Sewing leather - decorative seams in leather

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Why is leather sewn?

Leather is sewn for a variety of reasons. Leather is the tanned hide of animals and has the contour of the skin. In order to process leather into shoes, clothing, or upholstery for cars or furniture, it must be cut into appropriate pieces so that it meets the aesthetic and technical requirements of the object and the customer's wishes. To process leather without wrinkles and in the correct form, the cuts must be aligned with these needs. Leather is also sewn to add embellishments or elements.

To make use of leftover scraps, smaller pieces of leather can be punched or cut and sewn together to create larger patchwork areas. This way, leather waste can be effectively recycled.

Leather is a sturdy and durable material, but it cannot be bonded with conventional adhesives or sewn with regular threads. However, by sewing leather, it becomes possible to safely and permanently connect it with other pieces of leather and other materials.


What types of seams are used in leather and how do they differ?

There are several types of seams that can be used when sewing leather, each with its own characteristics and advantages. Here are some of the most common seams used in leatherworking:

  • Straight stitch: The straight stitch is the simplest and most common type of seam used in leather sewing. It is created by a needle and thread that is pulled through the leather. Straight stitches are ideal for seams on straight edges or for joining parts together.
  • Topstitch: A topstitch is created by sewing two stitches side by side to create a prominent seam. This type of stitch is often used as a decorative seam and can be done in various colors and styles.
  • Double topstitch: A double topstitch consists of two parallel topstitches sewn on both sides of the leather piece. This type of seam is very durable and is commonly used in bags, wallets, and other accessories.
  • Cross stitch: With a cross stitch, the thread is pulled diagonally through the leather to create a cross pattern. This type of seam is often used in leather crafts and clothing to create a decorative seam.
  • Saddle stitch: A saddle stitch is a strong seam that is commonly used in leather saddles and other leatherwork. It is threaded through the leather and crosses over at the top of the material to create a very stable seam.

Each type of stitch has its own characteristics and can be used for different applications and materials. Choosing the right type of stitch depends on various factors such as the type of leather, the strength of the stitch, and the intended purpose of the end product.


What do you have to consider when sewing leather?

  • Before sewing leather, it is important to research how to properly sew leather and which type of stitch is suitable for the specific sewing project.
  • Choose the right needle: Use a specialized leather needle that is suitable for sewing leather. A leather needle has a rounded tip that makes it easier to pierce the material and reduces the risk of damaging the needle.
  • Use the right thread: Choose a strong, robust thread that has been specifically designed for sewing leather to prevent the leather from tearing or fraying.
  • Adjust your sewing machine settings: Leather is a thick and heavy material that requires a stronger needle and higher stitch lengths. It is also advisable to reduce the pressure of your sewing machine's foot to avoid damaging the leather.
  • Be patient: Sewing leather requires patience and time. Take the time to ensure that everything is properly aligned and that the seam is straight and clean.



Some leathers are sewn with a Leather piping.


Pre-punching of stitch holes

Pre-punching stitch holes in leather before sewing serves several purposes. Pre-punching the holes allows for precise determination of the seam's position, ensuring that the stitches run evenly and straight. If the holes are not pre-punched, sewing leather can lead to tears or damage. Pre-punching accurately penetrates the leather fibers, minimizing the risk of damage. Additionally, pre-punching the holes facilitates threading the needle and the overall sewing process. It provides clear guidance to the sewer and prevents the needle from slipping or breaking. This is especially important when working with thick or stiff leather. Pre-punching the holes saves time during the actual sewing. Instead of piercing each hole while sewing, the sewer can directly proceed with threading the needle and tightening the stitches.


Sometimes holes are pre-punched for the suture threads to pass through.


Decorative seams on leather

In order to provide leather with motifs, leather can be embroidered. But seams are an ornament in themselves if processed appropriately, and seams can be used to decorate leather with motifs.



Decorative stitches can be added to leather separately, but sometimes the connecting stitches are already part of the visual design.



Möbel-Anilinleder-02.jpg Möbel-Anilinleder-01.jpg

Leather furniture decorated with seams.


Straussenleder-Weste-01.jpg Perforation-Motorradkombi-001.jpg

Leather clothing is almost always decorated with seams. - Ostrich leather vest and kangaroo leather suit.



Stitched diamond patterns are a speciality in vehicle leathers. This design is called "diamond stitching".





Car leather upholstery can be decorated very differently with seams.



Seam design on a leather interior of a Bentley.




Seam-decorated biker wallet made of stingray leather and handbag in Moscow.




Handbag with diamond stitching and with crocodile look.



Patchwork shoe.





Leather panel design with decorative stitching.



Decorative stitching sample board of Leder Reinhardt.



Decorative seams of a leather handbag from the manufacturer Louis Vuitton.




Also a work of art: a leather wallet with crocodile embossing made entirely without seams.


A video about painting on leather, perforating leather, carving leather, embossing leather and several other methods to create motifs on leather.


More information on how to provide leather with designs

Additional information