If you are new to leather sewing, you may be wondering if you can use a normal domestic sewing machine or whether you need a walking foot sewing machine to sew leather. It's certainly a tricky question but you can find the answer right here in this article.
There are three ways in which you can attempt to sew leather on a sewing machine, and only one of them involves using a walking foot sewing machine. Let's look at each method:
- Using a domestic machine -- this is the cheapest way of sewing leather if you already own a machine, at least on the face of it. Unfortunately, if you use a cheap machine to sew leather; even lightweight leather; something will very soon give and it probably won't be the leather. Either you will bend or break a part or the motor will burn out. However, it is true that a heavy duty domestic machine may well be able to sew lightweight and medium-weight leather even without a walking foot. A clue to its suitability is whether a machine is advertised as being able to sew several layers of denim or canvas. Such a machine, even if leather is not mentioned in the description, is quite likely to be robust enough to cope.
- Using a universal walking foot attachment -- for about twenty dollars you can buy a little foot and attach it to a domestic sewing machine. The same caveats apply here as to the previous method. The machine's motor may not be as resilient as that of a true heavy duty machine and may simply give up the ghost, or you may break or bend part of the machine. However, if you have a heavy duty sewing machine, attaching a foot is a way of ensuring that the needle and feed mechanism are suitable for leather when the mechanism of the underlying machine is not, perhaps because the leather slips or the machine cannot make long enough stitches. Personally, I would not want to sew anything more than lightweight leather into items like purses and bags on this sort of set-up.
- Using a true walking foot sewing machine -- this is the way to sew leather if you are intending to do it often, or if you need to sew heavier grades of leather. A true walking foot sewing machine is designed as a heavy duty sewing machine and will happily feed through and sew the heaviest of materials, whether denim, canvas, sailcloth or leather. What's more it will carry on doing so without complaint for many years. It's a great investment and if leather sewing plays a significant part in your world, then you might as well get the machine for the job if you can afford it. Apart from being a sound investment, it will also be much more enjoyable to sew all those leather purses, bags, belts and clothes on a machine that really is up to the task.
Note that whatever machine you sew leather with, you need proper leather needles (three-sided chisel-tip needles) and your machine needs to be able to make long stitches so that you don't tear the leather.
It can be particularly tricky to find accurate information on the walking foot sewing machine. Jordan Irwin has some great information for you if you are considering one of these. You can find it right here: Walking Foot Sewing Machines.
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