Many times you’ll find machines that have been listed as the best choices to work on leather when, in fact, they’re not even close to what you’d really need, whether you are a professional leather crafter or a hobbyist.
My goal today is to lead you on the right path to finding a good solid sewing machine for leather regardless of your particular needs and hopefully by reading this article you will have a clearer idea of your actual choices. Since you may have different needs than the next person reading this same article, I have mixed both home sewing machines and the best industrial sewing machines for leather that I could find on the market.
But, before digging in all the options, let’s learn the main perks and downsides of both types. And please keep in mind that you can jump around the article by clicking on the right-side guide.
- 1 What Leather Sewing Machine to buy: Domestic vs. Industrial
- 2 Top 8 Best Sewing Machines for Leather
- 3 Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Right Sewing Machine for Leather
- 4 Types of Sewing Machines for Leather
- 5 What to know before deciding on a home or an industrial sewing machine for leather?
- 6 Home Sewing Machines for Leather
- 7 Sewing leather with an industrial sewing machine
- 8 How to Choose the Best Leather Sewing Machine for your Needs
- 9 Maintenance and Upkeep for your Leather Sewing Machine
- 10 Leather Sewing Needles and Thread: Hand Sewing and Machine Sewing
- 11 And a last piece of advice on buying a leather sewing machine…
What Leather Sewing Machine to buy: Domestic vs. Industrial
As a professional leather-craft maker, you know how time-saving industrial machines can be and how tricky it is to use domestic machines for the same tasks.
However, if you sew for a hobby, you might be wondering what type could be more useful for you. After all, you need a multitasking machine that can also perform on leather from time to time.
I believe that owning an industrial machine will certainly make your experience much more enjoyable and if you already own a domestic machine that can perform decorative stitches, you will find yourself planning a lot more projects once you have a machine as reliable as an industrial one.
Nevertheless, remember that any machine can be set up for all purposes by changing its foot, needle, thread, and speed. Choosing among the large number of models that exist in the market will depend entirely on the kind of projects you will be mostly working on. Of course, nothing can beat metal accessories, and unless you choose an industrial machine, you will have to face the fact that plastic plus time equals crystallization ergo, breakage.
When a machine is not fully made out of metal, take the label ‘heavy-duty’ lightly. Proper Heavy Duty machines are those so-called ‘industrial’ nowadays.
Top 8 Best Sewing Machines for Leather
Ideal for: Thin Leather. Light Weight Materials.
Compared to the Janome HD1000 the only differences in this machine are the stitch width that varies from 5mm to 6.5mm, the number of feed dogs that increases from 3 to 5 pieces, 4 extra stitches, and 2 needle positions.
Also, the bobbin winding system automatically stops when full. And, to allow all those changes, the weight goes up 2 pounds from 16.8 to 18.7.
Every other feature remains exactly the same to Janome HD1000 no matter the color edition you choose. A downside is that in this unit the design includes some plastic parts whereas Janome HD1000 has been entirely made out of metal. It’s up to you.
If you give more importance to a full-on metal frame, go for Janome HD1000. If, on the contrary, you consider more important to have those extra features, stay with HD3000. In the end, and no matter your choice, it’s the quality of Janome you are buying.
- Black Edition Available here
- Powerful motor of 1.0 Amp. for home use
- Threading system perfect for left-handed
- Accessories made of metal
- Aluminium Body for durability
- No electronics for longer durability
- Designed to sew on thin leather and denim
- High power and speed for beginners
Ideal for: Thin to Thick Leather. Heavy Weight Materials.
With a cost of several thousand, Juki LU-1508NS has plenty of great features like a safety clutch to prevent hook breakage, a knee-lifter mechanism for when your hands are busy sewing or a dual-tension mechanism to support high-tension sewing with thick thread and to help you produce the same quality of stitch for all types of materials.
Another amazing feature that is unique to some Juki machines is a rectangular feed system, replacing the usual elliptical feed. What this system basically does is to enable accurate feed of extra heavy materials while preventing stitch gathering.
