Sewing Awl

What Is a Sewing Awl? On Our Way to The Discovery of This Tool’s Importance

Knowing what a sewing awl serves shows you are in the sewing business for the long haul. Not to mention being aware of a quick stitch sewing awl and how to sew with it.

Why is it so? 

First off, sewing awl isn’t among the essentials in the sewing basket. Instead, sewing awl shows up later and only if you decide to take up sewing leather

Secondly, its use isn’t so common (you don’t use it every day). 

That’s why you won’t hear about it in the beginning when planning the first T-shirt stitch or summer dress. 

However, it will work wonders with leather when you become more specialized. Read our best sewing tips and tricks to get inspired. 

Sewing awl
Image source: Three Points of the Compass

Sewing awl―What is it?

We’ll find both ordinary and luxurious examples among this particular kind of sewing supplies called sewing awls. 

More so, you won’t believe how chic a sewing awl can be. Some are made of exotic or rare woods. A high society level sewing awl seems to ask for a company of Japanese whisky and Singaporean cigars!  

Talking about cigars, after you learn to sew, give yourself a little pleasure!

Super Label Store thrives on providing the best international service when it comes to labels. 

Clothing label custom made group

What exactly is included in the brands’ offer?

are all ready to be customized in the exact way you wish them to be. 

There are easy-to-use configurators on the site. So feel free to go with the flow and create a new label for your upcoming garment. 

Speedy stitcher sewing awl
Image source: Pinterest

Sewing awl―history

The use of stitching awls dates back centuries. 

Oldest that we know was created using bones in the Paleolithic period (Old Stone Age). Later on, according to Info Bloom, the ancient Romans used to make them out of iron. 

An awl seems to be a universal tool in human communities since always. It is very easy to learn and it requires a little practice to get used to it. Nevertheless, it is a great tool and skill for making leather craft items. Contemporary sewing awl design doesn’t vary much from historical models. The only difference is: 

    • the metal used for the shaft nowadays (bones and iron before)
    • a few manufacturing improvements;

Read the instructions on Paleo Tool. It will help you equip your sewing kit with self-made, primitive sewing supplies. Don’t worry; they are just as functional. 

Quick stitch sewing awl
Image source: Alchetron

A well-known example from history that also works as a cautionary tale is the one with Louis Braille.

When he was a child, he gouged his eye out with an awl by accident. One eye was instantly destroyed, and after a while, the other got seriously infected. As a result, the incident made a then boy blind by the time he was four.

Luckily, a little, unfortunate boy then, years later, became the famous Louis Braille. For those who don’t know, he’s the inventor of the Braille alphabet system for the blind (read about it on AFB). 

By the way, Louis Braille created the prototype of his alphabet system using an awl.

As simple as using a sewing awl seems, it doesn’t come without dangers. 

What to pay attention to?

How to use a quick stitch sewing awl
Image source: Renaissance Artisan  

Sewing awl―dangers

Now, we know the turbulent story of the Braille alphabet inventor. Let’s learn to avoid dangers when using a sewing awl. 

For starters, keep your tools away from children! 

It also refers to:

It’s fair to say that if one can see: 

with their bare eyes, it’s not the best place to let our curious kiddos play around. 

Awl in hand
Image source: PaleoTool

But it’s not only kids that need to watch out. 

What dangers are awaiting stitching adults? How to use a sewing awl on the leather without hurting oneself?


    • applying pressure to the handle incorrectly, and 
    • using an underarm technique; 

The latter can cause the awl to slip. 

A stitching awl can punch holes in rigid leather. Keep in mind that human skin is much more vulnerable. Be careful! It’s a matter of seconds when you cause injuries to your face or eyes. 

What can a sewing awl do for us?

Sewing awl is a wooden tool with a sharp metal point. It has a hole through it to hold a string, and it’s the size of a human hand.

Its primary purposes are: 

    1. marking, 
    2. piercing, 
    3. punching, and 
    4. sewing leather and leather goods; 

Leather sewing awl
Image source: Make Zine

Are you new in the leather department? Then, get inspired by these “15 Luxe Leather Projects to Try at Home” by Martha Stewart

Leather sewing awl is reminiscent of an ice pick, a scratch awl, or a bradawl.

