Best Leather Sewing Machines – Top 5 Picks for 2018

This is our official list in search of the best leather sewing machines on the market today. Scroll further down for full details on each product and a handy beginners guide to sewing leather with these useful machines.

Quick Look:

  1. SINGER 4423 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine
  2. Janome HD1000 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine
  3. Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist Computerized Sewing Machine
  4. Brother ST371HD Strong and Tough Sewing Machine
  5. TechSew 3650HD Heavy Duty Leather Industrial Sewing Machine

We know time is of the essence, so the above is a cheat sheet of what’s ahead, just in case your’re in a hurry. Otherwise, keep scrolling down for more detailed and constructive info on each item.

5 Highest Reviewed Leather Sewing Machines

Jump ahead to the beginners guide below, if you’d like to know more about leather sewing machines. Otherwise, take a look at the top five selections on the market to choose from as ranked and reviewed by our staff.

1.) Singer 4423 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine

SINGER 4423 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine

Subject your leather project to the care and handling of an iconic Singer sewing machine and wind up with a bus-load of extras in addition to a solid, uniform stitch that holds tenaciously.

Just one stitch? Not exactly. The 4423 offers 23 built-in stiches that cover all bases: 6 basics, 4 for stretch materials and 12 decorative stitches to embellish projects. This machine comes with a fully automatic, one-step buttonhole feature plus an automatic needle threader guaranteed to save you time and frustration.

You’ll appreciate the convenience of the top drop-in bobbin and since this Singer features a motor that’s 60-percent more powerful than those on standard Singer machines, you can achieve the 1,100 stitch-per-minute rate handily using the 4423. Fabricated with a stainless steel bed plate, heavy-duty metal frame designed for the long haul and engineered to hold leather tight so skip-free sewing is yours, you’ll find the snap-on presser feet to be durable and strong.

PROS

  • Amazing value for anyone looking for a machine capable of sewing multiple layers of leather.
  • This workhorse tackles formidable projects yet it is lightweight and easy to carry.
  • Accessory bundle handles thick fabrics, multi-piece projects and tough assignments standard machines can’t.

CON

  • Purchasers warn that using the 4423 without first reading every word of the instruction manual can lead to irregular stitches so keep this in mind.

($) Check price on Amazon

2.) Janome HD1000 Heavy-Duty Machine with 14 built-in Stitches

Janome HD1000 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine

Be prepared to take out your checkbook if you choose this Janome for your leather projects. In return for top dollar, you’ll be the beneficiary of 14 built-in stitches that cover utility and stretch materials plus the 4-step buttonholer. Made of cast aluminum that’s so tough it gets points for extra wear and tear, this heavy-duty sewing machine could remind you of your grandma’s cast iron relic—the one that never quit.

Get bobbins, extra needles, interchangeable feet plus a seam-ripper, felt, screwdrivers and a hem guide with the machine. To protect your pricey leather Janome sewing machine, a soft cover that keeps dust and soil out of the mechanisms is included. If you depend upon a free arm for complex tasks—stippling, darning, cuff and collar tailoring—this model has you covered. Even the automatic threader is built-in for convenience.

PROS

  • If you’re not a fan of plastic sewing machine bodies, this may be your first pick.
  • Fans of front-load bobbins are overjoyed to see this feature.
  • Kudos from professional seamstresses, many of whom say it’s the best machine they’ve ever used.

CONS

  • Expensive and slow, Janome HD1000 buyers register more complaints than compliments when undertaking projects that include thick materials like leather.
  • At twice the price of comparable machines.

($) Check price on Amazon

3.) Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist 600 Stitch Computerized Sewing Machine

SINGER 9960 Quantum Stylist Computerized Sewing Machine

That’s not a typo: The Singer Quantum does come with 600 built-in stitches of which 13 are fully automatic. The buttonhole feature is installed beneath the plate and the machine offers both automatic thread cutters and needle threaders. If you work on complex leather projects and require additional work surface, the extension table on this model could win you over. The Quantum comes with 19 presser feet!

The Singer 9960 offers automatic stitch length and width for uniformity and if you wish to go off on creative flights of fancy when constructing leather projects, employ five different fonts to personalize and embellish everything you churn out. The accessories bundle is impressive, start-up is fast and if you depend upon an LCD screen to help you manage your work, you may find that this Singer does everything but make coffee.

