The Best Sewing Awls for Leather - Ultimate Guide - (2023)

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By Jackie

The Best Sewing Awls for Leather - Ultimate Guide - (1)
A leather awl is a handy sewing tool to use when you work with leather. It has a variety of uses and has a few types. So deciding which one will work best for you is essential. Which one is perfect for you? Here are a few of the best sewing awls:

  1. C.S. Osborne #144-43 Stitching Awl
  2. The Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl
  3. BIGTEDDY Sewing Awl Hand Stitcher Kit
  4. Dritz Awl with Wooden Handle
  5. Clover Straight Tailors Awl
  6. Awl for All Stitching Awl Tool Kit & Supplies

List of Contents:

  • What is a sewing awl?
  • What is the best sewing awl for leather?
  • How to use a leather sewing awl?
  • Can I sew leather on a sewing machine?

What is a sewing awl?

A sewing awl is a tool that you can use to puncture or enlarge existing holes in various materials. You can also use a sewing awl to sew heavy materials like leather or canvas.

This handy tool has an eye-piercing at its pointed end to help draw your thread through holes for manual lockstitch sewing. It comes as a larger-scale needle type that can be straight or bent. An awl will also have a handle and a metal-graduated needle with a sharp tip.

A sewing awl can have many application uses. Besides using it for canvas, leather, and other heavy fabrics, you can also use it for scrapbooking and bookmaking. Leatherworkers and shoe repairers are usually the ones who primarily use this tool.

Some also use sewing awls for furniture and car upholstery, and other leather goods such as bags, shoes, and sports equipment. You can also use it to make handmade books by sewing their binding by hand.

You can use a leather awl to mark leather, transfer patterns onto leather, and pierce holes to run thread stitches through.

What is the best sewing awl for leather?

There are different factors to consider when deciding which sewing awl for your leatherwork is the best. These essential factors include:

  • Types of a leather awl:
    Scratch awl – best for piercing thick and thin leather
    Diamond awl – creates an x-shaped hole without leaving any large openings.
    Curved awl – creates holes for stitching on rounded or curved leather.
    Saddlers harness awl – creates holes on much thicker leather.
    Sewing awl – pierces and allows thread through your leather.
    Lacing awl – best for pulling leather thong or lace through the holes
    Collar awl – creates larger slit holes.
  • Handle
    Leather awls have different handle materials. But you would want to get the ones with wooden handles. It is also best if you get awls that have abrasion protection on the top of its handle. This protective material will keep your awl’s wooden handle intact.

    But some of these extra details can remarkably markup the price of the leather awl. So you need to decide if you want a basic yet functional awl or a premium grade awl.

  • Needles
    Leather awls may come with either fixed or interchangeable needles. If you are a beginner, you might want to get an awl with interchangeable needles. It is less costly and will help you save space.
  • How it fits in your hand
    You would want to be comfortable as you work with your leather and leather awl. So you would want to ensure that you choose an awl that is the right fit for your hand. You should be able to wrap your fingers around the handle as easily as possible.

Here are a few of the best sewing awls:

  1. C. S. Osborne #144-43 Stitching Awl

    This tool comes very sharp and has a diamond-shaped blade. It is perfect for poking through stitching holes on leather. Many believe that the C.S. Osborne #144-43 Stitching Awl is the best leather awl.

    It is a versatile leather awl and comfortable to use. Its handle has a wide groove and two thin grooves for a more colid comfortable grip. This stitching awl also slides through holes smoothly, and it needs minimal effort.

    The C.S. Osborne stitching awl can punch through up to 9-ounce vegetable tanned leather with ease. It can also make hole sizes approximately 3/32 inches by 1/16 inches big. This stitching awl also doubles as a scratch awl that you can use for your pattern transfers.

    But it has a securely-fixed blade attached to its wooden body with a supporting ferrule. And it also may need a little bit of polishing or sharpening now and then.

  2. The Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl

    The Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl is an American-made tool. It comes with the company’s signature tensile waxed thread and custom-made diamond point needles. With a comfortable wooden grip, you can use this awl to sew heavy-duty material for extensive hours.

    You can use this sewing awl for working with various things such as:

    • Leather goods
    • Canvas tarps
    • Climbing and camping gear
    • Bookbinding
    • Saddlery and tack items
    • Athletic equipment
    • Shoes and belts
  3. BIGTEDDY Sewing Awl Hand Stitcher Kit

    Unlike the other two, this sewing awl has a sleek gold finish. Instead of wood, it also has a copper handle with four interchangeable needles. You can use this tool to achieve a variety of different puncture marks and stitches with ease.

    The BIGTEDDY Sewing Awl Hand Stitcher Kit comes packaged in a clear plastic box for storage convenience. You can quickly change and replace the needles by turning the handle’s top. With a little practice, this awl sews a perfect lockstitch just like using a sewing machine.

