The Fundamental Guide to Leather Embroidery

The Fundamental Guide to Leather Embroidery

People use different methods to adorn their leather goods, and embroidery has been the most popular of them all for ages. Embroidery is a centuries-old technique beautifying fabrics and materials, making them extravagantly eye pleasing. If you, too, are captivated by beautiful craftwork done on leather and want to learn about leather embroidery, here's an in-depth guide. 

What is Leather Embroidery? 

Leather adorned with appealing thread work is known as leather embroidery.  Embroidered leather products are highly sought after, as they give off a unique flair and can be used to portray someone's personal style. From assessing the suitable needles and thread to a finished design, a lot goes into embroidering leather. That information is vital to know if you are interested in achieving a flawless result on your specific type of result.  

Let’s dive into the details of leather embroidery. 

Methods Used for Leather Embroidery  

Embroidery on leather can be done by hand, or by using advanced machines. Using manual tools in hand embroidery require more labour and time than machine embroidery.  

Hand Embroidery on Leather  

Before the invention of embroidery machines and their commercial inclusion to enhance leather, hand embroidery was typical. Hand embroidery can be a good hobby, and learning it can enable you to create small projects with thinner and supple leather yourself, such as carving your name on leather gloves.  

To hand-embroider leather, you need to poke holes with an awl where the embroidery stitches would go. You need to know the right needle size for your type of leather. Moreover, you can use a durable nylon or polyester thread and pick a suitable stitch type to create your design.  

Machine Embroidery

Using an embroidery machine for leather involves less strain and is an advanced method for making embroidered leather products much faster. With machine embroidery, more products, more intricate designs, and embroidery on stiffer leather are possible. 

Embroidery Machines

To do machine embroidery on leather, you must learn how to use an embroidery machine. These are available in different models with varying functionalities and sizes. Knowing how to operate a leather embroidery machine is vital. Troubleshooting machine embroidery would lead to damaged leather and visible marks. It is advised to clean the embroidery machine before you use it.  

Design Software

The embroidery machine creates a design programmed into it with the help of design software. A design software basically integrates with the machine format. You can use it to create any type of design you like, choosing the colors of the threads and placement of the design. 

Design software can be simple, with options such as creating simple embroidery designs and patterns. Or, they can be advanced, providing ease of editing the design as needed or customizing it to your liking. Some also allow you to limit the design density, as highly frequent puncturing for dense designs is not recommended for leather. 

Factors to Consider for Embroidery on Leather

If you have read about leather and its different types, you must know that leather thickness, flexibility, softness, and density vary. However, what they all have in common is the inability to fill the holes once formed. Once the needle and thread passes through the leather, it will leave visible permanent holes (in the case of embroidery stitches, a lot of them!) If you don't want to end up with perforated leather and a ruined project, make sure you read this section and understand it to get desirable leather embroidery results.   

Type of Leather

The type of leather hide you are using is a prime factor to consider for embroidery, which is understandable. Mostly, for embroidering leather garments, durable leathers acquired from the hides of cows, goats, deer, and sheep are used. Each type of hide has a different texture and flexibility. Though the embroidery process remains the same for all, the kind of needle, thread, stabilizer, and techniques for leather hooping might differ. 

Leather thickness also plays a significant role. It's challenging to do embroidery on thicker leather, as the needle would keep breaking. A leather embroidery machine can work on leather that is up to 6 oz(2.4mm) thick. 

Size of Needle

Top-stitching needle, microtex needle, light ball point needles! When you begin learning how to embroider on leather, the assortment and sizes and names for the needles may puzzle you. To make it simple, a flat shank needle is used for home machines, while a round shank one would be used for industrial leather embroidery machines.  

Choose the size of the needle suitable for the thickness of your leather. Thin lambskin leather can be embroidered easily using an 11/75 needle. The thicker the leather, the larger the size of the needle. It's always good to work on a scrap piece and check first. If the needle is not passing smoothly, go for a larger size. Begin working on the main piece after making sure you are using the right needle. 

Type of Thread

The thread you use for embroidery doesn't only serve the embellishment purpose. It must come at par with the type of leather in terms of durability and thickness. Due to their durability, tensile strength, and lower cost, nylon and polyester are mainly used for embroidering leather. The weight and thickness of the thread can be selected according to the type of leather and the intricacy of the embroidery.  


A stabilizer is a material used for backing leather while it is being embroidered. Using a stabilizer holds leather together, avoiding stretching. As leather gets a secure surface to lay on, the stitch doesn't cut the leather completely. As a result, the design is more visible and appealing.  