Oh! And, let’s not forget to mention the automatic bobbin winder to make your time more productive. Nor the 6.5 mm maximum alternating vertical movement of the walking foot and presser foot to reduce bobbin change, and increase efficiency even more. No matter how tough the industrial materials you want to sew, this machine will do, from cargo handling belts to leather car seats going over all kinds of synthetics, leather weights, and laminated products.
This walking foot machine is sold at no extra cost with a sewing table and servo motor included and fully assembled on a pallet, saving you some good money in mechanical help. Ironically, you might need to hire a mover, since only the head weighs over 42 kilos.
Juki LU-1508NS is for you if you’ll work a lot on leather.
- Walking Foot Machine
- Includes Servo Motor & Table
- Accurate stitches on heavy materials like leather
- Comes fully assembled
- High price
Ideal for: Soft and Medium Leather. Light to Medium Weight Materials.
This model is one of a kind. Not only is it by the great valued Juki, but it’s also made in Japan, making it worthy of the extra dollars it costs. In fact, the design basis is essentially the same as bestseller Juki DDL8700 but with the added Japanese manufacture quality touch.
Thanks to the servo motor included in this offer, Juki 5550N is made to sew on medium-weight materials and becomes extremely quiet.
Also, if you are a beginner and are not used to industrial high speeds, you can turn the adjustable servo motor low until you get the hang of it. Honestly, soon you will realize that it’s easier to use than any home machine.
The bobbin winder is one more useful feature. You can sew and wind simultaneously and it will automatically stop once it’s full and you’ll save time and keep your focus on sewing. If you want an industrial machine to use on other medium-weight materials apart from leather, I find it a great choice for you.
You’ll soon see that the Juki DDL5550N controls even the slipperiest leather with the right accessories. Simply use the right leather needle and a foot accessory.
Lastly, know that it comes with a sewing table and servo motor included. And to make even worthier, you’ll get it delivered on a pallet, fully assembled and at no extra cost, saving you some good mechanical aid money. Ironically, if you live in a two-story house and your sewing room is upstairs, you might have to hire a mover, because it’s very heavy.
The positive side is that it comes almost ready to start sewing. Just screw the thread holder, add some oil and plug it in. That’s it.
- Bobbin winder to save you time
- The added quality of ‘Made in Japan’ products
- Includes Servo Motor & Table
- Fully assembled
- Non-Walking Foot Machine (allows walking foot accessory)
Ideal for: Medium to Thick Leather with Walking Foot Accessory. Medium to Heavy Materials.
Specifically manufactured for medium to heavy-weight fabrics, Juki DDL8700-H can use needle sizes from 16 to 22. That’s why Juki DDL8700H is a great option for you if you know you will often be sewing materials such as denim, vinyl, boat canvas or curtain, apart from medium weight leather.
Some good improvements Juki recently added to the design of this highly valued model include a better adjustment of the feed dog along with a thread take-up lever to increase efficiency and better stitch quality when working with different materials.
In addition, a good thing about Juki machines is their ease of operation, outstanding responsiveness, and huge reliability even at high speeds. You will create seams of consistent quality, no matter what material.
And, understanding that you may not have a sewing table for your new machine, know that if you only buy the head, a mounted seat will be included in the package so you can use it until you get a hold of a sewing table. That way your’s machine’s bed surface won’t suffer as much, increasing its durability.
The option with servo motor guarantees low noise and low vibration to help create a comfortable environment in your sewing room, for you and your family.
- Industrial Bestseller
- Non-Walking Foot Machine (you need to add foot accessory)
Ideal for: Thin to Thick Leather. Medium Light to Heavy Materials.
With an extended surface that folds up once you’re done sewing, this portable walking-foot Consew model comes with a carrying case that makes it easier for you to store it away or take it to sewing lessons.
Consew CP206RL is a straight stitch workhorse which produces up to 800 speed per minute and has been specifically manufactured for heavy duty work. It’s, in fact, perfect for leather sewing.
Every detail in this machine has been designed to easily manipulate thick fabrics: from the regulator of stitch length to the high clearance under the foot and the bottom dual feed.
- Walking Foot
- Needs oiling before use
- Needs a speed reducer for leather
- Foot might scratch leather
Ideal for: Thick Leather. Heavy Materials.
