How To Sew Thin Leather – Step by Step Guide

Last Update On: December 22, 2020 // Article Written By:

Are you thinking about making beautiful leather items by sewing thin leather? Or are you trying to repair a leather item by sewing and you’re worried about not being able to stitch the leather without an industrial sewing machine?

Well, we are here to tell you that you can easily sew through leather without using an industrial-grade sewing machine provided that you have the right tools for the job.

How To Sew Thin Leather

Today we will delve deep into this topic and we will explain to you how to sew thin leather.

So, why wait around? Let’s begin.

The Tools You’ll Require to Sew Thin Leather

Let me get this clear, you won’t be needing an industrial-grade sewing machine in order to sew thin leather. That would be overkill. Fortunately, you can sew leather with your regular sewing machine if you have the right tools by your side.

However, you should be mindful while sewing. That’s because if your sewing project requires you to sew multiple layers of leather together, then a traditional sewing machine will fail to do so.

So, you should plan according to the type of project you’re trying to do. And you might even have to sew the leather by hand. And so, be prepared for that.

And before we talk about the tools, you’ll need to sew leather, a word of caution. Remember, leather is not like cloth and it won’t allow you to make any mistakes. So if you botch the first attempt, that leather will be ruined.

Without any further ado, let’s discuss the tools and equipment you’ll require for sewing thin leather:

Needle

I know, it’s kind of obvious that you’ll need a needle to sew leather. Duh! But it’s still worth talking about which type of needle you’ll be needing. There are specialized needles in the market that are tailor-made for sewing leather.

These needles have a wedge-point that can easily penetrate through leather and they don’t even make large holes in it. This type of needles come in a variety of sizes. And you should pick the one that matches the thickness of the leather that you’re trying to sew.

Typically, you can sew up to three or four layers of thin leather using these special needles.

Pressure Feet  

You can use a regular stitching foot for your everyday sewing tasks. But for sewing leather, you’ll require a specialized sewing machine feet. We suggest you buy a zipper foot made of Teflon as that can easily go over leather.

Please make sure that the sewing machine pressure feet that you’re buying fits your sewing machine.

Thread

You should buy thick polyester threads while sewing leather. Ordinary cotton threads just won’t cut it. Those threads aren’t that durable and they will break if you  

try to sew leather using them.

You could also try using silk threads for sewing thin leather as are also quite effective. However, pure silk threads are a bit expensive so, you should probably go for a polyester thread.

Moreover, the thread’s thickness has to be compatible with the width of the needle’s eye.

Leather Cutting Equipment

You’ll need tools that can cut leather easily. I would suggest you use sharp shears in order to cut the leather. Shears are effective at cutting leather. However, if you have to cut a large amount of leather, you should use a rotary cutter.

But be careful while using a rotary cutter. That’s because these cutters are tough to handle. One wrong move and it could destroy your leather.

Just use a rotary cutter for straight cuts and use the shears for complex cuts around the edges. Also, remember to use pins to hold the leather down while cutting. You can also use some kind of weight to hold the leather in place.

How to Sew Thin Leather?

Now that you have all of the necessary equipment for sewing leather, let’s start sewing, shall we?

Here are the steps that you’ll have to take in order to sew thin leather:

  1. At first, you put the leather needle in the sewing machine and thread the needle and you’re good to go.
  2. Remember to always sew only two layers of leather at a time. For the first couple of stitches hold the thread so that it does not go back into the sewing machine.
  3. If you’ve never sewn leather before on a home sewing machine, you should practice sewing on scrap leather so that you don’t botch the actual task. The reason for that is, each stitch you make leaves a hole in the leather. So, if you make any mistake that leather will become unusable.
  4. At the end of the line of stitching tie a knot before you cut the threads. Hold the threads in place and tie a knot. After that cut the threads to about ¼ inch and then use a lighter and burn and mesh down the melted blob. And make sure the leather doesn’t get burned.
  5.  After that take a sewing machine foot and attach it to the sewing machine around the needle. Try to use wheeled/roller feet that are specifically designed for use on leather. However, a regular foot can also get the job done.
  6. Finally, if you’re using stretchy leather and you sew it anyway. The stretch could make holes appear in the stitch line. And that will look terrible. You can solve this problem by using iron-on interfacing. It stabilizes the leather and makes stretchy leather behave as it should.
  7. Overlap the leather and the iron-on interfacing. And put an ironing cloth over them and use your iron to press them. This will connect the leather and the interfacing together.  We suggest you don’t use a regular ironing board for this task as that will leave a grid pattern on the leather. Use a felted wool mat for your ironing board.

