What Size Sewing Needle for Leather? | Expert Guide & Tips

When it comes to sewing leather, one of the most critical factors for success is choosing the right size sewing needle. Leather is a unique material that requires specialized equipment to ensure clean, precise stitching. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unravel the mystery and answer the question, What size sewing needle for leather? 

Discover the key considerations for selecting the ideal needle size based on the thickness and weight of the leather. From lightweight to heavyweight leathers, we’ll explore the range of needle sizes that will help you achieve professional results in your leather projects.

Salient Points

  • Needle sizes 90/14 and 100/16 are suitable for most leather projects.
  • Thicker leather may require a size 110/18 needle for sewing.
  • Opt for a leather needle when working with leather, suede, vinyl, or real fur.
  • Match the needle size with the thickness of the leather for smooth and precise stitching.

Properties of Leather

  • Durability: Leather is known for its durability, making it resistant to wear and tear over time. This is because of its strong and flexible nature, which allows it to withstand various conditions.
  • Flexibility: Leather has a unique ability to stretch and flex without losing its shape, making it ideal for use in products like shoes, belts, and wallets that require movement and flexibility.
  • Breathability: Unlike synthetic materials, leather is breathable, allowing air to pass through it. This makes it comfortable to wear in different weather conditions as it helps regulate temperature and prevents sweating.
  • Water Resistance: While leather is not completely waterproof, it has a natural resistance to water due to its dense fibers. With proper care and maintenance, leather products can withstand light rain or moisture without being damaged.
  • Aging Gracefully: One of the unique qualities of leather is its ability to develop a patina over time, which enhances its appearance. This natural aging process adds character and charm to leather products, making them more valuable with age.
  • Insulation: Leather provides insulation against cold and heat, making it suitable for use in clothing and accessories for various weather conditions. It helps retain body heat in cold weather and keeps the body cool in hot weather.
  • Strength: Leather is incredibly strong and can withstand heavy loads without tearing or breaking. This strength makes it suitable for use in products like furniture, bags, and harnesses, where durability is essential.
  • Natural Beauty: The natural texture and grain of leather add to its aesthetic appeal. Each piece of leather is unique, with its own distinct markings and patterns, making it a popular choice for luxury goods and fashion items.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Leather is a natural material that is biodegradable and renewable, making it more environmentally friendly compared to synthetic alternatives. Additionally, leather production often involves recycling by-products from the meat industry, reducing waste.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: While initial costs may be higher, leather products tend to last longer than their synthetic counterparts, making them a cost-effective investment in the long run. With proper care, leather items can last for decades, saving money on replacements.

Different Types of Leather

Type of LeatherDescription
Full-grain LeatherConsidered the highest quality of leather, it retains the entire grain layer. This makes it durable and resistant to wear and tear. Its natural grain also gives it a unique appearance. Example: High-end leather jackets.
Top-grain LeatherSimilar to full-grain but with the top layer sanded and buffed to remove imperfections. While slightly less durable than full-grain, it still offers good quality and is more affordable. Example: Leather wallets and belts.
Genuine LeatherOften misunderstood, genuine leather refers to real leather but it’s the lowest quality. It’s made from lower layers of the hide, which makes it less durable and prone to wear and tear. It’s still real leather but not as premium. Example: Some lower-priced furniture.
Bonded LeatherMade from scraps of leather that are bonded together with adhesives. While it may contain some genuine leather, it’s often mixed with other materials. It’s less durable and tends to degrade over time. Example: Some inexpensive upholstery.

Understanding these types can help you make informed choices when purchasing leather goods, ensuring you get the quality and durability you desire.

