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22-04-2007
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oceanharlot's Avatar
 
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Sewing with Leather
I've been experimenting with sewing with leather lately- making little coin purses and stuff- but I am anxious to make more complicated pieces. I am looking for an online retailer that sells leather hides at retail as well as a leather accessories reference/design/pattern book, can anyone help me out? I really want to work with lightweight leathers (lamb & goat mostly) in bright colors.

I would also love some advice from anyone who has used leather before. So far- I am doing pretty well with my sewing machine and hand sewing the little details. I continuously have problems keeping the tension even and thus have to go very slow, is there a trick I dont know?

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22-04-2007
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Hey ocean!

You could always look on eBay for people selling leather. Another option is to do a search for local leather wholesalers/retailers in your area... I did this when I was doing my textiles major project in high-school and found an awesome leather warehouse that I could access (I made a series of leather bags for my project). They had a huge range of leather including sheep skin, goat skin, cow hides, et cetera, in a huge range of colours, as well as patent leathers, mock pythons, leathers that varied in thickness and so on... On the warehouse's website, you could even request swatches but, to be honest, it's a lot more fun going to the place to see, touch and smell the leathers for yourself. :p Another good thing about that place, also, was that they offered student discounts (I ended up spending a small fortune buying up leather from there).

In terms of keeping the tension even on the machine, there might be a problem with the type of foot you're using on the machine itself... I don't quite remember the name of the foot you're supposed to use for sewing leather (high-school was a while ago!). You could go into a sewing machine store (or craft store) to ask them for advice on which foot to use and also, which one to get for your machine...



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22-04-2007
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eHow is a fabulous site for handwork guides. Here is a link to How to Sew a Double Needle Stitch on Leather to get you going. http://www.ehow.com/how_15432_sew-double-needle.html

Suedes are generally easier to sew on a machine, especially if you don't have an industrial overlock sewing machine.

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23-04-2007
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I remember something about going up a size or two on the needle, something WAY past a normal needle and that coincides with the thickness of the thread too, to keep tension. And with leather you should either change or sharpen the needle more often. A duller needle makes bigger and messier hole that gets harder and harder to push through.. As far as color goes, I'd buy in light bulk and dye to the shade. And I know you can paint.


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15-05-2007
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lambskin/goatskin/pigsuede hides: check out a seller called "leatherwise" on ebay. the best quality and prices i've seen thus far. i order all my leathers from them and haven't been dissapointed yet.

for hardware/how too's and glues/supplies: tandy leather, if there's not one near you, they have a website as well as a catalogue you can request online.

technically, you are supposed to use a silcon foot, but i never do. just watch the thread your using (i prefer guterman topstitching), adjust to a larger stitch width (leather needles aren't really necessary. i just use regular ole 12's or 14's -universal-), and use a stabalizing fabric glue (fabri-tac works wonders) or temporary hem tape to prevent sliding (magic seam or like)

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04-09-2007
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Hides are available all over. It depends on whether you're looking for garment weight, boot weight or utility weight (there are other grades, too). Kansas City used to be the place to get hides; but, any Google search should help you on your way.

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05-09-2007
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/\ yes, they're available in a lot of places, but while tandy leather sells their lambskins for $70-$150 per hide for lambskin 5-10 square feet, i can get nicer quality ones from leatherwise on ebay for $13-$35.......

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06-09-2007
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thanks for the tip jun - leatherwise has some amazing things... the quilted lambskin is just insanely cool... i'm thinking about getting the black piece to use while reconstructing some old sweaters...

you've always been 100% happy with everything you got there? is everything really nice and soft and smushy and yum?

and to stay on topic, i always use a teflon foot when sewing with leather. thread is dependent on the weight - gutterman topstitching is great for lambskin/light-weight leathers but on heavier stuff i use waxed linen or cotton usually.

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06-09-2007
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thanks for all the advice everyone! I actually got the hang of it and made some awesome belts with pintucking and corseting and grommets and stuff, and suspenders and a purse! it was really fun. I couldnt find leather in hawaii, so I actually bought leather coats, skirts & vests and made it work. I might have to try some of that hand dyeing though... that might be my next project!

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07-09-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crepebacksatin View Post
thanks for the tip jun - leatherwise has some amazing things... the quilted lambskin is just insanely cool... i'm thinking about getting the black piece to use while reconstructing some old sweaters...

you've always been 100% happy with everything you got there? is everything really nice and soft and smushy and yum?

and to stay on topic, i always use a teflon foot when sewing with leather. thread is dependent on the weight - gutterman topstitching is great for lambskin/light-weight leathers but on heavier stuff i use waxed linen or cotton usually.
i have always been absolutely happy with the leather qualities i've purchased from them. the one thing i will say is that sometimes the sq. footage they give is a teensy-bit off...but that's about it, and it's really only with the larger lambskin hides i've seen this. i ordered like 6 hides together once and the majority of them measured 4-6sq.ft....while one was i think quoted as being like 9.5 sq. ft in the auction....but when i got it, it really wasn't a lot bigger than the others...but that was it...the price was actually the same as the smaller hides i got so i didn't mind it much.

good to know about the thread though. i use topstiching thread on top with regular thread in my bobbin when sewing lambskin and usually all topstitching (machine and bobbin) when doing cowhide.

i haven't used the cotton/linen thread yet...also, where can you get a teflon foot? 've heard about these but haven't been able to find a source so far...

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07-09-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jun3machina
where can you get a teflon foot? 've heard about these but haven't been able to find a source so far...
What type of machine are you using? If you're using an industrial lockstitch, you can order a teflon foot from any supply shop. I use www.bestneedles.com .

When I sew leather, though, I use an industrial lockstitch walkingfoot. I simply change out the feet to ones with fine and shallow grooves so they don't marke the leather. Those are also available from the supplier I mentioned.

If you're using a household machine, speak to your mechanic. If they don't have them hanging on a display in the front of their shop, they might have them in a drawer near their workbench.

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11-09-2007
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^^ i use a very basic zig zag machine (my workhorse... love her!) which takes the "standard" feet (with the bar on top that you pop in) and got my teflon foot at a local fabric store that i worked at in college.

i actually first bought it to sew this crazy wool/latex fabric i had at the time... had lots of "stick" to it and the teflon glided over like buttah

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11-09-2007
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ah...okay, yah, i just have a basic machine. i actually work at a fabirc store, so i think i'll see if i can order one (hahah employee discount!) if not, there's a sewing machine shop down the road. thanks!

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26-09-2007
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Does anybody know where I can get nice fake leather?

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08-10-2007
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maybe you could try ebay, but i think a lot of fabric stores have a faux leather vinyl type of material in their upholstery dept.

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