Best Thread for Sewing Leather

Best Thread for Sewing Leather: Three Top Options

When beginning a sewing project one of the most important choices you will have to make is what thread you are going to use, especially when working with leather. When making a choice there is a lot to consider, I will review 3 of the best threads for sewing leather in this blog. There are many different types of threads with each having its own positives and negatives.

Depending on what kind of project you are doing, there might be some that are better than others. At the end of the day, each thread has its purpose. It is up to you to find the one that fits your style and the job that it needs to complete. Here are 3 of the best threads you can use to get started.

Top 3 Best Thread for Sewing Leather

1. Bonded Nylon

Bonded nylon thread is one of the most popular threads to sew leather, and it works very well. Bonded Nylon comes in multiple weights that work with different thicknesses of leather. One of the reasons it works so well is because bonded nylon is a strong thread.

An interesting process is the bonding process. The thread undergoes friction, which makes sewing smoother and faster on an industrial sewing machine. When it comes to the process of sewing leather, It is perfect for hand sewing. The bonding resin helps remove friction in the sewing process. This process keeps the thread from unraveling while sewing.

One of the most important processes is matching the thread to the leather. Stitches need to be short allowing for a tight seam when using a sewing machine. Though, it is important to keep the seam long enough to where it doesn’t break for being too weak. This is why bonded nylon is so useful, it is attractive and keeps very tight seams.

The key to a smooth, continuous stitch on a piece of leather is to keep a knot that is made on the top of the thread. You must keep the bobbin hidden inside the leather. The reason for this is to help provide a clean look to the stitch line. Soft leather can be sewn using #46 or #69 bonded nylon thread. Lighter weight scales are used and when stitches are meant to be close together and not much room is allowed.

Because leather material is very stiff because of the thickness, a thicker thread, like bonded nylon #92 is recommended. If the sewn leather will be used for furniture or things along those lines, then a #138 thread is recommended.

Many of this is up for personal preference, though. Some leather workers use size #92 on leather as heavy as 6 – 8 oz. Again, this is up to preference. The way the numbering works, the higher the number, the thicker the thread. This means, if you have a thicker piece of leather you are wanting to sew, you will choose a higher number. Similarly, the higher the number the stronger the thread will be.

207 or 277 is recommended when sewing on super heavy leather. It is recommended to lengthen the stitch when working on leather this thick. This is to help create spacing. Sewing leather that is 3/8” to 3/4”  is recommended to use size #346. This is about as heavy-duty as you can get, the likelihood of it breaking is very low. 

Pros
  • Multiple weights and thicknesses
  • Great for hand sewing
  • Keeps seams very tight
  • Very strong thread
  • Industrial sewing machine works well
  • Bonding resin helps from unraveling
  • Good for high tension sewing
Cons
  • Does not lay as flat as soft thread
  • Not the greatest choice for a bobbin

Sample Customer Review… I bought this thread to sew a leather bag with on my Janome sewing machine. The spool is a really large size so it does not fit on the machine spool holder but that’s okay because you can just put the spool in a coffee mug to the right of your machine as long as you are careful not to let it get tangled as you sew.

Anyways, this thread is thick and strong, but not too thick to use on a sewing machine. I feel like the bag I am making is sturdier thanks to this thread. It also has a nice shiny color. I will buy it again for my next leather project and recommend it to anyone looking for something heavier without being too heavy for your at-home sewing machine.

– Read more reviews at Amazon.com

2. Polyester

Polyester is made to resemble the appearance and feel of many other fibers and materials. A reason polyester is an option is because the threads are known for their strength. Polyester can handle high-speed sewing and stretch of hand-stitching. Bleeding of colors is also not a problem with polyester thread. Polyester is made to endure lots of stretch and elongation. It repels moisture well and will not snap when fully stretched.

Pros
  • Not perishable, synthetic material
  • High strength
  • Good extensibility
  • Works with high temperatures
  • Can be washed and dried
  • Smooth feel
  • Waxing is not needed
  • Great workability
  • Resistant to most chemicals
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Does not rot
Cons
  • Thick
  • Melts at high temperatures

Sample Customer Review… First, this spool is huge. It should last a very long time. Second, was amazed at how strong the thread is. I am accustomed to being able to break the thread from a standard spool if I need to remove some stitches but not so with this thread. I cannot break this thread, which is great because then I never have to worry about my project having a seam break.

There is one very minor (to me) downside to this thread – the cut end will unravel a short way each time it is cut. For me that is not a big deal at all since all I have to do is give it a fresh cut before threading a needle (or making a loop in the thread to go through the eye of the needle) and, as long as I lock in my stitches on the machine I am good to go. I am seriously going to look to see if there are other colors that I might be able to use in such a large quantity!

– Read more reviews at Amazon.com

3. Linen Thread                                                         

Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant and is of great use for many different things. Linen is difficult to manufacture, though, but it is very durable and absorbent. Flax is an old material made from bast natural cellulose textile fibers. The use of linen thread came before even that of nylon and polyester thread.

One of the main uses of linen is stitching leather items. Things such as shoes, saddles, holsters, and more are things often sewn with linen. Linen is also great at working with small details. It is a great use for stitching smaller goods. Things like watch straps can be easily stitched with linen. While it is easy to find uses for linen, its downfall is that it is not very strong. Wax is one of the main things people use to help the durability of linen to make it stronger.

Pros
  • Great for stitching small details
  • Sheen is good
  • Resistance
  • Resistant against things like water and heat.
  • Great for fine stitching,
Cons
  • For stitching, the wax is needed for an enjoyable, easy experience
  • Even with wax, still quite difficult

Sample Customer Review… Great product! It came in a timely matter and I will definitely be buying again. Very good quality. Exactly as pictured. The cord is perfect for what I need, and the thread is strong.

