Tips for Sewing with Suede and Leather

I love to use suede as trim on the purses I sew. 
I think it adds a professional look to my projects.

 I was so excited with the results of my suede trimmed “Lovely Gathered Clutch” that I decided to stitch a clutch purse entirely in suede. 

 Here are my tips based on sewing on my home machine. I hope these tips encourage you to take the plunge in sewing with suede and leather! 

 Each one of these clutch purses were sewn on my very simple Singer Home sewing machine!

1. A walking foot is my answer to all sewing on suede except for zippers (see #7 below).  I’ve tried a teflon foot but the walking foot has yielded the best results for me.

2. Use polyester or nylon thread.  If you want your topstitching to stand out, use a heavy weight 100% Polyester heavy weight thread.
3. Attach a leather needle to your sewing machine.  A leather needle is extra sharp and designed for suede/leather sewing.  I like to use a size 18 needle for mid weight suede / leather. 
4. Use a longer stitch length and loosen tension. I set my machine to 3.5.  Be sure to test your stitch length and tension on a scrap piece of suede before you sew your final project.

5. Use non-fusible interfacing to add stability to suede and leather.  To attach the interfacing to the suede/leather piece, apply glue ~ I like to use a fabric glue stick ~ to the perimeter of the sudede/ leather piece and attach the interfacing.  Baste around the outer edge of the piece with a basting stitch 1/4" from the edge.

6. Use clips to hold the seams together.  My favorite clips are from Clover.  Pinning is not an option as it will leave holes in the suede/leather.

7.  For sewing on a zipper, or any time you can't use a walking foot, cut a strip of tissue paper about 1” wide and a few inches longer than the seam you are sewing.  Place the tissue under the seam and the suede will not get stuck to the feed dogs and sewing machine plate when stitching the seam.

Remove the tissue paper when you are finished sewing the seam.

8. To flatten seams, use a brayer.  To keep the seam in place before stitching, apply fabric glue stick to the seam allowance to hold in place as pictured. If you want to hold the seams in place permanently, use permanent contact cement.

I hope those tips will help you feel confident sewing with Suede or Leather!!



  1. thank you for sharing these very useful tips. I really appreciate that. Your clutches are gorgeous.

  2. Thanks for the great tips, Charise. I have always been leery of sewing with leather. I thought it required a heavy-duty industrial kind of sewing machine. You make it sound do-able. I wasn't sure you could combine leather or suede with fabric so easily. Good to know!

  3. The dryer. I loaded up the dryer with a few towels and jeans to buffer the purse while it was being tossed around and set the dryer on the most delicate setting. I decided to dry it just long enough for the inside fabric lining to dry. Leather Sofas


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