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What Is The Best Leather Sewing Machine For You?

Sewing machines are not equal when it comes to sewing leather, and this guide is intended for anyone thinking about getting a leather sewing machine. You don’t need an industrial machine to sew leather – I have a little tutorial on sewing leather on a home sewing machine for those shaking their head in disbelief! – but while some machines will handle leather beautifully others will drag and mark the leather in such a way that the material is no longer usable.

Note: If you are a professional leather worker, you’ll probably find this guide a little basic, as I am looking at the best machines for home sewers and their leather projects, rather than heavy duty leather sewing machine more suited to your needs!

Best machines for sewing leather - what is the best leather sewing machine in 2021?

Note: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

Best Leather Sewing Machines (For Home Sewers)

For those who want the quick information rather than all the details, I’ve popped the top four below for you, but the best machine for you will depend on what you need the it to do. So, think about what you would like to achieve and make your decision based on that. I’ve also got another post which will help you answer those possible questions you might still have, like suitable sewing machine feet and needles for working with leather.

1. Best Leather Sewing Machine by Price

SINGER 4423 Sewing Machine:

  • 23 stitches and a buttonhole
  • Great for leather and other heavy weight fabrics
  • 25 year warranty

VIEW ON AMAZON

2. Best Machine For Sewing Leather by Reviews

Janome HD3000 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine:

  • Metal gears rather than usual nylon
  • 18 stitch types and one buttonhole
  • Great for medium weight leather

VIEW ON AMAZON

3. Best Leather Sewing Machine for Serious Sewers

JUKI DDL8700H High-Speed Lock-Stitch:

  • Industrial sewing machine
  • Uses a servo motor
  • Works with leather and heavier weight materials
  • High speed (4000rpm) for intense sewing

VIEW ON AMAZON

4. The Best ‘Dark Horse’ Leather Sewing Machine

Janome Skyline S5:

  • A powerhouse machine
  • Sews beautiful stitches in leather
  • 1000 stitches per minutes

VIEW ON AMAZON

Let’s now take a look at each of my recommendations in much more detail so that you can buy the best sewing machine for YOUR needs!

1. Singer 4423 Sewing Machine

The Singer 4423 is noted as being a heavy duty sewing machine:

  • 14.5lbs
  • 15.5″ x 6.25″ x 12″
  • Metal frame

This sewing machine works well with leather and other heavier weight fabrics, and is suitable for making clothing and home furnishings.

Manufacturers Specs

  • 23 stitches covering basic, stretch and buttonhole – though I have not been brave enough to attempt my own buttonholes in leather, I leave that to a professional buttonholer!
  • The machine can sew 100 stitches per minute
  • It has an automatic needle threader

What I Love

The inner frame on this sewing machine is metal which gives it a more solid feelingIt’s a simple machine, with dials and knobs rather than electronic buttonsComes with a 25 year limited warranty

What I Don’t Love

  • The foot pedal is quite light so control can be trickyIt’s not the prettiest of sewing machines
  • Best For

    Being one of the more standard sewing machines available, this is an excellent choice if you are on a budget and your main aim is to add a few leather details to your mainly fabric projects. At a push you can sew leather up to a medium thickness, but you will likely struggle at points where there are more than two layers.

    The Singer 4423 is a basic mechanical machine and with the variety of stitch options, you can also sew clothing with it. Did I mention it also has a buttonhole feature? You will struggle to with this sewing machine if you’re thinking of sewing saddles or holsters – few machines will handle the cowboy leather needed for such leather items! – but if you’re just wanting to sew the occasional leather garment (a lamb napa skirt or top) or a bag with thinner leather, then this machine is a bargain.

    2. Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine

    The Brother Strong & Tough sewing machine is the second mechanical machine on the list, and one that can handle leather and other heavy weight materials.

    • 14.5lbs
    • 7.87″ x 16.1″ x 12.21″
    • 800 stitches per minute

    This sewing machine is not only strong and tough for leather and other fabrics like denim and canvas, but it can also sew lighter fabrics beautifully as well. The addition of varied sewing machine feet means you won’t be needing to buy many additional accessories on top, though of course you will still need the right needle to sew leather on this.

    Manufacturers Specs

    • Automatic needle threader – great for those of us with diminishing eye sight
    • 37 different stitch options
    • 800 stitches per minute

    What I Love

    • Can drop the feed dog for some free-motion sewing!
    • Free arm attachment option allowing us to get into smaller areas
    • Sews nicely on heavier fabrics and leather

    What I Don’t Love

    Best For

    This sewing machine is marketed as a heavy duty sewing machine and while it has had some great (and some not so great) feedback regarding its sewing capabilities, it isn’t the best option for a dedicated leatherwork sewing machine (in my opinion). It will handle thin leather if that’s what you use for any leather goods you make, but I would be wary of expecting this to handle the thick materials required for large projects. While it is from Brother, a manufacturer of some solid machines – I still prefer my Bernina machine over this one.

