Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Little Leather

Mary Ray introduced me to sewing leather a year or so ago. And I wanted to make something leather after that, but I kept allowing other projects to intervene. In the meantime I acquired two thrifted leather skirts, one in a cinnamon suede and another in a mustard suede. I took them apart but then could not decide what to do.

Then I started folding it and playing with it. And it naturally became a medium-sized clutch after I resewed the waist darts (why did I unsew those darts???):

The wrist strap and loop came from the kick pleat facing.  For lining, I had left over quilted fabric from an art quilt that had to be deconstructed. 

Unfortunately, after I finished lining it, I found that it was impossible to top-stitch around the edges, as I had hoped. My trusty Bernina made a terrible noise trying to penetrate that bulk on the edge. After trying several different types of needles, I decided to leave it alone.

Some parts of this were so simple.  The leather is thin and easy to cut. Because I had so little invested, I even did some resewing which is normally a bad idea with leather. I was just careful to follow previous lines of stitching and hope for the best.

Another simple part was inserting the magnetic clasp. A little kitchen knife plus some pliers made it quick and sturdy. I did fuse some interfacing over the back sides before completing the lining.

The suede was not as easy to sew as I had hoped. I used a Teflon foot which helped a lot, but I found that the suede wanted to drag on the feed-dogs. This was mostly easy to avoid by keeping the leather part of any seam under the foot, and the fabric part on the feed-dogs. I wonder if smooth leather would create the same problem?

It feels very yummy. 

I'm not sure what I'll do with the mustard suede skirt. Maybe a tote? I cannot wear mustard close to my face but I love it, so it will become something.

So what are your experiences with sewing leather?


  1. You need a special "leather" needle for your sewing machine. If you could see a cross section of a leather needle you would see that it's triangular in shape and pierces the leather rather than getting stuck as regular needles do.
    That I learned more than 50 years ago when I made a leather top to go under my mini-skirted suit while I lived in London during the swinging 60s.
    Good luck.

  2. A wonderful clutch that looks good I am very impressed at your skills. I have bought the teflon feet for a leather jacket but fear got the better of me. I might try a smaller project first.

  3. One thing that might very well help with your leather sewing project would be if you have a walking foot attachment for your machine. Years ago when I worked in various leather shops where they did repairs and created new bags, and when I worked in a motorcycle jacket shop, all the leather sewing machines had walking feet... that sort of foot pulls evenly from the top and the bottom (imagine feed dogs above and below) so everything feeds smoothly and evenly. I was so taken with the concept that I made sure to have a foot like that for my home machine, even though I rarely if ever sew leather, because it makes sewing anything bulky a LOT easier.
    - indigotiger from SG