Needle Selection Guide: What Size Sewing Needle for Leather – Quick Tips 2023

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

  • Different types of leather require different needle sizes
  • Thicker leather generally requires larger needles
  • Thinner leather may only require smaller needles
  • Using too large of a needle on thin leather can cause damage

Overview of Sewing Leather

Sewing leather is an art form that involves precision and skill, requiring the use of specialized tools and techniques. Working with leather requires a special machine with a straight stitch or zigzag stitch setting, as well as specialty needles that are designed to penetrate thick materials without breaking.

To achieve a professional-looking result, it is important to select the right needle size for the type of leather being used. Different types of leather require different sized needles; some may need thicker needles while others will need thinner ones. Furthermore, matching thread thickness to the needle size is essential to make sure stitching goes smoothly and holds up over time.

Various factors should be taken into consideration when selecting a needle size for sewing leather, including the type of leather being used and its thickness. Thicker leather generally requires larger needles in order to penetrate through it, while thinner pieces may only require smaller needles.

Additionally, using too large of a needle on thin material can result in tearing or puncturing of the material, so it’s important to choose an appropriate size according to the project at hand. The most commonly used sizes for general purpose sewing on thicker leather range from 10-18 depending on how much detail is required for the project.

When working with multiple layers of material such as foam padding combined with fabric or suede lining along with outer layer of leather, selecting even heavier duty needles between sizes 16-18 should be considered in order to ensure proper penetration through all layers without causing any damage or breakage due irregularities in surface textures caused by changing materials within one piece.

For transitioning into discussing ‘types of Leather’, it’s important to note that different types of hides require different approaches when choosing a needle size; therefore selecting an appropriate needle becomes more complex based on various elements such as style, texture and weight associated with each type of hide involved within one particular project.

Types of Leather

When discussing leather, it is important to note that there are several different varieties that vary in thickness and strength. The type of leather used will influence the care needed, as well as the stitching techniques employed. Leather can be divided into two main categories: full grain and top grain.

Full grain leather features all the original characteristics of the hide, including any natural blemishes or markings. This is considered the highest quality leather available because it has not been processed or altered in any way. Top grain leather on the other hand, has been sanded down and treated to produce a more uniform look. It is less durable than full grain but much easier to work with when sewing.

The thickness of the leather also affects which size needle should be used for sewing. Usually thicker hides need a larger needle than thinner ones. However, this can vary depending on how tightly woven the material is; if it’s a loose weave then you may actually benefit from using a smaller needle than recommended.

If you’re unsure what size needle works best with your particular piece of leather then it’s always best to use trial-and-error until you find one that works best for you and your project goals.

Sewing techniques are another factor to consider when choosing an appropriate sewing needle for leather projects. Hand stitching is often preferred over machine stitching due to its neatness and flexibility, making it better suited for tight curves or intricate patterns that require precision control over each stitch length and tension level.

Hand stitching requires specialized needles such as curved needles or saddle needles which are designed specifically for working with thick hides like saddle skins or upholstery fabrics – these come in various sizes too so make sure you choose one that fits your project needs perfectly!

Needle Selection Guide: What Size Sewing Needle for Leather

What Size Sewing Needle For Leather?

When discussing the size of sewing needle necessary for different types of leather, it is important to consider the type of leather being used. The size of the needle depends on the thickness and weight of the leather you are working with.

For lightweight or thin leathers, a size 80/12 or 90/14 leather needle is suitable. Medium weight leathers may require a size 100/16 or 110/18 needle, while heavyweight or thick leathers may need a size 120/19 or larger. 

The key is to choose a needle that can easily penetrate the leather without causing damage or leaving visible holes. Remember to test the needle on a scrap piece of leather before sewing to ensure the appropriate size for your specific project.

What Size Sewing Needle for Leather

For Vegetable-tanned Leather

The ideal needle for stitching vegetable-tanned leather is an anachronistic hand-sewing awl, which pierces through the leather with ease. Before beginning any sewing project on this type of leather, it is important to pre condition the material with a special oil or wax treatment in order to soften and lubricate the fibers.

