From creating bookmarks and keychains to jackets and boots, many exciting and unique ways to use leather material exist. This included leather quilting which adds an upscale look to any leather accessory. It isn’t grandmother’s quilting – but a lovely way to create a luxury leather item with a bit of practice. I will discuss leather quilting and how to get into this unique and creative craft.
Leather quilting is the sewing together of leather, fabric, and insulation for jackets, handbags, and other leather accessories. Using various techniques and supplies, patterns are stitched through all three layers to make a cushioned surface texture creating a thicker and heavier leather material.
Is there a leather project that’s almost finished but perhaps needs a particular element to add weight or interest? How does one make a leather jacket insulate better against the cold? Let’s explore the benefits of leather quilting and what makes it unique.
What Is Leather Quilting?
Leather quilting is the sewing together of leather and other fabric with an inner layer of insulation. This can be done with a repeating pattern or a design, much like the colorfully designed quilts, everyone has seen. The process creates a thicker and heavier fabric for jackets, handbags, and other clothing and accessories. Leather quilting is a way of adding dimension, comfort, and warmth to any leather item.
What We’ll Explore
- Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
- History of Leather Quilting
- Leather Quilting Overview Table
- Leather Quilting Techniques
- Leather Quilting Supplies
- Leather Quilting Services
- My Personal Research on Leather Quilting
- Helpful Leather Quilting Insights
- Key Takeaways
Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions
A few myths and misconceptions about leather quilting exist. One is that leather quilting is it’s too difficult for everyone to accomplish. Leather quilting may not be easy, but an individual can do it with the right tools and some practice.
Another myth around quilting is that it can only be done with certain fabrics in high-contrast colors. This is untrue, as people have been quilting leather for several decades and in just about every color of the rainbow.
A common misconception regarding leather quilting is that the materials should be pinned together to stabilize the layers while sewing with the machine. Putting pins through leather creates additional holes in the material, which, unlike cotton or polyester, will not reseal on their own but will persist. So use clips or fabric glue to hold layers stable instead!
History of Leather Quilting
Quilting is a practice that dates back to medieval times and possibly before. The first evidence of quilts was found in Asia about 2000 years ago. Researcher Robert S. Sherins, MD, states that Scythians in Central Asia wore costumes that included trousers made from quilted leather around 800–600 BCE as they migrated to Ukraine and Caucasus.
Materials such as leather were quilted to create clothing, bed covers, and padding under armor for comfort. Leather quilting became more prominent in the mid-20th century for many fashions and uses, including jackets, handbags, wallets, shoes, and other leather accessories.
Luxury leather quilting uses sew foam to create a plusher quilted look that’s great for jackets or leather accessories for a truly luxurious look.
Leather Quilting Overview Table
|Leather Quilting Techniques
|Longarm leather quilting
|Creates a tooled leather look with thread rather than embossing.
|Smooth leather quilting
|Uses cotton batting for a smoother, more traditional quilted look.
|Luxury leather quilting
|Uses sew foam for a plusher quilted look.
|Leather quilting design patterns
|Uses different sizes and patterns of quilting to create different looks.
Leather Quilting Techniques
Various leather quilting techniques can be used for small and large projects. The first technique is longarm leather quilting, a beautiful way to create a tooled look with leather using thread. Longarm leather quilting is often used to create beautiful pillows, book covers, jackets, and other leather accessories.
The next is smooth leather quilting, which uses cotton batting to create that quilted look with a smooth traditional finish. Smooth leather quilting is used for wallets, handbags, and leather accessories, as it is flat and smooth while still looking upscale.
Luxury leather quilting uses sew foam to create a plusher quilted look that’s great for jackets or leather accessories for a truly luxurious look. There are also leather quilting design patterns for creating different quilted looks. These are repeating patterns of the same size and shape but vary from diamonds to honeycombs and even abstract shapes.
Leather Quilting Supplies
A few things are needed for leather quilting to be successful. First is a sewing machine equipped with a leather needle. A standard sewing machine can sew thin leather (3 oz. weight), while heavy-duty and industrial sewing machines can handle heavier leather.
The sewing machine should also have a walking foot, making it easier to sew thick layers. The walking foot is a standard for sewing machines, so no additional purchase should be necessary. Here are the other supplies needed for leather quilting:
- Garment or upholstery grade leather
- Cotton or cotton blend batting
- Cotton or cotton blend liner
- Thread (synthetic works best)
- Quilting rulers
- Fabric marker
- Fabric scissors
- Fabric glue or clips
A special note for stabilizing the leather and materials for quilting is to use a glue stick or clips to hold the materials together while positioning them under the sewing machine and quilting. Pins will create holes in the leather that won’t disappear like they do with regular fabrics.
Leather Quilting Services
If one doesn’t feel prepared or ready to attempt leather quilting but wants to have a project made, leather quilting services are available by region. Whether it’s through a leather company or a crafter who specializes in leather on Etsy, there are ways to make quilted leather designs come to life. With an idea and a design, anything is possible.
Leather crafters can provide leather samples, photos of previous work, and choices for leather types and colors to help design the perfect quilted leather accessory. By using leather quilting services, one can have a personalized leather item without any hassle or worry about making a mistake.
Watch Hahns Atelier create a quilted leather bag for inspiration and see how easy he makes it look!
My Personal Research on Leather Quilting
Providing examples and different colors of leather, I surveyed friends and family to get their thoughts on leather quilting. I asked what types of quilted leather projects they would be interested in creating themselves or having made professionally. Here is a table representing the percentages of their responses and what I learned from the poll about leather quilting.
|Quilted Leather Item
|Dark brown purse — self
|Coin purse — self
|Jacket — self
|Boots — self
|Black purse — self
|Sleeve patches – self
|Vest – self
|Pillow — self
|Book cover — self
|Clutch — self
|Boots — professional
|Vest — professional
|Light or dark brown jacket — professional
|None — I don’t like quilted leather
Helpful Leather Quilting Insights
Can you quilt faux leather?
Yes, faux leather can be used for quilting in the same manner as real leather. Three layers are sewn together in patterns that make a cushioned and quilted material warmer and more durable than faux leather alone.
What is a leather quilting machine?
A leather quilting machine is a tool that drives a needle into leather to stitch layers together. It is a heavy-duty sewing machine designed specifically for sewing leather and quilted leather projects.
Is quilted leather durable?
Yes, quilted leather is very durable — in fact, it’s even more durable than a single layer of leather because it generally includes three layers, including the leather, a fabric, and insulation. Quilted leather is lightweight, warm, and durable.
What is a leather quilting thimble?
A leather quilting thimble is a tool worn on the fingertip to protect from needlesticks while sewing leather and other materials by hand. A leather quilting thimble allows you to push a needle through leather and other thick fabrics from the top, side, or back.
- Leather quilting can be accomplished in various ways for many unique projects.
- Leather quilting can be done with genuine and faux leather.
- Leather quilting adds dimension, comfort, and warmth to any leather item.
Leather quilting takes some practice to create unique leather clothing and accessories. There are many online tutorials and video how-tos on how to do longarm, smooth, and luxury leather quilting. Anyone can create a beautiful quilted piece by using a sewing machine and some patience or utilizing leather quilting services.
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