Different Types of Sewing Needles

Type of NeedleDescription
Universal NeedlesThese are the most commonly used needles in sewing. They work well with a variety of fabrics, making them versatile for everyday sewing projects.
Ball Point NeedlesDesigned specifically for knit fabrics, these needles have a rounded tip that slides between the fibers of the fabric rather than piercing them, preventing snags and runs.
Stretch NeedlesSimilar to ball point needles, but with a slightly more pronounced ball tip, stretch needles are ideal for highly elastic fabrics like spandex and Lycra. They prevent skipped stitches and fabric damage.
Sharps NeedlesSharps needles have a slender, sharp point which makes them perfect for precise stitching on woven fabrics like cotton or linen. They create neat, even stitches without causing puckering.
Quilting NeedlesThese needles have a slightly tapered point and are designed for quilting through multiple layers of fabric and batting. They make it easier to sew through thick materials without damaging them.
Jeans NeedlesWith a strong, thick shaft and a sharp point, jeans needles are specially made for sewing through thick layers of denim or other heavy fabrics commonly found in jeans.
Leather NeedlesFeaturing a chisel-shaped point and an extra-strong shaft, leather needles are designed to penetrate leather and suede without tearing or damaging the material.
Metafil NeedlesThese needles are designed for metallic threads commonly used in decorative stitching. They have a larger eye to accommodate the thicker thread and a special coating to reduce friction and prevent thread breakage.

Each type of needle serves a specific purpose, ensuring that your sewing projects are completed with precision and durability. Choosing the right needle for your fabric and project can make a significant difference in the outcome of your sewing endeavors.

Needle Selection Guide: What Size Sewing Needle for Leather

What Size Sewing Needle For Leather?

When it comes to sewing leather, choosing the right needle size is crucial for achieving good results. For most leather projects, using needle sizes 90/14 or 100/16 is typically sufficient. These sizes offer a balance between piercing the leather effectively without causing damage.

However, if you’re working with thicker leather, such as heavy-duty belts or thick bags, you might need to opt for a larger needle size like 110/18. Thicker leather requires a bigger needle to penetrate through it smoothly without causing the thread to break or skip stitches. It’s essential to match the needle size with the thickness of the leather to ensure smooth sewing and avoid any potential damage to your project.

Additionally, when sewing materials like suede, vinyl, or real fur, using a specialized leather needle is recommended. These needles are designed with a reinforced blade to handle the unique characteristics of these materials, ensuring clean and precise stitching. So, when working with leather or similar materials, remember to choose the appropriate needle size for optimal results.

What Size Sewing Needle for Leather

What is a Leather Needle?

Leather needles are specialized tools used in sewing and crafting projects involving leather materials. These needles are typically cylindrical in shape, ranging from 1 to 2 inches in length. They possess a specific diameter, usually falling within the range of 0.035 to 0.063 inches.

What distinguishes leather needles from regular sewing needles is their robust construction and design. They are engineered to pierce through thick and tough leather without bending or breaking. The thicker shaft and sharper point of a leather needle allow it to penetrate the material with ease, making it ideal for stitching leather goods such as bags, belts, and shoes.

When working with leather, using the appropriate needle is crucial to ensure clean and precise stitches. Regular sewing needles may struggle to penetrate leather efficiently, leading to frustration and potential damage to the material. Leather needles provide the necessary strength and durability to tackle such tasks effectively.

For example, when sewing a leather bag, using a leather needle ensures that the needle can smoothly pass through multiple layers of leather and any additional reinforcements without causing damage or distortion to the fabric. This results in professional-looking seams and a finished product that withstands the test of time.

Types of Hand Sewing Leather Needles

Type of Handsewing Leather NeedleDescription
Glovers NeedlesNamed for glove-makers; featuring sharp, triangular points for effective leather penetration. Designed with a triangular point and an eye for threading, they’re particularly suited for hide and buckskin articles like jackets, vests, and moccasins.
Leather Lacing NeedleSpecifically crafted for lace in pre-made holes, ideal for rugged items. There are two main types: 2-prong, which consists of flat metal pieces with a tab for lace; and Perma-Lok, which is cylindrical with a threaded end.
Harness NeedleCylinder-shaped with a blunt point and an eye for thread. It serves as the primary needle for stitching leather with thread. Sizes vary based on the eye size, catering to different thread thicknesses.
Curved Leather NeedleSimilar to harness needles, but curved for sewing leather on different planes. Sizes also vary according to the thread thickness.
Leather Sewing AwlUsed for making holes in leather for threading, especially useful for thick or curved areas. It provides an alternative to stitching irons.

