Easy Step-By-Step Guide On How To Sew Leather

Do you know how to make a DIY dress? How about knitting your own scarf? If you love making new things, then you need to take it one step further! Have you ever tried to sew leather before? It may seem impossible, but we are here to tell you that it is certainly doable, and it is an extremely rewarding experience. 

Crafting tools on natural cow leather in the tailoring workshop

If you need step-by-step instructions to get started on your first leather sewing project, look no further. Below, we’ll demonstrate the hand-stitching technique and then walk you through how to use a sewing machine in your leatherworking. So, let’s get sewing, shall we?

Preparing your project for stitching

Every project needs a good plan. That’s why you should keep some things in mind before starting. Take a look!

1. Glue the leather pieces together

Use leather glue on the edges you’ll be stitching together. If you’re stitching more than two pieces of leather together, use glue between each layer.

2. Secure the thread to the needle

Pull a few centimetres of thread through the needle’s eye. Push the needle’s point through the centre of the thread, puncturing it about 2 cm from the thread’s edge.

To secure your thread, pull the short end of the thread over the long piece and through the needle’s eye. To make threading through the eye of the needle simpler, cut the thread on a slant.

Man working with leather using a thread and a needle

Replace the needle on the other end of the thread and repeat the process, so you have a needle on both ends of the thread to finish the saddle stitches. Make sure you have enough thread to finish the project without cutting and rethreading the leather needles.

3. Make a stitching line on your leather

This will ensure a straight line of stitching. Stitches can run in a straight line or in a curved groove. If you use a groove, the stitches will lie beneath the surface of the leather and be more protected from wear and friction after they are pulled tight. Make a groove in the leather using a grooving tool.

4. Select a tool to mark your stitches

There is a variety of equipment available that make stitch marking simple and accurate. Try out a few different methods and then pick the one that you feel most comfortable with. 

Over-stitching wheels create dabs in the leather to stitch on, as well as running over the stitch to press it into the leather once it’s finished. These are available in a variety of sizes, with the number indicating the number of stitches per centimetre. 

Pricking wheels pierce the stitching leather line with holes. Once the stitching is finished, do not use this to go over the piece again since the sharp edges will damage the thread.

Diamond hole punches make a sequence of markings that correspond to the shape of the diamond awl you’ll be using. Some of these hole punches can pierce all the way through both sides of the leather, resulting in permanent holes.

Grain leather. Man hand crafting leather shoes

5. Mark the stitches

Determine how far apart the stitches should be. In larger designs, longer stitches should be used, with the stitch distance decreasing as the item grows larger.

Mark the stitches with the tool you picked, scaled to the size of your leather project. Start at the beginning of the stitching line with an over-stitching wheel.

Place the wheel firmly on the line and push it down your line with a little pressure to produce the bumps where you’ll puncture holes to stitch through. These holes will need to be pierced with a diamond awl once more. 

6. Puncture holes through the stitching marks

To make a hole to stitch through, press an awl through the marks. If you’re puncturing through multiple layers of leather, this may require a lot of force.

Ensure that each hole extends the entire stitch length of each layer. It’s possible that if you used a diamond hole punch, you could penetrate all the way through to create the holes while making the marks.

How to hand sew leather

If you don’t have a sewing machine for this project, you can always do it the traditional way. Let’s dive in!

1. Push one needle from the front to the back of the leather

The needle should be able to simply pass through the hole you’ve made. Draw it entirely out of the backside after pushing it through every layer of leather.

2. Centre the thread

To ensure the thread is centred, draw both needles upward and match the points until the thread’s centre reaches the first hole.

3. Get started on your first straight stitch

Push the first needle into the second hole from front to back. Place the other needle below the stitching needle so you can grip it with your thumb and forefinger and pull it through the hole.

Man hand crafting a leather wallet with a thread and a needle

4. Make sure to do it right

Feed some of the original thread already in the hole out in the same direction as you pull the second needle. This will prevent the thread from being punctured. If the thread is punctured, pull the needle out of the thread and back through the bottom of the hole.

5. Tighten the stitch

Before moving on to the next hole, gently tug outward on both ends of the thread to tighten the stitch. There should be an equal amount of thread on both sides. Pull the back thread slightly up and the front thread slightly down. Repeat this stitching pattern until you’ve reached the end of the seam.

6. Finish the seam with a backstitch

Place the second needle on top of the first once it’s about halfway through the hole. Now, push the second needle through the top of the hole. This will be a little more challenging because there is already a thread in the hole.

Depending on the amount of tension that will be placed on the seam allowance in this area, repeat the backstitch 2 or 3 times.

7. Complete the stitch

Release the needle once you’ve done 2 or 3 backstitches. Push the front needle through the next hole, leaving one hole between the two threads.

Cut off the surplus thread as close to the leather as possible with a sharp knife, tilted slightly upward to avoid hurting the stitched thread, leaving only a small nub where the threads came through the hole.

8. Flatten the thread along the seam

Roll the over stitching wheel back over the thread, or gently tap the seam with a flat-headed hammer like a cobbler’s hammer.

How to sew leather with a sewing machine

In case you have a machine, you can follow the steps below to make this project perfect:

Sewing machine needle and gray leather with seam

1. First, examine your leather for blemishes

If your leather has any flaws, inspect it first, and make sure to buy leather with a smooth surface. The best primary material you have will determine the quality of your needle creation.

2. Create sewing patterns to guide you

A critical step in beginning your leather tapestry is tracing a template for where to cut and stitch your leather. Press knives, rotary cutters, Stanley knives, clicker presses, cardboard templates, and tracing pens are some of the tracing equipment you can use.

Cut out the pattern pieces that aren’t needed for the needlework project by tracing the piece of the leather. Also, make sure to trace the patterns on the fabric properly to avoid leaving marks on the leather.

3. Press the leather

When pressing the leather, it must be flat and fit beneath the presser foot so that the machine can sew the leather smoothly when the stitches are run.

There are a variety of methods for pressing leather, such as using double-sided tape or binder clips for a temporary hold while sewing.

Sewing process of the leather belt. Man's hands behind sewing

4. Use specialised needles

Needles come in different sizes and shapes, depending on their intended function and compatibility with the home sewing machine. Thin needles are best for stitching textiles, but thicker needles are required for sewing leathers.

5. Select nylon or polyester threads

You must consider the thickness of your leather and the durability of your thread when choosing the best sewing thread for leather.

Use nylon or polyester thread, which are made of robust heavy-duty materials and are also long-lasting. Avoid using cotton threads when sewing leather.

6. Keep the leather flat

Keep the leather flat at all times so that the sewing machine can complete the stitches without interruption. Avoid using thick interfacing items, and apply a thin glue on the leather so that it does not bulk out the leather.

The machine will work more smoothly if the leather is kept level. Also, the needle and presser foot will not be damaged.

7. Keep an eye on the needle

Make sure you check the needle every time you run stitches. The constant motion of stitching thick and durable clothes might cause the needle to lose its edge, and then you will have to replace it with a new one.

8. Parallel the leather’s surface with a plastic tool

To keep the leather stable and avoid a thick surface, use a plastic tool. It is not necessary to stitch the plastic tool to the leather. Simply insert the plastic beneath the presser foot. The goal is to make it parallel to its surface in order to effectively sew the leather. If you don’t have any plastic, you can make one out of whatever fits…

Leather crafting in workshop with tools and accessories on brown dark background

Upon reading this article, you now can start sewing leather and complete your DIY needlework masterpiece with this sewing tutorial. Leatherwork is an absolute art and whether you wish to sew by hand or using a machine, you have it all covered!

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