Condo Blues: How to Machine Embroider Leather and Pleather for Beginners

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

How to Machine Embroider Leather and Pleather for Beginners

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!


How to machine embroider leather for beginners
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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!

7 Tips and Hacks for Sewing Leather, Suede, and Vegan Leather on a Home Sewing Machine

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.



  • 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.

how to sew leather on a regular sewing machine
The file I bought was designed with leather embroidery in mind.


  • 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.


how to hoop leather for machine embroidery
Hoop! There it is!

  • 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. 

how to home sewing machine embroider leather belt bag pouch
My first embroidered and sewn leather project! There are a few mistakes where the thread broke and I had to fix it by hand embroidering and some issues with the gusset I added to the original pattern but overall not bad!

Looking for more leather, suede, and vegan leather sewing and embroidery ideas? Check out the following options – and more! – below!

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1 comment :

Life as a LEO Wife said...

Looks great! Thanks for sharing on Happiness is Homemade at!

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