In this post, I’ll be sharing with you what you need to know before sewing leather with a machine, as well as the best sewing machine for leather. I’ll be sharing what you need to know before getting a needle for leather sewing machine as well as industrial sewing machines leather can be sewn with. If you’re a beginner, you can also check out my post on what is the best sewing machine for beginner sewers. Or check out my roundup of the best sewing machine for quilting.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
What are you looking for when sewing leather with machine?
Leather is much thicker and less porous than fabric. Trying to run leather through a regular sewing machine will end in broken needles and zero results.
If you’re looking for other heavy duty fabrics, check out my list of the best heavy duty sewing machine options. But leather has unique qualities aside from these.
But what are you really looking for in the best sewing machine for leather?
There are a few different levels of need:
- The occasional leather project. You can get a dedicated needle and foot that you can use with the machine you already have.
- Regular leather sewing capabilities. If you sew leather more than once a month, you’ll want a mid-level machine that’ll handle leather well.
- Full-time leather sewing. If you’re spending a few hours a week or more sewing leather, you’ll want to look at industrial sewing machines leather can handle.
Here’s why you’ll want to make sure you get a machine that’s rated among the best sewing machine for leather projects if you’re doing more than the occasional project:
- Stitch length is important when sewing leather. Too tight a stitch will cause the thread to break.
- Tension control is important as well. For this reason, unless you’re looking for something all-purpose, I’d recommend getting a heavier duty machine with simpler features. You need more control of the features when sewing leather, and less of the external bells and whistles.
- You want to be able to control the speed, and well. You can’t afford to make mistakes on leather. It’s not only pricey, but it shows every hole your needle makes.
Having the proper sewing machine for leather will allow you the right control of these features, and will help you handle leather properly.
Where should you buy the best sewing machine for leather?
I highly recommend Sewing Machines Plus for most machines, however I’ve linked both there and Amazon (where applicable) so that you can compare prices (and read reviews).
The reasons I recommend Sewing Machines Plus:
- Their website is designed to sell sewing machines which means that it’s easier to see relevant features at a glance, compare with similar options, and in general to find the features you need on the best sewing machine for leather.
- They have the biggest assortment of sewing machines I’ve seen.
- They have interest-free payment plans – a must for more expensive machines.
- No sales-tax outside of California (for now…)
- They have a price match guarantee AND a 60 day satisfaction-guaranteed policy. This is especially important when buying industrial machines.
- They have expert sewers available for consultation and to help you troubleshoot.
Check out Sewing Machines Plus for a huge assortment of the best sewing machine for leather and for anything!
Here’s a rundown of the best sewing machine for leather:
Scroll down for reviews of each of these.
Needle for leather sewing machine:
Machine sewing leather can be as simple as having the right needle.
If you’re a casual crafter who occasionally uses thinner leather, you can try to stick with a replacement needle that works well with leather.
This can work for smaller projects and leather accents.
In general, with the right needle and thread, as well as clips instead of pins, sewing leather with the machine you use for everyday sewing is possible. Work slowly and carefully, since any holes made are permanent and very visible.
Switch your needle between projects and work with synthetic threads, which tear less easily.
Industrial machines listed here come with the right foot, but not necessarily the right needle, so make sure you’re stocked up!
What you need to know before buying the best sewing machine for leather:
If you sew leather more regularly, you’ll probably want a sewing machine that’ll handle leather well and that’s designed to do so. If you’re sewing thinner leather, you can still stick with a residential sewing machine. If you’ll be working with thicker leather, scroll down for industrial sewing machines leather will work well with.
There can’t be one best sewing machine for leather, but here are some that scored consistently top reviews, have dedicated features for heavy materials, and are strong and powerful.
These are the top residential options – money saving sewing machines that’ll work with leather crafts and won’t break the bank.
Most versatile multi-purpose pick: SINGER Quantum Stylist 9960 Computerized Portable Sewing Machine
If you’re looking for a truly versatile sewing machine that’ll handle leather projects, this one has top ratings for heavy fabrics.
You still need to make sure to use a leather needle and a walking foot, but this machine will handle it! I recommend this machine if you really are looking for a multi-purpose sewing machine, however you want to know it’ll handle your occasional thinner leather craft.
