Yes, You Can Embroider On Leather! (Here’s How To Do It!)

Can you embroider on leather? Yes, you can! Embroidering on leather is fun, easy, and a great way to add a bit of flair to jackets, purses, backpacks, wallets, and more cool leather products. Here’s what you’ll need to get started.

Materials and Tools For Leather Embroidery


Leather selection is important here, and a high-quality leather that is soft and supple works best. Some examples would be lambskin or cowhide. Avoid very thick or stiff leather, especially for intricate designs, but be aware that leather that’s too delicate could also be problematic.


When choosing a machine embroidery stabilizer for leather, medium weight cut away is likely the best choice. This stabilizer offers continuous support that will help maintain the integrity of your design work.

Machine Embroidery Thread

For leather work, Polyester or Rayon threads are great choices due to their strength and sheen. You can read more about different machine embroidery threads and their uses here, but it’s also important to use a quality thread brand.

Leather Needles

You’ll need some specialized needles for your leather machine embroidery projects. Opt for a specialized leather embroidery needle, because needles with a wedge point or cutting point are effective in piercing through the leather without causing damage.

Embroidery Hoops

You can, of course, use a regular embroidery hoop, but a magnetic hoop can help you to avoid leaving marks on the leather from the pressure.

If you want to use a regular embroidery hoop you can try putting a few strips of cotton fabric and lay them on top of where the leather meets the embroidery hoop to avoid marking it up.

Adhesive Spray

Adhesive spray works well with leather projects, and it will help keep everything in place.

Choosing The Right Design For Leather Embroidery

Embroidering on leather comes with some serious limitations. If you want to embroider directly on to leather items you best bet is to choose a design that is very light. Outline style designs are perfect, but avoid anything with heavy fills, because it likely just won’t hold up.

free floral frame border machine embroidery design for quilts pes jef dst 4x4 5x5 7x7
An example of the type of design that would work well for leather projects. You can download it free here.

I know this is likely very disappointing, especially if you already had a design picked out that is too dense, but there are a few options to try if you still want to use that design.

Design Alternatives For Leather Projects

Use a Fake Leather Instead

Fake leather, otherwise known as pleather, actually responds to embroidery much better than real leather. The good news is that it’ll make your projects way cheaper to make if you don’t mind using this materials. Opt for a soft and stretchy pleather variety for the best results – it stitches out like a dream!

Make an Embroidered Patch Instead

If you want to customize a leather real jacket or other leather items with heavy fill embroidery – consider making a patch instead! People have been decorating leather jackets and bags with iron on patches for years and there’s no reason you can’t make your own! It’s a great solution that will give you more design choices.

Adjust The Design’s Stitch Density

If you made the design yourself you may be able to adjust the stitch density and make it work for leather. This video tells you everything you need to know about stitch density and how to edit your designs.

Troubleshooting Common Issues When Embroidering On Leather

Thread Breaks

Thread breaks can happen frequently when working with leather. This is especially true if you’re using metallic threads. Try slowing down your embroidery machine and stitching a little slower and check your tension settings.


Puckering can occur for many reasons. Your design may be too dense, you may need to try something different with your stabilizer, or you may need to try adjusting your hooping method. (Try the spray adhesive if you haven’t already.)

Marks On Leather

Using magnetic hoops can avoid this problem, but if the damage is already done, gently rub them with a soft cloth or use a leather conditioner to blend them in and make them less noticeable.

Skipped Stitches

Your needle may not be sharp enough for leather. Choose needles specifically made for leather.

In closing, embroidering on leather is a challenging but fun experience! It takes a bit more planning and I don’t think it’s a great beginner machine embroidery project. However, it’s a great step up if you’re ready for something a bit more advanced!