This model is another perfect industrial sewing machine for heavy weight materials, with its triple feed and an adjustable lift inside foot. It sews all kinds of leather weights from thin to thick without skipping a stitch and it comes with a servo motor to help with precision.
Designed to stitch products such as boat and furniture upholstery, sails, tents, and travel ware accessories, Consew P1206RB will go through leather like butter without making any marks.
When compared with Consew 206RB (next reviewed model), the main differences are lower maximum speed and shorter stitch length.
And since you don’t need such a high-speed to sew on leather, its low price could be your opportunity to start sewing leather and all kinds of materials on a commercial machine.
- Walking Foot Machine
- Included Servo Motor & Table
- Teeth might mark the leather if not sanded first
Ideal for: Thin to Thick Leather. Heavy Materials.
This triple feed machine has been specifically designed to work on heavy-duty materials such as medium or thick leather with 14 mm clearance under the presser foot and a stitch length of up to 10 mm.
The 206RB-5 model from this renowned brand, Consew, is a super complete option if you sew from automotive seat repairs, marine vinyl or canvas to medium weight apparel garments on a daily basis and on different types of projects. Just change the needle, adjust tension and stitch length, and keep sewing.
The strength of this industrial unit can pull material through no matter how much weight is hanging from the machine, and without breaking needles. Many users have noted how quiet Consew 206RB is for what it does, making a good option for you if you will be installing the machine at home.
Additionally, you can easily press the installed lever to reverse the direction of the lock stitch and to change the bobbin, you leave whatever it’s being sewn under the presser foot.
- Triple or Compound Feed provides excellent stitch and smooth sewing
- Great for leather, denim and vinyl
- Bobbin type M to hold double the thread
- Centralized Lubrication System
- Too rough for light cloth garments
- Separate tool using the motor belt to wind the bobbin
Ideal for: Thin to Thick Leather. Heavy Weight Materials.
This model is sold as a complete unit which includes the machine head, built-in industrial table, stand, clutch motor, sewing light, drawer, and all necessary components installed and ready to sew.
The S from Juki DNU-1541S stands for Safety Motor which means that in case of sewing problem the motor will automatically stop in order to prevent damage to the machine. If you want to save this feature, go for the Juki DNU-1541.
You could say that this model is the best industrial walking foot machine for the money. It sews through six layers of leather without a problem and it does it smoothly. To work on leather, you may want to slow motion for corners or tricky areas by releasing pressure from the insanely sensitive pedal.
If you ever had problems with stitch gathering, you must know that the rectangular feed motion of this machine will prevent the needle from fraying which will assure a consistent feeding of materials of all thicknesses. Also, its double-tension mechanism offers great responsiveness.
Like many other units from this list, it can only perform straight and reverse stitches. After all, what makes this machine stand out is the speed and quality that delivers no matter how heavy the fabric you are working on is.
- Rectangular feeding
- Double-tension Mechanism
- Servo Motor
Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Right Sewing Machine for Leather
Types of Sewing Machines for Leather
Home Sewing Machine
Overseeing the large range of home machines on the market, you need to focus on those that are more sturdy, the so-called Heavy Duty models or HD.
These are machines that have been branded to attract a type of hobbyist that doesn’t sew heavy materials too often but understands that a metal frame will most likely last longer than any other regular machine with plastic bits.
A downside is that they come as a whole, which means that if the motor runs out due to misuse, you will have to buy a new unit.
An advantage to consider for home machines versus industrial ones is the free arm that these first group models normally incorporate.
Industrial or Commercial Sewing Machine
Industrial machines can be personalized by parts and mounted on a sewing table allowing a larger working area. These have three different parts:
It simply is the structure that contains the sewing mechanism.
Installed as an extension of the actual machine, it can be changed according to your speed needs. Keep scrolling down to read more about the different types of motors.
Just as you choose a specific machine model, tables come in different variations allowing you to customize your sewing room depending on wanted storage as well as the sewing area.
I personally find the possibility to customize your industrial machine a super perk since you will be able to upgrade your machine by parts as well depending on the needs you get once your skills are developed. Besides, the sensitive pedal of an industrial machine will allow you to manage different tasks such as trimming threads, lifting the foot, and, of course, running the machine at the desired speed.
