Can You Sew Leather On A Serger? (Explained)

Sergers are specially designed for overlocking, an ideal stitch for finishing seams, and are commonly used to overlock on knit and other stretchy fabrics.

The overlocking stitch allows the material to maintain its stretchiness while protecting the edges against fraying.

Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Sew Leather on a Serger:

You should avoid using your serger for leather. It is designed to finish seams with an overlock stitch, which is unnecessary for leather edges. You can sew leather on a regular home sewing machine with a leather needle, a durable thread and adjust your machine’s settings.

Can Serger Needles Sew Through Leather?

Standard serger needles cannot sew through leather. They don’t have the correct shape to get the job done correctly.

Regular needles have a shape that helps them find their way through the existing weave of any fabric.

Although it seems like you are making holes when you sew, your needle is just finding where the holes already exist and expanding them. This works well on knits and other common fabrics.

Serger needles don’t have the right shape to punch a new hole through leather. You will need to purchase specialized needles if you think about sewing with leather.

These needles are up for the task but are best used on a standard home sewing machine.

What is the Toughest Material a Serger Can Handle?

Sergers are not ideal for working with overly thick and complicated materials.

They have a very specialized function for finishing seams with overlocking flawlessly. They excel at this task on stretchy and knit fabrics.

However, some sergers are better suited for thicker fabrics than others. Once you get to know your serger, you will be able to determine what the toughest material it can handle is.

Generally, the higher quality of the machine, the better it can handle tougher materials.

However, you can still make several adjustments to help any serger take on thicker fabrics than usual.

Disengaging the Blades:

Part of the construction of a serger is its blade.

The machine will neatly trim off any excess fabric beyond the overlock stitch as you serge with the blade activated. Your serger removes this excess evenly and cleanly, giving your final garment a professional look.

If you attempt to serge with overly thick fabrics, your blade will probably not be able to keep up. Sergers move fast and can overlock perfectly at high speeds when using lightweight fabric.

The machine might struggle for the blade to keep up that speed when faced with a thicker, stronger fabric.

You might consider disengaging the blades if you want to use a tough, thick material on your serger. This can be done easily on many machines with a flick of a switch. If you remove the blades from the equation, you will be able to move along with your thicker fabric without that added resistance.

If you choose this option, keep in mind you will need to trim all of the edges by hand when you’re done. This will take time and will likely not be as neat and professional as to when trimmed by your serger.

Remember that your particular serger might not have the option to disengage the blades. If you’re not sure, you can check the instruction manual for more details.

If your machine has one, it will explain where the disengagement button or lever is.

Foot Pedal Pressure”

Another way to help your serger handle thicker fabric is to adjust your foot pedal settings.

You can adjust the pressure of your pedal to make it more forgiving and less sensitive to the touch.

For most machines, a higher pressure setting means a stronger surge is sent to your machine when your foot touches the pedal.

If you turn down the pressure setting, the same touch of your foot won’t transmit so much pressure to the machine. This will give your serger a better chance at navigating thick material.

Tension Settings:

Remember, as you increase the thickness of your material and thread, you will need to adjust the tension settings on your machine. Make sure you do a few test runs using your desired materials to get the tension right.

Once the stitches look smooth and even, you are ready to proceed.

Remember to go slowly and give your machine time to make all the movements it needs to serge through the thicker material.

Do Sewing Machines Sew Leather Better Than Sergers?

Your home sewing machine is capable of sewing leather.

It is a much better option than trying to serge with leather. Let’s look at how you can effectively sew leather on your home machine.

First, you will want to pick a suitable thread. The regular thread you use on your home machine won’t hold up when used with leather.

You will want to go for a heavier all-purpose thread or an upholstery thread. These threads are much stronger and can sew through leather without breaking.

Remember, these thread types are thicker, and less of it will fit on a bobbin. As you sew, your bobbin will run out faster than you’re used to. Make sure you consider this as you plan your leather sewing project.

If you have hand-stitched leather ever before, you might have had good luck with wax thread. However, you cannot use this kind of thread on your home sewing machine.

The wax on the thread can damage your machine as it passes through it. You will also have trouble with the wax building up in the eye of the needle.

What Kind of Needles Do You Need to Sew Leather?

If you are planning to sew leather on your machine, you will want to go ahead and purchase specialty needles made just for leather.

Singer makes a pack of leather needles compatible with many machines and will sew through leather and other heavy materials.

Check Out The Current Prices Here!

Leather needles have a special design and are shaped like a spear at the tip. This shape gives them the ability to punch through the thick material they are up against.

These needles are designed to create holes out of solid material.

This is ideal when everything is going well, but remember that you will have visible holes if you make a mistake while sewing.

How Difficult Is It To Sew Leather?

Anytime you pierce a hole in leather, it’s there permanently. This characteristic can make leather a bit unforgiving to work with.

You can’t pin leather in place before sewing without those pinholes becoming permanent. You also will have a permanent record of any mistakes you make while sewing leather on your machine.

However, there are ways to work around this. You can buy a package of wonder clips to fasten around the edge of your project.

These little clips will hold your leather in place without creating any holes.

You can check out this 50 Clover Wonder Clips package available on Amazon:

Leather can also be a bit stickier than regular fabric as it moves through your machine. You might find some resistance between your pressure foot and your leather.

To make everything run a bit smoother, you can apply a small amount of regular Scotch tape to the bottom of your pressure foot. Trim off any excess and clear the hole to pass through the needle easily.

The surface of the tape can provide less tension and resistance than the bare pressure foot if it starts to get worn off while sewing, you can easily and inexpensively replace it with more tape.

You can also adjust the size of your stitches to make it easier to sew leather on your machine. You will get the best results if you set your stitches as long as possible.

A longer stitch length will create fewer holes and give your final project a clean look.

When you have everything prepared, make sure you do a few test runs on leather scraps before beginning your final project. Remember to go slowly as you begin sewing.

Going slower will help you avoid mistakes, but it will also give your machine a better chance of success.

Your machine can handle leather, but remember that it is not built for this task. Go slow, and don’t rush your machine as it works through this heavy material.

Finally, never backstitch when sewing leather on a machine. Tie knots in your thread, trim off the excess and use a flame to melt the thread down.

What Are The Most Common Ways To Sew Leather?

Hand sewing might be the most common way for a casual hobbyist to sew leather.

There are many stitches and techniques that you can use to sew leather projects by hand.

Typically, you will begin by arranging your pieces and creating stitch holes. Once all of your holes have been created, it is time to choose your stitch and begin sewing the pieces together.

Sewing awls are popular options for smooth hand sewing. You can spot these awls by their large handle, followed by a bobbin of thread and a specialty needle.

You can use wax thread with your sewing awl and get started right away, passing this thread through your stitch holes.

Another option is using an industrial machine designed specifically for sewing leather. However, this is usually unnecessary for someone attempting a small project for fun.

They are effective machines but generally too far out of a hobbyist’s budget.

Final Thoughts

Avoid using your serger for leather projects, especially since other more effective options are available.

Sewing leather on your home machine is a much better idea. A specialty leather needle and thread are all you need to start your home machine.

Remember to prepare your project before getting on the machine and move slowly once you’re there.

Being patient as you sew will give your machine the time to stitch the leather and keep you from making mistakes with this unforgiving material.

Sources:

Martha Stewart: An Expert’s Guide on How to Sew Leather By Hand

My Handmade Joys: Question: Can a serger sew leather? 

Sewing Is Cool: Serging Thick Layers

Youtube: Sew Leather With Regular Sewing Machine