“It has a diamond-shaped blade with sharp cutting edges to pierce holes into the leather rather than tear holes, as a round metal point would”

Martha Stewart explains in her blog post.

Sewing awl instructions
Image source: Martha Stewart

Parts of a sewing awl

Now, we know what a sewing awl serves for. Yet, we haven’t mastered the knowledge of its construction.

What are the parts of a typical sewing awl? 

We asked Mike Zine for support on that one. 

Part of a sewing awl


A needle with a groove in it 

It’s there to allow the thread to slide into a tight hole.

A bobbin (with heavy thread and a tension post)

The tension post keeps pressure on the thread while stitching.

A wooden handle with a hole in it 

A hole allows the thread to go through, with an end cap for the bobbin.

A threaded post holding the needle with a chuck lock

It’s like what’s used on a Dremel tool to keep the bits in place.

The chuck (according to The Art Suppliers)

It’s placed between the needle and the handle. Next, a chuck is unscrewed to place the needle solidly in the right spot.

There is one crucial difference when it comes to the sewing awls’ construction:

    1. Some stitching awls have fixed blades―they are permanently attached to the handle. 
    2. Others have interchangeable blades―they can be removed and switched out while keeping the same handle.

The list of the parts of the sewing awl kit isn’t long, and so isn’t the process of learning how to sew with an awl. But, we’ll get to it in the following paragraph. 

Speedy stitcher sewing awl kit
Image source: Sew 4 Home 

How to use a leather sewing awl?

We like simple examples. That’s why we’ll start with this YouTube video by Phil Crockett. 

He explains in simple words “How to Use a Sewing Awl,” and at this stage, it should make us contented:

Funny enough, sewing awls are also called “monster-needles” (read this blog about a sewing needle). 

The word “monster” obviously refers only to its size. 

In the case of the eternal battle “needle vs. thread” (check these sewing threads types and tips), having a bigger needle eye is nothing but an advantage. 

Awl parts illustration
Image source: Make Zine 

How to use a leather sewing awl? Follow these instructions by Leather Skill:

    1. Prepare your workspace (read about sewing room ideas) and get a high quality sewing awl in your hands
    2. Drive the awl through the hole
    3. Pull the thread from the back
    4. Get the awl back from the same hole
    5. Go to the next hole
    6. Push the awl through it and form a loop at the back
    7. Continue the same action through all holes
    8. Backstitch, cut the access thread, burn the ends;

A good tip from Martha Stewart goes:

“Make sure that you keep the awl at a 90-degree angle when piercing the leather to ensure that the spacing is consistent on each side for uniform stitching”.

The sewing awl in the video below is excellent for sewing a lock stitch in all kinds of leather canvas. 

It’s suitable for mending: 

    • tents, 
    • canvas bags, and 
    • other types of leather and canvas;

How to use a quick stitch sewing awl?

A speedy stitcher sewing awl kit refers to the more sophisticated form of a sewing awl. 

Speedy stitcher sewing awl comes with:

    1. a bobbin of thread (pre-loaded in the awl handle), and 
    2. two needles (stored under the chuck lock of the awl); 

On SpeedyStitcher, you can read step-by-step instructions to give it a try with ease.

See also sewing awl instructions in the YouTube video below. 

Speedy stitcher sewing awl leather is slightly more complex than an average sewing awl. Yet, don’t get discouraged! Silver Creek Leather Company made this technology for your benefit. 

The Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl is a great tool for sewing which is used by professionals from various fields. It is a helpful tool to repair outdoor and camping equipment, tents, athletic equipment, auto tops, sails and mooring covers, and many other things. This is an all-in-one sturdy hand tool with diamond point needles and waxed polyester thread that is built to sew a tight lock stitch. So, manually produce lock stitches, it’ll give you results like a sewing machine.

Types of leather awls

Some awls are basic and functional. In comparison, others excel in their ergonomic shape or quality of materials. 

