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Sewing Leather With A Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine

Leather is a tricky material to work with but if you know all the tips to handle it, the possibility you have is endless. The most important question to ask yourself before you start is what machine you are going to use to sew leather.

This material is not like any regular variety you usually work with. It is thick and can even stick to the presser foot you use. There are some machines that can handle leather better than others but they come in so many makes and models that if you do not know what to look for, it is impossible to narrow the list down to a few potential names.

Most home sewing machines can handle a needle up to size 19, which means that they cannot sew through some certain types of leather that have the thickness ranging from 1/16” to 1/8”. For leather thicker than that, the needle might break.


Sewing leather with heavy duty sewing machine

The problem starts to show up when sewists sew leather thicker than ¼”. Chances are they will face these following issues: skipped stitches and needle breakage. This type of material calls for an extra powerful machine that takes extra big needles to do the job. I must warn you if your machine shows signs of stalling when you sew, do not try to push it, you might break it and a sewing machine is not a small investment for many sewists.

In this Ulitmate Guide To The Best Heavy Duty Sewing Machine Reviews And Comparison, I have a list of potential options for a sewing machine that can handle leather you might want to take a look.

The kind of machine suitable for this job is something that is compatible with a size 23 needle, which at first sight, looks exactly like a nail. However, do not let the appearance fools you, this combination is exactly what we are looking for. These machines usually have a built-in walking foot, which is a useful tool to sew leather and other thick fabrics.

Why Do You Need A Sewing Machine Just For Leather?

We have been talking about the most important reason you need a sewing machine that can handle leather, now we will go into details.

The most pressing issue when sewing leather is that you cannot make any mistake. Leather does not tolerate wrong stitches and it will show your fault forever. The holes you make will not go anywhere so the first thing to remember is to be super careful with what you are doing. This is the reason why you cannot even use a pin to hold the project in place.

Leather can stick to whatever get in contact with it so if you do not prepare for this situation, chances are your seams will be puckered as the project gets lifted up with the presser foot. Even though you can always use tape to prevent this problem from happening, most machines cannot handle the extra thickness of leather.

Some sewing machines have special stitch length for leather as small stitches are not exactly the type you want to sew on a leather project. Longer stitches are also stronger on leather. More reasons to go for a certain sewing machine when sewing this material.

Even for faux leather, some machines just cannot penetrate this material. If you want to check if the machine you are having can sew through the type of leather you intend to use, take a piece of scrap with the same material or has a similar thickness. If the machine has difficulty sewing the scrap, you might want to think about another model.

On the flip side, if a best starter sewing machine passes the test, you can totally use it if you think you will never deal with thicker materials, read the full info here.

As leather does not tolerate mistakes when you have done the test and it proves that the machine you have at hand cannot sew through, do not attempt to sew on the leather as you may create permanent holes on it.

Top Tips For Sewing Leather On A Specialty Sewing Machine

If you have decided to switch to another machine, the one that is designed to sew leather, here are some things you should bear in mind to have a successful project:

  • If this is your first time, do not sew on an expensive piece of leather right away. Visit a local store for scrap pieces at a reasonable price and use them to practice. Most people will make mistakes no matter how careful they are so you want to be prepared. Test everything from the needle size, the tension to the speed. When you are confident sewing on this new material, buy your first whole piece to make your first project.
  • The supplier is one of the few people who know the leather like the back of their hand. So when you have a new project in mind, tell them about it and ask them what kind of leather is suitable and if they have any advice for you.
  • The best tool to cut leather is a rotary cutter. you want to weigh it down to make sure that you have accurate moves.


A rotary cutter is the best tool to cut leather

  • Sewing leather takes patience and time so when you are in a hurry, put the project aside.
  • You can totally press leather. Just remember to do it on the other side of the piece.
  • Do not use pins, use clips instead.
  • For leather of thickness that exceeds 1/8”, you want to use a presser foot that has grooves. If you can, the feed dog also needs grove for a better grip. Leather projects require accuracy so this step is important. In fact, when you are on the market for a sewing machine, find one with grooved feed dog.

In some cases, an entry-level machine can handle quite thin leather. If you think you do not need to handle thick material, why don’t go for a best cheap sewing machine for beginners, which can be found here to cut cost.

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