different leather requires different adjustment, just because the settings and tools have worked in your previous projects it doesn’t mean it will suit the new leather you have at hand.
As a rule of thumb make sure you scrap some piece and run a test on the leather, so that you know you can sew the leather smoothly.
This will save you from wasting your leather, cut some potion for testing only and also if you’re going to add layers or want to make some shapes on the leather there is the need to do all that as a test before you just jump into the actual material.
Making mistakes when it comes to sewing leather is unforgiving, unlike your normal fabric they leave permanent mark and you can’t undo you actions.
Not planning things properly will lead to waste of materials before things work right for you.
Make sure to plan and test before jumping on any project you have at hand.
And last but not the least always make sure that you’re not doing things blindly.
If you’re new to using leather make sure you have a manual by your side that will guide through the process.
If you’re going design a bag you should have step by step instructions that will help you with the design, if possible find sources with screenshots that will guide you through.
Leather can be somewhat difficult to deal with; just make sure the project you’re dealing with can be done with home sewing machine.