These are all amazing optional features for those who are more experienced. Nevertheless, if you are a beginner, you would need some time to adjust to the multitasking pedal.
Hand Operated Sewing Machines
While a few of these machines are made by American brands and offer great quality, like the Tippmann Leather Boss, the majority of the typical hand-powered machines have been brought straight from Asiatic countries and cost less than a few hundred dollars. A pretty low price for what these can do.
They basically work with a fly-wheel or a hand crank that you need to pull for every stitch that you perform.
Any of these machines will easily stitch through leather and are usually used to patch leather, fix shoes and make sneakers. Up to your imagination and needs.
What to know before deciding on a home or an industrial sewing machine for leather?
Types of Motor
It is simple. Mechanical machines generally work with traditional AC motors and modern computerized or digital models do with DC motors to regulate speed.
And, what about industrial machines? Well, it is basically up to you. Think of what you need and choose your motor accordingly.
Clutch Motor (or AC Motor – Alternate Current)
– The speed of these motors depends on the strength you apply to the pedal. You will need to practice but once you get the trick of it, it is super useful.
– A good advantage to consider is the lower demand for power and its minimum maintenance.
– They are 30% less efficient than servo motors which means that they take slightly longer to start running and reverse sewing.
– They are a bit louder than servo motors.
Servo Motor (or DC Motor – Direct Current)
This type of motor has 4 parts: DC Motor, gearing set, a control circuit, and a position sensor. Some of its perks are:
– Adjustable speed control, the pedal doesn’t have a say here. No matter how hard you press the pedal, speed will stay the same. This is ideal for beginners getting used to an industrial machine or if they don’t need such high speed.
– Reverse Stitches with a flick of the switch.
– ⅓ lighter than clutch motors. Smaller size, lighter motor.
– Energy Efficiency: they consume up to 90% less energy than clutch motors.
– They don’t generate as much heat as clutch motors do
– Lower vibration which translates into a higher quality of stitches.
– The motor is completely silent when the pedal is not engaged.
If you are going to be sewing leather, I recommend you to go for the servo motor or for a clutch one with a speed reducer to avoid messing with your leatherwork. You will need to do stitch by stitch at times, right?
Space Size and Sewing Area
It sounds pretty basic but a common mistake for people buying a new sewing machine is not considering how much space they are going to be needing, first, to place the machine itself and, second, to actually work with the different fabrics and garments.
You may also want to have a look at different sewing tables if you don’t have one yet.
Remember to always measure the area where you will be installing your new machine.
Price of a sewing machine for Leather
Prices of specific machines made to stitch through leather vary from 120$ up to a few thousand.
Since hand operated sewing machines will cost very little and can normally stitch through very thick pieces of leather, I personally believe that owning one of these could be the perfect complement to your sewing room if you don’t want to invest a lot of money in a machine that can only sew straight stitches.
Home sewing machines are only a few hundreds of dollars but, when used for leather they can often stop running soon. In the end, even if the marketing department decided to add a Heavy Duty tag to the model name, in reality, these domestic models haven’t been manufactured to deal with heavy fabric and the motor will give out at some point. And it is so, that when dealing with machine issues if a domestic machine has been used for leather, the owner will lose warranty rights due to misuse.
All of this to tell you that for the price of two home heavy-duty machines – you will need a second one if the motor runs out -, you could perfectly afford an industrial walking foot machine that runs through leather like it was butter and lasts you a lifetime.
As for industrial or commercial machines, prices normally depend on various factors including the type of motor it uses. A nice model with a clutch motor can start in around $500 for the head only and go up to several thousand for a walking foot workhorse with servo motor.
Home Sewing Machines for Leather
Things you can do with a home sewing machine that a commercial model can’t:
– Sew on pants hems with a more affordable free arm option.
– Customize it with as many features and decorative stitches as you want to pay for.
– Take it to classes thanks to a lighter and more portable weight.
– Computerized screens for a low price.
– Quieter motors for happier relatives and neighbors. That is unless you get a servo motor for your industrial machine. Then, a home machine will be louder.