This allows for easier stitching and prevents excessive tearing or fraying of the leather during the sewing process. A heavy duty needle such as a sashiko style needle can also be used, but it is not quite as effective at piercing cleanly through tough vegetable-tanned hides. With proper care and attention, these methods will ensure that any project involving vegetable-tanned leather will be completed with success and satisfaction.

To properly stitch chrome-tanned leathers, it is necessary to use either a saddle stitch or a lockstitch method. Both require two needles: one thicker than the other in order to create a strong bond between stitches and prevent them from unraveling over time. The thicker needle should be used first for creating holes in the material while the thinner one follows behind it finishing each stitch off neatly.

Additionally, using beeswax on both threads before starting will help strengthen their connection when passing through tougher materials like chrome-tanned hides.

For Chrome-tanned Leather

To properly secure chrome-tanned leathers, a saddle stitch or lockstitch method is required. As these types of leather are thinner than vegetable-tanned leathers, the stitching should be done with a sewing machine for best results. Depending on the thickness of the material and the desired effect, a variety of threads and needles can be used to achieve different looks.

When stitching chrome-tanned leather with a machine it is important to use the correct thread type and needle size.

Cotton thread should be used with needles in sizes 70/10 to 90/14; polyester thread requires needles between 90/14 and 110/18; and nylon thread requires needles between 110/18 and 120/19. Using the wrong combination can result in poor tension, uneven stitches, skipped stitches or even broken needles which could damage both your project and your machine. With proper knowledge of thread types and appropriate needle sizes, you will ensure success when stitching chrome-tanned leathers.

Transitioning into next section now: For suede and nubuck materials…

For Suede and Nubuck

Moving on from chrome-tanned leather, when dealing with suede and nubuck, the process of sewing is a bit different. These leathers are made from the underside of animal skins and have a texture that is naturally velvety and softer than other types of leather.

As such, when stitching these materials it is important to use an appropriately sized needle that will not stretch or tear the leather as it moves through. 

Generally speaking, these materials require needles between sizes 9 and 12 in order for them to penetrate without leaving holes behind. In addition, because dye can be easily absorbed by suede or nubuck, any dyeing should be done before sewing so as not to damage the material during the stitching process.

With this in mind, special care must be taken when stretching leather while creating garments with these materials in order to ensure that no damage occurs at any point throughout the process. All of these precautions should be taken into account when selecting a needle size for sewing suede or nubuck in order to create long-lasting garments with beautiful finishings.

Looking ahead towards bonded leather, it is important to consider how its unique properties differ from those discussed here previously.

Specialty Needles

Considering the thicker material of leather, specialty needles are often used to reduce the effort required for successful stitching. For instance, a sharp needle is needed to penetrate through the tough fibers of the leather and create cleaner stitches. Additionally, a larger eye hole on the needle will allow for easier threading and an overall smoother sewing process.

Moreover, there are three common types of specialty needles that can be used:

  1. Curved Needles have an angled tip that easily navigates around tight curves and edges when stitching upholstery or creating finishing touches on garments.
  2. Twin Needles are two parallel needles held together by one shank which allows you to stitch two lines at once with a single bobbin thread as well as produce attractive decorative effects on both sides of the fabric such as pintucks or corded seams.
  3. Leather Point Needles have a wedge-shaped point which effectively pierce through chemically-treated, bonded leathers without distorting their texture or appearance while also allowing more control over stitching techniques like topstitching and quilting.

In addition to choosing an appropriate size needle for your project, it’s important to consider what type of thread and tension settings work best while sewing with leather so you can achieve optimal results that suit your unique style needs.

Thread Considerations

When threading leather, selecting an appropriate type and tension is essential for producing desired results. The most important factor to consider when choosing the right thread for sewing leather is its strength and durability; heavier threads are better suited for heavier leathers, while lighter threads can be used on thinner hides.

It’s also important to choose a needle size that matches the thickness of both the thread and the leather; generally speaking, needles labeled as “heavy duty”or “leather”work best with thicker hides, while smaller needles are suitable for thin materials. When it comes to tread choice, nylon or polyester thread is usually recommended over cotton because they’re stronger and less prone to breaking.

