Sewing leather is undoubtedly difficult. While skill is very important, having a good sewing machine to deal with the toughness and flexibility of the leather will make the experience far less arduous. You may find that searching for a sewing machine gives you in a headache with all of the choices available. This is because both industrial and residential sewing machines offer a range of needles, speech controls, components, and of course, prices.
Choosing the best sewing machine for leather shouldn’t be a massive quest. Luckily, we’ve composed this comprehensive guide to outline the ideal sewing machines for leather, why they stand out from the crowd, and what they have to offer in pros and cons.
Best Sewing Machine for Leather Comparison Chart
Sailrite Heavy-Duty Ultrafeed
SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960
Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing
Brother Sewing Machine, ST371HD
Toyota Super Jeans J34 Sewing Machine
Residential Sewing Machines Vs. Industrial Sewing Machines: Are Residential Sewing Machines Good For Leather Sewing?
When you’re on the hunt for a sewing machine for your leather goods, you’ll notice both residential and industrial machines for the taking. There are a few poignant differences between them, aside from the obvious price gap.
Residential sewing machines, made for less heavy-duty operation and less frequent utilization, are all-in-one machines. They will allow you to work on a few basic leather patterns, using simple stitches. You’re limited to thinner leather for residential sewing machines, as the needles aren’t as strong or long. They tend to be affordably priced for the average person.
If you’re looking to work on more hardcore leather projects and you need something with a little more oomph, you’ll need an industrial sewing machine. More of a commitment, this type of machine has a price jump to match its capability increase. Industrial sewing machines will increase the maximum stitch length you are able to achieve, as well as increasing stitch speeds considerably. Designed to work in mass production, industrial sewing machines rarely need time to cool down and can work tirelessly for many hours.
The advantages of upgrading to an industrial sewing machine are obvious. Enabling you to enter into more heavy-duty leather projects, industrial sewing machines run faster for longer, with greater stitches and better quality work. However, you’ll find that on the negative side, industrial machines are far more expensive than residential sewing machines. Equally, you’ll need extra parts such as a table and “servomotor” to go with your industrial machine.
In the end, your leather sewing machine choice depends on the frequency and intensity with which you sew leather.
What to Consider When Buying a Sewing Machine for Leather?
When you’re in the market to purchase a sewing machine for leather, you’ll come across a range so broad that it becomes impossible to choose. You can narrow down your spectrum by considering these important factors relevant to leather work.
- Stronger needles: Leather is a thick material with quite a lot of give. Because leather is a natural material, it benefits from elasticity and strength, just as skin does. While this makes it a great, durable material, it is a little harder to manage on a sewing machine. Leather can easily break needles as thinner needles find it tough to penetrate the skin, flexing and breaking under the pull and give of the fabric. You need to consider the thickness of the needle required to work with leather. Sewing machine guides suggest that you use needles with a thickness of around No 110 – 120, which is toward the thicker end of the scale. In this sense, you need a sewing machine that fits thicker needles.
- Stronger feed dogs: The problem with leather is that it sticks. Imagine your sweaty legs peeling off the sofa in the summer sun – this is how sewing leather feels when the feed dogs are trying to work with the material. As the feed dogs grip the leather to pull it through, they stick, making it difficult to grip and pull evenly, without getting jammed. With this in mind, some people try to use a walking foot as it allows the feed dogs to grip the leather on both the top and bottom for a more even feed. Another solution, which also stops the feed dogs from marking the leather, is to search for a gliding foot or walking foot; these don’t have grooves in and instead lie completely flush to the material.
- Speed Control: Varying speed control is a great option as it allows you to sew quicker or slower depending on the project and your mood. For beginners, slower speeds enable more steady control, especially with leather, which tends to jam if you’re not careful. For more dexterous and experienced leather seamstresses, leather can be worked at quite a speed if you are capable. So look for machines that can speed right up for straighter pieces, yet still work slowly for more fiddly crevices.
- Price: The price of sewing machines can range dramatically, depending on the technology you require. For computerized residential sewing machines, you can be looking in excess of $2000. These are typically geared toward professionals. Industrial sewing machines also fetch prices like this. You can pick up very basic machines for as low as $100 as well if you look for a bargain. These models often can’t cope well with leather, however. For beginners, look at price ranges around $300-400 for something that will help you learn and improve your leather work practice. Professionals should breach into the more expensive models to consider the computerized advancements; especially those working with leather quilting. If this is your domain, expect to spend at least $1000.
