When we think of sewing, we usually think of using materials like cotton, polycotton and knits, but using more unusual materials like silk, repurposed fabrics and leather is very rewarding – when it’s done right. Here are some tips for sewing with leather from Empisal, manufacturers of the EMPISAL EES 50

Plan each step carefully: Unlike other sewing materials, there’s no chance of a do-over with leather. Each step makes a permanent hole, so do all your fitting before you start stitching.

Knot instead of backstitching: Because of the above issue, when you end a row of stitching, rather tie a knot instead of backstitching. Backstitching can easily split or tear the leather.

Long stitch lengths: Short stitches will create perforations in the leather that are very close together, so they can easily lead to tearing. A long stitch of at least 3-4mm is best.

Use clips or tape, not pins: Using pins anywhere other than within your seam allowance will leave permanent holes in the fabric, so it’s much safer to use clips (even binder clips), tape, or quilting clips instead.

Use the right needle: Leather is a tough material and your sewing machine will need a quality needle that’s up to the task. We recommend Schmets leatherworking needles, as they offer the best quality at an affordable price. It’s also a good idea to start each project on a new needle, as leather blunts needles fairly quickly.

Choose polyester or nylon thread: Unlike cotton thread, which can be degraded by tannins in the leather over time and break down, nylon and polyester threads retain their strength and condition when used to sew leather goods.

Adapt your footplate: Many people struggle with sewing leather because it tends to stick to the throat plate or presser foot. If you don’t want to invest in a roller or Teflon foot, you can just place a small piece of Scotch tape over the bottom of your universal foot. This will help it glide over the leather more easily.

Experiment with new sewing projects and unique materials with your Empisal sewing machine 

At Empisal, we’ve been providing high quality, affordable sewing machines, over lockers, steam presses and ironing equipment to South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa for over 35 years.

Whether you’re learning to sew or a professional, Empisal has the right sewing machine for you. With the EMPISAL ESS 50, you’ll be able to take on new projects with ease and get the most out of your sewing skills.

For more information on our sewing equipment and products, please contact us today.