– Thread your machine much easier. Industrial systems can be pretty challenging while domestic ones are a kid’s play.
Must-Have Tools to sew Leather with a Home Sewing Machine
Some special accessories that you will be needing for sure if you decide to use a regular machine are:
· Leather Sewing Needle
As you may know, if you want a sewing machine that sews leather, whether you use a domestic machine or a heavy-duty sewing machine, you will definitely need a leather needle. And this is because of leather being thicker than other materials.
The needle needs to have a specific kind of bottom point to easily stitch through the leather you want to use. If your needle keeps breaking apart, you are probably using the wrong one. It is that easy. Nevertheless, since leather needles get unsharpened, they do give in and eventually break so always store at least a spare one or two.
Don’t get confused when buying a leather needle for your home sewing machine. Be aware that the top bit of the needle must have a flat side, unlike those for industrial machines that are round all around.
· Leather thread
Using the appropriate thread will save you tons of breakage and time. Besides, with the right thread, your items will definitely look much more luxurious and will last longer.
· Walking Foot
This accessory will allow you to sew on the leather without continuous slips. Know that to sew on leather you need either a walking foot or a plastic sticky one. Otherwise, feed dogs won’t do the job, the needle will stitch where it wasn’t supposed to and, your project will get messed up.
By applying some powder on the area to be sewn on, your chances of the leather slippering around will decrease.
Some tips on how to sew leather on a home sewing machine
- The number one thing to learn is that leather is a very delicate material. Once a stitch is made, there is no way back so you must be sure to think before acting. You can also practice on an un-useful piece of leather before sewing on the final one.
- If you need to hold together two pieces of leather in order to sew them, there are several ways to do so. Try pinning them together, using a special glue for leather or some simple double-sided tape.
- If you are using a home sewing machine, assuming that you may not have a walking foot, try and put some basic powder on it. This trick will prevent the foot from getting stuck to the leather. You could also use a non-walking foot made out of plastic. The result? Your piece of leather won’t get stuck, and your stitches will be more precise.
- Another thing to take into account if you are a beginner? Start by sewing the easy bits to get some practice in before going for the difficult parts.
- To easily add quality to the item, once you are done with sewing, trim off the thread and carefully burn the end with a regular lighter. Then pass your finger over. The leather won ́t suffer and you will make sure that the stitches don’t get loose.
There are plenty of tips but these will cover the basics. On a broader scale, if you want to get a quality product, get quality leather tools and loads of practicing. Oh! And one last tip? Practice, practice, and practice!
Sewing leather with a home sewing machine
For those who are not used to sew on leather, you must know in advance that this material is a special one. You probably know that leather is thicker and more difficult to handle than any other fabric out there. Depending on its thickness and the final look you want to achieve, you will need to use different needles and thread sizes.
Nowadays, there are plenty of domestic sewing machines on the market. And you can convert and use them all to stitch leather by changing both needle and thread.
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t recommend using a regular machine to sew on leather. The reason is that even though the needle will actually stitch through the leather, the machine will also eventually give out. Don’t get me wrong. You may be able to sew on some leather with regular machines… But! Know that the motor is not big enough to carry on with sewing leather for long.
Should I sew leather on a domestic sewing machine, then?
Like every time with sewing machines, it depends on how heavy and thick it will become the layers of material you are going to sew together.
If the product you are trying to sew is light, you should be fine with a domestic machine. Same for leather. If you just want to make a few items, let’s say a few wallets, it doesn’t make sense to spend a fortune on a proper industrial sewing machine for leather. You just will need to get a hold of a nice leather needle and some proper thread.
Be aware that the length of the stitches may get smaller as the piece of material to sew on gets thicker. This basically has to do with the power of the motor among others. With an industrial leather machine though, it will easily climb up sewing different layers of leather and keep a nice and neat stitch.
Sewing leather with an industrial sewing machine
Things that you can do with an industrial machine that a domestic model can’t:
– Longer free arm if you invest in that type of industrial machine.
– A higher speed that you can regulate with the pedal.
– Stronger motor ideal for heavy duties and longer durability.
