Saturday, December 7, 2013

Found: A Great Resource for Leather

I've never sewn with leather but have always wanted to try. Recently, an acquaintance bought a beautiful wine red leather skin for a skirt project that was really soft, supple and sewed up without any challenges. She bought it online from Leatherwise, but they have a retail store in Santa Cruz, CA, which is about an hour away, so I trekked out there for a visit.

Wow -- they have an amazing selection of different leathers. Some of the larger pieces can be cut to whatever size you need (pricing is by the square foot); some are sold by the piece (no cutting down allowed); and there are tables in the front with scraps sold by the pound if you just need smaller pieces.

I was expecting plain leathers, but they had a wide range of different types, from bright colors, metallics, pearlized, holographic and sheepskins to embossed styles. There was even a piece with a lace pattern on one side!

Great customer service -- they were all very helpful and generous with their time. There were quite a few customers in the store when I was there, but it seems that their online business is robust as well. As a resource, they are best for one-of-a-kind items, as they often can't order additional quantity of a given piece. I ended up buying a scrap as a tester (perfect size for an obi-style belt!) as well as a super soft black piece for a jacket project I'm working on. 

Some things I learned:

1. It is helpful to make sure you are buying a skin that is appropriate for your machine. Some leathers are soft and thin enough to be sewn on a regular home sewing machine, while others require an industrial machine.

2. A walking foot is essential. I've always heard about using a teflon or non-stick foot for sewing leather, but the store employees recommended a walking foot. I'm going to try this.

3. Fusibles can be used on leather. One employee mentioned a local accessories artisan who uses a double-sided fusible (with a press cloth) to attach lining fabric to the inside of a leather piece. Great idea, but I would definitely test this first on a scrap piece.

4. Always use a press cloth and a lower temp setting when ironing leather. 

Happy sewing!


  1. wow what a fantastic resource! I have been wanting to put some leather insets or trim in a jacket. I could order so many things from this site. fantastic. can't wait to see what you are making.

  2. Jean,

    I thought I knew of every creative resource in the Northern California area, but you have passed along a new one. I thank you for sharing and plan to visit them or order via ebay at my earliest opportunity. Thank you for sharing......!

  3. Interesting. I used to live in SC, so this must be a (relatively) new business. I'll have to check it out on my next visit-thanks!

  4. I had no idea that you can iron leather! Looks like a fabulous store.

    Thank you for all your comments on my blog, by the way!

  5. Looks fantastic. I'm hoping to purchase leather in Italy.

  6. What a fabulous resource to have near you!

  7. Leather 3 in 1 is a water based cream used to clean, condition and protect in new and old leather. It can be applied by using a lint free cloth.First shake the bottle well to mix the agents together before applying the leather protection cream.