Best Sewing Machines For Leather – 2020 Buyer’s Guide

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Leather may seem like the white whale of all fabrics when it comes to sewing – how are you ever supposed to figure out how to make that tough little fabric conform to your designs? Luckily, the sewing machines of today have the capacity to handle strong fabrics such as leather.

Read on to learn more about how these machines can change the game.

Comparison Chart of the Best Sewing Machines For Leather

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Our choice of best overall sewing machine for leather
  • Heavy enough to maintain stability regardless of number of layers
  • Extra high presser foot allows machine to accommodate multiple layers
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  • Has the option of an extension for the work table
  • Comes with six hundred different built in stitch options
  • Our runner-up choice for best sewing machine for leather
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  • Comes with access to the Singer Sewing Assistant app
  • Stitches at a rate of eleven hundred stitches per minute
  • Our choice for sewing machine for leather for the money
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  • Metal needle plate allows fabric to be processed smoothly
  • Our choice for first honorable mention of sewing machine for leather
  • Comes with presser feet specifically designed for working with leather
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  • Strikes a good balance between durability and a lighter weight
  • Comes with sixty built in stitches: basic, decorative, and stretch
  • Our choice for second honorable mention of sewing machine for leather
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Can Any Sewing Machine Be Used For Leather?

Leather is one of the toughest fabrics to sew, and not just for the reasons you are thinking. Yes, leather is a thicker fabric that can jam up a machine, but it can also be too thick for the needle to even pierce.

The needle would then skate on top of the leather and end up stretching and ultimately ruining the fabric. So it is best to work with a machine that is specifically designed to be able to handle leather, often a machine that includes a particularly engineered sewing foot.

How to Choose a Sewing Machine for Leather

Even with the specifications required of a sewing machine for leather, there are still many product options out there. Here is what to look for:

Durability

If a machine is advertised as being able to sew leather, it had better be tough. Look for machines with primarily metal parts, or at least with a metal interior frame. Stainless steel is also a good option for work area plates.

Ease of Use

This quality is important with all sewing machines, but we find it especially important when trying to sew leather because you will likely need to switch out the machine’s stock foot with one specifically designed for working with tougher materials. You do not want to have to spend longer on this process than you need to.

Speed

Just because you are working with a tougher material does not mean you need to be spending all day on it. Like with any other sewing machine, look for how fast it can stitch.

Quick Take - Best Sewing Machines For Leather

Before you get too far, here's a quick take of the best sewing machines for leather:

  1. Janome HD3000
  2. SINGER 9960
  3. Singer Heavy Duty 4423

Review of the Best Sewing Machines for Leather

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for with these machines, let’s check out some actual products:

Best Overall:
Janome HD3000

PROS

  • Has a free arm.
  • Workspace has good lighting.
  • Feet are snap on and easy to attach.
  • Internal frame is made of metal for high quality, heavy duty construction.
  • Has an automatic needle threading and bobbin system with a top loading bobbin.

CONS

  • Workspace is on the smaller side.
  • Some functions on this model are not intuitive.
  • External plastic frame feels cheap (though it has metal underneath).

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers love the extra high presser foot on this model. The added height allows the machine to be able to work with multiple layers of leather, and any extra space can be used for clips or binders to keep your fabric secure while you are working.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the most important aspects for working with a tough fabric such as leather is machine stability. This model is heavy enough to remain stable no matter how many layers of leather you are working with.

Who Will Use This Most

People looking to work with many different layers of leather stitching will love the ease of operating this machine. And it can do more than just leather - this machine is tough enough to handle pretty much any kind of fabric.

Bottom Line

The Janome HD3000 is an amazing product option with an impressive ability to work with multiple layers of leather and other tough fabrics, thanks to its extra high presser foot. It is not particularly versatile, though, and while the heaviness of this model adds to its stability, it also makes it fairly clunky.

Runner-up:
SINGER 9960

SINGER | Quantum Stylist 9960 Computerized Portable Sewing Machine with 600-Stitches, Electronic Auto Pilot Mode, Extension Table and Bonus Accessories, Perfect for Customizing Projects

PROS

  • LCD display is brightly colored.
  • Can sew eight hundred fifty stitches per minute.
  • Has an automatic needle threader and thread cutter.
  • Has a reference chart in order to break down all the different stitch types.
  • Has auto pilot and speed control options, as well as auto sizing for button holes.

CONS

  • Not particularly quiet.
  • Can be overwhelming for some users.
  • Machine can’t be mounted to a cabinet.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are blown away by the vast amount of stitching options available on this model. It has six hundred different built in stitch options, with one hundred three utility stitches, five different fonts including four hundred fifty stitches, thirteen button hole options, and thirty four decorative stitches.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We have included this machine on our list specifically for sewing leather, but there really is not much this model would not be able to handle. It comes with an included extension for the work table to make the already sizable area even bigger for larger projects.

Who Will Use This Most

Because this machine is so high capacity and so complicated to operate, it should only be used by expert sewers. It is not recommended for beginners or those who are not tech savvy.

