If you are going to be sewing on leather, you need a machine capable of handling the extra strength and thickness of leather. What you need is a heavy duty sewing machine capable of sewing intricate stitches on fabrics such as canvas, sails, jeans, and leather. We aim to help you find the best leather sewing machine for your project.
Our List of the five best leather sewing machines
The type of machine you need depends mostly on the kind of projects you work on. Most heavy duty home machines can handle projects such as leather purses, bags, belts, jackets and other light leather work. But if you are going to make projects such as saddles, you’ll need an industrial leather sewing machine.
Most people will either work with real or faux leather. If you choose lightweight versions of both materials, most home sewing machines can handle them without requiring the use of heavy-duty machines. Most lightweight faux leather behaves just like regular fabric. By lightweight, we mean leather of 3oz (1mm –1.2mm) thickness or less.
Whatever your sewing needs, there is a machine out there that will meet all of your requirements.
The table below lists the top 10 leather sewing machines on the market today. To cater for the masses, all of the machines we’ve chosen are under $1000. If you are searching for machines in a specific price range or can afford one over $1000, then click on an appropriate link below to see the machines in that price range.
What are the best leather sewing machines?
The best sewing machines for leather will have enough strength to hand that kind of material. You need a machine that allows you to add new presser foot, special leather needles and allows for longer stitch lengths. The machine should be able to work with synthetic threads. You need a machine with a roller or Teflon feet. For fast and comfortable sewing, you need a heavy duty sewing machine. When it comes to leather crafting, only the toughest will do.
Summary reviews of the best leather sewing machines.
Some of the best sewing machines we’ve reviewed are also the best machines for sewing leather. We often encourage people not to go the cheap sewing machine options even if you only need the machine to complete a few projects. You want a machine that will last a long time and make the process of sewing fun rather than a source of frustration (which is what you’ll get with cheap sewing machines).
The list below is our review of the top 5 best sewing machines for leather.
#1 Sailrite Heavy Duty Ultrafeed LS-1 Basic Walking Foot Machine
Note: This machine is no longer available. We recommend any of the others on this page, which are equally capable of handling tough sewing jobs. For a more industrial machine, we recommend the Juki LU1508H or the ECONOSEW DNU-1541S. They’re a bit more expensive but they get the job done with no problems.
If you want to sew leather comfortably with a machine, this is the perfect sewing machine for leather. It is a semi-industrial sewing machine that can comfortably handle thick materials such as leather, heavy canvas, denim and upholstery fabrics. This machine comfortably sewed through ten layers of heavy canvas.
The LS-1 is a straight stitch machine with a walking foot which is perfect for leather. The walking foot means the leather will not stick to the presser foot during sewing. For stronger and more secure seams, the machine offers stitch lengths of up to 6 mm.
You can pretty much feed any material under the 3.5-inch foot lift, and this machine will sew through it like bread through butter. It handles the toughest materials (you can even sew toys out of old fire hoses) with ease and control. You won’t experience any jerking or uneven stitches.
It comes with the right needles for sewing leather, 4 bobbins, thread stand, electronic foot control and even samples of the materials they’ve tested the machine with.
It is built with the toughest, most durable parts which ensure the machine will last for many years to come. The included guidebook and DVD will tell you everything you need to know about the machine and how to use it.
The Ultrafeed LS-1 is the perfect machine for beginners or experienced sewers looking for a good sewing machine for heavy materials such as leather. If you want to make beautiful professional grade leather projects, this is the machine to get.
Note: The LS-1 can only do straight stitches (which is enough for most leather projects). If you want a machine that can do zig zag stitches, then get the Ultrafeed LSZ-1, which costs $100 more than the LS-1.
#2 Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
For lightweight leather sewing projects, the HD3000 can do the job with ease. It comes with two packs of leather needles and an ultra-glide foot which makes it a perfect machine for sewing leather. It uses snap-on feet, so it is easy to add a generic foot if you need to.
The HD3000 is a heavy duty sewing machine which comes with 18 stitches built in and a one-step buttonhole. The frame and internal materials are made of metal which makes it strong enough to handle heavy duty materials such as leather and denim.