Needle types should also be carefully considered; curved or zigzag needles may be needed for some applications due to their ability to penetrate thick layers more easily than straight needles.

The use of pre-punching holes in leather prior to sewing can also help ensure a successful outcome; this is especially useful when working with thicker materials as it allows the needle to pass through more easily without damaging either the material or the thread.

Additionally, pre-punching holes can help reduce strain on both hands and machine by allowing for smoother stitching. Using beeswax on the thread can also help reduce friction between needle and material while making stitches easier to tie off after completion of each pass. With these considerations in mind, sewers will have greater success in achieving quality results when working with leather projects.

As such steps are taken into account before beginning any project, sewers are sure to achieve beautiful outcomes every time they take up their tools.. Transitioning into pre-punching holes will give sewers greater control over their finished product while ensuring long lasting results.

Pre-punching Holes

Pre-punching holes in leather before sewing can offer increased control and long-term durability to the finished product. The pre-punching process involves a tool called an awl, which creates small holes into the material for needle insertion and threading. It also allows for:

  • Pre-stretching: This is done by pulling the leather tight in one direction and inserting awl punches at regular intervals. This produces evenly spaced stitches that are essential for a strong seam.
  • Stitch spacing: This refers to the number of stitches per inch (SPI). Using an awl helps maintain an even stitch spacing throughout the entire project, ensuring that each stitch is as strong as possible.
  • Needle size: An ideal needle size should be chosen based on the thickness of your thread and type of leather used. Generally, a larger needle will work better with thicker threads, while finer needles may be appropriate for thinner threads or lighter weight leathers.

The key to successful pre-punching lies in controlling pressure applied when pushing the awl through the material. Too much pressure can cause rips or tears in the fabric, while too little pressure can result in loose stitches that easily come undone.

With practice, it’s possible to achieve optimal results with minimal effort and time spent on pre-punching holes into your leather projects. Having properly punched holes provides a solid foundation from which you can start hand stitching or machine stitching your project together with confidence and precision—the perfect way to create beautiful pieces of craftsmanship that will last for years to come!

Hand Stitching vs. Machine Stitching

Having pre-punched holes in the leather is a crucial step for any sewing job. However, the size of needle and type of thread chosen can also greatly affect your project’s look and longevity. It is important to choose wisely when deciding between hand stitching or machine stitching.

Needle ChoiceThread TypeEmotional Response
Sharp Pointed NeedleWaxed Linen Thread/Heavy Duty Polyester Thread/Heavy Duty Nylon ThreadStability & Durability  
Universal Needle         Cotton Embroidery Floss/All Purpose Polyester Thread                         Quality & Precision  

Stitching by hand allows for more control over tension, stitch length, and pattern, so it may be better suited for finer details such as decorative stitches on thin leathers or an entire project with thicker leathers. Hand stitching requires a sharp pointed needle to make small puncture marks that don’t leave too large a hole in the hide. 

The best choice of thread depends on the weight of the leather; waxed linen thread works well with thick heavy hides while thinner threads such as cotton embroidery floss are suitable for lighter projects. Machine stitching is faster than hand stitching but requires a universal needle to accommodate various types of threads including heavy duty polyester threads and nylon threads which are strong enough to hold heavier materials together securely without breaking. 

Choosing the right combination of needle and thread will produce results that evoke feelings of stability and durability or quality and precision depending on which method you choose. As we move forward into learning about how to properly thread a sewing needle, remember that choosing carefully when it comes to what kind of needle and thread you use is essential for any successful leather crafting project!

How to Thread a Sewing Needle?

Threading a sewing needle properly is essential to achieving desired results in any leather crafting project, yet it can be challenging and requires careful attention. Before embarking on the task of threading, one should ensure they have selected the right size needle for their particular project.

Needle selection is based on the weight of the thread being used in combination with the thickness of the leather. A thicker thread will require a larger needle, while a lighter thread will require a smaller one. Additionally, if using leather that is particularly thick or heavy-duty, it may be necessary to use an even larger needle to ensure success in piercing through all layers.

When selecting a needle, care should be taken to ensure that its eye is large enough for your chosen thread weight; otherwise, you may end up having difficulty inserting your thread into the eye and may need to switch needles after all.

