My new Bernette sewing machine says it can sew everything from light chiffon fabric to leather. I need a new belt bag/pouch and figure this is a good project to get my feet wet and lean how to sew leather.
Since everything worth doing is worth over doing (and I bought a cute machine embroidery file from Urban Threads) I am going to machine embroider the leather before I cut and sew it into a purse!
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I admit, I had concerns about sewing and embroidering leather. If you sew a
mistake and remove the stitches the holes left behind in the leather hide will
not close like fabric will. But with practice, patience, and a few
sewing hacks, you can embroider leather and the results will look fabulous!
This list of dos and don’t applies to sewing and machine embroidering with real leather, suede, and fake pleather leather. Let’s do this!
- The first thing you must do when sewing real and artificial leather is to use a leather sewing machine needle! I tried sewing a scrap piece of leather with my go to universal sewing machine needle just to see what would happen. The result was a horrible headache inducing result that was worse than I imagined what would happen (and I have a very vivid imagination.) The ease and results were like magic when I used this exact leather sewing machine needle in my sewing machine. (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.) Leather sewing machine needles aren’t very expensive and since you are probably going to some lengths an expense to acquire leather, you should treat it right.
- Even though it seems wrong, do not use 100% cotton thread or lining fabric (if you chose to line your project) to sew leather and suede. I learned from my local Tandy Leather that real leather is acidic and will break down cotton thread and fabric over time. I used this exact nylon sewing machine thread for leather and heavy duty fabric to machine embroider and sew my leather purse. I used a polyester blend lining fabric for the purse lining.
- You should pay attention to the thickness of the leather (real or fake) when sewing and embroidering it on a home sewing machine. Selecting a lighter weight leather that is between 1 and 4 ounces works best (unless you have a real deal professional leather sewing machine.) You can find a good variety of lighter weight leather hides, remnants, and scraps for home machine sewing here.
- Try to use a machine embroidery file that contains very few to no densely filled areas. If you can find a machine embroidery file created specifically to sew on leather or pleather that is even better.
- To keep your machine embroidery stabilizer from shifting while embroidering such a slippery surface, attach the stabilizer to the back side of the leather, suede, pleather with temporary spray adhesive ( I use this Sulky Temporary Spray Adhesive because it is made for machine embroidery and will not gunk up sewing machine needles with glue blobs when embroidering.)
- You need to hoop the leather, suede, pleather as tightly as fabric. Unfortunately this can and will make permanent indention on real leather (fake synthetic leather is more a little more forgiving but it may still happen.) To lessen the chance of hoop burn in when embroidering leather, suede, and pleather, sandwich strips of scrap fabric between the sides of the hoop and the leather itself.
- The absolute number one thing you should do when sewing an embroidering leather is if your sewing or embroidery machine allows, set it to the slowest sewing speed possible. Yes, it will take forever to sew but you have more control over a slick and surface that will stretch. Trust me when I say, slow sewing speed is key to a well sewn design.
Looking for more leather, suede, and vegan leather sewing and embroidery ideas? Check out the following options – and more! – below!
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