PROS

  • Zip your way through up to 4 layers of leather at a time without stopping or hesitating.
  • Called Singer’s workhorse by faithful users who demand dependability and quality.
  • Accessories, attachments, and extras not bundled with other machines are a value-added blessing.

CONS

  • Despite excellent engineering and strength, bobbin jamming has been the chief complaint among Singer 9960 owners.

($) Check price on Amazon

4.) Brother ST371HD Strong and Tough Sewing Machine

Brother ST371HD Strong and Tough Sewing Machine

Ask leather crafters which brand they would choose if Singer-branded sewing machines weren’t available and a majority would name Brother. The company is all things to all people: copiers, printers and sewing machine models, so it’s no surprise this Brother ST371HD is being marketed as the strong and tough answer to your most pressing need for a machine that can plow through leather projects like an efficient lawnmower.

Durable, dependable and versatile, this Brother offers sewers 37 unique stitches that tackle everything from leather to silk, so if leather isn’t the only textile you intend to work with, the ST371HD adjusts to suit your needs.

Smooth feeding is a hallmark of the metal needle plate, there are 6 “Quick change” sewing feet and a one-step auto-size buttonholer. Zigzag and non-stick feet are designed especially for suedes and leathers.

PROS

  • This solid brand name wins hearts and wallets because the machine is solid and dependable.
  • If you work long hours, the brightly-lit LED work area could become your favorite feature.
  • Expect a built-in needle threader, jam-resistant drop-in bobbin mechanism and affordable price tag.

CONS

  • Some reports say the zigzag stitch can skip when thick sections of the material are fed into the machine.

($) Check price on Amazon

5.) TechSew 3650HD Heavy Duty Leather Industrial Sewing Machine

TechSew 3650HD Heavy Duty Leather Industrial Sewing Machine

This professional TechSew is known as a top-of-the-line industrial machine capable of handling ½-inch thicknesses without hesitation. Responsible for this engineering marvel is the signature heavy-duty feeding mechanism working in concert with a 10.5-inch long cylinder bed. No set up required; it’s fully assembled and ready to go out of the box.

Unique to this unit and brand are the speed-reducer feature and adjustable-speed MartServo motor so operators enjoy full control from start to finish. The roomy table and built-in roller edge guide give users mastery over projects.

TechSew all but guarantees it will sew two layers of 10- to 12-ounce leather, three layers of 9-ounce leather and four layers of 8-ounce leather. The hefty price could scare some, but if you intend to churn out professional-looking leather goods, you may not want to settle for anything less.

PROS

  • Superior support from the manufacturer, says those who wouldn’t own another brand for their leather projects.
  • Stitch-length adjustment, forward and reverse are effortless, even when working on multiple layers.
  • Perhaps the best industrial-quality leather sewing machine on the market outside equipment made for factories.

CONS

  • There can be problems with the underside as a result of a foot dog malfunction that can leave imprints or tears on leather.

($) Check price on Amazon


Brief Guide to Leather Sewing Machines

It’s not always a good idea to follow Martha Stewart’s advice, even as you search for the best leather sewing machine. In her opinion, leather should always be sewn by hand.  You may agree if your idea of a good time is spending triple the hours working on projects, only to wind up with sutures that are less than uniform. Instead, invest in a heavy-duty machine built to tackle the thickest materials; a machine that will turn out projects in which you take pride without cleaning out your savings account.

A History of Sewing Machines

Mahatma Gandhi proclaimed the sewing machine “One of the few useful things ever invented,” says historian Alex Askaroff whose expertise in this area is extensive. While Issac Singer is best known for sewing machines, plenty of other inventors beat him to it. Thomas Stone held the first French Patent in 1804 and German Baltasar Krems received his when he stitched caps for French occupying troops in 1810.

Napolean’s tailor, Josef Madersperger, produced the first Austrian machine in 1841, but it took Frenchman Bathelemy Thimonnier to introduce machine-generated chain stitching. His 1850 wood machine was pedal operated, used a wheel feed mechanism and featured a horizontal sewing needle.

Elias Howe, a U.S. farmer, received a sewing machine patent in 1846. Isaac Singer didn’t come along until 1850 yet his designs remain the most recognized brand on the market. Singer also produced some of earliest heavy-duty machines capable of handling difficult materials like leather.

6 Critical Things to Know When Buying a Leather Sewing Machine

We don’t have to tell you that there are enough brands, models and prices on the market to give a shopper pause. Models made in the U.S. compete with those made overseas, but if you look past brand and evaluate machines based on the following factors, you can winnow down a long list to just a few.

