Wanna learn how to sew leather at home? Well my friend, today I’ve got you covered.
Not long after I began sewing, I fell in love with the idea of making beautiful handbags and sewing leather. I imagined myself carrying around the perfect handmade leather tote that garnered compliments everywhere I went. However, the idea of actually making that dream bag seemed totally intimidating and felt like the kind of project only reserved for experienced sewists.
Truth be told I became so intimidated to even start and it took me years to face my fear and purchase my first sheet of leather. The good news is, after several years of regular sewing, I’ve learned some really helpful tips that make working with leather and other tricky fabrics so much easier and more attainable for everyone.
Today I’m so excited to break down the top 10 tips I’ve learned for sewing leather, faux leather and vinyl with your at-home sewing machine. With these 10 easy tips, you don’t need any fancy equipment or expensive supplies. I’ve even included some shoppable links so you can shop the exact tools I’m using that have worked so well! By the time you are done reading this post, you’ll know how to sew leather at home with a home sewing machine without the overwhelm.
1. Use A Walking Foot
In learning to sew leather, one of the biggest tools you will need is the correct presser foot. If you plan on working with leather or thick fabric often, I can’t recommend a Walking Foot enough! Basically,a Walking Foot includes an additional set of feed dogs on the top of your presser foot so it will sandwich your fabric and help guide it through the sewing machine easier without any resistance. Having a Walking Foot will come in handy whenever you are sewing vinyl, canvas, suede, leather, or faux leather as well as conventional fabrics like heavy quits and outerwear. YOU CAN GET THE ONE I USE BY CLICKING HERE.
2. Use A Plastic (Or Teflon) Presser Foot
If a walking foot isn’t in your budget then a Teflon Presser Foot is your next best bet. If you don’t have a plastic (Teflon Presser Foot) in your swing kit, a third option is to take some regular Scotch tape and apply it to the bottom of your metal presser foot. By adding that little strip of tape, your presser foot will not stick to your fabric as much as you stitch your project together.
3. Avoid Sewing Pins
Another tool that makes sewing leather at home so much easier is having some binder or Sewing clips on hand. Since every time a needle penetrates your leather, the hole is permanent, you are going to want to prevent piercing your fabric as much as possible. Using binder and Sewing clips instead of sewing pins keeps the unnecessary holes to a minimum.
4. Use Tape!
If an aspect of your project doesn’t accommodate sewing clips, Double Sided Tape will do the trick. You don’t need anything fancy and can pick them up in the stationary aisle the next time you’re out.
5. Cut Just One Layer At A Time
While you are cutting your pattern pieces out from leather, be sure to cut only one layer at a time. It may be tempting to fold your fabric in half, but since leather can have a mind of its own an does not fold easily, you will want to cut out each pattern piece individually.
6. Transfer Markings On The Wrong Side Of Fabric
While transferring pattern markings, be sure to only mark the wrong side of your leather. Since leather is surprisingly porous, it is better to be safe than sorry when applying pattern markings and keep them to the inside or “wrong side” of your fabric
7. Leave Out Seam Finishes
When sewing leather, you don’t have to worry about any seam finishes in your projects. Isn’t that great?! Since leather will not fray over time, you can either leave all your unfinished seams raw or glue your seam allowances together with a Leathercraft Cement and seal together with a Wallpaper Roller.
8. Use A Leather Needle
When sewing with leather, be sure to use a fresh Leather Machine Needle at the start of each project. I recommend using a new needle to prevent any damage and frustration caused by a dull one. Leather will dull your needles relatively quickly so it is easiest to just start with a new Leather Machine Needle for each project. Leather needles do not cost more than Universal needles but are slightly thicker and able to handle thick, tough fabrics.
9. Widen Your Stitch Length
When sewing leather, be sure to widen your stitch length to about 4 or 5 on your sewing machine. Since leather does not have a weave, each time you penetrate the fabric you are creating a permanent hole. Because of this, closer stitch lengths will actually make your fabric less strong and cause more tearing than a wider stitch. Save yourself the heartache and lengthen your stitch length before getting started.
10. Use Heavy Duty Thread
When you are learning how to sew leather, it may be tempting to use universal thread. Don’t make his mistake! To hold heavy fabrics toogether, you need a heavy duty thread. It’s thicker and tougher than standard polyester and can hold your awesome project together while standing the test of time.
Learning how to sew leather is a big accomplishment that most sewists won’t take the time to learn. Be patient with yourself and most importantly, don;t be afraid to slow down the process to be sure you’re machine is working correctly. When your leather gets extra thick, you may want to completly remove your foot from the foot pedal and only use the hand wheel to bring the needle up and down with complete control.
I hope these 10 tips came in extra handy and inspired you to start making that leather project you’ve always wanted! When it comes to sewing leather, you can often make back the investment in additional sewing supplies with a single leathercraft sale. It makes for a great side hustle!
Where To Buy Leather For Sewing
When it comes to purchasing leather fabric, I can’t recommend Tandy Leather Factory enough. They have an excellent selection of hardware and a variety of leathers for whatever project you are looking for. If you are just barely learning how to sew leather, their scraps are often really inexpensive and great for experimentation and even jewelry making.
Leather Projects You May Like: