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Working with leather
New to sewing leather pea coat
Scott S
Scott S
Member since 1/5/13
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Date: 1/5/13 9:30 PM

Hello. I'm a recent vet of AFG and IRQ and would like to get into sewing and working with leather as a way to relax and decompress. I've found some leather kits on Tandy leather that I'm interested in, but would eventually like to try my hand at creating some nice messenger bags for friends and a custom leather pea coat for myself and possibly friends if I can figure it out. Is this something that requires a certain type of machine or needle? I think I've found some good patterns to try. I would be interested in hearing from any fellow leather lovers out there.

jacquiJB
jacquiJB  Friend of PR
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DENMARK
Member since 5/5/06
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In reply to Scott S <<


Date: 1/6/13 6:26 AM

I haven't had the pleasure of working with leather yet, but here are a few basic guidelines. First, make a practice garment (also known as a muslin or toile), as it's virtually impossible to make adjustments to leather on the fly because any needle holes are there for good. This also means you don't want to use pins to hold pieces together for sewing or to pin the pattern to the leather. Clothes pins or binder clips are good choices for that. You'll want to get leather needles in a size appropriate to the thickness of leather you're using. Finally, a regular, good-quality home sewing machine should be able to accommodate many leather projects, including your proposed coat, if there aren't too many layers.

Hope this helps. I'm sure someone with more experience will be along with more suggestions. Welcome to PR!

sanchy
sanchy  Friend of PR
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Date: 1/6/13 8:40 AM

I love working with leather but found it challenging at first. I found the Workshop CD on Sewing Leather by Kathryn Brenne very helpful.

The Academy of Fine Sewing and Design

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Sandy

Re Becca
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Re Becca  Friend of PR
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Date: 1/6/13 10:28 AM

Hey Scott, Welcome back and thank you for your service.

I am working on a leather jacket too, I am going for more of a motorcycle type. I have made a couple of leather jackets in the past, the mot recent one is
reviewed here.
I am curious about which sewing machine you are using. I still do most of my sewing on my grandma's old elna, but for this project I have borrowed a friends Janome 660 which has a walking foot and it makes the project much easier.

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http://beccabeckstuff.blogspot.com/

Damn the muslin, full speed ahead!

PattiAnnJ
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PattiAnnJ
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Date: 1/6/13 12:59 PM

Thank-you for making our country a safer place to live!

Tandy should have more information regarding sewing with leather. Do you have a store nearby? The managers are usually very knowledgeable.

You will need a leather specific needle.

Depending on the thickness of the leather this would be size 16 or larger. The needles will have two numbers, like 16/100 this represents US and Europe numbering. Letters represent type.

A Teflon foot is also recommended.

Use scraps of the leather to test the needle as well and stitch length. Mimic what you will be stitching by layering the scraps; the thicker the layer, the larger the needle may need to be and the longer stitch lenght (more area; more lenght).

Best wishes for many sucessful projects. Heck, even the not so sucessful are just learning curves! Just enjoy!


-- Edited on 1/6/13 4:32 PM --

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"Improvise, adapt and overcome." - Clint Eastwood/Heartbreak Ridge

NhiHuynh
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NhiHuynh
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Date: 1/6/13 1:13 PM

Silhouette patterns has a DVD on sewing leather. It also covers selection, cutting, resources as well as sewing. She is more garment oriented. Not sure how different bags would be. Leather for every body I don't own the video but I have seen this red leather jacket in person and it s impeccable.

She has DVDs on sale from time to time. Leather is expensive so it may pay for itself. A tip that I have heard from Peggy is to use a Teflon foot.

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I finally have a blog. www.detectivehoundstooth.com :)

SandiMacD
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SandiMacD  Friend of PR
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Date: 1/6/13 1:14 PM

Welcome to PR. I can't begin to tell you what a support PR has been to me. I was medically discharged from the USAF and coming up on my 10th anniv in June- when my life fell apart. It took me 3 years just to get to the point where I was able to sew again.
About 2 years ago, life began to click back in place. I am having more good days than bad ones.
Hang in there! PR members will always be around at 0132, when you are awake. Thank you so much for your service. I hope you find sewing leather items - or whatever creative sewing you undertake - will help your recovery as much as it has helped me. Although my DH and cats have played a not too small role either! :)

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sewing brings joy and meaning to my life...

Nancy Rhodes
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Nancy Rhodes  Friend of PR
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Date: 1/6/13 2:39 PM

Leather meant for garments is relatively light-weight, requires techniques unique to leather & vinyls (the holes thing.. teflon foot, glue for securing seams allowances etc etc.) Most decent household machines especially if outfitted with a walking foot, aka even feed foot, will sew fine on leather... keep in mind I am talking garment leather. For bags made of more substantial leathers ... not so likely to do a satisfactory job. If you REALLY get into this, look at the TIPMAN might be two PP's TIPPMAN Boss machine. Meant for leather, light med heavy etc. Hand operated ... it is a pretty nifty design for a very specialized sewing category. Good luck in your venture. I will second all comments about the great support you will find here on PR . com. My best to you in the new year...

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... cleverly disguised as a responsible adult!

Al Johnson
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Al Johnson
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Date: 1/6/13 4:23 PM

Never worked with leather myself, but have worked with lots of extremely heavy nylon and Kevlar webbings. If you can afford it, a walking foot industrial machine is absolutely your best bet for anything beyond garment weight leather. Failing that, try to find a strong old cast iron machine, like a Singer 15-91, or a Necchi BU Nova, Pfaff 130(?), or similar. These are household machines, but probably the strongest of that type.

Good luck, have fun!

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A sewing machine is just a welder for textiles.

beauturbo
beauturbo
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Member since 5/2/09
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In reply to Scott S <<


Date: 1/6/13 6:14 PM

Yes, it would. Something purchased loose and separate as just a sewing machine head, for that on purpose, sitting in a separate and big table with a motor under it and a compound walking foot built into it and or a leather roller pressure foot on it, or even maybe something like one of these nice hand operated Tippmann Boss machines even:

http://www.tippmannindustrial.com/?_kk=leather%20sewing%20machines&_kt=09643759-6a55-47cf-8b89-c0b8d3ebc71b&gclid=CMjDmbzs1LQCFQyk4Aod0iYAbg

If instead you just wanted to make one or a few soft, thin, very pliable glove leather ladies skirts or maybe a guy's very soft, thin glove leather kind of dress shirt, with like no or very few layers of applied pockets or plackets on it, then maybe just any sewing machine instead. Leather pea coats and messenger bags are made of way too thick and hard leather and way too many layers of that leather in them in lots of places, to use a normal home sewing machine to make them.

I have Singer 15, Necchi BU, Pfaff 130 and such, I could not sew sew a thick leather pea coat or messenger bag with any of them, and would be tearing my hair out to even try. Not even counting it would not work good. I guess you could just use your hand on the fly wheel on some of those to try to make some holes in some of those things in some places though, and try to use a hand hand awl in those holes in there later, or maybe a hand sewing needle with a pair of pliers to pull some thread though in some places afterwards, (I will sometimes patch a place where stitching just coming out of one of my shoes that way with a curved hand held needle) but it would be not good and horribly slow going. And even like that, on places that had zippers, pockets, pocket flaps, binding or something, I think it would be a no go even that way.

-- Edited on 1/6/13 6:15 PM --
-- Edited on 1/6/13 6:27 PM --

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