– Easier to use since normally industrial machines have a permanent set up which translates in a very limited set of features.
– Install it on a sewing table and have the largest surface to work on.
When and why should I buy an industrial sewing machine?
You definitely need an industrial leather sewing machine if you want to start a leather goods business from home. The main reason being the power size of your sewing machine motor.
The smaller the motor, the bigger the chance of burning it out when misusing it to make leather goods. And it’s to avoid this happening that you want to get a hold of a stitching machine that will include a motor design for heavy-duty sewing. By doing so, you will also make sure that the length of the stitches doesn’t grow down due to a lack of energy from the motor.
Downside? You must take into consideration that industrial sewing machines can be a bit pricey.
Huge perk? Industrial sewing machines are absolutely worthy when running a home-based business or if you need to be able to sew fast and get quality stitches.
You just need to take into account that these heavy-duty machines can make a lot of noise depending on what motor they use. Also, they might require a higher demand for electricity than your average home sewing machine.
If you are an amateur and don’t often work on leather, be cautious before spending your money on one. But if you want to start sewing leather on a daily basis, maybe starting a business or simply sewing your own bags for life, invest in one. You will never regret it and a good leather machine will last you a lifetime.
Types of Industrial Leather Sewing Machines
Because leather is such a complex material to sew, there are several different kinds of industrial sewing machines to use.
The right one for you will depend on the item you want to create which will reflect on the manner of sewing which will determine the type of leather sewing machine that you will be needing. Each of them come with different features and are usually made of high-quality metals for durability.
Understand that each of these machines has been designed to be used for very long periods of time on heavy-duty materials. This basically means that you won’t need to buy a new one each other year as if you had to when buying a domestic machine for the purpose of sewing continuously on leather or other heavy-duty materials.
Flatbed Sewing Machine
Think of the typical sewing machine used at home that includes a flat foot. It’s a flatbed sewing machine. An industrial flatbed sewing machine looks basically the same but normally isn’t portable.
Are you going to be sewing on flat pieces of material such as those of wallets, belts, leather dresses, vests or skirts? Then a flat surface sewing machine like this one is what you need to get your hands on.
However, have a look at how high the foot can go if you want to sew several layers of leather or heavy fabric together.
Cylinder-Bed Sewing Machine
Are you going to sew on hats, hidden purse corners, cuff, sleeves or pants legs? Maybe round open leather surfaces like those from bags or saddles? Have this machine on the mind.
Its main features are a cylindrical horizontal column that can vary in diameter and a hole on the surface table. Thanks to it, any Cylinder-Bed Sewing Machine allows the fabric to go round down the stitching area.
A downside for this type of machine is the fact that you can’t rest your arms on the table due to its hole. That means that you could get easily tired or bring tension to your back and neck due to poor postures.
Post-Bed Sewing Machine
This is an even more special machine used to reach difficult areas to stitch such as those of manufacture boots or work gloves. It is also broadly used to affix emblems to different garments.
The key to the Post-Bed Sewing Machine is its vertical column that rises above the flat surface of the table. Just like the Cylinder-Bed Machine, it can vary in diameter and height.
Feed-Off-the-Arm Sewing Machine
Being very limited in its usage, this very special sewing machine is used to sew on layers of different materials such as those in shoulder seams. You most likely won’t be needing this one unless you are starting your own clothing fabric.
Must-Have Features when choosing the best industrial machine for leather
Here are some basic features you should consider:
– A walking foot feed becomes crucial for leatherwork;
– If you don’t want to buy a walking foot machine, acquire a Walking Foot Accessory or a Rolling Presser Foot Accessory.
– Make sure that the pressure foot high is tall enough for the project you are working on;
– Make sure that the machine takes the thread size that you need to work with;
– Make sure you can install a speed reducer for details stitching;
– Decide whether you want a flatbed table or a cylinder head on your machine.
– Proper industrial machine needles for leather. An easy way to see if you have the right one is to have a look at the top part of it. If it is completely round, you’re good to go. If you see a flat side, what you actually have in your hands is a leather needle specifically designed for home sewing machines.
