What Thread Do I Use For Machine Sewing Leather

What Thread Do I Use For Machine Sewing Leather?

Picture this: You’re hunkered down in your workspace, your trusty sewing machine humming, a gorgeous piece of leather stretched out before you. Your project, a sleek, custom leather jacket, is beginning to take shape, but you’re suddenly hit with a question that halts your progress: “What thread do I use for machine sewing leather?”

Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this head-scratching predicament. The importance of choosing the right thread for sewing leather cannot be overstated. It’s an art – an essential part of the process that dictates the longevity, aesthetic, and overall success of your leather masterpiece.

“The thread you choose is the final stroke in your canvas of creation. It’s the silent partner that holds everything together.”

 But fret not! We’re here to guide you through this labyrinth, and by the end of our journey, you’ll be threading your needle with confidence, ready to tackle your leather project with gusto. You may read also How Do I Adjust The Presser Foot Pressure?

What types of thread are suitable for machine sewing leather?

If you’ve ever wondered, “What types of thread are suitable for machine sewing leather?” you’re in the right place. The answer is not as simple as picking up any old thread. Different types of thread have varying strengths, textures, and finishes that can significantly impact the final product.

Nylon Thread

The most commonly used thread for sewing leather on a machine is nylon thread. It’s strong, durable, and comes in a variety of thicknesses. This thread is particularly suitable for heavy-duty leather items like belts, saddles, and footwear.

Polyester Thread

Next up is polyester thread. It’s equally robust and resilient as nylon, but better at resisting UV rays and moisture. This makes it ideal for outdoor leather goods like tents, awnings, and boat covers.

Upholstery Thread

Upholstery thread is another top pick when it comes to machine sewing leather. It’s extra thick and sturdy making it perfect for furniture, car interiors, and other substantial leather items.

Silk Thread

For a more luxurious touch, you might consider silk thread. It’s softer and finer than other threads but still holds up well with leather. Silk thread is often used for high-end fashion accessories and detailing work.

In summary, the type of thread you choose for machine sewing leather should depend on your specific project. Take into account the item’s intended use, the weight of the leather, and the desired aesthetic.

What are the characteristics of a good thread for machine sewing leather?

When it comes to machine sewing leather, a good thread makes all the difference. It’s not just about color or thickness, but also about strength, durability, and flexibility. Here are some characteristics to look out for:

  • Durability: Leather is a tough material and requires a thread that can withstand its rigors. A durable thread won’t break or fray easily, even under pressure.
  • Strength: A strong thread is non-negotiable when sewing leather. Ideally, it should be able to bear the weight and stress of the material without snapping.
  • Flexibility: Leather flexes and moves, so your thread should too. A flexible thread will allow your stitches to adjust without breaking or pulling the leather.
  • Heat Resistance: The friction of machine sewing can generate heat, so a heat-resistant thread is a bonus. It won’t weaken or melt under high temperatures.
  • Smoothness: A smooth thread will glide through leather more easily, reducing wear and tear on both the material and your machine.

Remember, the right thread for your leather project depends on the specific type and weight of the leather, as well as the purpose of the item you’re creating. Always test your thread and machine setup on a scrap piece of leather before beginning your main project.

How do I choose the right thread thickness for machine sewing leather?

Choosing the right thread thickness for machine sewing leather may seem like a daunting task. But worry not, it’s not as complicated as it seems. The thread thickness you need largely depends on the thickness and type of leather you’re working with.

Leather Thickness and Thread Size

As a general rule, the thicker the leather, the thicker the thread you’ll need. For instance, if you’re sewing thin leather like lambskin, a thinner thread such as size 69 will suffice. However, for thicker leathers like cowhide, a heavy-duty thread such as size 138 is more appropriate.

Consider the Thread Material

It’s not just the thread size, but also the material that matters. Polyester thread is great for most leather projects due to its strength and durability. Nylon thread, while also strong, may not be suitable as it degrades faster under ultraviolet light. If you’re working on a project that will see a lot of sunlight, like a car seat cover, polyester is your best bet.

Test First

Whenever possible, test your selected thread on a scrap piece of leather first. This way, you can make sure the thread doesn’t break or fray, and the stitches are just right. It helps to avoid any unwelcome surprises during the actual project.

Remember, the correct thread thickness can significantly impact the quality and durability of your leatherwork. Choose wisely and happy sewing! You may read also How Did The Sewing Machine Impact The Industrial Revolution?

What are the different types of leather and how do they affect thread choice?

The variety and types of leather greatly influence the choice of thread for machine sewing. Each type of leather has unique characteristics that require certain considerations when selecting the appropriate thread. Let’s delve deeper into some common types of leather and how they impact your thread selection.

