Leather is a tough material to sew, and if you’ve ever worked with it you’ll know you can’t really make mistakes.
You’ll definitely need a reliable machine for any type of leather work.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on a sewing machine for leather sewing projects, and you can absolutely use a domestic sewing machine.
Today, I’ve put together an in-depth review of a number of potential machine matches for you! I’ve looked at 6 products on the market to help you find the best sewing machine for leather.
Which leather sewing machine is best for me?
In this article we have the top 6 sewing machines for leather that are available on the market right now.
But before we proceed to that.
I’ve rounded it up further into some categories for you down below.
My top pick is the Brother ST371HD for overall performance when it comes to a sewing machine for leather.
It has a dual needle function for dual hemming, and it has two heavyweight needles that can manage layers of thick fabrics.
It comes with #16 needles that are suitable for leather sewing but can be used with canvas, denim and other thick materials.
Stitches are uniform and tight on this machine that performs well as a heavy duty and a domestic sewing machine.
The features it comes with include a jam resistant drop-in top load bobbin, an automatic cutter, and needle threader. The presser foot will lift extra high so you can manage extra layers without any issues.
Best for Heavy Duty Leather Projects
A powerful machine that can sew through tough fabrics. Ideal for beginner or intermediate sewers.
The Singer 4432 is my choice for the best heavy-duty sewing.
This machine will easily sew through multiple layers of leather, canvas, and denim. It comes with an electric servo-motor.
Personally, I like the drop feed features on this machine that can really make sewing much easier.
The machine comes with a dust cover for protection during storage and transportation.
While it is at the heavier end of machines, users will be pleased with the stability during high production leather sewing.
You can slow down and speed up sewing with the foot pedal, making it comfortable to use, as after all it’s designed for intermediate sewers and total beginners.
Best Industrial Leather Sewing Machine
A simple but fast machine with a durable build.
The Juki DNU – 1541S is the best industrial leather sewing machine.
This machine storms ahead at an extremely fast 2,500 – it’s honestly the fastest machine I’ve reviewed, ever!
It’s a simple machine, boasting only one straight stitch, but a stitch that it does very well—they do say less is more, after all.
The industrial sewing machine is self lubricating, so you don’t have to keep oiling it.
It’s really made to last with it’s highly durable structure and has a quiet motor that can be used at all times, day and night without worrying about distracting or waking anyone up!
Best Vintage Leather Sewing Machine
A time tested machine. Built to last with a high quality precision build.
The best vintage leather sewing machine would be the Singer 201.
While they are heavy machines at around 30lbs, these beauties were made in the 1930’s and were built to last with a high quality precision build.
Depending on your needs, vintage leather sewing machines can have advantages over a modern industrial sewing machine, especially when sewing thicker materials.
They have a heavy build, helping to stabilize.
Additionally, they are often simpler to use and are better for the planet, as most of them don’t require electricity at all!
Because Singer made such large quantities of these leather sewing machines, they are so common to find and are therefore easy to service.
This leather sewing machine is available in electric and non-electric models, meaning you can use it totally off grid, or plug it in.
Vintage models are some of the best leather sewing machines for all types of materials.
Top Sewing Machines For Leather
Here is the whole lineup…
Best Sewing Machine for Heavy Duty Leather Projects
A powerful machine that can sew through layers of tough fabrics. Ideal for beginner or intermediate sewers.
Let’s start with Singer 4432 Sewing Machine.
The simple frame and outer layer are made from metal, meaning a longer shelf life and more durability.
It will clock up to an industrial 1,100 stitches per minute.
It has box feed dogs instead of arc feed dogs, meaning instead of moving the fabric in a curve, the feed dogs move with the fabric with continuous pressure.
This is good for thinner and thicker fabrics.
The feed dogs are adjustable, giving you a choice of pressure depending on how fast you sew.
The feed teeth can be lowered too for free motion sewing.
It comes with extra high adjustable presser feet which can be raised for thick leather work. The accessory bundle includes a teflon foot, which is essential for leather sewing projects, a walking foot and a one step buttonhole foot.
The storage unit can be removed to reveal a free arm for smaller leather sewing, such as for purses or other tubular projects.
Other features include a top drop in bobbin, built in automatic threader, and thread cutter.
- Built in stitches: 32
- Stitches per minute: 1100
- Unit dimensions: 15.5” x 6.25” x 12”
- Weight: 14.6lbs
- Engineered with resistant nylon gears.
- 110 applications.
- Host of features
- Not many included accessories.
- Speed can be hard to control.