What is a walking foot sewing machine: Machine vs. Accessory Foot
A walking foot is an accessory that has a double foot to hold the leather against the sewing machine with one of its two pieces. The other piece walks over it to move it backward and stitch again.
Now, a walking foot machine “walks” with the material so that the top material does not stretch out as much where a regular machine would slightly pull the top material making you sewing uneven. And the main difference with the foot accessory is that the whole sewing system is helping the foot walk over the material. Some machines work with two feet whereas others can have three.
Honestly, whenever we want to sew leather, we need to be using a walking foot. The main reason being that leather won’t slipper away and you will achieve stitches of equal length.
Also, when working with other materials, if you are going for quality of stitch and therefore of the final product a double footed machine makes all the difference. But what if you don’t want to invest in a walking foot machine? Well, you can easily convert any sewing machine into a walking foot one by adding an actual walking foot to your accessories collection.
How to Choose the Best Leather Sewing Machine for your Needs
What is your budget?
The amount of money that you are willing to spend on a new device, should always be the first decision that you make. Setting a budget within your possibilities will help you not to overspend.
Even if you don’t need to spend a fortune on a machine with features that you will never use, the following reasons give you a hint on why you shouldn’t go for the cheapest option:
– A cheap machine will normally be made of plastic parts that will eventually crystalize and break apart.
– A good quality engine will last longer and allow you to sew heavier fabrics.
– A good sewing machine should last you many years. If you have considered trying new kinds of crafts, go for a machine that includes the necessary features.
– A good investment in time will save you money in the future. However, always keep your set budget in mind.
What will you use it for?
The same reason why you wouldn’t buy a Ferrari to learn how to drive, if you are new in the sewing world, I wouldn’t recommend you to buy an industrial machine.
Start low, check your new passion, and invest in new accessories and machines as you go along.
Also, be careful with buying a sewing machine that brings features you know you will never use. Some special features that add value, can also increase the price. But, if you don’t need those features, you will be wasting your money.
Something you probably haven’t thought of if you are buying your first ever machine, is the amount of extra money that will go into threads of different colors, extra needles, and other accessories depending on the specific craft of your choice. Don’t forget to include them in your budget.
Remember that if you buy them at the same time as your new machine, you will be able to sew straight and save time instead of waiting a few more days for a new delivery.
If you think you might use the machine for more purposes other than to sew on leather, take than into account.
A cylinder machine, for instance, will be super useful when dealing with a leather hat, a shoe, or a saddle, but might make the task tiring if later on, you decide to use for flat garments alone. You will then miss a flat-bed machine where to lay the heavy material while sewing on it.
Find a machine that is easy to use. Only you can assess how good are you learning to use new devices. Using a computerized machine can be tricky if you are not used to new technologies. However, screen usability becomes more and more intuitive providing easier usability with each new model.
To help you decide, you could make a trip to the closest store before deciding on one model.
Always try it as soon as it arrives in case you want to use the warranty.
How to take a final decision?
– Decide a budget: this way you won’t waste time reading machine reviews that you don’t want to actually buy.
– Be realistic about future usage: Will you sew leather with your sewing machine on a daily basis? Are you sewing a spare item made of leather, and that is it? Think twice before you buy your new unit. If you are going to continuously use your machine to sew on leather, it doesn’t make sense to buy a home-use model given the fact that it’s going to give out in a few months due to misuse. In the end, you will have to buy a new machine spending twice as much as you intended.
– Choose a machine that is as user-friendly as you may need depending on your expertise. You don’t want to end up with a headache trying to figure out how to use it.
Maintenance and Upkeep for your Leather Sewing Machine
1-. Always make changes in adjustments and settings of your machine before sewing on thinner or heavier fabrics. Resting importance to this crucial step will compromise years of life from your unit.
2-. Proper needle and thread selection will help the motor run smoothly.
3-. Clean the machine regularly. You’ll want to clean the race hook and feed dogs after each use to help with keeping a smooth movement of the fabric when sewing.
4-. Don’t clean wanted grease. It is there for a reason, and removing it could mess up your machine. You don’t want to have it serviced, right? Then, don’t over-clean it.
5-. Make sure to clean thread and fabric debris from the head and bobbin case areas.
