Has long been a teacher of English Literature, after the retirement focused on freelance copywriting. She’s now our full-time writer since our website allows her to know more about the hobby of her lifetime – sewing.
A professional fashion designer and seamstress. Isabel has her own video blog where she shares her experience about all the aspects of sewing – from choosing suitable materials to step-by-step instructions on how to sew a summer skirt.
Last updated: November 05, 2021
FreeNeedle is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links.
FreeNeedle is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links.
Whether you are a hobbyist or a seamstress who needs a new sewing machine to tackle complex projects using leather, you are sure to need something more than the average sewing machine, particularly because only specialized models have features that enable you to work with leather correctly. If you are looking for the best sewing machine for leather on the market to use as a hobbyist or for a business, you need to know that there are a lot of factors to consider before making a purchase. This is because sewing machines for leather are more complex and come with a heavier price tag than regular sewing machines.
To find a high-quality sewing machine for leather, we researched the market and tested multiple models until we found the seven best sewing machines that made it to our top. From our editor’s choice, the JUKI DDL-8700-Servo Industrial Straight Stitch Sewing Machine, to models that allow you to work with multiple types of fabrics including denim, we considered multiple features when selecting the best sewing machines for leather. Some of the factors that we took into account during our research include speed, dimensions, built-in stitches count, weight, and warranty.
We spent days researching reviews of the best sewing machines for leather from both professionals and home users, and we came up with a comparison table outlining the most important features of these machines. Below the table you’ll also find in-detail reviews of the machines that made it to the top, together with a buying guide that sums up everything there is to know to make an informed choice when buying a sewing machine for leather.
Manufactured by the well-known Japanese company Juki, which specializes in sewing machines and has been producing them since 1938, the JUKI DDL-8700-Servo is an industrial sewing machine with a single needle lockstitch and is an excellent choice for creating a wide variety of leather apparel, ranging from jackets and pants to various types of crafting projects.
This heavy-duty sewing machine is powerful enough to rival the results provided by high-powered industrial machines but is also lightweight enough to also work through medium and soft fabrics as well. Its servo motor makes it stand out not only because it is very powerful, but it is also quiet at the same time, which means you won’t have to deal with the typical noise frequently associated with powerful sewing machines. Many of the users who tested the JUKI DDL-8700-Servo Industrial Straight Stitch Sewing Machine mentioned that the machine is very easy to use and liked that it provides users with a variety of changing speed options. Because it can create approximately 5500 stitches per minute, the machine is an excellent choice for those who want to create clothing in bulk or simply want to have unparalleled speed for their regular projects.
The machine uses the Organ DBx1 needles, which you can also find on various types of Singer machines, which means that you can use them interchangeably if you own multiple sewing machines. Reviewers also like that this machine comes with an auto lubricating feature so maintenance is as hassle-free as possible.
Another sewing machine manufactured by Juki, the TL-2010Q receives glorious reviews for its overall quality and its stitch speed that make it one of the best choices out there for home users. This fast sewing machine doesn’t make too much noise, even when working at top speed, and it comes complete with an extension table that is very handy for those who need more space for their projects, such as quilting for example.
One of the most time-saving features of this machine is the automatic needle-threader, which spares you the trouble of having to put the needle into the needle’s eye. The feature is relatively easy to master according to many users, and there are multiple online videos on the company’s website that complement the instructions manual provided by the manufacturer.
The Juki TL-2010Q has a LED light that is very useful for those who want to work on their projects at night, or simply for users who want to have some extra light focused on their project no matter the time of day. Reviewers raved about how powerful the machine is in comparison to regular models and is of course very efficient with heavy fabrics. It works very well on both leather and suede, but you can also use it for projects that feature canvas, plastic, rubber, upholstery, reptile skin, and more. Even though it is designed for use with heavy materials in mind, the sewing machine is also suitable for fine fabrics such as velvet or silk and natural fabrics such as linen, wool and cotton.
Our budget pick, the Singer Heavy Duty 4452, is the best heavy-duty sewing machine for leather that you can currently find on the market at a price that is this friendly, even for hobbyists. Very similar to the Singer 4423, this sewing machine is a rather simple model that is easy to use and has a handful of extra features that set it apart from the competition.
Many users like the fact that the machine doesn’t have many features to confuse you, and as such, it is easy to master even for beginners. Some users mentioned that the mechanical selection stitch system may be initially confusing, but everything else is very clearly labelled. The Singer Heavy Duty 4452 is a mechanical machine, which means that it may be somewhat more subpar than other models we reviewed, and you should also keep in mind that the machine doesn’t shut off automatically.
The machine has 32 decorative and utility stitches, a free arm, adjustable presser foot pressure, as well as three needle positions. It also features an automatic needle threader and has a speed of up to 1100 stitches per minute. One of the main advantages of using an all-metal mechanical sewing machine is the fact that it works perfectly on just about any type of fabric no matter its thickness, and it is often not necessary to have it serviced professionally.
Designed for durability, the Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine comes with tons of built-in stitches, even though it is not the fanciest machine around. According to most of the users who leave you with this machine, it can handle heavy-duty work with ease and even though it may feel a bit old-fashioned because it is not computerized, it is an excellent choice for hobbyists who want to try their hand at leather or other material such as rubber or denim.
The Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine comes with 21 built-in stitches, which are more than enough for home use. It also sports a built-in needle threader and a built-in thread cutter as well, which means that you don’t have to use a pair of scissors every time you want to trim threads.
The 1.0-amp motor is powerful enough to sew through multiple layers of fabric and many users like that it works very easy with leather, multiple layers of denim, and canvas. The Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine comes with a hardcover that keeps it safe from dust and allows for easy transport.
The metal frame of this sewing machine enhances its durability and stability and even though many beginners may find it a bit expensive, the Janome HD3000 is worth it as a long-term investment, especially if you envision yourself working with heavy-duty tasks on a regular basis.
Why is it special?
Metal frame for extra stability and durability
What are the flaws?
Heureux Z6 – Best Sewing Machine for Denim and Leather
Speed: 700 SPM
Built-in stitches: 200
Weight: 11.7 lbs.
Dimensions: 18 x 13 x 10 inches
Warranty: not specified
Extra features: 8 buttonhole styles; backlit LCD display
If you’re looking for a sewing machine able to create any kind of stitches that come to your mind, look no further than the Heureux Z6. It features a whopping 200 stitches so any of your designs will be brought to life with no effort. The Heureux Z6 is the best sewing machine for leather and denim you can find on the market because it allows you to sew several layers of thick material and can also glide easily over multiple layers.
Featuring an automatic needle threader, the Heureux Z6 is an excellent choice for those who want to create their own denim pants or jackets, but also want a machine that is heavy-duty enough to handle other types of thick materials such as leather. The machine has the capability to sew up to 10 layers of hard denim or 12 layers of soft denim and comes with 8 built-in buttonhole styles that allow you to decorate various types of denim and leather differently. Many users raved about the very convenient switch panel of the Heureux Z6, and they also liked the adjustable foot pressure, the very precise tension control, the built-in bobbin winder, and the carry handle that makes the machine easy to transport from one room to another.
The Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine packs a punch when it comes to thick fabrics thanks to its two heavyweight needles that can handle multiple layers of heavyweight fabrics. The metal needle plate of this machine works great when it comes to feeding the fabric smoothly, while the metal needle is sturdy and glides effortlessly over multiple layers and thick seams.
With a capacity of 37 built-in stitches, this machine works great not only for decorative stitches, but also for zig-zag ones, blind hems, and buttonholes. The highly functional automatic needle threader of the Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine takes the hassle out of threading by hand, and the stitching speed reaches 800 stitches a minute. The machine also comes with a stitch selector dial that is very easy to use and is conveniently placed on the side of the machine.
This heavy-duty sewing machine comes with six quick-change sewing feet, and many users liked the one-step auto-size buttonholer that is able to create virtually perfect buttonholes. If you are looking for a heavy-duty sewing machine that comes with an extended warranty, the Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine is a great model to choose because it has a 25 year-limited warranty that also includes a one-year warranty for parts, labor, and accompanying accessories.
Those looking for a sturdy sewing machine that comes with the amount of stitches and lots of extras will find the Janome Industrial-Grade HD1000 Sewing Machine an excellent choice. This machine comes with a 25-year limited warranty and has an aluminum interior and exterior for enhanced durability. It is one of the heaviest machines we tested at 22.7 lbs., so it wouldn’t be the best choice if you want a sewing machine you can travel with.
The Janome Industrial-Grade HD1000 comes with a 25-year limited warranty that includes replacements for parts and any labor free of charge in the first year. This is important for those who are not keen to change their sewing machine too often and look at it as an investment.
The 14 stitches that are built-in into the machine include a basic straight stitch, but also a knit stitch, a zig-zag stich, as well as a buttonhole one that comes in very handy when you work on jackets or pants. You will find a dial close to the top of the sewing machine, which allows you to control the tension of the thread manually. The machine has a reverse lever you can use for reverse stitching. This is very helpful for those situations you want to be able to go backwards and strengthen your stitches.
Why is it special?
Versatile and durable
25-year limited warranty
Auto needle threader
What are the flaws?
No automatic thread tension control
Things to Consider
If you love the look of custom leather and want to be able to create your own garments at home, a sewing machine for leather is just the thing you need. Even though leather products are some of the most versatile and durable fashions out there, they are quite difficult to create because leather is a thick, resistant fabric, so you generally cannot use a regular sewing machine for it. Nevertheless, once you have the best sewing machine for leather, you will find that there’s nothing to be afraid when it comes to working with this type of fabric.