Best Industrial Leather Sewing Machine
A simple but fast machine with a durable build.
The Juki DNU – 1541S industrial machine has a simple yet old fashioned aesthetic. It is at an industrial standard and will rapidly sew through leather fabric at a speed of 2,500 stitches per minute.
It comes with a high foot lift, allowing you to squeeze thicker projects under the needle.
The servo motor is speed adjustable, especially helpful for beginners and for leather projects that don’t need high speed stitching.
The machine only hosts one straight stitch, but reviews state that it does that well.
Sewists who prefer a mechanical type industrial machine will love this stitch dial operated Juki machine and the needle up/down hand wheel.
It hosts a large workspace of 18” x 7”, sizable enough for all your homemade leather goods. It holds an L bobbin, meaning less fiddly thread changes during high production, heavy-duty sewing.
Despite looking like a traditional device, this machine comes with modern features like a reverse stitch button and a trimmer.
The presser foot will reach two heights, 9mm with a hand lift, and 16mm when using the knee lifter (one of my favorite features on a modern sewing machine).
Even if you don’t consider yourself a stitching master, this is a machine that can grow with you and can handle a higher spm.
- Built in stitches: 1 straight stitch
- Stitches per minute: 2500
- Unit dimensions: 48 x 48 x 36
- Weight: 80.4lbs
- Maximum stitch length: 6mm
- Has a self lubricating system so does not need to oil the ports.
- Industrial design.
- Quiet to operate.
- Learning curve.
- More costly than other options.
This unit has a strong motor and a high presser foot to ensure that it will sew seamlessly through heavy-duty fabrics without missing a stitch.
The Janome HD3000 is a mechanical sewing device made from a lightweight aluminum, with all-metal working parts.
This heavy-duty sewing machine comes with a plethora of features.
The machine comes with two packs of leather needles and a snap on ultra-glide foot to prevent leather from sticking.
It has a strong motor and a high presser foot to ensure that it will sew seamlessly through heavy-duty fabrics without missing a stitch.
The motor in the Janome HD3000 is 1.0amp, capable of sewing through thick layers of fabric.
It’s important for you to know the power of a heavy-duty sewing machine to make sure it can handle heavy-duty tasks.
This machine includes a hard cover with a handle to protect it from dust and to make it easily transportable.
The automatic leveling walking foot is a great feature to be used with heavy duty fabrics. And, the adjustable pressure on the Janome HD3000 material foot is useful for applique and knit fabrics.
In place of an LCD screen on similar models is a stitch selection dial and sliders to adjust the width and length.
A drop top bobbin is featured, along with an automatic needle threader and cutter
The free arm is easily accessible for tubular leather projects.
- Built in stitches: 18
- Stitches per minute: 860
- Unit dimensions: 19” x 10” x 14.7”
- Weight: 21lbs
- Lightweight, easily moveable.
- Extra high foot lift for thicker fabrics.
- Long cord 50” from the device to the pedal.
- Cutters are positioned on the side of Janome HD3000
- Limited stitch features.
The Brother ST371HD is surprisingly powerful for a small home sewing machine. It’s an inexpensive heavy-duty sewing machine, designed for light and heavyweight materials.
No matter the thickness of your fabric, it will sew at 800 stitches per minute.
It features 37 inbuilt stitches to provide strength while adding a decorative touch.
There is no automatic needle threader on this machine, but you can follow the instructions easily when threading the machine.
It has a stitch selection dial, drop feed dogs for free motion sewing, and a free arm.
The top drop-in bobbin with clear casing means you can see how much you have left before starting your next leather sewing project.
Its accessories include needles, such as three #16’s, different sized needles for heavyweight fabrics, and a non-stick foot for stitching leather.
Customers say the LED light is good enough to light up the workspace without the glare. Additionally, the clear instruction manual with pictures, a table of contents, and DVD ensure an easy, quick setup.
The built in handle helps move the Brother ST371HD sewing machine from the cupboard to the sewing area effortlessly.
These industrial machines come with Brother’s signature limited warranty for 25 years.
- Built in stitches: 37
- Stitches per minute: 800
- Weight: 14.5lbs
- Unit dimensions: 8” x 16” x 12
- Drop feed dog feature.
- Consistent high quality stitching.
- Easily sews through heavy material.
- No up / down button for pivoting fabrics.
- Mostly plastic framework.
Made from aluminum die-casting, making it lightweight and portable. though it only boasts one straight stitch, it does so at 1500 spm.
