Deciding what leather sewing machine to buy can be complex. Once you know a bit more, the process gets easier. Some recommendations include paid links to products that I trust.
For most leather workers, the Consew 206-RB5 sewing machine (click here to view on amazon) will be a workhorse machine that will last for years. It features a triple feed walking foot and is very well suited for leather work.
There are a few things to keep in mind when considering what leather sewing machine will work best for you, let’s have a look.
What to Look for in a Leather Sewing Machine
There are a few main factors that make industrial sewing machines, the ones great for leather, as strong as needed to handle the heavy material. The difference between the machines often relates to the machine falling on the range balancing power, durability, speed, options, and reliability. Here are some things to think about.
Some industrial and leather sewing machines provide up to around 550 watts. That is a huge power amount. It is also necessary to much through thicker, heavier leathers. Since the motors are so powerful, leather sewing machines might have a motor that is separate from the machine. They usually hang below the machine table, and connect via a belt that transmits the power to the machine’s gears.
These machines are usually constructed from heavy-duty materials and require a solid table on which to sit and provide steady stitches. While standard sewing machines might weight 15lbs, leather sewing machines can weight up to 60lbs.
Usually, the larger industrial sewing machines generate a little more noise during operation. This is due to the larger mothers used, which are louder during operation.
Larger Foot Controls
Industrial machines usually have an entire platform for both feet to comfortably rest. Check various manufacturers to see if one might be more comfortable than another. While this likely isn’t a high-priority factor, it’s worth considering as you might be working on it for hours at a time.
Leather is a bit of a “sticky” material when passing through a sewing machine, and requires a foot that allows it to pass smoothly through the machines as it sews. For this purpose, leather sewing machines generally use one of a few types:
This type, rather than sliding over the leather, actually grips it. It matches the grip and movement with the feeding feet underneath the mater, so they move in unison, passing the leather material evenly through the machine.
This is a common style of sewing machine foot that is coated with Teflon. The Teflon properties make it essentially non-stick, so the leather material can pass right under it smoothly.
This style of foot has little rollers built into the foot. As the material comes in contact with them, they roll, allowing the leather to pass through freely without getting stuck.
Standard sewing machines recommend oiling the mechanical parts about once per week. Leather sewing machines require more frequent oiling, usually about after every 8 hours of use. Depending on frequency of use, that could be once per day.
Proper oiling is necessary to keep the mechanical parts working so strongly, and smoothly, since they generally handle a lot more force than standard machines.
Heavier duty machines might have warranties ranging from 5-25 years. Longer warranties, and sturdier machines, usually have higher costs.
Some Leather sewing machines can sew up to 3,000spm, with varying rates across manufacturers and machine types. Faster stitch rates are usually available is more expensive machines. This is mostly due to the amount of power needed, and quality of parts has to be higher to sustain the wear from long durations of fast stitching in heavy materials.
Standard machines offer stitch lengths up to around 6.5 mm. Industrial machines can run up to about 10mm. This allows for longer stitches to more securely attach thicker, heavier materials.
My Top Picks
This is a great all-around single-needle machine that sews straight stitches well (click here to view it on amazon). It’s durable, has a max stitch speed of 3,300 SPM, 10mm stitch length, can take a 135/17 needle, and weighs in at 82 lbs. The price is around the mid-point for industrial machines, making it a good mix of cost and function. Consew machines are made in China.
The JUKI is another mid-range work horse leather sewing machine (click here to view it on amazon). It’s generally comparable in performance to the Consew, though with some different specs. SPM comes in at 2,500, and max stitch length at 9mm. So a little shorter max stitch length, and slower speed than the Consew. The JUKI machines are made in Japan.
COBRA Class 17
The COBRA sewing machines are really well-liked in the leather community. The manufacturing company does have a lot of expertise in the field, are very knowledgeable about the machines, and take pride in their support. the COBRA Class 17 is a straight-stitch, walking foot machine with a speed reducer. It can sew up to 16oz of leather (very thick). Some folks whom have had these for years still enjoy and recommend them (click here to view it on LeatherMachineCo).
A sewing machine is a very helpful tool worth the investment once you’re ready to make the move. Hopefully this helps in your search, and you end up with a great one that you’re really happy with.
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