Sewing Leather

Sewing Leather―Is It Possible to Make Fantastic Leather Items at Home?

Leather is a spectacular material, but we don’t indulge in sewing leather at home often.

It’s because it seems so complex and sophisticated. We barely think about doing it on our own. 

We tend to think: sewing is fabulous, but sewing leather? No, thanks.

Sewing leather
Image source: cottonbro z Pexels

Surprisingly enough, leather sewing techniques are not unattainable for an average sewer. 

More than that! You’ll learn them over the single read of this article. 

So, get all comfy on your sewing chair. A couple of juicy sewing leather tips are about to leak out in the paragraphs below.

Leather jacket
Image source: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

How to sew leather?

There is only one way to discover how to sew leather. We need to ask experts. 

First off, a quick presentation of the protagonist.

Leather is a hard, durable, and expensive material. 

There are different types of leather:

    • bonded leather, 
    • corrected grain leather, and 
    • full-grain leather;

Do you know what one reason to get your hands-on experience with sewing leather is? Unfortunately, outsourcing this activity might be super expensive. 

Ready to kick-off?

We understand your beginner’s “stage fright.” Venturing outside of cotton may seem scary at first. We get that!

How to sew leather
Image source: Karolina Grabowska z Pexels

But let’s calm our nerves. 

See “Basic Tips for Sewing Leather Goods” by Stock & Barrel Co Leathercraft. It will release some beginners’ tensions. 

It’s always best to start in an excellent company:

Working collectively usually takes the initial anxiety away. We hope it worked for you!

Sewing leather by hand
Image source: Carter Yocham on Unsplash

If you’re learning how to sew leather, it’s worth reaching out to these tips by:

We also can’t wait to present you 13 tools and tips for sewing leather by Underground Crafter. This collection of hacks guides you through: 

Black leather fabric
Image source: Apartment ABC 

What to sew leather with?―tools

In sewing leather, as in every other sewing field, tools do half of the work. 

Let’s tackle the most critical functions of sewing leather tools. 

Have you taken care of your workplace with a couple of sewing room ideas? Now it’s time to take up a new challenge.

Can you sew leather if you’re not prepared? Not really. 

Melly Sews provides us with plenty of tips about sewing tools, and not only on her YouTube channel. 

She shows us her needle and thread to sew leather a whole week before she teaches us to sew leather. 

Her idea is perfect as we need time to collect sewing tools. Also, some sewing supplies aren’t always at hand. 

Genuine leather is one of the oldest and most luxurious materials. Therefore, we want to treat it with due respect and preparation. 

Can you sew leather
Image source: Anna Shvets z Pexels

Is there any particular needle and thread to sew leather? Do we need any extraordinary sewing supplies to make it happen? 

Let’s see what Underground Crafter says about sewing kit essentials for sewing through leather. 

Tool Function An extra tip
pattern cutting tools For starters, you shouldn’t pin leather to a paper pattern before cutting it. Otherwise, pricks of sewing pins will damage the leather. 

You can:

    1. use Clover Wonder Clips to attach the pattern to the leather, or 
    2. apply ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape to the wrong side of the leather.
presser-foot Be aware that leather doesn’t slide smoothly through your sewing machine equipped with a regular presser foot. That’s why you should change it, for example, to a Teflon foot. It’s a non-stick foot that enables leather to glide, just as it would be a typical fabric.  Remember that leather craft sewing is pretty amazing when you have the right tools. 
thread Important fact: a cotton thread will fray and erode over time due to the chemicals used to tan leather. Use a polyester, silk, or nylon thread instead.  A thread should be medium weight. Read about sewing threads types and tips
needle Celebrate starting a new sewing adventure, buying a brand-new needle for this project.  Consider getting an actual leather needle. Read about it on Apartment ABC
a spare piece of leather

Guess why you need a spare piece of sewing fabric every time you start a project? Thanks to it, you can try out new:

    • settings, 
    • feet, 
    • needles, 
    • tools, etc. 

before taking the final material in your hands. 

Thanks to a spare piece of fabric, you cut down the possibility of destroying your garment. 

When you get to your sewing cutting table to work on patterns, make sure about one thing. Check if your fabric sewing scissors or rotary cutter are sharp enough. 