The Juki TL 2010Q is made from aluminum die-casting, making it lightweight and portable. Though it only boasts one straight stitch, it does so at 1500 spm – relatively fast for a heavy duty home sewing machine!
These industrial machines are sturdy enough to hold still at full speed without wobbling, which could be catastrophic for leather work.
The LED light illuminates the large 23” workspace.
The presser foot can be raised by 1.2mm with a knee lift so you have both hands free to guide leather through the machine.
One thing to note is that the sewing speed control is employed with a foot pedal, which may take some time to get used to for beginners.
Other features include an automatic needle threader and a built in cutter to save you from grabbing the scissors.
It comes with an automatic tension controller, which could prevent stress and extra spending, as sewing on leather can definitely be unforgiving sometimes.
Easy access oil ports can make for an easier squeaky clean.
You can add a protection plan warranty with this model, depending on which supplier you buy from. Juki makes some of the best sewing machines for sewing leather.
For the price, you can get a top of the line piece of engineering.
- Built-in stitches: 1
- Stitches per minute: 1500
- Unit dimensions: 17.8” x 8.6” x 13.8”
- Weight: 37.8 lbs
- Powerful LED light so you can see what you’re doing
- Extension cable for more extensive work
- Knee lift-lever
- Customers have reported issues with the feed dogs.
- Can be time consuming to source repair parts if required
A computerized, powerful sewing machine. The high heavy motor means users can sew over humps, bumps, and thicker materials such as leather without the device slowing or sticking.
The Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 is a computerized, powerful sewing machine. The high heavy motor means users can sew over humps, bumps, and thicker materials such as leather without the device slowing or sticking.
The Singer metal frame has been created for longer durability on the heaviest of projects, up to 850 stitches per minute.
It is an easy to use semi-automated Singer sewing machine with an automatic needle threader, automatic width and length adjustment, trimmer, and automatic tension control. It comes with 600 built in stitches for you to choose from along with lots of editing and customization options.
Useful if you’re making leather clothes with this device!
Buttons on the front of the sewing machine include a reverse stitch, a stop start button to use when the pedal isn’t in use, and a needle up down button.
The easy to load drop-in top bobbin comes with a clear plastic cover so you can see exactly what you have left on your spool before you begin.
The Singer accessory bundle has a darning foot and walking foot included.
The feed dogs can be dropped for free motion decorative sewing on your leather projects.
If you like to make clothes primarily, this could be the best sewing machine for you.
- Stitches per minute: 850
- Built in stitches: 600
- Unit dimensions: 17.2” x 8.2” x 12”
- Weight: 18.2lbs
- Automated tension control.
- Stitch library on flip up panel
- Extension table.
- Maybe too many features for a simple leather stitching work.
- Un-adjustable presser feet pressure.
What type of sewing machine is needed for leather sewing?
There are two types of machines suitable for different leather sewing needs.
Domestic leather sewing machines could be used when working with leather if they have a high presser foot lift.
A powerful motor is needed to help guide the needle through. Luckily, these leather sewing machines are reasonably priced, and can be cheap to service.
Or, you can buy an industrial leather sewing machine.
These typically specialize in high production sewing and can sew through thick fabrics easily.
A larger workspace is generally needed and can be louder when in use than a domestic sewing machine when sewing leather.
As long as you have the right yarn, a leather needle, and the right foot, a domestic leather sewing machine should sew through leather.
Either could be the best sewing machines, depending on your needs.
What needle should I use in leather sewing machines?
Needles have a number which matches the size of the needle.
The smaller the number, the finer the needle. The needle size is calculated by its diameter, e.g. 90 = 0.9mm.
When sewing leather, you need a heavy-duty needle with a sharp tip that will easily pierce the material.
Here’s an informative video about leather sewing machine needles…
A leather needle will be 110 or 120, depending on the thickness of the leather.
Leather needles are spear-shaped to help cut the leather as the stitch is being formed.
If you were to try to use a size 90, which is meant for sewing linen together, it would struggle and could snap.
How can I stop the leather from sticking to the sewing machine?
Leather is an unforgiving fabric when sewing, and if you make a hole in it, it’s there forever.
No matter the power of the motor of the leather sewing machine you buy, if you don’t have the right equipment, thick materials could get jammed or stick to the foot during the sewing leather process.
Luckily, this is remedied easily by changing over the foot on your leather sewing machine to a teflon foot or a roller foot, which will glide easily over leather materials.
Some users even suggest using masking tape on the leather where stitches will be made, to prevent sticking (I wouldn’t take the risk though!).
