Recently my husband bought a guitar strap with leather ends. He wound up cutting it apart to modify it, and wanted me to sew a seam to reinforce what he'd done. I was pretty sure my machines could sew through leather, but I asked the good people on the Treadle On mailing list for advice before I tried.
It turns out that sewing leather is a lot different than sewing quilting cotton, so I decided not to sew his guitar strap yet. But, I was sufficiently inspired to try sewing leather. One generous Treadle On member mailed me a package of leather scraps to play around with.
This evening I tried it out. I was initially going to use my Singer 27, which is in a treadle base. But then I decided to use my Singer 66, which is powered by hand crank. My poor 66 doesn't get much love - I only really use it on quilt guild sewing days. And 66s with red eye decals, like mine, are dead common and not really sought after by collectors. Even though the 66 was the finest machine of its time, it doesn't get much respect now. I decided to see if it could prove itself.
This is the leather piece I started with. A narrow strip. The leather wasn't as thick as belt leather, but it wasn't vinyl-thin either.
I sewed one test line on a single thickness of leather, and it went so easily. Next I doubled the leather up so I was sewing through two pieces. Easy peasy! I had to tug it a little to get it to start moving through the machine, but once the machine got going it just glided through. I used a regular quilting needle, not a leather needle, since I was just playing around.
It sews a nice, tight seam.
I sewed together some more strips and yanked on them as an experiment. I pulled them apart, but it wasn't my stitches that gave - the thread itself shredded. I was just using regular polyester thread. The recommendations I saw said to use upholstery thread or kevlar thread.
Lovely! Good job, little red eye!
I haven't seen tutorials on leather sewing projects online...but then again, I haven't looked much. I'd love to sew something. I think there might not be much out there because modern sewing machines would have trouble sewing through leather well. Not my old beast, though!
I have a new level of respect for my old 66.