Dull blades will make your leather very sad. Trust us on this one. Leather is not a forgiving material. 

If you try to sew leathers with a regular needle, you can be sure it will break. 

So don’t even try! 

Apply only the right needle on the leather fabric.

Leather sewing tools
Image source: Kevin Yudhistira Alloni on Unsplash

When you’re changing the needle, never forget to cover the plate. 

Watch out that your old needle doesn’t fall into the bobbin area.

The heaviest weight of the thread to use on your domestic sewing machine is 46 size.

Other tips? Grab these:

    1. change your stitch length
    2. slow down
    3. think about your seams
    4. be patient

Read more about it on Underground Crafter.

Leather glove
Image source: Joshua Reddekopp on Unsplash

Little Stitch Studio Norfolk adds a couple of machine and hand leather sewing tools. 

They can help you pump up your sewing experience. 

Tool Function An extra tip
Microtex sewing machine needles  They have a unique shape and point designed to pierce leather without struggle.
mallet If you learn to sew leather, you should have it in your sewing kit.

Its function is to tap seams and flatten them lightly. 

Mallet can be made of:

    • rubber, or 
    • bakelite; 
double-sided tape

You can use this sort of tape to hold layers of leather together:

    • for stitching,
    • to hold seams flat; 
Remember to test it on scrap leather before.
leather hole punch  Suppose that you have a hole to make in leather (read how to sew a hole). Use this tool to punch neat and clean holes in leather and canvas.  A leather hole punch will come in handy when you’re preparing straps for hardware. 
straight awl It serves to punch holes or enlarge existing ones. 

An awl looks a bit like an ice pick. 

It has a diamond-shaped blade with sharp cutting edges.

rubber cement Perfect for gluing seams flat.

walking foot

even-feed foot  

Use it if you’re aiming to evenly feed multiple layers of fabric or leather through your machine.  

If you wish to avoid:

    • shifting, 
    • dragging or 
    • puckering

of leather, use this leather sewing foot.

According to Art Of Manliness, it’s convenient to have also:

(Mind that some of them are substitutes for professional tools.)

    • waxed thread,
    • ice pick,
    • a hammer, and
    • a fork;

Nota bene: We often use waxed thread in crafts and sewing applications. It’s created by lightly coating polyester or nylon thread with wax. 

It isn’t much different from other types of thread, but you can notice that:

    • it appears darker than its original color,
    • it has a glossy finish; 

Waxed thread comes in handy for: 

    1. hand sewing, 
    2. beadwork, 
    3. leatherwork and 
    4. jewelry making;

(by Infobloom)

What do you think? Do you have your favorite sewing tools for leather?

How do you sew leather by hand
Image source: Anna Shvets z Pexels

We’ve paid some attention to sewing supplies, so you’re not caught off guard when sewing leather. 

But we also have several ways to turn this experience into an even more professional one. 

Take a look at different types of woven labels by Super Label Store

The idea is to turn casual garments and accessories into stylish items. Trust us, with these labels, your projects will look nothing like homemade (if they ever had). 

Can you imagine anything more prone to take you fast at the chic level than having customized labels?

You can choose from:

    1. woven labels
    2. care labels
    3. hang tags

Woven label nobbon round stitch neck gallory

It looks like, with all the information, you’re ready to get to the core of the sewing leather issue. 

Let’s proceed and learn to sew leather in practice.  

Sewing leather

Art Of Manliness thoroughly explained sewing leather and other tough materials.  

There is a slight difference between sewing leather and vinyl. If you wish, dig into it with Love Sew.

But now, let’s go through a step-by-step sewing leather guide.

First off, let’s see what’s the general sequence of moves:

    1. Prepare the leather
    2. Set the spacing
    3. Create holes
    4. Sew

Michael Magnus, in his YouTube video, explains in detail his leather sewing technique. 

He’s a natural, one would say. Well, he’s in the middle of the forest while working on his leather scrap, indeed.

Michael Magnus taught us the basic technique for accomplishing the saddle stitch. 

This one is used often when learning leatherwork.  

