Leather (fake or real) might seem a bit intimidating to sew, but with a bit of preparation, this task becomes very easy! Faux leather, also known as vegan leather, has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its durability, affordability, and versatility. You can use it to create stylish garments, such as jackets, skirts, and even accessories like bags and belts. Sewing faux leather is possible even with the most basic domestic sewing machine and it's such a fun material to work with, I'm sure you'll enjoy trying it out!
I've prepared 10 tips that will help you sew leather without a struggle - all are easy to apply, no matter your sewing skill level or machine that you use. These tips can be applied to any project that involves faux leather, whether you'll be sewing clothing or accessories.
Before we move to the list of 10 tips, I also want to say thanks to partners of this tutorial - needle industry experts Organ Needles.
Organ Needles are one of the leading brands in needle industry, with over 100 years of expertise in needle making.
Organ Needles have a wide range of products and you can find a right needle for any type of project that you have on hand - even if it's leather! I've been using Organ Needles for several years and I use them in all of my machines - industrial sewing machine, domestic sewing machine, embroidery machine and serger. It's easy to recommend them as I use them regularly and their needle quality speaks for itself!
Now, let's start our list of 10 tips for sewing leather. Click screen below to watch video format, and scroll down for written version:
TIP #1: do a test seam.
Contrary to woven or knit fabrics, leather is not self-healing - meaning, once you pierced it with needle, the holes are permanent. This is why you want to be careful when sewing leather and want to make the seam right from the first try. Sewing leather will require several adjustments in tension, stitch length, needle, thread. Because of that, I always recommend doing a few rows of stitches on a piece of same leather and check you like the quality of the seam.
TIP #2: use leather needle.
Leather needles are very different from universal needles and the difference is visible with a naked eye.
Thanks to knife shaped point of the needle, leather needle makes stable sized needle holes.
To sew leather, I use Organ Needles Leather needles to make beautiful, clean stitches. These needles are available for both domestic and industrial sewing machines, in sizes ranging from 90 to 100.
TIP #3: use suitable thread.
Leather is thick material, you want to sew it with thicker thread, which is more durable, tearproof and strong. These threads create nice stitches and seam will last longer compared to all-purpose thread.
TIP #4: use Teflon or walking foot.
Standard sewing machine foot might have a difficult time with a material like leather, so it's better to use Teflon foot - it's much more sleek than universal foot and will glide better on the tricky surface of leather. You can buy Teflon foot separately or in a kit of different feet (I recommend this kit, which has 32 feet - including Teflon - and costs just 20 USD).
Alternatively, a walking foot is also a great option for sewing this material.
TIP #5: sew with longer stitch.
When sewing leather, you want to use a slightly longer stitch than usual. My standard stitch length is 3mm, but when sewing leather, I use 4mm stitch length.
TIP #6: use wonder pins.
Regular pins or basting stitch will leave permanent holes in leather, this is why you want to use wonder pins to hold material in place. Alternatively, if you don't have wonder pins, you can use paperclips.
TIP #7: pressing.
You can press faux leather, but there are a few nuances: use low heat setting, press from wrong side of the material, use cloth to protect leather and don't use steam. Also, note that pressing faux leather won't give same effect as pressing woven fabrics, so no need to press seams as you go (use topstitching or glue to lock seam allowance in place instead). I usually press faux leather only if there's visible folding wrinkles that I want to get rid of.
TIP #8: finishing raw edges.
Leather does not fray, so you don't need to finish raw edges. To lock seam allowance in place, topstitch or use glue.
TIP #9: cut on single layer.
Leather is a thick and tricky material, so to protect your good scissors, cut it on single layer instead of a fold.
TIP #10: use leather marker.
This tip is optional, but if you want to make precision marking on leather, there's a special marker that you can use. It's easily wipeable and makes thin lines, so it's perfect for marking leather, when extra accuracy is needed.
Here are 10 tips I wanted to share about sewing leather. I recently made a skirt from faux leather and wanted to share a few details upclose.
For sewing and top stitching, I used Organ Needles Leather needles and paired with a suitable heavy-duty thread. All stitches turned out beautiful and professional looking.
Since faux leather is stretchy, I wanted to use a stretchy lining, too. To sew lining, I switched to Organ Needles Universal needles that are great for sewing woven fabrics. Remember that if you're switching between different materials throughout the project, you should be switching to the right needle, too!
In this skirt, I wanted to add a special detail to make is a bit more fun and personal. So, I added this adorable kitten embroidery to lining! My current favourite embroidery method is using spray adhesives (if you haven't tried it already - it's game changer!) and I used Organ Needles ANTI-GLUE needles, to prevent any glue residues from sticking on the surface of the needle.
Thank you for reading and wishing you creative week ahead!