Factor #1: How daunting will your production process become? It stands to reason that if you’ll be churning out thousands of signature vests, for example, you need a machine that’s in it for the long haul.

Factor #2: What accessories and attachments do you require to complete projects on your list? Every leather-appropriate sewing machine comes with some basics, but will the additional special threads, needles, bobbins and pressure feet add more than you planned to spend to the cost of your purchase?

Factor #3: How about your budget? Is it limitless? If so, your shopping expedition will be fun. If you’re on a budget, getting the biggest bang for your buck requires you to be diligent about doing your homework so you don’t suffer buyer’s remorse.

Factor #4: Look beyond the Singer brand when you shop because some manufacturers have better reputations for engineering machines that stitch leather than others. Reputation counts for a lot and if you surmise that one brand tends to generate an inordinate number of complaints, stay away even if the price is attractive.

Factor #5: Years in business. Of course you want a leather-stitching machine made by a fabricator with a good track record, so investigate “years in business” to make sure the model you pick isn’t brand new to the market and relatively untested over time.

Factor #6: Go for the strongest, most detailed product warranty you can get your hands on. Expiration date is extremely important. In case the machine fails, falls apart, parts prove defective or other circumstances arise in which the machine fails to live up to your expectations, it’s important to feel that the warranty has your back.

How Do Leather Sewing Machines Work?

According to Leatherworker.net, machines designed for thick materials like leather belong in the “Industrial Strength” classification. Some feature ribbed drive belts and gear reduction mechanisms to counter one of the most common issues leather sewers encounter: slippage.

A heavy duty motor (1.2 or 1.5 amp) is engaged to power the process as the machine is strung with sturdy thread (bobbin and top feed). As leather sections are fed beneath the pressor foot, uniform chain stitches hold them together thanks to “feed dogs”; teeth located at bobbin level that control the stitch. As the needle dips into the leather, it forms a loop grabbed by the bobbin thread that produces a uniform stitch pattern.

Three Basic Leather Sewing Machine Types

Knowing the three heavy-duty industrial sewing machine types can also help you make your buying decision. They are: “flat foot, bottom feed,” “straight stitch” and “walking foot” models. Each has advantages, so use the nature of your projects to determine which suits your needs best.

  1. Test drive a compound, triple feed system; the feed dog, needle and inside presser foot are synchronized to move together. This one-machine-fits-all should suffice for most leather stitcher’s needs.
  2. Will you sew vinyl or “non-markable” leather? Try double feed machines with mechanisms that move the outer pressor foot and feed dog in unison. This machine type is a favorite of crafters producing sails and other marine products. However, the teeth on these models can scar fine leather, so take that factor into account.
  3. Fabricating holsters, harnesses, belts, straps and heavy-duty utilitarian leather goods? Seek a jump feed machine where the needle literally moves the leather along aided by a slotted pressor foot.

A Word About Leather Grading

Is there such a thing as grades of leather? Don’t let anyone try to sell you this bill of goods, because there is no such thing, says Kevin Gillan whose blog, ADV Leather (http://www.advleather.com/leathergrading.html) offers commonsense tips on leatherworking. Gillan says leather grading is marketing hype; a way to inflate prices by making some leathers appear to be more luxurious, high-quality or stronger by comparison.

If a salesperson tries to influence you with what Gillan calls “some other nomenclature that sounds impressive,” remind yourself that there is no grading system established by leather industries or the U.S. government. “One manufacturer’s “B” grade, is another’s “100” grade, or “1000” and so on,” says Gillan. Instead, he recommends asking the salesperson, “Is this top grain or split hide? Is the leather treated or untreated?” That’s the best you can do to assure yourself that the quality of your leather purchase is as good as it gets.

Wrapping Up

If price is no object and you intend to churn out mega-quantities of projects for personal or commercial distribution, the TechSew machine, despite that rarely-reported flaw, is your best bet in your quest to find the best leather sewing machine. Since the company is willing to do what it takes to keep customers satisfied, if you run into problems, they’re happy to help, offer advice and even exchange a machine if that’s what it takes.

If spending over $1,000 simply isn’t feasible for you, try that Brother Strong and Tough on for size and see why even loyal Singer fans sing its praises.

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Written by Rhoda Jane Pickens

Rhoda has been fascinated with product development for the majority of her life. Her expertise is in home and garden products, but her curiosity and vast experience allow her to cross category lines. Maintaining a detective like critical eye, she cares about the end user of gadgets.