Bags made from faux leather look great BUT sometimes it can be a little tricky to get good results! Here are a few tips that you might find useful if you are having problems.
If you are experiencing skipped stitches, you are most likely using an incorrect needle (or too old!) for the job!
- Use a Leather Needle or a Jeans Needle in your sewing machine. I find that it depends on the type of faux leather you are using as to which needle works best. Some people do NOT recommend a leather needle however for me, it worked a treat on certain types of faux leathers. Test on a scrap!
- Don’t use pins or ensure you ONLY pin within seam allowances or you may end up with unsightly holes. Use, wonder clips, alligator or butterfly clips to hold in place!
- Use double sided sticky tape to hold without clips or pins. Just make sure you use one that doesn’t gum up your needle! (I learnt this one the hard way! LOL) I like Collins Wash Away Wonder tape. Not that I wash my faux leather creations, I just find this particular tape to be the least gumming of any that I have tried. Works great for holding zippers in place in all your sewing projects too! 🙂
- Set your stitches to a longer length than normal.
- Lesson the pressure of your foot.
- A walking foot is something I ALWAYS use when sewing faux leathers so if you don’t have one for your machine I highly recommend you get one!
Try a Teflon or roller foot. You can also try scotch tape on the bottom of your foot.
Try using tearaway paper (Like that used in embroidery) on both the top and underneath, to help the foot glide over the faux leather. Remove the tearaway when you are finished stitching. However sometimes it can be a little difficult to pick all the tearaway from beneath your stitches. Try a water soluble version if you don’t mind your work getting a little wet BUT do ensure you allow to dry thoroughly. If in doubt, as always, test on some scraps!
- A dash of Silicon spray along your seams before stiching makes everything nice and slippery and so even your regular foot glides over it nicely. I use one called “H4000 Silicon Spray” by Helmar. It is a food grade silicon spray and doesn’t leave a residue.
- Use 100% poly, Nylon or Rayon threads as cotton may not be strong enough.
- Adjust your thread tension. You may find if your thread is breaking a lot, that you need to lesson your thread tension. Test on some scraps!
- When stitching with any type of faux leather and vinyl etc, the less holes you have the better, so when stitching your seams, rather that forward and reverse to secure your seams, try leaving a long tail of thread and knot off instead!
I hope this helps you achieve results! If you have any other tips to add, please do let us know via the comments section! 🙂
Thanks for posting this! I came over by way of anneweaver’s blog.
I’ve got some material I can play with (remnants), but have been too chicken. these tips will help me out.
I’m glad you find the tips useful Lois! Sewing faux leather or vinyl can be a bit tricky BUT when you get the hang of it, the results are worth it!!
You are welcome! 🙂
In trying to do some faux leather curtain panels for my daughter, I have run into problems. I have a simple Singer sewing machine, leather needle and the proper thread. Did not know about teflon foot and plate. But it really seems that the problem is the little feet that should move the material along.With the stamped design, it just doesn’t move through smoothly. I did adjust the tension and the stitch length. Anyone have more help for me ?
The problem with leather is that it is kind of ‘sticky’ and doesn’t feed easily. That is why your feed dogs have trouble moving the leather along. Have you tried using some tearaway paper on both underneath and the top to help it slide along? Either a teflon or roller foot would help too. I have heard of some people trying baby powder to make it more slippery BUT I am not sure I would personally recommend that because I can’t imagine that getting baby powder inside your machine would be a good thing!!
Thank You Christine. As much sewing as I have done over the years – I did not know those little teeth were called feed dogs! No, have not tried the paper and that does sound like it might work. But then I also did not know I needed the teflon foot. Sounds like a trip to the sewing supply store is in order 🙂
I don’t think we can ever know it all….there is always something new to learn, don’t you think? Afterall, that’s what makes it so interesting! A trip to the sewing supply store sounds like a good idea! You can also find the teflon feet on ebay….that is where I got mine as it was a LOT cheaper! My local sewing store wanted almost $100 and on ebay I got it for $20 which included the shipping! LOL Here’s where I got mine, in case you want to check it out! http://stores.ebay.com/gonesewingcompany
Good luck and let me know how you go! 🙂
I recently started sewing with lambskin. Your tip on using the alligator clips was very helpful. I was trying to pin within the seam allowance and it was a pain. Also, lengthening the stitch and reducing the tension helped as well.
Have you ever run across a method to sew a ribbed pattern into leather or vinyl? I’m wanting to put ribs on the cuff of some leather gloves and I’m not sure how that is accomplished.
I am pleased you found my tips useful! I wish I could help re the ribs BUT that is not something I have attempted before either. All I can suggest is to keep searching via Google….usually you can find what you are looking for PLUS learn a whole lot more stuff along the way! GREAT time eater though! LOLL
Best of luck,
Thanks for the blog post.
Really enjoyed this blog.Much thanks again. Keep writing.
I definately will try the tear away paper.. Thanks for the tips!
You are welcome! Glad you found them useful Sheila! 🙂
Thank you so much this post was very helpful!
Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
Christine,Thanks for your tip. My dilemma is I have a thick -12 gauge clear vinyl with a 1/2 ” SA and I am trying to sew it on a single stitch with the teflon foot and a leather needle. What kind of thread -I used the clear nylon -should I be using something else than the nylon. I wounded some in the regular bobbin but the the feed dog keeps holding and stopping and the stitches all buckle up in a cluster. What am I doing wrong? Help…
Did you try lengthening your stitches and perhaps also adjust (loosen) your tension? Another tip I have heard, but not yet tried, is to smear a little oil or parrafin wax on the vinyl so it slips through a little easier……vinyl is a shocker for being ‘sticky’ and not feeding. Another thing you can try is to put a little tearaway paper below and on top of your vinyl and stitch through and then just tear away the paper after stitching. As for the thread…..it may be worth experimenting with a few different types on some scraps…..sometimes I have found what works on one type of leather or vinyl etc, won’t be successful on the next!!
I hope this helps!
What type of thread should I use when sewing vinyl?
Use 100% poly, Nylon, or Rayon threads. I also use Upholstery threads.
Having recently sewn with leather, I know these tips will work with real leather as well. The only thing I did differently was to hand sew and tie the end threads. Great tips!!!
Yes that is a great idea Pam….thanks for sharing!
Can you hand sew the faux leather without it ripping? I wanted to sew a hook and eye on it to make my skirt fit better.
Oh gosh…..without seeing it, I couldn’t really say Monica! It would depend on how it has been constructed and wether there is any support materials in the wasteband?
Your post is just what I am looking for, I would like to try sewing with faux leather and I was expecting it to be a bit of a nightmare so your post saved me a lot of time and struggle!^_^. Thank you so much for the tips! I would like to get a roller foot but they are really expensive for my sewing machine model, I have a Bernina 350 so I might have to try the trick with some scotch tape^_^
I am trying to repair my hot tub cover which is vinyl. Is there a special thread I should use as it will be near water? Hoping to get some tear away strips and try to repair it.
Now that’s a good question! I would think your best bet would be to use a marine upholstery thread. I believe Coats makes threads suitable….Take a look here: http://www.coatsindustrial.com/en/technical-sewing/outdoor-pursuits/marine-upholstery#threads
Hope this helps!
Hi. I have a kenmore machine and this is the first time I am attempting to sew faux leather. I tried to lessen the tension and using poly thread. I change the needle as well to the one used for jeans. My problem is, the stitches won’t pick up. I tried using paper too but no use. What I am doing wrong?
I’m not really sure actually….Can you send me a photo? email@example.com
I going to try and make a faux vinyle skirt. I see you say to 100% poly.
I’ll hahve to waite to go shopping now. thanks for the tip. and the clips
are good. glad I found the site. look into making a purse……..we’ll see.
I’m glad you are enjoying the site Suzanne….. You will have to make a purse BUT once you do, be warned…it is ADDICTIVE! LOL 🙂
once read a blog recommended a very light touch of vaseline along the seam line
Thanks for your suggestion Gail! Another thing that seems to work well which I have been trying, is a light dash of Silicon spray…..makes it slippery and leaves no mess or residue either!
Thanks Christine! I’m making new covers for our sofas and these tips came in really handy before I start! Wish me luck… 🙂
You gave great tips on sewing with faux leather. I think the Teflon foot you recommend will get me over the hump I’ve run into. I just can’t get it to feed correctly, no matter how I adjust the foot. Appreciate your detailed info. Grandma’s House Patterns
i want to buy a sewing machine to use on faux leather, been thinking about singer stylist 7258. what do you think? i don’t want to buy a separate industrial grade sewing machine that i can use only on leather and nothing else
I have had success sewing on ” faux leather” / vinyl recently while making purses just by using the walking foot but what I am being challenged with BIG TIME is when using top stitching thread. My new Janome Skyline gave me disasterous results so I pulled out my 38 yr old Elna. Greatly improved but still apparent that I have tension issues. The top surface looks great but the bottom or underside is messy / loose threads. My manual states that I need to increase my top tension. Even at the highest setting of #9 it is much better but not good enough. I also tried manipulating the bobbin tension but not really knowing what I am doing there I thought I would ask your advice-Does it make sense to need to alter the bobbin tension? Any suggestions?
I find that it is actually rare that you need to fiddle with the bobbin tension….. Usually the problem comes down to thread and needle types, stitch length or other issues….May I suggest you ask advice in our Facebook group as there a lot of members that sew regularly with faux leather/vinyl and some may have encountered the same issues as you and found a way to solve it! Please go here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChrsWDesignsPatternsGroup/
Hope this gets some help for you!
Chris, I have recently started sewing with faux leather and vinyl. I am having issues like everyone else but I think my problem is the thickness of the seams. The foot becomes so un-level. Meaning the thick seam on one side and nothing on the other. When I finally figured that out I butted a think layer of fabric under the opposite side of the foot and it gave a much better seam. Not great as I have much more learning with trial and error I guess, but have you heard of anyone else having this issue and do you have any other suggestions? What I did is very awkward to work with. I have the Janome 6600.
Yes….that is a very common issue! There is an inexpensive little product called a “Hump Jumper” specifically designed for the purpose…Google it to see what I mean but it is a little plastic device to use to level your foot and make it easier to sew. In a pinch, a machine needle case works too! Hope this helps! 🙂