Classy, tough and durable, leather effortlessly exudes an air of style and comfort wrapped in one – but working with leather is not as effortless. A thick, heavy material, sewing leather by hand is an arduous and time-consuming project, and standard, lower-end sewing machines can’t stand up to the challenge of handling the material. Add to this the extreme importance of accuracy when working with leather, since any hole you make on the material is permanent and a single misstep renders the whole project useless, and you’ll need to eliminate any room for error before you get started on your leather bag, or the hem of a jacket. Whether you pick a heavy-duty unit usable not just for thin leather and other fabrics and materials, or an industrial unit with a table of its own to transform a corner of your home or workshop into a leather sewing-station, the success of your projects relies heavily on picking the right machine. Take a look at our picks for the best sewing machine for leather.
Janome HD3000 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine
A rugged machine built to handle anything from cotton to leather, we love how versatile this sewing unit is. With 18 available stitch presets, the unit features adjustable stitch width and length – the latter very important when it comes to sewing leather, since longer stitch lengths are essential to making sure your seams hold for material as tough and unyielding as leather. Perfect both for the experienced sewing enthusiast as well as a beginner to the practice, the unit features a comprehensive guide to help you figure out which feet attachments and stitch settings are ideal for different sewing tasks. The extra high presser foot lift is a great feature to accommodate thicker materials like leather, corduroy and denim, as well as seamlessly sewing together layers of cotton or other fabrics. The 5 piece feed dog feeds the material under the needle, while the drop feed makes inserting the bobbin intuitive and easy for beginners and connoisseurs alike. Adjustable manual thread tension lets you control the tightness of stitches, to make sure they’re neither too tight (which results in scrunched or puckered material) or too loose (where the seams aren’t secure enough).
The unit also features a plethora of accessories to make it that much more versatile, an all-rounder when it comes to a variety of sewing practices you can employ from stitching on a leather detail to a regular shirt to stitching up holsters and jackets. An automatic buttonholer is a blessing for making sure you nail uniform, accurate buttonholes each time in a single step, while a zipper foot lets you sew on zippers with perfect precision. The blind hem foot attachment is perfect for adding flawless and subtle finishes to dresses, sleeves, curtains and more. Other attachments also include zigzag, rolled hem and overedge feet, and these are just the standard accessories – the unit is compatible with an impressive list of optional accessories you can browse through for more specific and specialized needs.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
SINGER Sewing 4432 Heavy Duty Portable Sewing Machine
A portable unit with a durable interior metal frame, the unit features 32 stitch presets, with 6 basic stitches as well as various stretch and decorative options as well. We love the three adjustable needle positions of the unit, allowing us greater flexibility in mastering accurate and precise seam allowances without having to repeatedly adjust our visual guides, the drop-in bobbin system and automatic needle threader making this a brilliant machine for a beginner as well as those who appreciate a fuss-free machine that lets you get right down to the nitty-gritty of a sewing project.
Aside from the standard presser foot attachment, the unit features an automatic buttonholer to cleanly and consistently sew buttonholes in a single step, as well as button sewing foot to attach your buttons and zipper foot for an all-round multifunctional unit with many potential applications, all at an attractive price. The extra high presser foot lifter makes this a great unit to use with thicker materials like leather as well as for sewing together layers of fabric with complete ease. Adjustable presser foot pressure control lets you work out the right pressure to properly hold down heavier materials like leather so they won’t slip, while adjustable stitch width and length allow better flexibility as well.
SINGER 9960 Quantum Stylist Portable Sewing Machine
We’re all but spoilt for choice with this unit – preset with a mindboggling 600 in-built stitches and 18 different presser feet attachments for anything from buttonholer to button sewing to darning and embroidery, there’s plenty you can get done with this sewing machine outside of just sewing leather. For the specific purpose of this article, though, we have to shout out the extra high presser foot, with two adjustable heights letting you work out the clearance you need to work with thicker materials, as well as the adjustable stitch width and, especially, length controls, ideal for working out the longer stitches more ideal for sewing leather. An automatic presser foot pressure control system adjusts for the appropriate degree of pressure to hold any material from satin to leather in place, without risk of slippage, without requiring any manual adjustments from you, the user-friendliness of the unit enhanced further with features like the drop feed for the bobbin, automatic needle threader, LED lights to illuminate what you’re working on as well as an incredibly handy extension table for projects that need a little more space to work with. That’s not all – options like in-built monograms and adjustable stitch patterns that let you mirror and elongate existing presets to your choosing give this unit an impressive degree of customizability, making this a great unit to experiment with for the novice and the experienced alike.
Juki DNU-1541S Industrial Walking Foot Sewing Machine
If you’re looking at more than the occasional leather-based project, and for sewing more challenging items like leather upholstery and belts, especially on a large-scale, an industrial unit like this one is likely more suited to getting the job done. Off the bat, the unit’s maximum stitch length of 9 mm is a huge plus for sewing appropriately long stitches for completely secure seams, a powerful motor and a speed of 2,500 stitches per minute making this a heavy-duty machine to power through long-haul projects with ease, not just for leather but for materials like canvas and denim too. Equipped with a table, the unit features an automatic safety clutch that engages if the unit detects an issue to prevent any further damage.