6-. Protect your machine from dust and wipe the machine head with a wet cloth often. If you weren’t given a cover case, you may as well make one as your first project. Covering your machine will save you cleaning time and give you more years of good running.
7-. Oil your machine often. With home sewing machines you can mostly forget about this part. However, if you own an industrial machine and you use it often, consider oiling it as often as 1-2 times a week.
8-. Don’t put oil where it is not needed. Check your manual to learn in which parts you should oil.
Leather Sewing Needles and Thread: Hand Sewing and Machine Sewing
Often we rest importance to the size of the needle and thread that we are using for our machine. And something as basic as this sounds is usually the hidden base of all of our dilemmas when machine sewing.
No, there is nothing wrong with your new machine.
No, there is nothing wrong with you.
You just need to get some skills, including to always remember to double-check on these three key points: the size of needles that your machine can take (have a look on your manual), the size of your needle and the size and material of your thread.
Needle and Thread for Leather Sewing Machine
Two special accessories that you will be needing for sure if you decide to use a regular machine are a leather sewing needle and the appropriate thread.
As you know, if you want a sewing machine that sews leather, whether you use a domestic machine or a heavy-duty sewing machine, you will definitely need a leather needle. And this is because leather of being thicker than other materials.
The needle you use needs to have a specific kind of bottom point to easily stitch through the leather you want to use.
If your needle keeps breaking apart, you are probably using the wrong one. It is that easy. Nevertheless, since leather needles get unsharpened, they do give in and eventually break so always store at least a spare one or two.
Because leather is so hard to sew, you will need a thread that resists the tension that it will be put through
A few things need to be considered. The first one, apart from the thickness of the material to be sewn, is the size of the needle. The other one is the stitches effect you want to create. And depending on these two, you will need a different thread texture, color, and composition. The most used ones are normally made out of nylon or polyester.
In general, think that the thinner the fabric, the thinner the thread and needles should be since the wrong size will either damage delicate fabrics or break constantly due to over-tension. Therefore, again, remember that you need to match the right fabric, needle size, and thread weight or the machine might get jammed.
Needle and Thread for Hand Sewing
The tricks mentioned for a sewing machine work just as good when sewing leather by hand.
Consider the size of the needle and thread weight for your specific garment to be sewn before starting. That way you will avoid material waste after stitching it with the wrong accessories.
And a last piece of advice on buying a leather sewing machine…
Ask around! If you have the opportunity to speak to some friend or a neighbor about their sewing machine for leather, don’t doubt it and ask anything that pops in your mind. But be aware of people that want to convince you that their machine is the absolute best.
Be critical and only trust those who actually have some more profound knowledge.
Is their machine missing any essential feature? Do they work leather often? Is the motor of their machine the right one or will it give out eventually? It could also be useful to speak to your teacher if you ever attend a sewing course.
Consider paying a visit to a nearby store to have a look at your chosen machine before actually buying it. Many times we idealize a device and get surprised when it arrives and is bigger or smaller than expected. It might even look clumsier in real life. If your permanent residence is a bit isolated, make sure to measure well prior shopping. And, even though sometimes store dealers will offer discounts on certain models, be sure to find the cheapest prices online with the perk of receiving at your door entrance.
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What is the best industrial sewing machine for leather?
The ideal industrial sewing machine would be a walking foot or triple feed compound model but it all depends on several factors like the leather thickness you will be sewing or your budget.
It is such a complex matter that we have created a full article with the best industrial, home and hand-operated sewing machines for leather in the market.
What kind of sewing machine do you need for leather?
When working with leather, a walking foot machine (also called triple compound) is what you need. You might want to read right our guide for more specific information.
Do I need a special sewing machine for leather?
As a professional leather crafter, yes, you do. However, if you are an amateur it may be enough with adding a walking foot accessory to any industrial machine that you own or to your home model if you will use it sparingly.
Which is the best sewing machine to sew thick material and leather?
Our #1 choice would be a Juki 1541 with a servo motor for accuracy and to reduce speed as desired. Nevertheless, there isn’t only one option as there are different needs and budgets for every buyer. To see what machine best suits you, read our article on the best sewing machines for leather.