Simple Tips for Sewing With Leather

Sewing with leather on your home sewing machine is totally possible. There is absolutely no reason to fear leather. As long as you remember to make a few adjustments to your regular sewing, you'll be sewing leather projects like chic bucket bags, crossbody bags and even journals with leather covers in no time. All it takes to get started are some new needles, a little planning and a few things you probably already have around the house.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp scissors

  • Needles for leather, size 110/18

  • Wonder clips, paper clips or binder clips

  • Teflon presser foot (optional)

  • Invisible tape

  • Nylon or polyester thread

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

1. Use Sharp Scissors

When sewing with leather, be sure that you use a very sharp pair of scissors. This will make your cuts precise and will in turn create a more professional piece.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

2. Use a Needle for Leather

Leather needles are available from most fabric and craft stores. Just make sure that it's labeled for leather. Leather needles are very sharp and will need to be changed often. Have extra needles on hand in case one breaks or gets dull.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

3. Use Clips, Not Pins

Never use pins when sewing with leather. They will put noticeable holes in the leather, which can ruin a project. Instead, use some kind of clip to hold your leather pieces together. Wonder clips work well, but if you don't happen to have any, you can use paper clips or even binder clips.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington
Image Credit: Beth Huntington

4. Change Your Presser Foot

Change to a Teflon presser foot to help you get the thick and slick leather through your machine. If you don't happen to have a Teflon presser foot, you can make your own nonstick foot by placing a piece of invisible tape on the bottom of your regular presser foot.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington
Image Credit: Beth Huntington
Image Credit: Beth Huntington
Image Credit: Beth Huntington

5. Change the Stitch Length

Use a long stitch length when sewing with leather. This will help the needle go through the leather and keep the stitches straight and even.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

6. Use Nylon or Polyester Thread

The type of thread you use when sewing with leather is very important. Cotton thread will erode over time when it comes in contact with the tannins in the leather. Nobody wants that after working hard on a piece of leather handiwork. Be sure to use nylon or polyester thread when creating your leather masterpieces.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

7. Plan Your Project Well

Since leather isn't as forgiving as regular sewing, you'll want to plan your project ahead of time to avoid any sewing mistakes. Sewing on leather will make a permanent hole, so fixing a blunder isn't as easy as sewing on regular fabric. Use a scrap piece of leather to test thread, stitch length and machine tension to help make your project a successful one.

Image Credit: Beth Huntington

So, you see, there's absolutely no need to be afraid of sewing with leather. All you have to do is make a few changes to your regular sewing machine and tools, plan ahead and slow down a bit, and sewing with leather will not only be fun but rewarding as well.