Tips and Tricks for Sewing Thin Leather

Sewing leather might seem a bit tricky to you and that’s why we will discuss some essential tips and tricks that will make it easy for you. Let’s start:

  1. First of all, just forget about being a perfectionist while sewing leather using a home sewing machine. Unless you have an industrial-grade sewing machine, your stitch work won’t be perfect. If you’re using a home sewing machine, the quality of your stitch will depend on the quality of your sewing machine; it’s as simple as that.
  2. The first thing that you should get before starting your project, is leather needles. These needles have an extra hook on them that helps punch through the leather in order to pull the thread back. Also, try to buy a needle that’s larger in size.
  3. Next, you must use a heavier thread while sewing thin leather. You can use a leather thread or a heavy-duty all-purpose thread.
  4. You should also use wonder clips while sewing leather. That’s because if you punch a hole into the leather, that hole stays on the leather. And that’s why you don’t want to pin your leather down. A better alternative would be to use clips to hold the leather in place.
  5. You’re going to have to use a different type of presser foot while stitching leather. We recommend you use a rolling presser foot as they are easy to handle.
  6. While cutting the leather, you should use a rotatory cutter and a mat. And don’t forget to use a ruler if you want to get straight lines.
  7. You should go slow while sewing the leather on your machine. Otherwise, the stitch could become crocked if you’re not careful.

How to Sew Thin Leather by Hand? Step by Step Guide

Now that we have discussed how to sew thin leather using a home sewing machine, it’s time for us to talk about how you could accomplish that same task by hand. Yes, you’ve read that right, you can actually sew thin leather by hand.

Here are the tools that you’ll need:

  1. Overstitch wheel
  2. Waxed Thread
  3. Stitching Groover/Awl
  4. Rubber Cement

Here are the steps that you’ll have to follow:

  1. Utilize the Rubber Cement

In order to hand sew thin leather, you first have to use rubber cement. It will hold the leather together while you sew. And rubber cement isn’t that strong and you can change the position of the leather pieces in order to line things up perfectly.

And don’t try to use any glue to keep the pieces together as rubber cement is a much better choice.

  • Make a Groove

Take a stitching groover and make a grove onto the leather. It will make a straight line throughout the leather that will guide you while you’re sewing. And it will make a trench on the leather that will make the stitch remain firm.

  • Stitch Spacing

After that, take an overstitch wheel and make thread spacing on the groove that you’ve just made. It will help the stitches sink into the leather. You can use overstitch wheels of various sizes. The width of the spacing will depend on the size of your overstitch wheel.

  • Stitching Awl 

Use a stitching awl in order to make the holes that you’ll require for sewing the leather straps together. A stitching awl kind of looks like an ice picker. It can make fine holes into thin leather. Make a piercing on each of the dents that were left by the overstitch wheel. And try to make the holes as uniform as possible.

  • Put Thread into the Needle

Now it’s time for you to get the needle prepared for stitching. Carefully put the thread through both of the holes in the needle.

There are two methods of stitching leather by hand. And those are the saddle stitch method and the stitching pony method. If you want to stitch in the saddle stitch method, you’ll require two needles, and you’ll use a needle on each end of a thread.

  • Stitch the Leather

Finally, you’re now ready to start stitching. Start stitching through each of the holes of the leather. And make sure you sew through each of the holes using both of the needles.

Keep sewing using this technique. And if your needle gets stuck on the holes, take the stitching awl and make the holes a bit bigger.

  • Finish the Stitch

Now lock down the stitch. Make a knot at the end of your stitch and cut down the extra piece of thread. And you’re done.

Final Thoughts

Sewing thin leather might seem like a tough project to take. But we can assure you that it’s not that difficult if you know the right method and you have the correct tools by your side.

And hopefully, our detailed guide about “How to sew thin leather” has provided you with the knowledge required for your leather project. Now you can take up any leather sewing tasks (whether big or small) with confidence.

About Haven Erdman Website Author

About Haven Erdman

Hi there, this is Haven Erdman, the owner, and editor-in-chief of the “sewing associate” website. I am a full-time businessman who owns several sewing shops. I started my sewing journey from home when I was 19 years old. Apart from the businesses, I am a passionate writer who has featured in several fashion blogs. I love to share my experience in the industry with others through writing.

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