It useful for repairing 

    • canvas, 
    • sleeping bags, and 
    • other equipment when mending is necessary;

Sewing leather is different by hand and by machine. That’s why, to be precise in explaining it, we have to present two parallel options.  

Let’s pass on to the next chapter of our leather sewing adventure―sewing leather by hand.

Sewing through leather
Image source: Kevin Menajang z Pexels

How do you sew leather by hand?

Sewing leather by hand is easier than it seems. 

It’s because this material is natural. Humans have a kind of primordial ability to deal with it.  

It doesn’t mean that a nice little YouTube video won’t do. Of course, we need support. 

Lady leather jacket
Image source: Hüseyin Topcu on Unsplash

Sewing clothes by hand has a long tradition. It begins where the cavemen put their first clothes on. 

Years had passed before we came up with the sewing machine idea (1829). 

A curious fact is that we still love to sew by hand despite having all the best mechanical aids. 

Whether you’re all into sewing stitches or adding fancy embroidery, your hand is enough. And so it is for your leather!

Brown leather jacket
Image source: Mikail Duran on Unsplash

How to sew leather by hand?

There is another YouTube video tutorial “How to Hand Stitch Leather” by J.H.Leather for enthusiasts. We’ll learn how to handle the leather using only hand sewing. Look:

As Martha Stewart claims:

“The saddle stitch offers a stronger suture than the traditional lock stitch created by sewing machines.”

No wonder many stitches choose handwork over mechanical processes. 

Collection of leather
Image source: Alessandro Bogliari on Unsplash

Let’s learn how do you sew leather by hand with Martha Stewart:

    1. Preparation

Gather an appropriate set of tools:

      • leather stitching needles 
      • waxed thread 
      • rubber cement 
      • stitching groover 
      • overstitch wheel 
      • stitching awl 

      2. Using rubber cement

Rubber cement works wonders when creating a flexible, repositionable bond. It’s light enough to allow lining up material again, in a corrected way, if you had it wrong for the first time. 

Thanks to its acid-free formula, it keeps your material away from:

      • shrinking, 
      • curling, or 
      • wrinkling;

Rubber cement helps hold the leather together while sewing.

How to use it?

      • Apply a light coat of rubber cement to both pieces of leather.
      • Press the pieces together when the cement is nearly dry.

How to sew leather tutorial
Image source: Little Studio Norfolk

      3. Work a groove into the leather

Now leather pieces are lined up, secured, and your leather waits for your next move.

Put a groove on the leather with a stitching groover. 

What for?

      • this tool presents a straight line to stitch on, and 
      • it removes a small amount of leather;

If you wish to know more about grooving leather, go to see the tutorial by Mark The Braider.

Removing some leather from the material provides a trench that the stitch can sink into. It helps to protect the thread.

Working a groove into the leather
Image source: Martha Stewart

      4. Mark stitch spacing

Now let’s move to using the groove we’ve just made. 

Use an overstitch wheel to mark exactly where to stitch.

We want to mark the thread spacing by creating a shallow channel to sink your stitches further into the leather. 

      5. Use a stitching awl

Now it’s the best time to use a stitching awl. We want to pierce holes for sewing into the leather.  

A round metal point would tear holes, and we’re not aiming at this effect!

What should you do precisely?

Using a stitching awl, pierce through the leather on the dots you created by the overstitch wheel. 

Keep this tool at a 90-degree angle to ensure that the spacing is consistent on each side.

Needle and thread to sew leather
Image source: Martha Stewart

    1. Lock the needle

We’re almost there, so let’s recall some basic know-hows. 

For hand-sewn leather projects, always equip yourself with a thread that measures three times the length of the area coverage.

For the saddle stitch, use two needles, one on either end of the thread each. 

Lock the needle into the thread. Here is how by Martha Stewart:

    • “Run the waxed thread through the needle eyelet, then pull it through further by about an inch. 
    • Next, pierce the thread with the needlepoint and push this loop around the needle upwards towards the eyelet. 
    • With the end of the thread that initially passed through the eyelet, pull out the slack created with this adjustment. 
    • Holding the needle, pull the loop over the eyelet to lock the needle in place. 

Repeat on the other end, so you have two needles on the thread, one on each end.”


