What is The Best Leather Sewing Machine?
Leather products are amazing but some of the most difficult to create. The thick and resistant leather material is hard to stick a needle through never mind attempting a complicated stitching pattern. A heavy duty leather sewing machine is crucial. But how do you make the right choice? What do you need to consider when looking for the right sewing machine that sews leather?
In this guide, we will take a detailed look at what you need to consider when purchasing a reliable sewing machine for leather work. We will look at the best domestic heavy duty sewing machine options and consider if an industrial leather sewing machine might be a more appropriate option.
And finally, we will review the domestic and industrial options and share our picks for the best leather sewing machine on the market.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing
When purchasing a leather sewing machine, you must decide whether you need a domestic or industrial machine. A heavy duty domestic sewing machine is an all-in-one unit that will allow you to sew leather projects up to an approximate leather thickness of 3/16” when you use proper leather sewing needles. If you will be sewing thick leather or doing a large amount of leather sewing, you need a professional sewing machine designed for heavy usage. These leather sewing machines can handle thicker threads and give you the option of a longer stitch length to produce professional results. Here we outline both types as well as what to look for when choosing the best leather sewing machine for your situation.
Best Sellers of 2017
What To Look For In The Best Sewing Machine For Leather
Domestic Heavy Duty Sewing Machine Vs. Industrial Leather Sewing Machine
Domestic Sewing Machine
A heavy duty domestic sewing machine is an all-in-one unit that will allow you to sew leather projects up to an approximate leather thickness of 3/16” when you use proper leather sewing needles. They are most suited for smaller projects like bags or purses due to the size of the working area and can successfully sew thin or faux leather. These machines work well for occasional leather work as well as other heavy fabrics. If you are also looking for a canvas sewing machine or a denim sewing machine, these would be ideal choices. You should expect to pay between $250 and $500 for an entry-level machine that has a high enough quality.
Consider the following when purchasing a leather sewing machine:
- Strength: Look for a strong and durable motor and metal frame as well as a model designed for heavy usage. You also want the strongest, most detailed product warranty available for your peace of mind. In case the machine is defective, fails, falls apart, or something unexpected happens, it is important to know you have protection.
- Simplicity: Digital, computerized, or a programmable sewing machine may look amazing but unless you are tech savvy, you want something that has less potential for problems. The computerized machines do not always have the power to deal with the heavy material. Power has to be taken from the motor to deal with the computer and it has the potential to take away from the performance of your stitches.
- Service: When sewing leather regularly, it is common to need frequent services. Can your machine be repaired easily? Is there a local technician in your area or will it need to be sent away for service?
- Height: You will need a high-pressure foot lift to give you extra height when sewing intersecting seams and placing the leather under the foot when starting.
- Cost: Consider what accessories and attachments you will need. Every leather-appropriate sewing machine comes with basics, but you will need additional special threads, leather sewing needles, bobbins and presser feet.
- Reputation: You want a leather stitching machine made by a reputable manufacturer with well documented helpful customer service. You do not want a new company or a machine model that is brand new to the market and relatively untested over time.
Professional Sewing Machine
If you will be sewing thick leather or doing a large amount of leather sewing, you need a professional sewing machine designed for heavy usage. The best industrial sewing machine is one produced with quality metal, durable motors and parts and a walking foot. These leather sewing machines can handle thicker threads and give you the option of a longer stitch length to produce professional results. Industrial sewing machine needles are easy to purchase online. Unfortunately, they are significantly more expensive. Expect to pay $1500-$2500 for a good quality industrial leather sewing machine. Both a Singer industrial sewing machine and a Juki sewing machine are excellent well known brand options while the Tippmann Boss Sewing Machine is a unique manual leather sewing machine.
Consider the following when purchasing an industrial leather sewing machine:
- Power: Some machines need industrial power supplies so make sure this will work at your house.
- Specialty: When you purchase a specialized machine, it will not be suitable for sewing fabric.
- Walking Foot: Leather can not be bunched like fabric. This foot “walks” with the material so that it does not get stretched and is essential to prevent permanent creases or scratches.
- Area: Working areas differ between machines having a flat-bed area or a free arm style.
- Motor: The machines use two different types of motors. First is a clutch motor. This tends to be noisy with a background humming noise even when you are not sewing. It also takes time to get used to the clutch motor’s constant foot pedal high speeds. It is heavier and harder to move once set up and uses more electricity but your leather projects will be done very quickly. Second is a Servo motor. This is quieter and makes no noise until you begin sewing. It has adjustable speeds which are similar to the domestic machine, which makes them easier to use for the beginner. These motors use less electricity and are much lighter than their counterpart.
- Noise: As mentioned, a clutch motor will be noisy while Servo motors tend to be quieter.
Best Leather Sewing Machine Reviews – Our Picks
Janome Sewing Machine Reviews
Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty
This machine is a simple but powerful sewing machine that comes with the quality and reliability that Janome is known for. It is a workhorse and is built to sew leather and other heavy duty materials. The Janome HD3000 gives you a good workspace, offers a reverse stitch lever, foot pressure adjustment features and a built in needle threader. We have never been disappointed with what we think is the best Janome sewing machine for leather and heavy fabrics!