Types of Machine Sewing Leather Needles

Type of NeedleDescription
Diamond PointDesigned for heavy, dry leather as it cuts through the material instead of merely separating the fibers. Ideal for thicker leathers where strength is essential.
Round PointFeatures a conical sharp point that pierces leather, creating round holes for thread passage. Suitable for general sewing applications on leather where precise piercing is needed.
Twist PointIncises leather diagonally to the stitching line, ensuring uniformity in stitching, particularly beneficial in footwear where a polished finish is desired.
Cutting PointComprising various points like cross, wedge, twist, diamond, cross point, and triangular points, these needles serve different purposes, including 2-needle stitching and decorative finishes on leather projects.
Cross PointFacilitates straight seams and is commonly utilized in footwear, belts, car seats, garment bags, and straps. The perforation direction aligns with the seam, ensuring a neat appearance and strong hold for various leather items.

How are Sewing Needles Sized?

Understanding sewing needle sizes is crucial for choosing the right one for your sewing project. Needles are sized using two main systems: American and European.

In the American system, needles are designated by numbers ranging from 8 to 19, with lower numbers indicating thicker needles. Conversely, in the European system, needles are categorized by numbers ranging from 60 to 120, with higher numbers indicating finer needles.

The thickness of a needle is determined by its diameter, where larger numbers indicate thicker needles and smaller numbers denote finer needles. For instance, a size 10 needle in the American system corresponds to approximately 70/10 in the European system.

It’s important to match the needle size to the fabric weight and type to ensure smooth stitching and prevent damage to the fabric. For heavier fabrics like denim, a thicker needle (lower American size or higher European size) is preferable, while delicate fabrics like silk require finer needles (higher American size or lower European size). Additionally, needle sizes also vary depending on the type of stitch and thread used, so experimentation may be necessary to find the perfect match for your sewing needs.

American SizeEuropean Size

How Needle Size Affects Sewing?

When selecting a needle, it’s important to consider factors such as the type of fabric and thread being used. The size of the needle refers to its diameter, which can vary significantly. Generally, smaller needle sizes are suitable for lightweight fabrics like chiffon or silk, while larger needle sizes are better suited for heavier fabrics such as denim or canvas.

Using the correct needle size ensures that the thread passes through the fabric smoothly without causing any damage or distortion. For example, if you use a small needle on thick fabric, it may struggle to penetrate the material, resulting in skipped stitches or even breakage. Conversely, using a large needle on delicate fabric can cause visible holes or pulls.

Moreover, the needle size also affects the stitch appearance. A smaller needle creates finer stitches, ideal for intricate designs or lightweight fabrics. On the other hand, a larger needle produces more prominent stitches, suitable for decorative topstitching or quilting on heavier materials.

In summary, selecting the appropriate needle size based on the fabric and desired stitch quality is essential for achieving professional-looking results in your sewing projects. By understanding how needle size affects sewing, you can ensure smoother stitching and better overall outcomes.

Troubleshooting Common Problems with Sewing Needles

Sewing needles are essential tools for any sewing project, but sometimes they can cause frustration when they don’t work properly. Identifying and solving these common problems can save time and ensure a smoother sewing experience.