Make the stitch length and width longer on industrial leather sewing machines than you normally would to prevent bunching on the foot plate.
What type of thread do I need to sew leather?
Before you start sewing with leather, it’s really important you find the right thread.
Never use cotton thread on leather, as the tannins in the leather will erode the yarn over time.
Here’s a short video to give you on idea on how different threads can affect the finished product.
Use polyester or nylon for a long lasting and strong hold.
Leather also looks better (I think) when it’s been sewn together with a heavy yarn.
Things to consider
For the best sewing machine to be able to get through leather, there are many things to consider.
I’ve made a list of the most important things to add to your checklist.
The price of the best sewing machine for leather is only one thing to consider; you will also need to purchase the right feet, leather needles, and yarn (plus material!) before you can start sewing leather.
Industrial machines will be typically more expensive than your average domestic sewing machine for leather.
Consider if you will be using your machine regularly for home sewing as well.
An industrial machine will power up and sew leather and thinner fabrics well, but might not be the best buy if you won’t use it often.
If you sew regularly and will only occasionally use it to sew leather, you could consider a domestic sewing machine for leather.
Like all equipment and machinery, the best sewing machine for leather can be an investment.
You might want to make sure you have a warranty that will cover you for all the support you need.
You definitely don’t want to buy without checking that you’re covered with a comprehensive warranty for parts and repairs.
Singer and Brother offers a limited warranty of 25 years on their sewing machines for leather.
For the machine to handle sewing thick leather materials, the machine must have a heavy-duty body.
The overall construction should be made of a heavy metal for it to power through thick materials without skipping stitches.
Stitches per minute
The faster the machine can go, the more powerful and easier it will be to sew through thick materials.
The average sewing machine for leather will work around 600 – 800 spm, but heavy duty and industrial sewing machines will sew at 1,100 stitches per minute.
Tension is something you’ll need to keep an eye on when sewing leather.
Standard leather sewing machines will break the thread as they try to sew tighter, so check if your machine has an automatic thread tension control before starting!
You want to use something that is stronger than standard cotton thread, something synthetic like nylon, polyester, or rayon are good choices for leather sewing work.
However, you can expect to pay more for thick high quality yarn material.
Leather will dull and ruin the point of needles much faster than other fabrics.
You will want to use a sharp needle when sewing with leather every time.
By not changing the needle, or using an unsuitable needle for your materials can cause the leather sewing machine to jam or break, which could outright ruin your leather project!
There are typically two motor types when it comes to a leather sewing machine: either a clutch motor which will operate at a fixed speed depending on the machine type or a servo motor that’s fully power control adjustable.
Servos consume 90% less energy than clutch motors, and the adjusted speed remains the same no matter how hard you press the pedal.
How do I maintain a sewing machine for leather?
Sewing machines for leather can handle more, and will work efficiently if they are oiled and cleaned regularly.
The lint and thick thread that gets stuck in the machine should be removed after every use and only sewing machine oil should be used, that can be found in haberdasheries or fabric shops.
Most sewing machines for leather are effortless to clean and maintain.
They can be wiped down with a clean cloth (I like microfiber cloths). There should be a cleaning brush that comes with the sewing machine used to dust and clean inside the bobbin case.
How do I secure leather for sewing?
Pins should NEVER be used when sewing leather, no matter the types of leather sewing.
Pins leave a permanent hole in leather, and you would need to sew more to conceal them (or expect to pay for more leather!).
When you are working with leather, use double-sided tape or glue to hold the leather in place before sewing.
So we’ve learned that if you make products from leather, you don’t have to buy an expensive sewing machine for leather (yay!), you can use a regular sewing machine.
But, all it takes to ruin this expensive material is one stitch in the wrong direction!
Just to recap, my top pick for best leather sewing machine is Brother ST371HD for overall performance.
The best leather sewing machine will have a dual needle and uniform stitch length like this one. An extra high presser foot makes this a winner for sewing leather.
The best of the industrial sewing machines is Juki DNU-1541S. It’s one of the fastest industrial leather sewing machines at 2,500 spm.
It has one straight stitch, crucial for sewing leather!
Best Heavy Duty
The best leather sewing machine for heavy duty jobs is the Singer 4432. It will glide over multiple layers of leather at a high speed and is comfortable for a beginner to use.
The products reviewed here are the best leather sewing machines available, all with high power and capable of handling even the thickest of leather sewing projects
Make sure to take a small scrap of the material that you want to use, and see how the sewing machine behaves before you start on your leather sewing project.
Good luck, and I hope you really enjoy working with leather!