The Best Leather Sewing Needles 2017-06-24T19:30:28+00:00

It is essential to your leather project success that you use specialized leather needles. The needles are sharp and shaped like a chisel, enabling them to pierce through leather without skipping stitches. The leather sewing needles will cut through the leather instead of pushing apart the weave of a fabric like a regular sewing needle. Using worn sewing machine needles will result in broken or shredded threads, skipped stitches, fabric puckering, or uneven seams.

It is important to always have a good supply of leather sewing needles and change them when you start your project and then at continuous intervals as leather quickly dulls even the best leather sewing needles.

Four brands specialize in manufacturing specialized leather needles: Schmetz, Singer, Hemline (Klass) and Birch Brands.

We will take a quick look at the parts of a needle, needle types, and needle sizing followed by our recommendations for leather sewing needles. Remember that when you select the needle, you first look at the type of fabric you will be using and then determine the correct size based on the fabrics weight and the thread size.

All About Needles!

Needle Parts:

It is helpful to understand the different parts of a sewing needle so that you have a better idea of what you are looking for when trying to find a specific leather sewing needle. This image is via Schmetz Needles.

  • Shank: This is the part that fits into your sewing machine. Remember, the flat side is to the back. 
  • Blade: This determines the needle size. A needle blade with .75mm diameter would be a size 75.
  • Shaft: This is the “body” of the needle.
  • Groove: This holds your needle thread and runs the length of the shaft. Your thread diameter should not take up more than 40% of the groove.  
  • Point and Tip: This refers to the size, shape and length. This varies based on the type of needle.

Needle Types:

There are three main needle types used for the majority of sewing.

  • Universal needles: A general purpose needle used on wovens and sturdy knits, these have a slightly rounded tip.
  • Jersey needles: Used for knit fabrics, these have a medium ballpoint tip to allow the needle to slip between the knit fibers without damaging them.
  • Stretch needles: Used for stretchy or elastic material, these also have a medium ballpoint tip as well as a special eye and scarf.

In addition to the three common needle types, there are a multitude of specialty needles, including leather sewing needles.

Needle Sizing:

With needle sizing, the larger the number, the larger the blade will be. You will often see two sizing numbers on the needle package. For example, 60/8 and 70/10. This is because there are American and European needle sizing systems. American needle sizes range from 8 to 19 while the European sizes range from 60 to 120. Thankfully, they put both numbers on the needle!

When you sew with leather, you will usually use a needle size between 14 and 18, depending on the leather thickness.

Needle Lifespan:

As we mentioned, it is important to always have a good supply of leather sewing needles and change them when you start your project and then at continuous intervals as leather quickly dulls even the best leather sewing needles.

This is good practice, not only when sewing with leather, but whenever you start a new sewing project. Sewing needles are not expensive and they are really only designed to last for 6-8 hours of sewing time. If the fabric is tough (like leather), this time decreases significantly. Don’t take the chance of damaging your material by using a dull needle!

This YouTube video is long…but it gives you a good visual of different needle and thread sizes. After watching it, you will be able to picture what the number sizes actually mean.

Specialized leather needles are manufactured by four main brands: Schmetz, Singer, Hemline (Klass) and Birch Brands. Remember, it is essential that when stitching with leather, you consistently use new leather sewing needles. The leather will dull the needle and cause it to break or jam the machine. 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.

Don’t forget the thread! Synthetic thread works best when sewing leather products. 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.

Summary of the Best Leather Sewing needles

Do not skimp on your leather sewing needles! These are the most inexpensive part of your leather project but have the ability to completely damage the leather or other material that you are using. Remember that when you choose the correct needle for your leather sewing machine, first look at the type of fabric you will be using and then determine the correct size based on the fabrics weight and the thread size.  

Happy sewing!