Sewing machines for sewing leather

Written by jillian downer
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Sewing machines for sewing leather
Machines for sewing leather are designed to handle heavy-duty thread and sturdy materials. (

There are several different types of sewing machines available for use in industrial material making and for at-home use. While modern personal sewing machines are built to handle just about anything, a sewing machine made specifically for heavy-duty materials is required when working with leather and other sturdy fabrics like patents, plastics, canvas, webbing and vinyl. For many years, industrial sewing machines were the only kind of machines that could sustain the wear and tear of leather-working, but with the advancements in technology and machinery, there are now several at-home options available to people who sew who wish to work with leather.


Thomas Saint, an English inventor, was the first to be issued a patent for a sewing machine that sewn leather in 1790. Though this invention went down in history as a failed attempt, it was the beginning of a sewing machine revolution. In 1826, a rather crude machine for sewing leather was developed by Henry Lye. Lye's machine could only withstand a few basic stitches before it required an extensive amount of rethreading and adjustment, so it was never truly recognised as a working machine. The first functioning industrial sewing machine was invented in 1830 by French tailor Barthelemy Thimonnior, who used his device not to sew leather but for heavy-duty material used in the French armies' military uniforms. The first American patent for a sewing machine was issued to Elias Howe. Howe's machine was the first to use two thread sources to create a lockstitch. Howe had difficulties marketing his design. It wasn't until 1851, when Issac Singer--using Howe's lockstitch invention--made the first commercially successful machine. Singer's mechanical sewing machine was sturdy enough to sew all fabrics, including leather.


Sewing machines for sewing leather are typically sturdier and heavier than traditional mechanical sewing machines, though they look relatively similar. They are designed to handle heavy-duty thread and sturdy materials, so they are often found to be much slower than other sewing machines. Their maximum speed is 800 RPM. A typical sewing machine for sewing leather has a compound feeding mechanism to increase the ability to sew multiple layers of heavy material. Modern sewing machines for leather automatically adjust the tension, but they can be manually altered as well. The flatbed found on traditional mechanical sewing machines has usually been replaced by a cylindrical arm on sewing machines for sewing leather, because that allows for more maneuverability when working with the sturdy fabric. Most machines, however, do come with a flatbed attachment. Because sewing machines made for leather-working often work with saddles and harnesses, there are special attachments included for these specialised works.


Sewing machines that are capable of sewing leather can be used for a much broader range of materials. Besides being used in fashion and accessories like jackets, purses, belts and shoes, sewing machines for sewing leather are capable of sewing heavy textiles. They can be used on everything from saddle skirts and gun holsters to saddles and harnesses. Sewing machines for sewing leather work in the same way as traditional sewing machines, by using a straight needle and hook needle to create chain stitches. When the top needle goes through the material, it makes a loop on the underside. This loop is then secured with the thread from a second source, which creates the traditional chain stitch we know today. Hand sewing creates a much different stitch than a mechanical sewing machine, because it only uses one source of thread.


Nowadays, boutique designers and young entrepreneurs use sewing machines designed for sewing leather to start their careers as young designers in the accessories market. Leather bags, shoes and other accessories once required designers to outsource their designs, but with the new improvements and accessibility of these sturdy sewing machines, more and more creative designers who are interested in leather and other materials, rather than typical clothing fashion, are able to start their companies with limited capital.


Sewing machines designed for sewing leather are made in various styles and designs to aid in the design and working of leather products. Because of the extensive products produced from leather materials, the sewing machines must be much more versatile than other machines. Sewing machines made for leather sewing come in a flatbed design--which is similar to typical traditional sewing machines and has a flat surface with the arm of the machine, which houses the needle, raised above the bed. Postbed sewing machines are designed with a vertical sewing surface, permitting the designer to use both hands when working with the material. A cylinderbed machine is made with a horizontal cylinder surface, which allows the person sewing the leather to work on smaller areas like the corner of a small bag or the cuff of a jacket. All of the above machines are available in single- and double-needle configurations.

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