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Choosing the Right Thread for Sewing Leather

seat belt sewing thread

When it comes to sewing leather, choosing the right thread is crucial for a successful and durable finished product. Leather is a unique material that requires sturdy and specialized thread to withstand its unique challenges.

Understanding Leather and Its Demands

Before diving into the types of threads, it’s essential to understand the characteristics of leather that make it a challenging material to sew. Leather is a dense and tough material that requires strong and flexible stitching to withstand daily wear and tear. Ordinary threads may not hold up, leading to weak seams or even breakage. Additionally, leather’s natural thickness, weight, and surface texture play a role in selecting the appropriate thread.

Five Types of Threads for Leather Sewing

  • Nylon Thread: Nylon thread is a popular choice for sewing leather due to its strength and resistance to abrasion. This synthetic thread is tough, durable, and can easily withstand the demands of sewing leather. Nylon does not easily stretch or break, making it ideal for items such as leather bags, belts, and shoes.
  • Polyester Thread: Similar to nylon, polyester thread is another excellent option for sewing leather. It offers high tensile strength and is resistant to UV rays and chemicals, ensuring long-lasting durability. Polyester threads come in a variety of colors, allowing you to match or contrast with your leather project.
  • Bonded Nylon Thread: Bonded nylon thread is known for its exceptional strength and ability to handle heavy-duty stitching. This type of thread is created by twisting multiple strands of nylon together and coating them with a bonding agent. Bonded nylon thread provides excellent resistance to abrasion, UV rays, and moisture, making it suitable for sewing leather goods that endure tough conditions.
  • Waxed Thread: Waxed thread, also known as “tiger thread,” is a popular choice for hand-stitching leather. It is made by coating threads with wax, resulting in enhanced strength and resistance to friction. Waxed thread is commonly used in leather crafting to create decorative stitching, such as saddle stitching or stitching on wallets and leather accessories.

The Importance of Thread Thickness

Apart from the type of thread, the thickness, or gauge, of the thread is crucial for strong and aesthetically pleasing stitches on leather projects. Thicker threads provide more prominent and robust stitching, which can enhance the durability and visual appeal of your finished item. However, it’s essential to consider the thickness relative to the weight and thickness of the leather. Using an excessively thick thread can create unsightly and uneven stitches.

Choosing the Right Thread for Specific Leather Projects

  • Bags and Accessories: For sewing leather bags, backpacks, and accessories, nylon or polyester threads with a mid-range thickness are usually suitable. Ensure the thread’s gauge complements the weight and thickness of the leather for a balanced and sturdy construction.
  • Garments: When sewing leather garments such as jackets or pants, consider using a finer, yet still strong, thread. Thinner threads are preferable for crafting seams that are not bulky and do not compromise the overall look and fit of the garment.
  • Shoes and Boots: Considering the constant stress and demanding nature of shoe and boot construction, it is recommended to use a robust thread, like bonded nylon or waxed thread. These threads provide exceptional strength and resistance to withstand the rigors of footwear.

Comparison of Thread Types

Thread TypeStrengthDurabilityRecommended Projects
NylonHighHighBags, Belts, Shoes
PolyesterHighHighBags, Accessories
Bonded NylonExceptionalExceptionalHeavy-Duty Projects


Sewing leather requires selecting the right thread that meets the demands of the material and your specific project. Consider the type, gauge, and intended use of your leather item when choosing the thread. With the right thread, you can ensure strong, long-lasting stitches that will stand the test of time. Happy sewing!