How To Sew Leather on a Standard Sewing Machine

Leather is a very difficult material to sew with. However, because it is durable, it can be used for many things in your home or to make clothing. There are sewing machines that are made especially for leather but if you do not plan on spending on it, you can still use your standard sewing machine to work with it.

Here are some tips on sewing leather using a standard sewing machine:

  • Start stitching about half an inch from the edge of the leather. Because leather is a very thick material, you will have difficulty handling it when sewing with the machine. Use the half an inch allowance to hold the leather as you sew through it. Go back to the part that you left out earlier after you are done stitching. Make sure to set your sewing machine in reverse before sewing as usual to ensure that your stitches are secure.
  • Use the proper kind of thread when sewing. The proper thread to use when sewing leather is of course a strong one. Make sure that the thread is durable so that it does not break when you sew through the leather. A strong thread is made of polyester. You can use Rayon, quilting, or embroidery thread instead of the normal cotton. You can try testing your thread to be sure. Do this by pulling on the thread before using it on the machine. If it breaks when you pull it, then you cannot use it for leather.
  • Use the proper needle size. Use a size 11, 14, 16, or 18 sewing machine needle when working with leather. If you are sewing through more than one piece of leather, use smaller sized needles.
  • Adjust your stitch width. When working with leather, you need to set your stitches wider. Set it to at least 4 to a maximum of 6. If you set your stitches to narrow, it will ruin the leather and expose it to easy ripping.
  • Adjust your thread tension. Adjust the thread tension to the setting that will work best with your leather. There is no standard setting as it will vary depending on how you want it to go.
  • Test your needle, thread, and stitch width. Always test your needles before sewing through your leather completely. You would not want to have it break in the middle of your work. Find the perfect combination of needle and thread size, stitch width and thread tension to make sure that it will run smoothly on leather.
  • Use proper materials when putting pieces together. When putting leather pieces or patterns on to leather pieces, you will not be able to use pins as you normally would. Use binder clips or leather tape to hold the pieces together.
  • Use scrap fabric or baby powder to handle your leather. Sprinkling baby powder on your work area or pieces of fabric beneath your leather will make moving it around smoother. The texture of leather keeps it from sliding around, making working with it more difficult.
  • Use silver or black pens to mark your leather. If you need to make markings on the leather, use a silver or black marker to do so. Remember to do this on the back side of the leather.

Just follow these tips when working with leather on your standard sewing machine and you will minimize the difficulty of stitching through it. Good luck!


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