Full Grain Leather

Full grain leather is high-quality, durable, and thick. Because of its thickness, it requires a strong, thick thread. Nylon and polyester threads are excellent choices for full grain leather, particularly if they are bonded.

Top Grain Leather

Top grain leather is thinner than full grain; therefore, it doesn’t require as heavy a thread. A lighter weight nylon or polyester thread, or even a cotton thread, work well with top grain leather.

Genuine Leather

Genuine leather, also known as corrected grain leather, is manufactured and has a less robust surface. It needs a thread that won’t potentially tear or damage the leather. In this case, a synthetic thread like nylon or polyester is the best choice, but avoid heavier, thicker threads.


Suede, although technically leather, has a completely different texture and feel. It’s softer and more pliable, making it easier to sew but also more susceptible to damage. A high quality cotton thread is often used for suede to prevent tearing the material.

Bonded Leather

Bonded leather is made from leftover scraps that are reconstituted into a leather-like material. It’s not as durable as other leathers, so it’s best to use a lighter thread. A medium weight polyester thread works well with bonded leather.

The type of leather you’re working with largely determines the thread you should use. Always ensure that your thread matches the durability and thickness of your leather to prevent any damage.

What are the common problems that can arise when using the wrong thread for machine sewing leather?

When tackling leather projects, using the wrong thread for machine sewing can stir up a bit of trouble. Let’s delve into the common issues that can arise from such a misstep.

Stitch Quality Compromise

First and foremost, you might notice a decline in stitch quality. Incorrect threads can lead to uneven stitches, which are not only unappealing but also detrimental to the durability of your product.

Thread Breakage

Another issue is thread breakage. A thread that’s too weak or thin can easily snap under the pressure of the sewing machine or the toughness of the leather, causing your workflow to halt abruptly.

Damage to the Sewing Machine

Believe it or not, using the wrong thread can actually pose a risk to your sewing machine. Too thick or coarse threads can wear down the mechanical components of your machine, leading to premature wear and tear.

Skin Irritation

Last but not least, some threads may cause skin irritation. If you’re crafting wearable items like jackets or gloves, it’s crucial to select a thread that’s comfortable against the skin.

As you can see, using the incorrect thread for machine sewing leather can lead to a myriad of problems. The key is to choose wisely to ensure a smooth and successful sewing project.


In the vast world of sewing, knowing which thread to use for machine sewing leather can be a game-changer. This knowledge can make your work easier, more efficient, and result in a far superior product.

Ultimately, nylon and polyester threads are the top choices for machine sewing leather. They are durable, resilient, and can withstand the rigors that come with working with such a tough material.

Remember, the thickness and weight of the thread are just as important as the type. The heavier and thicker the leather, the heavier and thicker your thread should be.

  • Nylon thread is highly resilient and has a certain level of elasticity making it a good choice for most leather works.
  • Polyester thread, on the other hand, is resistant to UV rays and moisture, making it a good choice for leather items that will be exposed to the elements.

With all these in mind, the best thread for your project will also hugely depend on the specifics of your project and personal preferences. Happy sewing! You may read also How To Backstitch on a Sewing Machine?


1. Can you use regular thread for sewing leather?

No, regular thread is not recommended for sewing leather. Leather is thick and requires a strong, durable thread like nylon or polyester.

2. What is the best thread for sewing leather?

The best thread for sewing leather is often considered to be nylon or polyester thread, due to their strength and durability.

3. Can any sewing machine sew leather?

Unfortunately, not all sewing machines can handle leather. You’ll need a machine that’s designed to handle the thickness and toughness of leather, such as a heavy-duty or industrial sewing machine.

4. What size needle do I need to sew leather?

When sewing leather, a larger needle is often needed. This is typically a size 90/14 or 100/16. The exact size may vary based on the thickness of the leather.

5. Do I need a special foot for my sewing machine to sew leather?

Yes, a Teflon foot or roller foot is often recommended when sewing leather to help the material glide through the machine more easily.

6. Can you sew leather by hand?

Yes, you can! It requires more effort and a bit of patience, but it can certainly be done. You’ll need a special, sharp needle and sturdy thread.

7. What kind of thread do shoemakers use?

Shoemakers often use nylon or polyester thread, which is durable and capable of withstanding the wear and tear shoes often endure.

8. What is bonded nylon thread?

Bonded nylon thread is a high-strength thread that’s been coated with a special resin. This coating makes the thread resistant to fraying, UV rays, and even mildew.

9. Can I use waxed thread for sewing leather?

Yes, waxed thread can be a great option for sewing leather. The wax helps to protect the thread and makes it easier to work with.

10. Can you use cotton thread to sew leather?

While you can technically use cotton thread, it is not recommended. Cotton thread is not as strong as nylon or polyester, and may not hold up well over time when used with leather.

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