p>When I first got my sewing machine, I should have really taken the time to get to know it, what each button and switch did and make easy things out of cotton squares. Did I do that? No. I went straight in at the deep end making bags out of recycled leather coats. Cue broken needles, bunched up material and fabric that would just not go through. This caused many arguments between me and my machine. I would shout at it for not doing what I wanted and it would ignore me because I treated it so badly. Now that we have known each other for a while, we have become friends and I thought to save you all from falling out with your machine, I would post my best tips for sewing with leather. Some I have found out about from other bloggers (Thank You!) others I have discovered from trial and error!
Tip 1: Use a leather needle
That’s obvious I hear you say? Well yes it is, but I tried to sew with a regular needle for ages because I didn’t have any leather needles. It does work and you can get away with it, but using leather needles makes it soooo much easier! They pierce through the material with the sharp spike at the end, so the sewing hole is a little more noticeable, but it is worth it. (They are also quite cheap. I got mine for about £2)
Tip 2: Use a non-stick foot
A regular metal foot can stick to the leather, especially if you are working on the shiny side. A non-stick foot is made out of plastic and will glide across the surface without pulling, making it easier to sew! (Also not very expensive. I got mine from Amazon)
Tip 3: Decrease the pressure
Does your machine have a dial like this? This dictates how much pressure the presser foot puts onto the fabric. Normally, if you are sewing with a thick material, you want a lot of pressure because you want the fabric to be pushed through to the feed dogs (little metal tracks on the base of your machine) which pulls the fabric through while it is being sewn. However, I have found that this can increase how much leather sticks to the foot. If you are able to decrease the pressure of the foot it is less likely to stick. If I wanted to decrease the pressure on my machine, I would turn the dial to a lower number, but it might be different on yours!
Tip 4: Dont use pins
Pins are really awkward with leather. Because it is so thick, it often doesn’t lie flat after you have pinned layers together, meaning that when you come to sew it, it will be tricky to sew a straight line. Pins can also mark the leather and leave small holes. I prefer to use small bull-dog clips, as they don’t mark and can be repositioned quickly whilst you are sewing.
Tip 5:Use some baking paper
Where I live, we call this stuff baking parchment/greaseproof paper. I don’t know if other countries call it something different, but basically it is the stuff you line a cake tin with to stop the cake sticking. If your leather is still sticking to the bottom of the machine and not moving though, you can put some of this paper underneath it. Just like a cake, this stops it sticking and makes it so much easier to sew. This is a really good tip if you are making straps as often there are many layers so you need a bit of pressure to make sure the material goes through the machine. The only problem I have found with this technique is that afterwards, when you pull the paper away from the leather, because you have sewn through it, sometimes little bits of paper get stuck under the sewing thread. This can be pulled out, it’s just a pain to do the whole length of a bag strap!
And that’s it. Those are the tips and tricks I use, but if anyone has any others I’d really like to hear about them. I hope this post has helped you and now you can sew with leather all day long!