This cast aluminum machine is almost indestructible and has many of the convenient features you’d expect on a higher-priced machine. It will come with 14 stitch patterns and a built-in buttonhole and can sew heavier materials. You can also get the special black edition: Janome Industrial-Grade Aluminum-Body HD1000 Black Edition Sewing Machine. It boasts a powerful 1.0 amp motor and an all-aluminum interior frame and outer body to sew the materials.
Singer Leather Sewing Machine Reviews
Singer has a complete line of capable leather sewing machines. This machine is extremely popular because it is one of the most reasonably priced heavy duty sewing machines for an entry level purchase. There is a Singer 5532 Heavy Duty version but other than a slight color difference and an increased cost, it is identical to the 4432. They both have 32 built-in stitches, a 6mm stitch width, extra high presser foot lifter, drop-in bottom, automatic needle threader, free arm, and multiple other features. If you want a heavy duty machine for the cheapest cost, this is your machine.
Brother Leather Stitching Machine Reviews
This is a well known company with a proven track record. The ST371HD is marketed as a tough, strong and versatile machine that will efficiently sew through everything from silk to leather. It has a smooth feeding metal needle plate, a brightly-lit LED work area and a one-step auto-size buttonholer. There are also six Brother sewing machine feet included with a Zigzag and non-stick foot designed especially for suedes and leathers.
Sailrite Heavy Duty Sewing Machine Reviews
The Sailrite company has a loyal following and an excellent reputation for customer service. The company has been continuously given high reviews. This is a semi-industrial machine and a more expensive option (retailing around $750) but many people compare it to the Professional Juki that retails for almost $2000. Sailrite’s claim is that they “blend the convenience of portability with the power of an industrial sewing machine.” The LSZ-1 is very capable of sewing leather and heavier materials and it offers an additional zig-zag option. This sewing machine includes the Power Plus Balance Wheel which gives more slow speed power and control with its extra powerful flywheel. You can set the variable stitch length up to 6 mm in straight stitch and up to 5 mm in zigzag width. Sailrite also has excellent “how-to” videos and an informative printed manual. If you are a newbie, this will assist you on both the machine and sewing projects
Why doesn’t a normal sewing machine work?
The first significant problem with leather is that it is unforgiving. Any stitch into leather creates a permanent hole and if done incorrectly must be discarded. This is obviously extremely frustrating and can become expensive very quickly. This also applies to pins. Instead, you can use regular paper clips, binder clips, invisible tape, or hair clips. There are also special clips sold at fabric stores that are designed for quilting but will work for leather.
The second problem when working with leather is that it often sticks to the pressure foot or throat plate of standard sewing machines. Some people have had minor success using tape to cover the bottom of the foot and allow the leather to slide through, though most machines are unable to accept the thickness of the leather material. The leather will either stick underneath the foot or the needle will get stuck and create a permanent hole.
The third problem is with the thread tension. Standard sewing machines attempt to compensate with a tighter stitch and this usually causes the thread to break.
Unfortunately, you can not avoid these problems even if you use faux leather. Your best option is to make sure you have the right machine and these problems will cease to exist. Regardless, make sure that you always test a scrap of your leather material before beginning your project so you know how your sewing machine will handle it.
How to begin with a Leather Sewing Machine
What do you need?
Stitching with leather consistently requires new leather sewing needles. The leather will dull the needle and cause it to break or jam the machine, resulting in a ruined product. Change them when you start your project and then at continuous intervals. Choose a size appropriate for the thickness of the leather you are using. This is usually a needle size 14-18. We like the Schmetz and Klass (distributed in the US by Hemline) leather needles.
Synthetic thread works best when sewing leather products. Cotton thread will rot over time because of the chemicals in the leather. Nylon and rayon will typically be the best option but an upholstery weight polyester core spun thread also works in domestic machines. You can get waxed leather threads, but you need to make sure your machine will work with them.
Choose a leather thickness that your machine can handle. With a domestic machine, consider a matt finished cow or sheepskin. Thin garment leather is also suitable. Goat is easy to sew but slightly stiffer. Patent leathers that are super shiny are so sticky that you should only attempt this with an industrial machine and a walking foot. We recommend purchasing a scrap leather bag to experiment with. This will give you different thicknesses and types of leather to try on your machine. You can purchase cheap scrap leather by the pound.
Long stitches are essential so that the punctures will not perforate the leather. If you are using a domestic machine, you will need a high presser foot. You can use a Teflon foot or roller foot that will not cause the leather to stick or skip stitches. Some people sprinkle baby powder on the leather to help it slide through but we prefer the Janome feet. The Janome Teflon Feet are thicker, smoother and more durable than cheaper generic brands. Because they are a snap on foot, they should fit most brand machines.
If you need to create or repair a small area, you can do this by hand using specific leather stitching tools. A manual technique can offer a stronger suture than the traditional lockstitch created by sewing machines but be aware this is a slow and tedious process. Remember, as with the leather sewing machine, it is imperative that you use the right tools. “The Art of Hand Sewing Leather” by Al Stohoman is a fantastic resource if this aspect of leather work interests you.
When hunting for the best leather sewing machine, there is an overwhelming list of possibilities. You need to be realistic when evaluating what you want to accomplish with your machine and what your budget is. Once you have answered these two questions, you will able to use our guide to narrow down your choices. Remember, whatever your situation and your budget, the right machine is out there and you will soon be on your way to completing your leather projects! We know that purchasing the best leather sewing machine is very important and we hope our guide will help you make your decision easier!