To review the existing leather sewing awls, we reached out to Liberty Leather Goods

Let’s see what we’re talking about when it comes to various types of this instrument:



Good to know

Awl haft

Shoemakers widely use a sewing awl haft. Knobbed end enhances an easy grasp and prevents slipping.

The awl haft blade can slide in and out. It provides a collet to let you customize the depth of the blade.

Awl haft has a handle with interchangeable blades. Why is it handy?

    • you have a single handle and collect multiple blades, so your storage or sewing table aren’t overloaded,
    • you spend less because blades alone are cheaper than a whole object with a blade fixed to a handle;

Collar awl

Saddle makers habitually use this type of awl. These awls pierce leather and create a slit allowing it to either push/pull thicker lacing through.

An extended tang of about 8″-10″ (20-25 cm) has sharp cutting edges on the end. 

Curved awl

Outstanding for creating holes for stitching rounded or curved leather pieces together. 

The curve in this awl allows for more agile precision, for example, if you don’t want to penetrate the leather fully. In addition, this type will come in handy for sewers who wish to adjust the pressure applied by hand.

Which one to choose for your project?

For example, collar awls are great for making large holes through thick leather. What’s more, these holes are aesthetically pleasing.  Thanks to the slit shape, the leather remains flat.

On the other hand, a curved awl creates a more natural opening to reflect the curve of the final stitch. It also translates to: 

    • tighter stitching, and 
    • better control of the piece’s looks; 

And you know what? We’re not even done yet!

Here is the next portion of sewing awl types, according to Liberty Leather Goods.



Good to know

Diamond awl

If you want a tool to make a hole in leather without leaving a large opening, try this one. Where does the name come from? These awls are diamond-shaped. It refers to the four corners coming to a pointed blade and a very sharp point. 

    1. The sharp point allows it to cut into the leather.
    2. The diamond tip pushes through (leaving an “x” on the leather).

Thanks to this particular “x” cut, a thread-and-needle action forms a tight and pretty seam.

Lacing awl

It works wonders when you need to pull leather lacing through holes.

Lacing is:

    • heavier, and 
    • thicker 

than thread.

You need a larger, sturdier tool to hook and pull it through.

How to recognize this awl? Its tip has a small hooked end or an eye (needle-like but larger).

Sewing awl/Needle awl

This tool is one of the most helpful. It functions like a thick, strong needle. The only difference is that instead of struggling to push the “needle” through with a hand, you do it with a handle.

This awl has a pointed needle end and an eye on it.

This sturdy tool is helpful (sometimes necessary), as leathers tend to be tough and thick materials.  

Again, the choice is yours. 

Leather diamond awls come in various sizes. Pick the size that you want your hole to be. 

Pick the sewing awl type that’s most suitable for the piece of garment or accessory you’re working on. 

When you choose among the best option, keep in mind that the handle of an awl haft has to:

    • be is sturdy, and 
    • fit comfortably in your hand; 

Go for sewing awl Michaels or other brands that satisfy your needs. To research them well, feel free to check these 5 top picks by ArtNews.

How to use a leather sewing awl
Image source: Leather Skill 

Frequently asked questions

Do Leather Sewing Awls Use Different Types Of Needles?

Typically, two types of needles are used for stitching leather: a straight needle and a curved needle. When sewing two pieces of leather together, it is important to note that you will primarily use a straight needle.

However, in situations where the backside of the leather is not accessible, a curved needle is necessary. Additionally, curved needles are commonly utilized in conjunction with leather awls, but their main application is for repairing leather.

What type of material would a sewing awl be used on?

When working with thicker materials such as leather, canvas, and denim, seamstresses frequently prefer to use an awl instead of a needle and thread.

Awl needles are narrower, thicker, and stronger than knife blades, allowing them to easily puncture through tough materials while maintaining their durability under downward pressure.

Do You Need To Maintain A Leather Sewing Awl?

Although sewing awls have a long lifespan, it’s important to inspect the condition of your leather sewing awl prior to beginning the stitching process. Over time, using a leather sewing awl can dull the needle.

If you encounter a dull needle, you can simply replace it with a new one that is compatible. Additionally, it’s advisable to periodically check the bobbin and other components before beginning any stitching work.