| || Belt leather sewn on Singer 15-91 |
In today's economy, leather-sewing capability can be an important factor in selecting a sewing machine.
Whether you are a crafter, a do-it-yourself-er, or a cottage industry entrepreneur, the ability to sew leather is a real advantage.
You have a couple of options for sewing leather. If you plan on high-speed, high-production leather-sewing, then you will need a commercial leather machine. But if you just need to occasionally sew soft leather for garments or handbags, then a heavy duty household model can do the job.
That is why vintage machines are so popular today. The all-metal machines of the 40's, 50's and early 60's are "industrial strength" in our modern world.
According to Merriam-Webster, "industrial strength" is defined as: "marked by more than usual power, durability, or intensity." Oxford defines it as "very strong or powerful."
Which means that an "industrial strength" sewing machine is NOT an industrial or commercial machine, but it is stronger than the typical household sewing machine. By today's plastic-happy standards, the all-metal vintage machines are certainly "industrial strength."
In fact, most vintage machines will sew leather goods with some care and consideration. The following tips will help:
Jacket leather sewn on Singer 401A
Gear-drive machines will usually sew leather more easily than belt-drive machines because they are less likely to slip or stall.
Keep in mind that the density and hardness of leather goods vary widely.
The thickness of the leather and the type of tanning process will dictate how much punching power is needed to pierce and sew. Some leathers simply cannot be sewn on a household machine.
An "industrial strength" vintage machine is a good choice for fashion garments and accessories or the occasional heavy duty repair, but it's not a good choice for day-in, day-out leather sewing.
A true industrial or commercial machine is the best choice for motorcycle leathers, saddlery, or daily, high-production leather sewing.
So, do you need to sew leather? If you slow down and take your time, you may be surprised at what your vintage machine can do!
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OldSewinGear is the collaborative effort of retired repairman Gary and daughter Barbara. We love old sewing gear and enjoy sharing what we've learned in our vintage sewing machine adventures. We are located in Roseburg, Oregon.