A strong motor and high presser foot ensure that the machine sews through leather and other heavy-duty materials without missing a stitch.
It comes with an automatic needle threader which works very well and saves you a lot of time. The machines let you adjust the length of the stitch up to 4 mm, which is great for sewing leather because longer stitch lengths mean stronger and more secure seams.
The presser foot pressure adjuster is a nice touch which makes it easier to sew through a more extensive choice of fabrics.
It comes with an easy to understand user manual with plenty of illustrations to show you how to do various things.
For those looking for a strong, sturdy machine, without all the complicated computerized stuff, that will easily sew through leather and other heavy materials, the HD3000 is a great addition to your home.
#3 Juki TL-2000Qi Sewing and Quilting Machine
The Janome HD3000 is an excellent machine for sewing leather, but if you are someone who sews leather on a regular basis, you seriously need to upgrade to the Juki TL-2000Qi.
It is fast, durable, quiet, a workhorse and can handle very thick materials with ease. And don’t be fooled by the price, the Juki 2000Qi is an affordable machine with a high-end capability and quality.
Some of the features include a sewing speed of 1500 stitches per minute, an LED lighting that brightens the workspace when working at night and an automatic needle threader which saves you time and effort.
Other features include an automatic thread cutter, presser foot pressure adjuster, needle up/down selection, drop feed dog, and easy bobbin loading.
The machine comes with a speed selector that allows you to sew heavy materials such as leather at low speeds for even, clean and smooth stitches. There is an extended table that gives you up to 23 inches of workspace for large quilting projects.
The walking foot is perfect for sewing leather. The machine sews straight stitches only, but this is enough for almost any leather project. And besides, 99% of all the sewing you’ll ever do will be done with straight stitching.
The Juki 2000Qi was made with quilting in mind. It has a wide workspace to handle large quilting projects with ease. The drop feed dog allows for excellent free motion quilting. The knee presser lift is a convenient addition that makes it easier to lift the presser foot without using your hands.
The power and speed of this machine are amazing. If you sew leather for a living or you just do a lot of heavy duty sewing, then this semi-industrial machine is all you need. It will last longer and never give you any problems. Once you’ve set it up and read the manual, you’ll fall in love with this machine.
This machine is however not the best machine for a beginner.
#4 Singer 4432 Heavy Duty Extra-High Speed Sewing Machine
The 4432 is the only machine under $200 to make it onto our list of the best sewing machines for leather. Despite its low price tag, it does an excellent job of sewing through leather and other heavy-duty materials.
The combination of the heavy duty metal frame and powerful and high-speed motor makes it a capable machine for lightweight leather projects.
The use of a box feed and feed pressure adjuster allows it to sew thick materials without skipping stitches. The machine comes with snap-on feet so you can quickly add your own presser foot for better control.
The machine has automatic threading feature which makes the task of threading the needles a breeze, and creating buttonholes for your projects using the one-step buttonhole is easy.
Overall, this little machine is a good machine for sewing lightweight leather projects and makes beautiful and durable stitches. It is however not a workhorse and should not be used by someone who sews leather on a daily basis. It is a great machine for beginners and those with meager budgets.
#5 Singer S18 Studio
The S18 is not a specialty leather sewing machine but an all-around high-performance sewing and quilting machine that is also great for sewing leather. This mid-priced Singer machine packs a ton of features for those looking for a computerized sewing machine that is good at sewing through heavy materials such as upholstery, denim, and leather.
It comes with an LCD screen that helps you select from over 400 in-built stitches and also comes with a lot of button controlled functions. The automatic needle threader, automatic thread cutter, and the knee presser foot lifter all add time-saving functionality to this machine.
The easy drop-in bobbin loading technology makes it very easy load the bobbin. The bobbin cover is transparent so you can quickly tell when you are running out of bobbin thread. The generous workspace can be increased with the use of the extension table when working on large quilting projects.
The free arm allows you to make excellent free motion quilting.
But you want to know how it performs when sewing leather right? The truth is this sewing machine does an excellent job with leather and other thick fabric. You can comfortably sew through several layers of some of the toughest fabrics out there. The walking foot, thread tension adjuster, presser foot pressure adjuster and speed adjuster all combine to make it an excellent choice for sewing thick fabrics and leather.