Reviews of the Best Products
Offering both zigzag and straight stitch, this sewing machine features a walking foot and is designed to cope with heavy materials, such as upholstery and heavy canvas. The Power Plus Balance Wheel offers double the power, while the Posi-Pin clutching system creates better power transfer. It comes with an extra wide presser foot, which in itself has a built-in piping tunnel. It has variable stitch length and a great instruction manual.
You will need your own tools to assemble this, but once in motion, the variable speeds and two stitch types allow for versatile usage. The long needles are great for leather work, while the strong power transfer helps clutch and feed the leather evenly.
This computerized sewing machine comes with an automatic needle threader and high speeds. Featuring a bunch of accessories, this model comes with 13 different feet, including a walking foot and a quilting foot. The computerization comes with a wide variety of stitches and can use twin needles.
While you need to be delicate with the bobbins, this machine is very powerful and intelligent. The computerized components allow for more versatility and accuracy, while the twin stitching can create stronger leather seams. This is a great model for a professional, as beginners may get confused with all the settings.
Complete with an automatic needle threader, adjustable presser foot, and whole host of accessories, this industrial-grade sewing machine is ideal for tough leather. With 18 built-in stitches and variable speeds, this machine has a great deal of variety to choose from.
The bobbin winder is a little sloppy for such a professional machine, however, the results of using this to sew leather are astounding. Simple to use, the instructions and easy display make the operational experience a breeze, while the range of stitches allows you to flex your creativity.
This heavy-duty sewing machine is designed for tough projects. It is strong, durable, and is engineered to handle fabrics from denim to silk. With a metal chassis, the machine is designed to have a long life, with a handle for storage. Extremely durable, this industrial machine is designed to be carted around and experience knocks and scrapes without any damage.Enter your text here...
This is a hardcore machine designed for the average person but with industrial-grade features to help beef up production. In this case, it doesn’t belong in a factory with a slightly delicate handle and low-level light. However, it can handle leather projects with ease and the 25-year warranty ensures you have a great product for a quarter of a century.
Engineered by a well-known brand, Toyota’s machines have been on the market since 1946. This model has 34 built-in stitches and an automatic needle threader. It has a gliding foot to sweep over the material and is designed for thick materials. It comes with accessories such as a bobbin, spool pin, softcover, and flat screwdriver for assembly.
This model is great for beginners looking to take on the task of sewing leather. The machine is designed to deal with thick fabrics and includes features to stop jams. It has a whole range of stitches, but be careful with the tension dial.
How to Sew Leather
Here are a few quick tips on sewing leather to help your process go a little more smoothly.
- Clean the leather – You want the leather to be nice and clean so that the feed dogs can slide over the fabric. Leather releases natural oils which can make the fabric feel tacky, increasing its likelihood of getting stuck in the machine. You can gently wipe the leather with alcohol, but be sure to oil it after you finish, so it doesn’t dry out.
- Be confident – While leather is a beautiful material giving fine results, you can’t do things twice with leather. Needles make holes in the fabric that can be seen so when you work with leather, you only get one shot.
- Measure thrice – In this sense, you want to make all measurements three times to be certain where everything goes.
- No pins – Pins, like the needle, will make permanent holes in the leather. Instead, use binder clips as they dent the leather a little temporarily, will hold the edges, but will not leave any permanent marks.
- Cut and label pieces – Know what you’re working with by cutting out all pattern pieces at the start and labeling them. Set them aside in an organized order so you know what’s next.
- Slowly but surely – Work slower than you usually would with a sewing machine as you cannot make mistakes with leather. Try to work at a snail’s pace and feed the leather through evenly.
- Don’t rely on the dogs – Remember that leather is sticky so work steadily and add a little manual help to the feed to ensure that the leather works through evenly.
A symbol of luxury and beautifully durable, leather is a fantastic material to work with that rewards you with all the flexibility and longevity of natural materials while giving all the style and chicness of a high-class fabric. Sewing leather, however, is not so easy, and you need a bunch of confidence to get started. Remember to make sure your measurements are correct and have everything lined up, ready to go. A sewing machine with strong needles, flat feed dogs, and variable speeds will really help you to keep good, steady control of your work for more accurate results. Keep a budget in mind when choosing a sewing machine and look for a model that fits your other requirements within that budget range. Like most things in life, you’ll be surprised at the available selection when you know what you want and need!