Bottom Line

The SINGER 9960 is a fantastic product option and our choice for runner-up to best overall, mostly due to the mind blowingly impressive amount of stitches it can handle. It can be confusing to work with, though, and a lack of labels does not help.

Best for the Money:
Singer Heavy Duty 4423

SINGER 4423 Sewing Machine, grey

PROS

  • Not bulky.
  • Extremely powerful motor.
  • Automatic needle threading and bobbin winding.
  • Heavy duty: has a durable metal frame and a bed plate made of stainless steel.
  • Includes an all purpose foot, a button hole foot, a zipper foot, and a button sewing foot.

CONS

  • Extremely heavy.
  • Could not handle professional level projects.
  • Not the best for sewing through bulky seams.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers appreciate that when they purchase this machine, it includes access to the Singer Sewing Assistant app. This app is great for answering any questions users may have, sharing their advice and learning from the advice of others, and watching a variety of sewing tutorials.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We had some trouble believing that a machine from a reputable brand such as Singer could be bought for such a low, low price. But it is true! This machine is a steal of deal.

Who Will Use This Most

Anyone who wants a tough machine that can really go the distance should invest in this Singer model. Its high quality construction of heavy duty metal essentially guarantees that it will last for as long as you need it to.

Bottom Line

The Singer Heavy Duty 4423 is an amazing product option that you will not be able to believe you can buy for as low a price as they are selling. Just know that if you are a beginner sewer, this may not be the best choice for you.

Honorable Mention 1:
Brother ST371HD

Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine, Strong & Tough, 37 Built-in Stitches, Free Arm Option, 6 Included Feet

PROS

  • Has a free arm.
  • Easy to use (has a dial control).
  • Lightweight, so easy to transport.
  • Provides thirty seven built in stitch options.
  • Made with a jam resistant top loading bobbin.

CONS

  • Can be complicated to set up.
  • Setting the tension can be touchy.
  • Can’t handle multiple layers of leather.
  • Not as durable as some of its competitor brands.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are stoked about the six included different presser feet, and especially about the two feet that are specifically designed for working with tougher materials such as leather. These include the non stick foot and the spring action zigzag option. Other feet allow for processing less intense fabrics as well.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

There are a number of details on this product that make it a great choice for working with leather. It includes specialty needles, including a needle just for sewing through leather, and its metal needle plate allows for thicker materials to be quickly and smoothly processed.

Who Will Use This Most

If you intend on working with other tough fabrics beyond just leather, this machine is an awesome option for you because it is specifically designed for such sewing.

Bottom Line

The Brother ST371HD is a great product option for sewing multiple kinds of fabrics, mostly because of all of the different options available in the presser feet! Just keep in mind that you may have to make more repairs on this model.

Honorable Mention 2:
Singer Sew Mate 5400

SINGER | Sew Mate 5400 Handy Sewing Machine Including 60 Built-in Stitches, 4 Fully Built-in 1-Step Buttonhole, Automatic Needle Threader & Automatic Tension, Help to get Started in No time

PROS

  • Easy to use.
  • Comes with a twenty five year warranty.
  • LED bulb works well to illuminate working area.
  • Can sew at a rate of seventy five stitches per minutes.
  • Comes with both a written and video instructional guide.

CONS

  • Feeder has a tendency to jam.
  • Not intended for professional use.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers say that this is an excellent option for beginner sewers in that it has a good range of stitch options, but not so many that it becomes overwhelming. It includes sixty built in stitches: eight built in stitches, eight stretch stitches, forty decorative stitches, and four button holes.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We like the combination of weight and durability present in this model. Not a lot of manufacturers can strike a balance between a machine that is light enough to carry around easily, yet still tough enough to last, but Singer has done it.

Who Will Use This Most

As mentioned above, this machine is a great option for beginner sewers. If you are an older sewer who requires maximum light in order to take advantage of limited eyesight capability, you will also likely appreciate this model thanks to its awesome LED lighting options.

Bottom Line

The Singer Sew Mate 5400 is a fantastic product option that can go the distance for you in multiple ways - it is tough enough to last, and light enough to literally go the distance if you need to take it along while traveling! It is smaller than many of the other options on this list, though.

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

Let’s reiterate the Brother difference here. When you choose a Brother model over a lesser quality option, here is what you get:

Weight

When working with a tough material such as leather, it can be important to have a heavier machine to increase stability. But, on the flip side, a heavier machine is more difficult to move and transport. You should weight these two qualities carefully against each other.

Work Space Illumination

It is particularly important to pay attention to what you are doing when sewing leather in order to make sure the needle has not started to stretch out the material. Find yourself a machine with a bright LED light so you can always see what you are doing.

Versatility

You are going to want to use your machine for more than just sewing leather (we are assuming). Invest in a machine with a wide variety of available stitch patterns so that you can work on every project you could ever desire.

Conclusion

Leather can seem like an insurmountable obstacle to a sewer, but with the right machine, anything is possible. Invest in a machine that will best suit your needs and you can wave goodbye to ever worrying about leather. We promise that any machine from our list here can tackle leather with ease.