Things you’ll need:
To start out, you’ll need your leather pieces (whatever project you’re working on or maybe just some scrap to practice on), a Stitching Wheel, Stitching Groover, Sewing Awl, 2 Needles, Waxed Thread and any kind of scissors.
Even more basic:
If you’re only sewing one project and you don’t want to buy too many tools, you could start out with only a Sewing Awl, 2 Needles, Waxed Thread and scissors. To get even stitches, you would have to make sure that you mark each stitch by hand (using a ruler or something similar). It’s very important to have even stitching with a constant distance to the edge as well as constant stitch length.
Step 1: Glueing leather pieces
Glueing the pieces in place helps with your sewing because you won’t have to worry about the leather not lining up. Use any leather glue you can find.
Step 2: Stitching Groove (optional)
If you have a stitching groover, use it to create the groove along which you’ll sew. If you don’t have one, you could mark a line with a ruler and any tool you can find that can leave a slight mark on the leather. You will need a guide to sew along if you want it to look even!
Step 3: Mark Stitch Spacing (optional)
If you have a stitching wheel, mark the spacing like you can see it in the photo. Without one, you could use the awl to lightly mark the leather at even distances. Again, this is important preparation to get an even and professional look.
Step 4: Prepare Thread & Needles
Prepare your 1 thread with 2 needles (one on each end). Check out this tutorial for more details.
Step 5: Pierce the leather with the awl
Note: I’m using a stitching pony in the photos. You won’t need one to start with or if you only do a few projects but it helps to hold your leather in place while sewing.
The leather is very thick and you’ll have to pierce the holes using an awl. When doing so, make sure you always hold it straight and don’t pierce the leather at an angle. You can use your left hand to support the leather on the other side if it moves too much.
Step 6: Pull first needle through
Pull the needle through the hole until you are at the centre of the thread (each side should have the same amount of thread).
Note: I’m going to refer to the needle in your right hand as needle 2 and the one in your left hand as needle 1.
Step 7: At the second hole
Pierce another hole next to the previous one with your awl and push the left needle (needle 1) through while holding the needle 2 behind it.
Once you pulled needle 1 through the hole, twist your right hand (holding both needles) towards you and push needle 2 through the same hole as the thread. Be careful not to pierce the thread!
Here’s another view:
Make sure to always pierce the needle next to the thread (closer towards you) to make the stitches more even.
The rotation creates a knot that can now be pulled through the leather:
Step 8: pull the thread tight & repeat previous step (Step 7) for each stitch
Step 9: At the end of the stitch
When you’re finished, make sure to backstitch 2 holes into the direction where you started to secure the thread. You can use your awl to enlarge the existing holes.
Step 10: Finishing
Cut the threads close to the leather.
If you’re using polyester thread or unwaxed thread that might start fraying, you can burn the ends of the thread to melt them. That will keep them from fraying. Be careful not to mark or burn the leather!
If you have a stitching wheel, you can run over the stitch again to even them out even more. It helps to give your project a better look and feel! Here’s a closeup of a piece of hand sewn leather scrap: