By: Jake Berlin
Sewing leather and fur do not differ too much from sewing other types of material. The key to sewing leather is to always try your stitch on a piece of scrap before you start the actually sewing and then make sure you have your pattern accurate for the piece you will be sewing. The reason this is so crucial is that once you have stitched leather, if you make a mistake and need to undo the stitch, the leather will be weakened and you will be left with holes.
Another tip is that depending on the thickness of the leather or fur, you want to lengthen your stitch to three or more. Obviously, the thicker the seam will be, the longer you need to make the length of the stitch. If you make your stitch too small, what happens is that the leather is punctured too close together, causing tears.
Another important tip is that you should always leave long threads at both the start and end of the seams so you can tie them off by hand. The only time you would use a backstitch is when the seam will be encased or crossed over by another seam. You can keep the seams together simply by placing a very small, strong in the seam allowance when sewing leather.
As you work with patterns, you will discover that leather garments have the same interfacing in the same locations just as you would find with other types of material. If you need to fuse your leather, an excellent product on the market called Leather Fuse is made specifically for leather. With this solution, the leather is fused quicker and at lower temperature settings, as not to damage the leather.
Now keep in mind that if you need to press an area of a pattern down, you can by using a small amount of steam. Since leather goes through a quality tanning process, there is no need to worry about shrinkage. Just be sure you place a brown paper press cloth in between the iron and the leather and never leave the iron sitting on the leather for very long.
If you are sewing leather with thick spots, you can use a rubber mallet to pound them out. However, you will need to protect the leather by covering it with paper or cloth to ensure you do not scratch or dent the leather.
If you are sewing leather that is more casual, you can use lapped seams. Simply topstitch to hold the seam allowance and then with a single-hole throat plate, you can stitch, which will keep the stitching nice and straight.
As you are sewing leather garments, you might experience skipped stitches. If this happens, do not stop stitching, just keep going. What you want to do is when you have finished all the machine stitching, go back, and stitch over those skipped areas by hand. Start by anchoring the needle between the layers of the garment and then bring it up through the first skipped hole.
Now, pass the needle over the thread of the floating thread that was skipped and then pull the needle back through the hole. Be sure you pull the stitch tight and do this for each skipped stitch. This way, you keep the integrity of the machine stitching in tact while providing reinforcement.