No Frills Workhorse: Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Mechanical Sewing Machine
A solid sewing machine that’s a step below an industrial machine, this affordable sewing machine handles leather and other heavy fabrics like a pro.
It’s got enough space for you to work with the bulk, between the fabric and the clips.
As with all other standard machines used to sew leather, make sure you get a leather needle and have a walking, teflon, or roller foot too.
It’s a mechanical machine – no screen to navigate and no huge list of features and stitches. You’re paying for the hardware and for a solid machine that can handle rough tasks. It’s easier to use, and you only need to learn the features you’ll need to properly sew leather – speed, tension, and stitch length.
Industrial sewing machines leather can handle
If leather sewing is your business, you do bulk leather projects, or you are looking for industrial sewing machines leather works well with, try these options.
You’ll find that industrial sewing machines leather works best with are those that are designed for heavier materials in general (such as canvas, tarp, and upholstery), with more speed control – because sewing slowly is important!
These industrial sewing machines leather can handle have longer maximum stitch lengths than average. There’s no room for error, so having the right machine is important.
You’ll find that solid industrial machines have more in the way of hardware bells and whistles, and fewer “shiny things” – like big LCDs, and excessive stitches. You’ll be finding well-made machines that have the core technology that makes them sew leather well.
Servo Motor: The Servo Motor is a huge asset to your leather sewing, and any projects where you want to slow down. Most people find it easier to control, and the speed is controllable, unlike clutch motors. They are also much more energy efficient. This kind of motor is a huge asset for leather sewing. Look for this feature on the machines below.
Many of these are shipped fully assembled, so be aware that there may be a freight surcharge, even on websites that normally advertise free shipping.
Top of the line industrial: Reliable 5600SW 25 Inch Sewing Machine
If you’re looking to invest in serious equipment that’ll handle all the leather projects you throw at it, the Reliable 5600SW is the girl for the job. It’s designed for medium-heavy weight fabrics.
It’s a walking foot sewing machine perfect for your biggest and more important leather projects. It’s got a fourth generation SewQuiet 6000SM servomotor and a huge 25 inch throat that’ll handle larger leather projects without mistakes.
One of my favorite perks: it’s a self-oiling industrial machine – taking some of the brainwork out of the upkeep!
The simple dial stitch regulator allows you to find the perfect stitch length for your project. It’s also got a 16mm foot lift (by knee), a maximum speed of 1,800 RPM
It includes a table making it a complete leather sewing workspace. It’s also individually tested before it’s shipped so you know you’re getting a good machine.
You really need to read through the product description for a full listing of features but if you’re looking for THE leather sewing machine, for years and years of leather product production, this is it.
Dedicated to Heavy Duty: Reliable 4000SW
The Reliable 4000SW is a budget machine for its class – it can sew amazingly heavy duty projects, and works best with slower speed sewing (something you want with leather.) It’s got a 14mm lift foot (knee) and is individually tested before it’s shipped. It’s very smooth, allowing for a consistent and beautiful stitch.
While this machine won’t work well for lighter fabric, it’s got a single row feed dog, and walking foot designed for heavier materials and is a work tank for leather.
You’ll want this to be a machine dedicated to leather and other heavy duty sewing projects only. It’s got a SewQuiet DC servomotor and will need to be lubricated manually, like most industrial machines.
More Versatile Heavy Duty: Consew 206RB-5 Walking Foot Upholstery Machine
Another industrial sewing machine at a similar price point to the previous, this one is designed for all sorts of upholstery, including thick vinyl and leather.
Compound feed dogs as well as the walking foot feed your material evenly. The locking stitch regulator helps you maintain a consistent stitch.
This one sometimes comes with a clutch motor however you can upgrade it to a servo motor for a small fee. Make sure that the listing you buy this from states which motor it includes, and if it says clutch, I highly recommend upgrading.
While it can be hard to find reliable online reviews from purchasers of sewing machines, this one has consistent good reviews from owners .
Once again, here’s a quick rundown of the best sewing machine for leather featured in this post:
What are your best tips for sewing leather with machine and dedicated equipment? What do you think is the best sewing machine for leather? Comment below!