How to Sew Leather on a Home Sewing Machine

Written by shellie braeuner Google
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How to Sew Leather on a Home Sewing Machine
Leather gives an elegant look to many garments. (leather image by Zbigniew Nowak from

Leather lends class and durability to garments and crafts. There are several different types of leather. Some are made from the hides of cows, pigs, sheep and goats, while the more exotic leathers come from deer, elk and even ostrich skin. The weight of the leather refers to the thickness of the leather. Suede is the lightest, softest form of leather, while rawhide is the heaviest and thickest. Most garment weight leather is soft enough to be gathered and can be sewn on a regular sewing machine.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Leather needle
  • Heavy-duty polyester thread
  • Scrap leather
  • Small bulldog clips
  • Hot glue gun
  • Double sided tape

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  1. 1

    Remove the regular sewing needle from the sewing machine. There is a small screw above and to the right of the needle. It usually has ridged or flanged sides to make it easy to turn with your fingers. Turn the screw toward the front of the machine until the needle slips out of its housing.

  2. 2

    Slide the leather needle into the needle housing on the sewing machine. Make sure that the flat side of the needle faces the back of the sewing machine. The leather needle isn't round like a regular sewing needle. Instead, the needle is triangular, with three small cutting surfaces to slice through the leather rather than puncture it.

  3. 3

    Thread the machine with the heavy duty polyester thread. Fill the bobbin with the thread according to your machine's directions.

  4. 4

    Loosen the thread tension as much as possible. Stitch a few lines on the scrap leather. Tighten the tension a little bit at a time until the stitches are uniform on both sides of the leather.

  5. 5

    Hold the leather to be sewn together with small bulldog clips. Do not pin the leather together. This makes holes that will mar the look of the garment.

  6. 6

    Start sewing the seam along the allowance. Do not start the seam at the edge of the garment. Instead, start the seam with the presser foot completely on the leather. This gives a cleaner seam.

  7. 7

    Sew the entire seam. Do not use the reverse at the end of the seam. Instead run the seam off the end of the leather. Cut the thread, leaving a long tail. Turn the seam around. Use the hand wheel and lower the needle into one of the holes already cut in the leather. Slowly stitch the seam, matching the needle holes, and run the seam off the end of the garment. Cut the thread with long tails.

  8. 8

    Tie the long tails together on each end of the seam. Heat the hot glue gun. Hold the tip of the glue gun against the thread close to the knots. This melts the thread, sealing the seam.

Tips and warnings

  • When sewing an applique, hold the leather in place with double sided tape while stitching it down.
  • Keep fingers from the needle while sewing.
  • Use care when melting the threads.

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