1. tools & equipment

Working with leathers is much the same as sewing textile fabrics. Many of the same sewing techniques that you use in sewing cloth can be used when sewing leather… with a few easy modifications.

Changing the sewing machine needle is the first step to prepare for sewing most leathers. Ideal for sewing natural leather, suede, buckskin, use a leather sewing machine needle (Wedge Point 14/90 or 16/100), which has a slight cutting point (almost like an arrowhead) and a larger eye to accommodate thick heavy-duty thread. Use a longer stitch length to prevent perforation of the hide and slightly “looser” tension for using heavy-duty synthetic thread when sewing leather.

Next, change the presser foot. I prefer a Dual Even Feed foot (aka walking foot) that “walks” over the leather to assist with keeping layers feeding at the same rate. With this foot attachment, leather can be sewn without shifting or puckering since the leather is gripped and fed by both upper and lower feed teeth.

Or you may use a Roller Foot (aka roller guide) for leather, suede, synthetics for more control and less friction. Perfect for all sewers and DIY-ers when you need to feed the fabric or layers perfectly. The metal roller will not imprint the leather.

The last option, can be a Teflon® foot (aka non-stick foot). The Teflon® foot is designed to prevent fabrics such as leather and vinyl, plastic, suedes and Ultrasuede® from sticking to the bottom of the foot and to the foot plate of the sewing machine. It is made of or coated with Teflon®, a material well-known for its non-stick properties and allows leather to glide right under the foot. The foot unlike other sewing machine feet has a distinctive look; like that of a white plastic material which prevents drag.

Another method to prevent drag or friction when sewing leathers is to lightly spray the foot plate of your machine with a silicone spray. A light coat will aid the leather hide not to stick to your working surface.

Here are some other specialty items to have in your sewing kit when working with leather:

  1. rotary cutter (45 mm dia.) and mat – to cut leather hides
  2. razor/scalpel knife – to spot-cut leather
  3. metal ruler with cork backing – for use with rotary cutter and measuring
  4. awl – to score leather and make stitching holes
  5. double-sided mounting tape (6mm wide) – to adhere leather pieces together
  6. cold rubber tape (10mm wide) – to “stay” leather edges
  7. rubber cement glue – to adhere leather pieces
  8. glover’s hand-sewing needles (#5-7-9) – to hand-stitch leather
  9. leather (wedge 60) sewing machine needles – to machine-stitch leather
  10. alligator clips – replacement for dressmaker’s pins
  11. nylon seam brayer – to “press” leather seams
  12. rawhide mallet – to “press” leather seams flat
  13. hole punch (4 mm dia) – to make holes
  14. wax chalk(s) – to mark leather
  15. skiver – used to bevel leather edges

leather kit

click on image to magnify



Filed under Bag'n-telle, Design Insight

23 responses to “LEATHER TOOLS

  1. This is really helpful! Thanks!

  2. Hi Don, great to see you back! Thanks for the leather tips. Do you have any tip for sewing on pleather? I made a bag this weekend and it was a bear getting the blasted thing done. I keep having tension issues with top stitching the heavy thread. Sooo frustrating!!!! Thanks!

    • Don

      Pleather is basically plastic. Instead of a leather sewing machine needle, you need a Microtex needle. It has an extra fine point to pierce the fabric rather than cut through it. Also pleather is very “sticky” on the foot plate of your sewing machine. A trick I use is to lightly spray the footplate with clear silicone spray. It will prevent friction and drag. You can find it at an upholstery supply retailer. I also would try using a dual feed foot. See my TOOLS pages of my blog.

  3. Brunella B Rosser

    Thanks so much. You’re the Champion of Sharing!

  4. I am a neophyte and this information was very helpful to me

  5. Shelagh

    Great ingo – thanks. Could you tell us more about how to use and sources of cold rubber tape?

    • Don

      Shelagh, cold rubber tape is one of the many tools I will be using in my new design class “MAKING LEATHER BAGS”. It is used to “stay” the edges of cut leather to prevent stretching while stitching layers together. Cold rubber tape can be found at furrier/leather supply retailers and some better-stocked tailor supply stores.

  6. Liza Azman

    My first time drop by your blog, and great info here. I am still new to leather making and I prefer combining leather with cotton to make bags, so far, not so good, I can’t find much info on the technique and tools. Please advise.

    Liza Azman

  7. Jeanette Spornitz

    Hi Don, I am taking your craftsy class. I live in a very remote part of northern Alberta and do not have access to many leather supply stores. The ones I have visited do not have cold rubber tape. Does this tape have another (brand) name and do you know if there a place that I could purchase it on line. I am enjoying the class.

    Thanks a bunch, Jeanette

    • Don

      Hi Jeanette, it is also known as leather cold tape. You can order it from Neveren’s Tailoring SupplyInc., 451 Queen St W
      Toronto, ON M5V 2A9. They do not have a website but you can make a phone order 416-504-4136.

  8. thudva

    Reblogged this on thupk.

  9. nice one….
    all i need now is the list of leather-sewing machines and where i can get them

  10. This is the best information about sewing with leather that I have found yet! Really brilliant thank you!
    Could you tell me where would be a good place to buy these supplies please, if possible in the UK?
    Also do have you written a book at all?

  11. gertrude

    very useful information. thanks for sharing

  12. Dewayne

    Looking for used leather tools to get started any advice or direction would be appreciated

  13. Reblogged this on Pear Laine and commented:
    Great read for anyone starting out working with leather!

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