TOP 5 Leather tips and tricks
#2 Sew slowly. This fixes so many problems: skipped stitches, bunching and stretching, breaking a needle at a thick spot…
#3 Lengthen your stitch. This produces a cleaner top stitch and it allows the leather to move more smoothly through the feed dogs as you sew.
#4 Use a walking foot. If numbers 2 and 3 aren’t helping as much as you had hoped, you may want to use a walking foot. You may also like a Teflon coated foot, if your leather is getting stuck to the foot as you sew. If a new foot is not in your budget, try laying tissue paper over your material. I personally do not prefer to use tissue paper because it’s hard to see exactly where I’m sewing, but many use this method and like it. Edited to add – I just saw that The Sewing Rabbit posted about this roller foot that is great for sewing with leather! Go HERE for all the details.
#5 Use clips. Quilter’s clips, or binder clips (which is what I use). Pins may make permanent holes in your material, depending on which kind you are using. This is most common in vinyl, a synthetic cousin to leather. Clips help you hold your pieces together without making unwanted holes. They are great for thick layers as well.
Just in the time for the holidays…I personally can’t wait to sew up some leather goodies as presents.
Do you have more sewing with leather tips? I would love to hear them!
Jessica Abbott says
i am so in love with these shoes!!! thanks for including me in the round up Delia!
Thanks Jessica! I can’t wait to reveal the five other pairs I made and the new pattern!
Do you have a preference as to where to shop for leather? Online or in store? I know some people check their local upholstery stores but there are none where I live so I have been looking online but I find it a bit tricky.
That is a great question Ashley! I don’t have a preference. I just buy it where I can find it, which as you mentioned can sometimes be either difficult or costly. If you have a leather hide store near you like Tandy Leather, then you can go and get large hides or any pieces they have marked down or scraps. Hobby Lobby sells leather and you can use a coupon for that to help with the cost. They have small hides in various sizes (often suede or thin leather), and scrap bags which are super cheap and sometimes come with lots of colors. I am still picked out pieces from a scrap bag I bought there three years ago.
And…I just found this great online shop that has very large hides for relatively good prices. I mean it is leather and these are huge hides so expect to pay around $50. But you can get a LOT of projects out of it, so it is an investment. They are called the Leather Hide Store: https://www.leatherhidestore.com. Look in the remnant section for affordable prices. I am actually doing a giveaway for them probably on Monday. 🙂
Oh and of course. Check your thrift store for old jackets and purses. Leather skirts are rare but I always look in the skirt section just in case. If you go in the Spring time, they often mark down leather jackets. I once got an oversized leather jacket for 25 cents. 🙂 I hope that helps!
Love these tips! I’ve done a bit of leather-sewing before, but not a whole lot. Here’s one thing I discovered… if you have an awkward seam that clips just aren’t working on, use a thin line of hot glue to hold it together while you sew. And that’s coming from someone who hates hot glue. =)
Oh, and I bought a piece leather from http://www.theleatherguy.org/ before. It was gorgeous, and arrived quickly and in excellent shape. =)
Oooh. That’s an excellent tip! Thanks Charity!
So I recently went to Hobby lobby to see if I could find genuine leather scraps to make some baby shoes out of and the good news was I found some in fun colors! The bad news?? Right across the bottom of the bag of scraps read a disclaimer/warning about it causing fetal harm/defects! Something about the chemicals used on them…? I was baffled. WTH would people be using leather scraps for if not to WEAR in some way?? So I thought I’d just mention that so you can make sure to check the small print on the bag if you were gonna make something to wear out of leather scraps from Hobby Lobby…
Whoa! Crazy! Thanks for the heads up!! I have been buying most of my leather from the Tandy Leather factory more recently and they didn’t come with those warnings. That is so good to know about the Hobby Lobby leather though. Ugh. Sorry for referring you to them!
Those shoes are the sweetest things I have seen in ages. I have to learn! x
These are really helpful tips! I have yet to sew with leather, but I am loving a lot of leather projects right now, so I will probably be using these in the not so far future.
This is awesome! How ambitious do you think it is to sew a sofa cushion out of leather? I’m not a beginning seamstress, but I’ve never sewn with leather before… I have a small hole in my sofa cushion and want to try to diy before i fork out the $$$ for an upholsterer…
Sorry that I haven’t responded to this yet! Um…I haven’t sewn leather for furniture before but I imagine that it would be similar to fabric. Depending on how stretchy it is and the thickness of the leather matters. Some leathers like suede are very stretchy and harder to work with but that can be fixed with a walking foot, patience and a lengthened stitch. If your leather is too thick you need a special sewing machine. It may also be tricky to try to match leather to an existing couch, but not impossible. You might try making it a contrasting couch cushion instead. I think that would be super cool. I don’t think it’s too ambitious but I think the shopping and research will probably take longer than actually sewing it. You can do it! 🙂