Additionally, one should check that there are no burrs or rough edges along the length of the shaft as this could cause damage to both your fabric and your fingers when pushing it through layers of material during sewing. Once you have made sure you have selected an appropriate needle for your project’s needs, you are now ready to begin carefully inserting your chosen thread into its eye and knotting securely at both ends before starting work on any stitching projects.

To make sure your stitches look neat and professional afterwards, take extra time when tying off each stitch at either end so that there are no loose ends visible from either side of fabric or leather piece. This ensures that every stitch looks uniform regardless of which size sewing needle was used for any particular job.

With patience and practice comes mastery over this essential skill required in many types of crafting endeavors using leather — from garments such as jackets and skirts to bags and wallets — making it possible not only complete projects successfully but also enjoyably!

Tips for Sewing Leather

Achieving desired results when working with leather requires knowledge of various techniques, including pre-punching, having the right supplies on hand, and properly threading a needle. 

  1. It is important to choose the correct size of sewing needle for your project; needles that are too big or too small can cause stitching problems and make it difficult to get even stitches.
  2. Additionally, different weaving techniques and stitching patterns may benefit from different types of needles such as between needles, ballpoint needles, or leather needles.
  3. When selecting the right type of needle for your project it helps to consider the type of stitch you will be creating as well as the thickness of your fabric. 
  4. The more intricate the stitching pattern is on your project, the smaller sized needle you may need in order to create even stitches that won’t damage your fabric. 
  5. On the other hand if you are working on a heavier weight material like upholstery fabrics or thick leather then larger sized needles will usually work better.
  6. Understanding how these factors affect which size needle you should use can help ensure successful results when sewing with leather materials. With this knowledge combined with careful attention while threading and sewing with quality supplies it is possible to achieve excellent results that will last for years to come. 
  7. Taking time to select a suitable needle size ensures a finished product that looks professional and polished without any unwanted holes or tears in your fabric from incorrect sizing choices. 

You can also read about what size sewing needles are for jeans and what size sewing needles are for cotton.

Moving forward into subsequent sections about ‘common sewing mistakes’ will further explore ways in which one can navigate around potential pitfalls when crafting with fabrics like leather.

Common Sewing Mistakes to Avoid

There are several areas within leatherworking that need careful consideration. Dyeing and finishing techniques require special attention when working with leather, as mistakes can be difficult or impossible to rectify. Therefore, understanding the basics of these processes is essential in order to produce a successful finished product.

When dyeing leather, it is important to choose the right type of dye for your project. There are three main types: spirit-based aniline dyes, water-soluble aniline dyes and alcohol-based pigmented dyes.

The first two penetrate into the hide’s surface and produce richer colors but do not offer much protection against abrasion or moisture damage; whereas alcohol-based pigmented dyes sit on top of the hide and provide more durability but may fade over time if exposed to direct sunlight. It is also important to ensure that all excess dye is removed from the material before moving onto finishing techniques such as burnishing, waxing or oiling.

While waxes and oils can help protect leather goods against wear and tear, a lack of experience using them can lead to poor results such as uneven coverage or cracked surfaces due to too much product being applied at once. To prevent this from happening it’s advisable to apply multiple thin coats rather than one thick coat when applying waxes or oils – allowing each layer time to sink in before adding another helps create an even finish which will last longer than one heavy application would have done otherwise.

Additionally any excess should always be wiped away with a clean cloth after each application so that dirt does not become trapped between layers of product causing further damage down the line.

In conclusion, when working with leather there are certain steps that need careful consideration in order for a project’s success – from selecting the right type of dye through to proper application of finishing techniques like waxing or oiling – failure to pay attention can result in costly mistakes making it difficult or even impossible rectify them later on down the line.


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.


  1. Influence of sewing parameters on the energy consumption of the sewing machines
  2. Sewing Machine Fabric Transport Mechanisms
  3. Design of sewing thread tension measuring device
  4. Sewing Modernity: How the Sewing Machine Allowed for a Distinctively Feminine Experience of Modernity.

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.

Leave a Comment