ProblemPossible CauseSolution
Needle Breakage– Using a dull or incorrect needle size.Replace the needle with the correct type and size.
– Sewing through thick or dense fabric layers.– Use a stronger needle designed for heavy fabrics.
Skipped StitchesDull or damaged needle.– Replace the needle with a new one.
– Incorrect thread tension.– Adjust the tension according to the sewing machine manual.
Thread BreakageIncorrect needle size for the thread.– Use a larger needle for thicker threads.
Sharp edges on the needle eye.– Gently sand the eye with fine sandpaper to smooth edges.
Fabric Snags or PullsBurrs or rough spots on the needle.– Replace the needle with a new one.
– Using a wrong needle type for the fabric.– Choose a needle appropriate for the fabric being sewn.

Remember to replace your sewing needle frequently, especially if you notice any of these issues occurring regularly. A well-maintained needle can make all the difference in your sewing projects.

Tips for Choosing the Right Needle for Your Project

Choosing the correct needle for your sewing project is crucial for achieving the best results. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice:

  • Consider the Fabric Type: Different fabrics require different needles. For example, lightweight fabrics like silk or chiffon need a fine needle to prevent snagging, while heavyweight fabrics like denim or canvas require a stronger needle to penetrate the material.
  • Match the Needle Size to the Thread Size: Use a needle size that corresponds to the thickness of the thread you’re using. Thicker threads require larger needles to accommodate them, while finer threads need smaller needles.
  • Choose the Needle Type: There are various types of needles designed for specific purposes. For general sewing, a universal needle is suitable. For knits and stretch fabrics, a ballpoint needle prevents skipped stitches. Leather needles are designed for sewing leather or faux leather, while quilting needles have a tapered point for stitching through multiple layers of fabric.
  • Check the Needle Point: The needle point determines how the needle penetrates the fabric. Sharp needles are ideal for woven fabrics, as they create clean, precise stitches. Ballpoint needles are better for knit fabrics, as they slip between the fibers without damaging them.
  • Inspect the Needle Condition: Before using a needle, inspect it for damage or wear. Bent or dull needles can cause thread breakage or uneven stitches. Replace needles regularly, especially if you notice any signs of wear.
  • Test the Needle on Scrap Fabric: If you’re unsure which needle to use, test different types and sizes on a scrap piece of fabric before starting your project. This allows you to see how the needle performs with the fabric and thread combination you’re using.

Remember, choosing the right needle may take some trial and error, but it’s worth the effort to ensure your sewing projects turn out beautifully.

Tips for Sewing Leather

Sewing leather requires special care and techniques due to its thickness and durability. Here are some tips to help you sew leather successfully:

  • Use the right needle: Choose a needle specifically designed for sewing leather, such as a leather needle or a heavy-duty needle. These needles are stronger and can pierce through the tough material without breaking.
  • Use appropriate thread: Opt for strong and durable thread such as polyester or nylon. Avoid using cotton thread as it may not withstand the tension required for sewing leather.
  • Adjust your machine settings: Set your sewing machine to a longer stitch length and a slower speed to prevent the leather from tearing or puckering. Test your settings on a scrap piece of leather before starting your project.
  • Use clips instead of pins: Pins can leave permanent holes in leather, so it’s better to use clips or clamps to hold pieces together while sewing. This helps maintain the integrity of the leather.
  • Reduce bulk at seams: Trim excess leather and use thinning shears or a rotary cutter to reduce bulk at seams. This will make it easier to sew and create a cleaner finished look.
  • Use a leather adhesive: For tricky seams or delicate leather, consider using a leather adhesive to hold pieces together before sewing. Be sure to use a specialized leather adhesive that is compatible with your project.
  • Practice on scraps: Before starting your main project, practice sewing on scraps of the same leather you’ll be using. This will help you get a feel for sewing leather and fine-tune your techniques before working on your final piece.
  • Consider hand stitching: In some cases, hand stitching may be preferable to using a sewing machine, especially for thicker or more delicate leather. Hand stitching allows for more control and precision, ensuring a high-quality finish.
  • Invest in quality tools: Quality tools such as sharp scissors, heavy-duty thread, and a good quality leather needle can make a big difference in the outcome of your project. Invest in these tools to ensure successful leather sewing.
  • Take your time: Sewing leather requires patience and precision. Take your time to measure accurately, prep your materials properly, and sew carefully to achieve the best results. Rushing through the process can lead to mistakes and frustration.