– Read more reviews at Amazon.com

Buying Guide: Things to Consider Before Purchasing Thread for Sewing Leather

Figuring out what the best thread to use is can be a struggle, a guide can be very helpful to make the right choice. This will help you choose the type of thread needed for your project. Composition, how it’s made, durability, usability, wax content, ease, color, and price are all taken into account when choosing the type of thread to use.

Composition of the Thread

Composition is what the thread is made of. This is the easiest of tasks to find, you can either find it on the product or ask someone for help that would know. The biggest question you will need to answer is if the thread is made out of a man-made material like polyester or cotton or if it’s not. This is the main need from a composition standpoint.

Linen is a thread made from flax, a man-made material and it is great but tends to wear out quickly. This is why it is important to know the composition of your thread. Just like cotton threads are great, but cost more. It’s all about preference. Working with leather will cause you to learn about composition rather quickly.

How the Thread is Made

Threads are made in multiple different ways. Once you develop a better understanding, the main thing you will find is that most threads are either twisted, cabled, or braided. Twisted threads are the best for hand stitching. While they are great for that, they tend to unwind easily and break after a long stitch. This is why knowing how each thread is made is important, pick what is most important to you. On the other hand, braided threads are extremely durable and do not break after a long stitch, most times.

The Durability of the Thread

One of the most important aspects of picking a thread is the strength of the thread. If the thread is constantly breaking on you, it is of no use. Being able to withstand long stitchings and wear and tear is a very needed aspect of a thread, and I can not stress this enough, very needed as well. As we have discussed, braided polyester threads or bonded nylon are the kings of this. These two threads are the most durable and will be best for thick and long stitchings.

How Easy It is to Use

Second to durability, this is the most important aspect of a thread. If you don’t know how to use the thread, it is useless. Skill will develop over time, but you do not want something that is frustrating to use. Another important aspect is the structure of the thread, you must have that as well in a thread. Something floppy would not be fun to use. Linen and cotton threads are the least structured and most floppy threads out there. As a hand stitcher, this is not what you want. Polyester has a great structure, though.

Wax Content

The need for waxing threads is to give thread weight and structure. It helps to tension stitches, and to give you a better grip on the thread when hand-stitching. It makes for a smooth thread as well, making many tasks much easier. It is important to know if your thread is coming pre-waxed. Most threads do. Some others do not.

Also, while some come pre-waxed it may not be to your liking, so knowing how to wax a thread is still an important skill to acquire. Internal waxing is also a thing. Linen threads are known for this. This is so they do not have a waxy feel. Running your thread through wax can do wonders, much more than most probably think it could.

The Ease of Threading

The rate at which you can get a job done is very important. For time’s sake or if you are doing it for a job. Especially in leatherwork. You do not want things like bad threading to slow you down. Something that should definitely be considered is how easy it is to thread a needle.

Linen and polyester, for example, linens are difficult to a thread while polyester is much easier in comparison. Even without waxing, polyester can smoothly be run through a needle. For linen it is the complete opposite, wax is needed. You may even need to flatten linen after waxing it, as well.

The Size the Thread Comes in

The size of the thread is also something to be considered. Different brands have different sizes and measurements with the sizing of the thread. Metric sizes are the normal source of measurement in the thread, for example, .6, .8, 1mm, 1.2mm, 1.4mm, 1.7mm, etc. For leather, it is recommended to use small-size threads. Threads less than a millimeter will suffice.

On the other hand, for heavy-duty projects, it is recommended to use larger than 1 MM. For look, you can use any type of thread that you choose.

Appearance and Colors

Appearance is obviously a big factor as well. When it comes to leather, earth tones are the most popular. Earth colors are colors like shades of brown neutral colors, grey, white and black. These colors give the best appeal when it comes to stitching finishing touches on projects. While colorful threads may look good on other projects, they are normally avoided when it comes to leather. They work for many other projects though, like a watch strap, for example.

Price

Probably the most important question when it comes to the customer, how much does it cost? It depends on your preference, as most things do. Depending on your budget, natural threads are usually the most expensive. Linen and cotton can be up to three times the price of a thread made of polyester. But with a higher price, obviously comes its perks. These usually last much longer. It will be much longer until they need to be replaced.

Conclusion

So what’s the verdict? It is all personal opinion, but in my opinion, they are all great options. The polyester thread, nylon thread, and linen threads all have their place and time to shine. It is just on different kinds of projects. It is up to you, how much money you want to spend, what is most important to you and what kind of feel you want to achieve with your project. Each one of these can do that, in different ways of course. They all provide different styles and feels. Each prospective thread has its strength and has its weaknesses, if there was a perfect thread, everyone would want it.

There are many different things that go into consideration when picking a thread, pick what fits your style and project. Create an identity with your project, find what fits you and go with it! You have to remember, you are doing the project for yourself. If keeping to your budget is important to you, keep that in mind when choosing a thread. If durability is most important to you, keep that in mind as well. If you struggle to thread the needle, find one with included wax!

Find whatever will make the project easiest and most enjoyable to you, that’s what it’s about. Keeping sewing enjoyable and not a hassle is what will keep you around the hobby for long amounts of time. If it becomes tedious work and unenjoyable, you will stop. That is why it is important to find things that suit your skills, or you can take the time to learn new skills and be able to use other sorts of threads.

That is the cool part about this, you can choose things that specifically fit you. There are many ways to go, but these are 3 of the best threads for sewing leather.


Written by Matthew Zuppardi

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