Tips for Sewing Leather or Suede
Because leather or suede comes in many sizes and thickness it requires special care when sewing. Whether you are repairing leather or making something new it can be sewn by hand or by machine, but you should use a special needle to make the job easier and look nicer.
For Hand Sewing:
There is a special leather needle; its tip has three razor sharp edges. This makes it easier for the needle to pierce the material. The needles come in sizes and you can get them in a craft store that deals in leather.
When you are sewing leather it is important to remember not to use pins to hold the material together, because it will leave marks in the leather. You can use hem clips or binder clips (clips that you pinch open to hold paper) to keep the fabric in place.
If the leather is thick you may need an awl to poke holes in the leather or perhaps a leather handheld punch. This is used for thick leathers or those that you may want to actually lace up rather then sew. Make sure that you mark the holes off on the opposite side of the leather and that everything lines up the way it should for the best results.
Leather and suede can be sewn with a sewing machine with special care. For the best results you should use a leather needle made especially for your machine. See manufactures instruction guide that comes with your machine and follow their recommendations. Each machine model will require a special needle made for that machine the leather craft store can make recommendations.
Trying to sew with a regular needle might cause the thread to be uneven and the needle to break or bend. Like the hand needles the sewing machine needles have the three razor sharp points at the end that make it easier for the needles to pass through the leather. One brand of needle is the Schmetz Leather needles
If possible you should use a Teflon pressure foot so that it passes over the leather or the suede with out pulling or snagging the material that can cause permanent damage.
You can also use a Teflon adhesive tape on the bottom of your sewing foot, if you do not have a Teflon foot. It would be wise to also lengthen the stitch length, and finish off not by backstitching but by using a triangle or square knot.
Never press seams with an iron, pry open with fingers carefully and roll a wallpaper roller over it or a brayer tool. You can use permanent contact cement to hold the seams down. Apply cement with a cotton swap and firmly roll press it down. The contact cement can be used to hem leather also, that way you do not have stitches coming through the leather. Of coarse if you are using very soft leather this might not matter.
If adding a zipper be sure that you place the Teflon tape on the zipper foot.
For a button hole use a stabilizer sheet on the back of the area where you are placing the button hole. You will need to press this on by using a Teflon pressing sheet so that you do not damage the leather.
You can use a walking foot when sewing leather or suede's, I do suggest placing Teflon tape on the foot. But it passes over the leather and suede nicely, with less chance of marring the material.
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