By following these tips, you can improve your leather sewing skills and create beautiful, durable projects with ease.

How to Store Sewing Needles?

Storing sewing needles properly is crucial to keep them organized, safe, and easily accessible for your sewing projects. Here are some effective ways to store them:

  • Pin Cushion: A pin cushion is a classic and convenient way to store sewing needles. You can easily stick your needles into the cushion, keeping them upright and accessible while you work.
  • Needle Organizer Case: Invest in a needle organizer case with compartments specifically designed to hold different types and sizes of needles. This keeps them sorted and prevents them from getting lost or tangled.
  • Magnetic Strip: Attach a magnetic strip to the wall or inside a drawer in your sewing area. The magnetic strip will hold metal sewing needles securely in place, making them easy to grab when needed.
  • Thread Spool: Some thread spools come with built-in compartments for storing needles. Simply slide the needles into the designated slots on the spool to keep them organized and within reach.
  • Needle Book: Create or purchase a needle book with fabric pages or felt sheets where you can insert needles. This keeps them neatly organized and protects them from damage.
  • Labeling: Whichever method you choose, consider labeling compartments or sections to easily identify different types and sizes of needles. This saves time and frustration when searching for the right needle for your project.

Remember to store needles away from children and pets to prevent accidents. With these simple storage solutions, you can keep your sewing needles organized and ready for your next project.


In conclusion, selecting the appropriate size sewing needle for leather is vital for achieving high-quality and durable stitching. The right needle size depends on the thickness and weight of the leather being used. 

For lightweight leathers, opt for smaller needle sizes like 80/12 or 90/14. Medium weight leathers typically require needle sizes such as 90/14 or 100/16. When working with heavyweight or thick leathers, consider larger needle sizes like 110/18 or 120/19. 

By choosing the correct needle size, you can ensure smooth, even stitches without damaging the leather. Unlock the potential of your leather projects with the perfect needle size and elevate your craftsmanship to new levels.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What type of thread should I use for leather?

Leather is a material that requires special care when stitching, and using waxed thread and waxing needles is a great way to ensure your project looks professional. It creates a strong bond between the fabric and thread, reducing the chance of fraying or slipping stitches. Waxed thread also provides an additional layer of protection that helps extend the life of your leather project.

How do I know if I should hand stitch or use a machine?

When deciding whether to hand stitch or use a machine for leather, it is important to consider factors such as the quality of the leather, complexity of the project, and thread selection. As machines require more care than hand stitching, it is also wise to consider any experience with machine maintenance. Ultimately, choosing between hand stitching and using a machine depends on personal preference and what works best for the specific project.

What is the best way to pre-punch holes in leather?

Expertly stretching leather and perfecting lacing techniques requires a delicate touch. Pre-punching holes in the material can be done with care using an awl or even a chisel, depending on the thickness of the leather. This will ensure that when the stitching process begins, it is done with precision and accuracy.

What is the best way to thread a sewing needle?

Threading a sewing needle requires selecting an appropriate stitch type and needle size for the project. Consider the weight, texture, and thickness of the fabric when choosing a stitch type such as straight, zigzag or overlock. The larger the needle’s eye, the easier it is to thread; however, bigger needles can cause too much strain on thinner fabrics. Choose one that best suits your material.

Are there any common mistakes to avoid when sewing leather?

When tackling leather projects, it is important to remember that stretching the material can cause seams to become loose, while too small of a seam allowance may lead to puckering. Avoid these mistakes by ensuring proper measurements and using a needle size suitable for the weight of the leather. By doing so, craftspeople can confidently create beautiful and enduring pieces.

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