    1. Stitch

So here we are, at the actual “stitching station.” All get off the sewing-leather-preparation train! And let’s see what we should do next. 

Sew through the first hole.

Exciting, isn’t it?

Ensure that the lengths of the thread are even on both sides. 

Sew through the same hole with both needles, each time passing through it from opposite sides. 

Continue using this technique back-and-forth until you’re done with this piece.

Working with leather sewing
Image source: Martha Stewart

If your needles get stuck in the leather, widen the holes further. 

To do it, you can use:

      • the stitching awl, or 
      • a pair of needle-nose pliers;
    1. Lock the stitch 

When you’re done with stitching, lock the stitch into place. It’s a typical method:

      • sew back a few stitches, 
      • pull the thread down snug, and 
      • cut the thread flush against the material;

What to sew leather with
Image source: Marcel Strauß on Unsplash

Sewing leather with a sewing machine

Stitching with hand leather sewing tools is awesome. Yet, most of us will stick to using a sewing machine, anyway. 

It’s understandable. They made it to make our lives easier, so why not use it?

Do you know what the steps to take to create breathtaking leather projects are?

Here is a sequence of nine points to follow on your way by Janes Knitting Kits:

    1. Prepare the leather
    2. Change sewing machine foot
    3. Change the needle
    4. Change the stitch length
    5. Use the right thread
    6. Don’t pin
    7. Secure threads ends with a knot
    8. Always test first
    9. Take time

Why is taking time so important? According to Atelier Louise, unlike with regular fabric, when sewing with leather you can’t just unpick and redo things. 

Every action will leave traces. For example, holes from the original line of stitching remain in the piece of leather forever. 

You must be careful. Take your time while working with leather to achieve satisfactory results. 

Leather craft sewing
Image source: Ivars Krutainis on Unsplash

Professor Pincushion is irreplaceable. These brilliant hacks and a fair amount of knowledge on sewing will help everyone succeed.

The video describes ways to work with leather, suede, and vinyl. 

Make sure that the leather you choose is thin and lightest weight possible. Otherwise, your homey sewing machine won’t take it, and you’ll need an industrial model.  

How to sew thin leather? The video explains it well:

Leather sewing foot
Image source: Diego Pontes z Pexels

There is so much more to know about sewing leather. 

For example, 

    1. check how to sew a zipper,  
    2. learn how to sew leather to fabric, and
    3. watch the video “Baby Lock Tips and Tricks – Sewing Leather with Russell Conte.” 

It’s never a bad thing to know too much! 

Sewing leather upholstery by hand

As they say: The appetite grows with eating.

It won’t surprise us if you become tempted to update your home upholstery.

We’re here to help you, so keep on reading. 

We came across this exhaustive guide by Delia Creates and shared the best bits. 

Black leather car seat
Image source: Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

How to sew leather slipcovers?

For starters, here is a necessary set of sewing tools:

    • walking foot
    • leather sewing needle
    • heavy duty thread, all-purpose is okay
    • regular office stapler
    • Clover Clips
    • permanent marker
    • quilter’s ruler
    • heavy duty scissors
    • eyelet tool and grommets
    • staple gun

And here is a half-an-hour-long YouTube film on how to get to grips with handling upholstery.

Watch it not to end up as a bundle of nerves (sewing leather requires more precision than cotton canvas). 

First things first, make sure you are using upholstery leather. 

Then, follow these simple steps:

    1. Measure your chair and make a pattern.

And here is an extra tip from Delia Creates:

“I used as exact measurements as I could, but I did not account for the curve in the back of the chair. If you run into the same issue, and if I were to do this again, I would make the back front piece a little narrower, so the leather would stretch better on the back.” 

      2. Cut and prep leather pieces

      3. Sew the seat

      4. Sew the back

      5. Sew the seat and back together

      6. Add vent holes and cover the chair

How to sew leather upholstery
Image source: Delia Creates

After having your upholstery turning marvelous, what about discovering new sewing room ideas?  

Or maybe you wish to reach out to Super Label Store to turn your DIY upholstery into a chic product ready to sell? 

It looks like you can’t wait to go back to your sewing table and we’re not even surprised!