And there is a ton of features which we have listed in the table above.
The S18 has the same performance and features of the much more expensive Janome memory craft 6500P. It is about half the price of the Janome, which is frankly a steal. If you are serious about sewing even as just a hobby, this is the perfect machine for you. The design and construction are of the highest quality, and the performance is top notch.
When you buy this machine, we promise you will never have any complaints about it and it will last a very long time with simple, regular maintenance.
Sewing can be a fun activity if you have the right machine to complete your projects. You’ll experience a lot of joy sewing gifts and beautiful items for friends and family or to sell. If you are willing to spend so much money on a phone, then we encourage you to get a high-quality sewing machine, so you don’t experience any problems down the line.
Reasons to get a leather sewing machine
The drawback of working with leather is that you can’t afford to mess up. With cloth fabrics, you can unstitch your mistakes and redo the stitching. But every mistake you make with leather can be a costly one. Make the wrong stitches, and the leather may become useless. When you make a stitch on leather, it creates a permanent hole in the leather unlike with cloth fabrics. If you put the holes in the wrong place, that section of leather may no longer be usable. This is one of the reasons why you need the best sewing machines for the project. There are no do-overs when working with leather.
Another issue with leather is that it has this tendency to stick to the throat plate or presser foot of the machine during sewing. One solution will be to place a piece of scotch over the foot to help the leather glide under it. But if you don’t want to go through that trouble, you will need a machine with presser foot and throat plates designed to handle leather sewing.
You also need a machine that will let you make longer length stitches on leather. This is because longer length stitching seams stronger and more secure.
And just to be sure your machine can handle the leather you want to sew, take a scrap piece of the leather and test your stitches on that. If everything goes well, then you can proceed to work on your project. If the machine is unable to handle the leather, then you need to invest in a new machine.
A few tips on sewing with leather
Leather is in fashion, and lots sewing enthusiasts want to make their own purses, bags, wallets, jackets, etc. Working with leather can be frustrating if you don’t know what you are doing. So here a few tips and tricks that will hopefully make the process of sewing leather a fun and much more pain-free process.
- Watch out for imperfections: Before you start cutting out your patterns, examine the leather for imperfections. If you cut out your pattern and later discover that there are scars or even a hole in the leather, you might not have any leather left to make a new cut.
- Leather and pins are not friends: If you work with regular fabrics, you might be used to doing a lot of pinning. But when working with leather, pinning is a no go. Pins make permanent holes in the leather. Instead of pins, use clips (hair clips, paper clips, binder clip) and invincible tape.
- Leather can stick to the presser foot or throat plates of your machine. Use Teflon foot, a walking foot or roller foot when working on leather.
- Use the right thread: Get the right threads for sewing with leather, or you will run into problems. The best threads for sewing leather are pure nylon threads or upholstery weight polyester threads. The wrong threads can stick to the leather and attempt to pull it through the presser foot during the upstroke.
- Switch to a new needle and use a Teflon presser foot instead of a walking one If you find that the machine is struggling to sew smooth stitches. The right needle can make a big difference to your finished product.
I am sure there are a lot more tips out there for sewing leather, and we will love to hear about it. Leave your tips in our comments sections below.
Can I sew leather with my home sewing machine?
This is a question that gets asked by a lot of people. The answer depends on the thickness of leather you are working with. Your domestic sewing machine can sew real or faux leather of about 3oz (1mm to 1.2mm) thick as long as you use the correct needles, presser feet, threads and do not make very thick seams.
For much thicker leather, you might need an industrial sewing machine to complete the project. An industrial machine is recommended only if you sew as a source of income or you sew leather on a regular basis. Otherwise, if your thick leather project is a one-off or a once in a while project, then your best option might be to hand-sew the leather.
But if you will only be working with lightweight leather, then your home sewing machine is perfectly fine for most projects if you get the right accessories. Check out the top computerized sewing machines here.
Whenever you are unsure, simply test a sample of the leather with a few stitches to see if your machine can handle them.