Leather Stitches

I have been creating leather earrings and decided to try to create a sketchbook cover for my son. I have messed around with stitches for a while and have spoken with a lot of leather shops and what needles to use and thread. I know there are a couple of other posts on here that have stitch examples but didn’t see all the info on needles and thread. So I thought I would share my example. I’m doing saddle stitching by the way.

So after trying several threads and needles which some needles were too big and the thread was too small or vice versa. I went to Landwerlen Leather Co. in Indianapolis and the owner spent a lot of time with me and showed me examples of stitches with needle size and thread size in a few sample pieces of leather. It was actually nice to see the examples in person instead of just guessing.

The thread I’m using is Maine Thread Company .40 waxed cord. The needle was sized by him matching the thread. The head of the needle is 1/16 wide and the eye is 1/8 long. So not too big. I had another leather shop give me a huge needle and said it was the best. NO WAY. The stitch holes ended up stretched out and tough to get through the leather.

So below are my examples and how to change them.

I’m using Adobe Illustrator CC 2019. If you open the SVG you can adjust the distance between the stitches by going to Object > Blend > Blend Options and adjust the steps. It should be set to 10 which for me is about 4mm spacing between stitches.

Glowforge settings.
I’m working with 3/4 oz and 4/5 oz leather but use Thick Leather PG settings for the material. For the cutting of the leather, I have found that your leather must be really flat on the crumb tray. If not it won’t cut well. You also have to play with the settings as all leather seems to cut differently. I have some that are very flexible and I have to cut them slower for the same weight of leather.

Material: Thick Leather PG
Engrave: SD Graphic - this is for the path

  • Speed: 225
  • Power: 93

I have a path on one stitch SVG and this is for the thread to sit but you don’t have to use it. The other is just the stitch holes.
leather-stitch-example.svg.zip (903 Bytes)
leather-stitch-example-path.svg.zip (982 Bytes)

I hope this helps someone.


Very nice! I’m sure a lot of folks getting into leather work will appreciate it! :grinning:


Thanks! Lots of good info.


Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned–I don’t hand sew my leather (have an industrial machine) but have had similar issues finding really good help on best needles to thread sizes to use, as even on any sewing machine, matching needle type/size to the thread affects the quality of the stitching.

Glad you’ve had luck finding setting that works for the leathers you use for cutting. For etching, I rarely have to mess with the PG setting, but in part since I change projects and types/weights of leathers being used, it’s usually faster for me to do the cutting myself than test to get the setting right, but it’s great when it does!


Awesome write-up, thank you!


Yes, I would probably cut my own too but I just don’t have the space or work area to do that. So I’m depending on my glowforge to cut my leather and the stitches right now. I will probably end up moving toward cutting my own eventually. Thanks for the reply.


Thank you for the guide!


Thanks you, been watching my :proofgrade: leather and been very frightened :slight_smile: No so much now…


Thank you for the info about needles, I’ve been wanting to start some leatherwork for a while but I find the stitching part scary (I’m a bloke so only stitching I’ve ever done is buttons).


Thanks for the very helpful/insightful writeup! And for sharing your files.


I own a needlework store and we sell Londonderry Linen thread to a lot of bookbinders, so when I finally try some leather I’m going to see how it works. It comes in 4 weights and you could wax it if need be.


Keep me posted when you do test it. I would be interested in knowing more.



Not sure I’ll ever give leather a run due to the smell, but, I really appreciate your write-up.

Back in junior high art class, I stitched a wallet after using tools to mark a full design. It was a big project, that I thoroughly enjoyed.


Oh yeah the smell is bad but luckily I vent outside so a lot less inside.


Wow! Impressive, what a great post! We love hearing more leatherwork stories! We also use Illustrator to draft our prototypes.

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Thank you so much for sharing this! I’ve been loosing my mind trying to create the stitch holes so the laser can cut them and I don’t have to punch them. This is :moneybag:!

I’ve been having so much trouble finding the proper thread to use for leather as well or I just don’t know exactly where to look. I eventually found one but it turned out too thick for what I needed + I messed up the stitching holes dimension so that didn’t help either lol + I didn’t quite like the colour on the PG piece initially provided by GF.
I’m not from the US so I guess it might just be easier to order some from Amazon or something :woman_shrugging:

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A fellow forum member told me about Ritza Tiger thread made in Germany… and that’s what I’ve been buying and using. It’s sort of expensive, but it’s really wonderful. I’ve bought mine from an Etsy seller, if you’d care to take a look. Try doing a search online to see if you can find this kind of thread more local to where you live.


Tandy and similar, and even Amazon, sell it.

I’ve got supplies but no skills to put together a new cover for a center console in my Sorento, so it’s been sitting in the bag with the Alcantara I bought for it 2 years ago… :man_facepalming:

@cynd11 posted a project where she had used it.


Oh wow, looks like they have a good selection, exciting stuff! :heart_eyes: I’ve done a search previously but I’ll have another look around, & will definitely get in touch with them if I don’t find any (most probably going to be the case), thanks, means a lot!

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