Sewing with Leather

This might be my favorite thing I've made for myself recently. I was offered an opportunity to choose a piece of leather from the Leather Hide Store to use however I please. I chose three possible contenders on-line first, received three samples and was able to choose what I wanted. I knew exactly what I wanted, I wanted to attempt the Senna Tote with a leather bottom. (There is an awesome giveaway at the end of the post, so if you don't want to read through my ramblings, scroll down to the end)

I am a bit particular about my purses. I don't like faux leather purses, the texture bothers me. They are usually cheaply made, crack and come apart after a few wears. Supple leather, perfect topstitching, interesting shapes and details - I can get behind that. The piece I received from the Leather Hide Store was perfect, it was so soft and rich looking. I love it.

I like everything about this bag. It's doesn't really look homemade. It's large enough to find all the necessities that a busy mom needs to have on hand, yet it looks stylish and unique. The Senna Tote pattern created by Vanessa from LBG studio is great. The pattern pieces are perfect, have necessary notches and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. I also added leather piping to the pocket, I think it adds a nice touch.

See the front pocket, there should be a snap there and it's missing. I have a confession to make, in all my years of sewing I have never used snaps. Never. I am scared of them. I think I might have snapophobia. :) My good friend Mie has been gently pushing me towards giving snaps a chance. She told me how silly I was, that I would love it, that I would never go back to buttons and even send me a link where I can purchase all kinds of snaps. And it almost happened with this bag. Almost. I got the snaps, but I couldn't find the right zipper to go with the little snap I chose. The two metals just didn't look good together. So no snaps. Next time. Maybe. :)

This was my first time working with leather, and I want share what I learned from this experience. Particularly how to handle leather sewing if you have a domestic sewing machine.

1. Leather is easy to cut and handle, however you can't pin leather. If you make a hole, it will stay. Trace your pattern pieces onto leather first. I used the suede side and tailors chalk. It worked great. Either a rotary cutter or sharp scissors will work great.

2. Buy a needle for leather and change it frequently.

3. Use a non-stick or Teflon sewing foot for your machine. I got mine for $6.00 at Amazon. It worked fine. I typed in "non-stick sewing foot for Janome" and got a plethora of options. I suppose a walking foot would help as well, but I don't own one, so no experience there.

4. I would not recommend sewing with really thick upholstery leather, unless you own an industrial sewing machine.  If buying online, pay attention to the shipping weight, it's a good  indicator how thick leather is.

5. Topstitching - tread carefully. Nothing says more homemade as uneven topstitching. The leather I worked with was a bit too thick for my machine, and I knew that my topstitching would be less then perfect. I would recommend practicing first, to determine if your machine will produce uniform, even stitching. Mine was skipping stitches, or making really tiny stitches - less then desirable for topstitching.
6. You can't undo mistakes. Once you stitch leather, it's impossible to unpick. The needle leaves tiny holes that's there to stay. Another reason to be super careful about topstitching. :)

Overall, I loved the challenge and even though, it was frustrating at times, I am please with the results and will certainly sew with leather again. It's a bit addictive.

And now the fun part! You have a chance to win a $50.00 gift certificate code to the Leather Hide Store. There is a great variety of whole leather hides. There is also a great selection of remnants. How cool is this one, for example. So unique. To enter, "like" the Leather Hide Store Facebook page. You can also choose, though not required, to follow me either on Facebook or Instagram for more chances to win. The giveaway is eligible for United States and Canada residents. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Fantastic Olga! I love your fabric choice, that leather accent and not less the styling! Shame I can't win a bit of that lovely leather :( but good luck to the rest of that can!

  2. I love this bag so much. I definitely need to make one!

  3. That bag is awesome! I agree with Mie, snaps are awesome and you will probably wonder why you hesitated with them! Saying that, I do love the look of buttons on most things better. :D

  4. That is such a great bag and ahhhhh man so close with the snaps.....neither Antique brass or copper worked for this bag? hmmmmmm :-)

  5. Olga this is absolutely gorgeous! I have yet to sew with leather. BTW did you happen to be at SR Harris Sunday afternoon? There was someone at the cutting table and I was wondering "hmmm I wonder if that could be Olga?"

  6. This is such a wonderful tote! I totally agree about faux leather. Thanks for the tips!

  7. oh that is amazing!!! I've only tried leather a couple of times... you did it perfectly!!! thanks for the giveaway!!

  8. Amazing! I want to do another leather project now. Such a beautiful bag.

  9. Wow, this is absolutely amazing! It looks so professional and I love your outfit so much, too! Super hip! :)

  10. GREAT job!! I love it! Why not share it and any other baggy creations at on of our our weekly Bag Brag Linking Party! We would love to see you there! :)

    ChrisW Designs


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