Sewing Leather

I am learning how to sew leather and this is page devoted to what I have learned.

I purchased lambskin from D'Anton Leather. I bought lambskin for my first project as it has a basic cost of $5.00 a square foot.

I depended on Judy from D'Anton Leather to tell me how much I needed but there are two formulas at Artisan's Square. I would use this one:

Yardage or meters needed for garment x 13 and add 15% for waste.

For the top I am making, I need 1.5 meters of 60" wide fabric. That means I need 22.5 square feet of leather. I actually used less than 26.4 square feet in the hides I had purchased so this calcuation is pretty accurate.


For sewing the leather, I did a swatch and am using this on my Husqvarna Viking SE

  • Teflon Foot
  • Guterman polyester thread
  • 90 or 14 universal needle
  • Stitch length at 4
  • double sided tape - 1/4' wide
The swatch got ironed with a dry iron on a low setting with a press cloth. It was then hammered flat with a framing hammer as it is heavier than a regular hammer. I put a towel on the bench and a press cloth on top.

I traced my pattern again to make sure that I had a full front, two backs, two sleeves, and 4 collars. I drew the darts onto the pattern pieces.

I took the time to read these articles:


2013 - When playing with quilting cotton, I realized the stretch goes width wise. The leather has a stretch one way so I used it as the width grain. The non stretch goes the length of the garment.

Pattern pieces - Unless the pattern pieces are on the fold, I only cut one of each piece. The pieces cut on the fold are full pieces. I start out with the smallest hide and work to the largest. I only lay out and cut those pieces I will sew together immediately. That lets me remove the paper tape from both the leather and the pattern before it adheres tightly.

With this knowledge in place, I laid out the pattern onto the hides. I put the back pieces onto the smallest hide (8.1 square feet) and added what small pieces I could. I taped them down onto the hide using paper tape I bought in the bandaid section of Walmart (or Shopper's Drug or any other pharmacy). I put the full front on the next larger hide (8.3 sq. ft.) and added the collar pieces to it. On the next largest hide, I put the sleeves. I had a piece left over at the bottom of the hide.

When placing the pattern pieces onto the hides,  I put some onto the back of the hide and the tape is harder to get off. On the front or smooth side, I had only one problem. A bit of the finish came off the leather outside the area I was cutting. I used sharp shears and cut the leather just like I do fabric, snipping in marks.


When adding an overlay, I cut it out using the pattern pieces. If there is big designs near the edge, I cut around them to the outside of the pattern. If you can, glue down underneath large stones as it will hold the saree in place. If not, clip in place and sew in place near the cut edge.

When sewing a piece with an overlay, I will sew up as close to the design as I possibly can. Then I stop, cut the thread, and start again past the design. I then turn to the right side and make some decision as to what I will remove off the design. Once that is done, I finish sewing up the seam.

Marking and Sewing the Darts

When marking the darts, I laid the pattern pieces onto the back of the hides. I used an air erasable marker to make the dots through the pattern pieces onto the hides and then used a ruler to draw the lines on the darts. To make the darts, I used clips to hold the darts in place while sewing.

When sewing, I left long tails at the beginning and end of the darts. Those thread tails were knotted to hold the stitching in place. I pressed the darts in place using a press cloth and iron and then went out to hammer them flat and in place.

Zipper back zipper (seperating)

Using an air eraseable pen, mark 5/8" seam allowance down the back seam. I put about 8 small marks down the 22" length for the zipper.

Using the double sided tape, lay a strip down the length of the back near the cut edge on the right side of the leather. Remove the paper covering.

Fold the seam allowance and place the zipper under it adhering it to the tape. As I went down the zipper, I clipped it in place with quilting clips but you could use bull clips. I do one side at a time. Stitch the zipper in place using a zipper foot and longer stitch. Do not back stitch. Sew from the top of the zipper down to the bottom of the seam.

Repeat for the other side.

Shoulder and Side Seams

Clip the front and back together at the shoulder seams. Stitch with long stitch length and don't back stitch at all. I found that starting and ending off the fabric was helpful. Press the seams open using a press cloth. I even gave it a shot of steam.

Repeat with the side seams. Press open making sure there are no wrinkles.

I did not pound these seams open as they are not bulky like darts.


I did the stand up collar that I put on rodeo clothes. I had cut out both sides of the collar from leather thinking if it didn't work, I could use lining on one side. I interfaced the outer collar with a lightweight knit interfacing (yes I ironed it on and it stuck).

I clipped the collars together and sewed them together. I cut the seams down to 1/4" using pinking shears. I pressed the seams open where I could and then rolled the curved to as sharp and edge as possible. I pressed the finished collar and then pounded the seam to flatten it.


Set the stitch length to long (5 or 5.5 for my machine). Stitch a gathering row around the cap of the sleeve 1/2" from the cut edge.

Using a shorter stitch length (4 on my machine), stitch the underarm seam. Press open. Mark the hem and turn up. Stitch into place.

Using the clips, clip the sleeve into the arm hole at the shoulder and under arm. Clip the under arm up to the clips in the leather. Gather the sleeve one half at a time. Clip into place to fit the arm scyle. Do the other half. Sew into place, stitching the under arm section a second time. Check for smoothness. Cut the under arm to 1/4" and remove the gathering stitch. Press the seam to the sleeve for smoothness.

For the hem of this top, I marked 3/8" with the air marker and sewed it up using a long stitch. And it was done.

1 comment:

  1. Ann, this is wonderful advice and your techniques obviously work as you created a beautiful top. Thank you taking the time to write this post.