Stabilizers come in many forms, with stick-on, cut-away, tear-away, and mesh ones being the most common. A temporary adhesive spray is used to join the stabilizer with the back of the leather. 

Placement of the Design

You need to decide where the embroidery design would go on the leather. Larger surface areas are easier to work with as opposed to smaller ones. For some products, such as cowboy boots or gloves, the edges are embroidered to enhance their visual appeal. The design can be centered, such as the upper back of the leather jacket or the front of a leather bag. 

Hooping Leather

In order to embroider a section of leather, it is first hooped. Hoops are rings to hold the section you are working on from both sides to keep it in place. Hoops are made of different materials, with wood, plastic and magnetic hoops being the most common. A magnetic hoop is a modern iteration and increasingly becoming popular due to its functionality and lesser risk for hoop marks. 

Hooping can leave scuffing marks on leather, which can be permanent. Using a layer of felt as a barrier between leather and hoops might help avoid these marks. Also, it is advised to remove the hoops as soon as you are done working on the section. The risk of scuffing on leather increases when hooped on for a longer time.  

There are many types of hoops used for hooping leather, but we suggest you go with magnetic hoops. As a magnetic hoop don't put as much pressure on leather, it reduce the risk of pressure induced marks.  

Type of Embroidery Design

The design options are limitless when it comes to leather embroidery. Think of it as a canvas on which you can unleash your creativity. Choose colors and patterns that are clearly visible. But be careful to do embroidery that adds to the appeal of leather rather than making it look excessively flashy and unappealing. 

You can choose patterns as simple as circles and go for splendid floral or paisley designs all over your product. You can embroider your initial, name, or any type of textual patterns, such as a catchy phrase or quote on the leather product. Apart from this, adorning leather with logos, monograms, and decals with satin stitch columns is also possible.  

Whatever design you choose to go for, make sure it has lighter density, as there is a chance of tearing leather with repeated needle perforations at the same place. For a high quality design, it is better to use running stitches. The last thing you want on your expensive leather is a poorly executed design or, even worse, puckering.   

Let's move on to the leather embroidery products that are in demand these days.  

Embroidered Leather Goods

Leather is used to make a plethora of products, including bags, shoes, small accessories and garments, especially leather jackets. Even without any sort of embellishments, these products are hugely in demand due to their long lasting quality. But, it is true that plain goods don't look as unique due to the lack of adornment. Embroidery gives leather goods an enhanced appearance and a one-of-a-kind character. 

Leather Jackets

Embroidered leather jackets are the ultimate fashion statement. Whether decorated with simple textual patterns or intricate florals, these jackets play a part in elevating the appeal of your outfit. If you are looking for custom embroidered leather jackets, Poshele is your go-to place for it. You can get any sort of design or logo emblazoned on your jacket to get a statement piece for your wardrobe. 

Baseball Gloves

You can get embroidery on leather gloves done, whether it's just your initials, complete name, or a team logo. With embroidery, leather gloves can be personalized.  

Leather Inserts for Garments

Besides jackets, pants, tops, dresses, and coats made of leather, leather patches or inserts for all sorts of clothing are trending high these days. You can get as creative as you want with this idea and create embroidered leather inserts to be added to dresses, tops, or pants.

Other popular leather items whose appeal can be enhanced with embroidery are: 

  • Bags  
  • Belts  
  • Boots  
  • Hats 


Can You Do Embroidery on Leather?

Yes, embroidery on leather looks incredibly appealing. By having basic knowledge about leather embroidery, such as choosing the type of needle and thread for specific types of leather, and suitable stabilizers and magnetic hoops, you can do eye pleasing embroidery on leather for your product.  

How to Embroider Leather by Hand?

You can do embroidery on leather by hand by using a tracing paper to create the design and put it over leather. Start poking holes in it to mark the pattern for design stitches. Bind a stabilizer to the back of the leather using a temporary spray adhesive, set it in place using hoops, and begin crafting your magic. We also recommend using running stitches for hand embroidery on leather. 

What Needle is Appropriate for Embroidering on Leather?

It is advised to go for a leather sewing needle whose thickness is suitable for the particular leather type you are working with. It’s better to try working on a scrap leather piece to check the compatibility of the needle to avoid it from breaking when working on the actual design.  

In a Nutshell

People with fine taste in fashion love to opt for embroidered leather products. Embroidering on leather requires a lot of things, including the right tools, a specific level of skill and patience. However, the splendid results are well worth the effort, as the piece you get is truly a work of art.