    3. SINGER Heavy Duty 4411 Sewing Machine

    A speedy machine from Singer, with a sewing speed of 1100 stitches per minute.

    • 14.5 Pounds
    • 15.5″ x 6.25″ x 12″
    • 1100 stitches per minute

    The second Singer machine on this list – this one is more ‘heavy duty’ than the Singer 4423 we looked at earlier. With a heavy duty internal frame – made from metal! – this machine is a bit of a beast under the plastic.

    Manufacturers Specs

    • 11 stitch types to choose from – no decorative stitch options here!
    • Comes with four presser feet included
    • Top loading bobbin, which I personally love (no more bobbin chicken!)

    What I Love

    • 1100 stitches per minute makes for some speedy sewing
    • Metal inner frame makes this machine quite a solid option
    • Great for other heavy weight materials like denim and canvas

    What I Don’t Love

    • Like all Singer sewing machines,  they are no longer manufactured by the ‘original’ Singer and so are sometimes prone to issues
    • Limited functionality compared to other machines around this price point

    Best For

    While there are some great reviews for this heavy duty Singer, there are almost just as many complaints. Sewing 1100 stitches per minute is great for those not looking for low speed, but while it can handle leather, there are better machines you could spend your money on at the same price point.

    4. Janome HD1000 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine

    The Janome HD 1000 is a mechanical sewing machine that can handle leather and other medium to heavy weight materials.

    • 18.25″ x 8.5″ x 15.25″
    • 15lbs
    • Mechanical machine

    Sometimes you just want a basic machine that can do the job you need doing. Sometimes you just want a basic machine that can do the job you need doing. This Janome is the ideal machine for that, with 13 stitch types, multiple sewing machine feet and automatic needle threader.

    Manufacturers Specs

    • 13 stitch types to choose from
    • Buttonholes
    • Cast aluminum body

    What I Love

  • It’s a mechanical machine much like my trusty BerninaSews a really nice straight stitchEasy to use for beginners
  • What I Don’t Love

  • Not a very fast machineBobbin winding can be tricky
  • Best For

    Rocking in as a nice ‘weighty’ sewing machine, the Janome HD1000 is a winner for sewing beginners who think they may want to sew leather at some point. For more experienced sewers, you may find it a little slower than you’d like.

    5. REX Portable Walking-Foot Sewing Machine

    A true walking foot leather sewing machine!

    • Walking foot machine
    • 37.3 lbs
    • Cast iron

    I love a dedicated walking foot sewing machine – I talk about them in this guide to sewing machine types – and this one from Rex has some great reviews!

    Not only does this Rex machine sew leather beautifully, but it should also be able to handle other materials that have a tendency to stick.

    Manufacturers Specs

    • Dedicated walking foot machine
    • Cast iron
    • Every machine pre-tested before shipping

    What I Love

    • Industrial quality sewing machine at a sensible price point
    • Option to buy more feet from Sailrite
    • Great for heavy leathers and other heavy weight fabrics

    What I Don’t Love

    • Price doesn’t include the motor and table
    • Sews very fast which can take some getting used to if you’ve never used an industrial type sewing machine before

    Summary

    A great industrial quality leather sewing machine at a very affordable price point – don’t forget to order a table and motor too!

    6. Janome HD3000 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine

    The second Janome to make this list of best leather sewing machines!

    • 10″ x 19″ x 15″
    • 18.7 lbs
    • Mechanical sewing machine

    This is another great basic mechanical machine from Janome, which can sew leather and other fabrics.

    Manufacturers Specs

    • 18 stitch types
    • Buttonhole option
    • Snap on presser feet

    What I Love

    • Metal frame and gears so should last a lot longer than versions with nylon gears
    • Can handle multiple layers of fabric
    • Great for medium weight leathers

    What I Don’t Love

    • The reverse button has been known to come loose in transit and will need reconnecting
    • Small working area so may struggle with bigger projects

    Summary

    A great machine from Janome at a great price point. Being a mechanical sewing machine, this is a great option for sewing beginners who want a machine that can handle a wide variety of fabrics, and leather!

    7. JUKI DDL8700H High-Speed Lock-Stitch Sewing Machine

    I love a Juki and this high speed lockstitch machine is a winner if you love to sew fast and sew well!

    • Heavy duty industrial sewing machine
    • 4000rpm
    • 5mm stitch length

    This Juki is the second industrial sewing machine to make the list.

    While not considered suitable for sewing beginners – this machine is fast! – if you think you’re likely to start sewing with the aim of selling your makes, this would be one of the best leather sewing machines to buy!