Advantages of having top-quality sewing machine for leather
By choosing a top-quality sewing machine for leather you can be sure you can handle multiple layers and thick fabrics with ease, while also being able to enjoy a selection of stitches to suit your decorative style. Moreover, with a high-quality sewing machine for leather you can also be sure that the leather will not stick underneath the foot and you’ll avoid problems such as permanent holes created by a stuck needle.
Features to consider when choosing a machine for sewing leather
When shopping for a high-quality sewing machine for leather you should take a look at various features, including the speed and motor power, the strength of the needle, number of built-in stitches, durability, extra accessories and warranty. You should also make sure the machine you choose is compatible with the type of thread you intend to use. This is important to keep in mind because some sewing machines don’t perform well with synthetic threads.
Speed and motor power
Motor power and speed are very important factors to consider when shopping for sewing machines for leather, much more than in the case of regular sewing machines. This is because leather is a thick fabric that requires more power to be stitched correctly. The JUKI DDL-8700-Servo Industrial Straight Stitch Sewing Machine, our editor’s choice, has speeds of 5,500 stitches per minute, whereas most other models have stitching speeds ranging between 800 and 1,100 stitches per minute. Most sewing machines designed to work with leather have powerful and heavy motors, which is why many of them are built from metal instead of plastic, which adds to their weight.
Number of built-in stitches
In the majority of cases, working with leather only requires a straight stitch, so the number of stitches is not as important with these machines as it is with models used with thin fabrics.
However, if you think you are going to use the machine for other types of projects as well, such as working with denim, for example, you may want a model that comes with various types of built-in stitches, such as zig-zag or buttonhole, for example.
Stitch length and width
When possible, look for a sewing machine with an adjustable length and width for the stitches, because this allows for more versatility for your projects. Some models have a set length and width, so consider how large our projects are going to be to determine whether it’s enough for you.
Does it come with leather needle(s)?
Not all heavy-duty sewing machines come with needles designed especially for leather, so if your chosen model doesn’t have them, you should consider investing in some.
A free arm on a sewing machine allows you to extend the working area so you can manipulate your fabric easier around the needle.
A free arm comes in very handy for larger projects and sewing cuffs and sleeves, as well as bags.
The type of materials you intend to work with is an essential factor to consider because the machine you choose should be powerful enough to handle it. Consider whether you are going to work with thin or heavy-duty leather, and how many layers you intend to sew at once. Other types of heavy-duty fabrics you may need to sew include denim or canvas, so if you work with these, look for a model of sewing machine that can handle them well.
Dimensions and weight
The dimensions and weight of the sewing machine are important not only for determining whether the machine will fit in a determined space in your home, but also when it comes to transporting it. Keep in mind that most heavy-duty sewing machines are much heavier than regular sewing machines for hobbyists, with the JUKI DDL-8700-Servo Industrial Straight Stitch Sewing Machine weighing in at 62 lbs., for example.
Extra accessories included with the machine
Many sewing machines for leather come with a variety of extra accessories, such as a dust bag or a LED light that makes it easy to work at night. Other accessories to look for include various types of feet, top drop-in bobbin, and metal working parts. Some models, such as the Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine, come with a multitude of accessories to suit all your sewing needs.
Many of the heavy-weight sewing machines designed for working with leather offer a long-term warranty of up to 25 years. Many of the models we reviewed above are covered by such a lengthy warranty, such as the Brother ST371HD and the Janome HD1000, but others only come with one-year limited warranties. This type of warranty covers your machine for construction faults, and for parts and labor in the first year only.
When sewing leather, you need to keep in mind that this fabric can stick to the presser foot. For this reason, you should use a Teflon foot or a roller foot. Some machines glide effortlessly, but if you find that is not the case with your model, you can place some tape over the bottom of a regular presser foot because this will help it glide smoothly.
Not all sewing machines require oiling, so it’s important to check if the machine needs this type of maintenance in the first place. You can find this information in the instructions manual that comes with the machine. If it does need oiling, you should also have instructions for how to do it yourself. However, if you’re not completely sure, it’s always worth it to check with a professional.
Because leather is a thick and often rigid fabric, you need to use strong threads such as nylon or polyester to ensure the durability of the stitching.
We believe that the JUKI DDL-8700-Servo Industrial Straight Stitch Sewing Machine is the best sewing machine for leather on the market, because it has all the power you may need to tackle difficult projects quickly. It also combines high performance with durability and an extended warranty. For those who are looking for a sewing machine with a LED light, the Juki TL-2010Q has everything you need in a heavy-duty machine. Finally, if you’re on a budget, we think that the Singer Heavy Duty 4452 is an extremely affordable choice that doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the quality and speed of stitching. No matter what sewing machine you decide to buy in the end, make sure it has all the features you need for the types of projects you intend to tackle.