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10 Tips for Sewing With Leather

Tips for Sewing with Leather

Leather is the oldest material used for clothing and yet is always au currant. It can seem like such an exotic material to work with, and while it certainly can bring its own challenges, those challenges can be overcome. Here I share some tips that I have learned through my experiences in sewing with leather (for some recent examples and inspiration, see my Cooper backpack, my giant leather snail and its smaller friend). Some of these tips I was taught in the PopUp Britex class where I sewed my burgundy leather clutch.

Tools for Working With Leather

Preparing your sewing:

1) Lay the entire skin out on a table and lay all of your pattern pieces out on the leather before cutting to ensure that they all fit. Remember that leather doesn’t have a grainline so you can get creative with your pattern piece placement.

draw on leather back with permanent marker

2) You can use a fine tip permanent marker to draw on the back of your hide to trace pattern pieces if the wrong side of the leather won’t be visible in the finished project.

3) Cut your leather using a rotary cutter on a self-healing mat to get perfectly smooth edges.

Leather clutch held together with clips

4) Hold your leather in place with binder clips because pins will leave a permanent hole.

5) Mark your leather using a silver gel pen. You can rub it off with spit.

If sewing by hand:

punch holes in leather with awl

6) Pre-punch the holes you’ll be sewing with an awl or diamond punch (on a self-healing mat).

7) Use glovers needles (meant for sewing leather), even through pre-punched holes, for the fastest, easiest sewing.

If sewing by machine:

leather and metal snap backback

8) If sewing by machine, use a long stitch length (especially for thicker leather) like you would when topstitching.

9) Don’t backstitch since additional holes weaken the leather.

10) Denim needles 100/16 will work on most leathers.

Have you sewn anything awesome with leather lately? Any other tips you’d recommend?

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