    Note however that it is a lockstitch machine, which means it cannot sew anything other than a straight stitch.

    Manufacturers Specs

    • Machine head only
    • 4000 rpm
    • Lockstitch machine

    What I Love

    • Knee lifter makes for raising the presser foot speedily
    • Great for sewing other fabrics at speed as well as leather
    • Great quality of stitches
    • Easily backstitch with the reverse lever

    What I Don’t Love

    • Stitch length limited to 5mm
    • No table or motor included
    • No additional sewing machine feet included

    Summary

    An amazing sewing machine capable of sewing materials from fine chiffons to leather and denim!

    Stitch quality is fab, and the price is very good for an industrial sewing machine.

    8. Janome Skyline S5

    The dark horse amongst the leather sewing machines that I have reviewed has to be this workhorse from Janome! It’s the most expensive on the list, which is why I have left it until last, but it is an amazing machine that can actually handle leather really well.

    • Released back in 2018 so well road-tested
    • 15″ x 26″ x 18″
    • Heavy at 31lbs
    • 1000 stitches per minute

    This is the third Janome to make my list, and for good reason. It makes sewing faster with its 1000 stitches per minute, knee lifter and the choice of using the normal treadle or stop/start button.

    Have I mentioned that it handles leather really well? Throw on a teflon foot, pop in a leather needle and you’re good to go!

    Manufacturers Specs

    • 171 built in stitches
    • Multiple LED lights to you’ll be able to see your projects in detail
    • 11 presser feet – though you’ll have to spend more for a teflon foot for leather

    What I Love – these are the pros in my own words

    • 91 needle positions – I am always looking for the exact needle position when sewing leather
    • The number of presser feet it comes with – this machine can be used for more than just leather
    • It sews beautiful stitches in leather, both needle and bobbin stitches look perfect

    What I Don’t Love – these are the cons in my own words

    • It’s a metal machine = heavy
    • It’s expensive
    • No low bobbin sensor – but it is top loading so should be fine

    Summary

    Overall, this is an amazing general sewing machine that can handle leather with ease. For the best stitch results, use a teflon foot, leather needle and load up your bobbin with dual duty XP thread. Believe me, it’s a winning combo!

    What Is The Best Leather Sewing Machine?

    In my view, the best leather sewing machine is the Juki DDl8700H followed by the Rex walking foot machine – but I say this as a professional who is used to industrial sewing machines.

    For the home sewer that isn’t as confident sewing at high speed, the Singer 4423 is a great price while the Janome HD3000 has some of the best reviews.

    But, the dark horse suitable for sewing both leather and multi layers of fabric is the Janome Skyline S5.

    While we’re on the subject of leather sewing machines, let’s take a quick look at some frequently asked questions that you may have about using a sewing machine for sewing leather!

    Share it out to others!

    Martin

    Friday 27th of January 2023

    I have a White Rotary machine, can I get the items needed for belts and wallet's?

    Eve Tokens

    Thursday 2nd of February 2023

    Hi Martin!I'm not very familiar with the White Rotary machine - I have a very old Singer (similar to the White Rotary) and that has parts which I have used for leather purses, wallets and jackets. Hope that is helpful!

    Shawn Pickett

    Monday 23rd of January 2023

    I'm looking for a sewing machine that can sew a depth of 9mm and has a cylinder bed only 1" wide and deep. So far I've seen one or the other but not both. Can you direct me to a machine like that? It doesn't necessarily have to be for material as heavy as leather but that's fine too.

    Eve Tokens

    Thursday 2nd of February 2023

    Hi Shawn. I don't know of any specific machines with both features I'm afraid. Have you looked at Tippmann? I think they're some of the smallest cylinder machines I've seen!

    Simon

    Saturday 31st of December 2022

    On your review for the Singer 4423 you say it’s good to sew leather ‘up to a medium thickness’. Can you tell me what you would consider a medium thickness to be? Many thanks!

    Eve Tokens

    Tuesday 3rd of January 2023

    Hi Simon! Apologies for the delay, I've been offline enjoying the holidays. I classify leather between 1mm to 1.5mm as medium thickness. Factor in the two layers (if creating a standard seam) and that's just shy of 3mm. You can of course try thicker leathers, but when I've tried to sew them on home sewing machines (in particular a beige cow hide intended for a jacket which was actually the thickness suitable for furniture) I ended up with poorly sewn seams, skipped stitches and frankly, a bit of a mess. For heavier weight leather, you'd really want a dedicated leather industrial machine, which has more 'oomph' to power through the thickness! Hope that helps, and happy new year!

    Mike

    Thursday 6th of January 2022

    I have a question what's the best machine for sewing shoes.