    You can use this for many things, such as:

    • Sewing or repairing leather
    • Tents
    • Backpacks
    • Sleeping bags
    • Upholstery
    • Saddles
    • Harnesses, and more
  4. Dritz Awl with Wooden Handle

    Dritz awl is a dependable and affordable tool. It has a thick, super-sharp needle and an ergonomic egg-shaped wooden handle. You can use this handy tool to punch, mark, or start holes for many things, such as:

    • Start holes for small wood screws, tieback hooks, or screw eyes
    • Punch holes in leather and plastics
    • Mark hole positions for hanging window treatments
  5. Clover Straight Tailors Awl

    The Clover straight tailors awl is another well-made and well-priced product. It is a slimmer model than the other options, and it is lightweight. A handy plastic cover keeps its needle sharpened and protected.

    You can use this awl for detailed work such as:

    • Shaping edges
    • Feeding heavy-duty fabric into machines
    • Marking and opening holes
    • Piercing small holes or craftworks
  6. Awl for All Stitching Awl Tool Kit & Supplies

    The Awl for All is an all-in-one pack that includes:

    • A wooden-handled awl
    • Five replacement needles
    • Three spools of thread
    • A double-headed changing tool with a wrench and screwdriver on its ends

    It has a handle that unscrews to hold the needle and changing tool when not in use. The tip also unscrews for convenient needle swapping when the tool is in use. The three included spools have extra strength because of their braids.

    How to use a leather sewing awl?

    A sewing awl can help you not only on your leatherwork but also on other thick fabrics like canvas and duck cloth. This tool can be handy, especially if you like working with heavy-duty materials, but how do you use a sewing awl?

    First, you need to set-up your sewing awl:

    1. Pull the thread out of the hole. Do this step while the bobbin is securely in the handle and the needle is in its post.
    2. Loop the thread around the tension post. Then, through a slot, hole-in your awl’s handle leading it to the threaded post.
    3. Continue up the post into a recession carved into it. Finally, continue into the needle through a channel for the thread.
    4. Secure the chuck lock and make sure that you properly place it in the recession. You should be able to pull your thread out of the needle with little effort once you secure the lock.

    Next, start your stitching:

    1. Plunge your awl into the area where you like to begin your stitch. Then, pull out as much thread as the length of what you want to stitch. Add around three inches through the needle.
    2. Hold the thread, then pull your awl and needle out of the hole, leaving the thread behind.
    3. Push your awl into your material to create a second hole. Then, pull it back until the thread on your awl forms a loop.
    4. Thread the entire length of the other end of the end through the loop. Then, pull your awl out of this hole. As you do this step, you should be pulling on both ends with equal tension to form your first stitch.
    5. Continue this process in the following stitches. Do this while releasing the thread from the awl with the end cap as needed.

    Finally, finish off your work:

    1. You can tie a knot instead of looping the last stitch. Push the awl in as in a normal stitch. Then, pull out around three inches of thread through the needle. Cut the awl loop thread and tie this to the loose end with a square knot.
    2. Another method is to stitch like normal on your last stitch. Then, stitch backward with your awl. Do this while placing the needle into the second-to-last stitch and looping the third-to-last hole. Pull the awl out and tighten. Finally, cut each end off.

    Can I sew leather on a sewing machine?

    Leather is more challenging to sew compared to other fabrics. It is why many are wondering if they can sew their leather on a sewing machine. But any good-quality home sewing machine should be able to handle leather. You just need a few adjustments to make it work.

    Here is a simple guide so you can sew leather on your sewing machine at home:

    1. Change your presser foot. Change your regular presser foot into a roller or a teflon foot. These feet will easily glide over leather and make things easier for you.
    2. Change your needle. You need to get a leather needle and get extras on hand.
    3. Change your stitch length. Use any stitch length that is longer than a normal stitch but shorter than a basting stitch.
    4. Use the right thread. You need to use heavy-duty thread like polyester or nylon. Doing so will help you have a more professional look and prevent thread erosion over time.
    5. Hold pieces together with tape. Never pin your leather as they will leave a permanent hole on it. Instead, you need to use double-sided tape.
    6. Use scrap leather first. Any stitches you sew on your leather will leave a permanent mark. So, you need to test your stitching on scrap leather first.

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What is an awl used for in leather? ›

A leather awl is a hand-held leather working tool that can be used for a variety of purposes. Mainly, they are used for marking or piercing small holes in leather, usually for later running thread or stitches through. When used for making holes, sometimes, they are referred to as leather awl punches.

What is the most common leather stitching technique? ›

Saddle stitching is the most common stitch for hand sewing leather. Unlike a straight stitch which looks like a broken dotted line with every other stitch showing, the saddle stitch fills in every stitch on both sides, creating one unbroken line similar to a sewing machine stitch.

How do you make a hole in a leather awl? ›

Hold your awl straight up and down, and hit it gently with your mallet. Punch over a poundo board or other soft surface so you don't damage the tip of the awl. This process can be a bit tedious, but it allows you to create smaller holes than you can with the stitching chisel, and punch through tougher leather.

What do you use a sewing awl for? ›

A stitching awl is a tool with which holes can be punctured in a variety of materials, or existing holes can be enlarged. It is also used for sewing heavy materials, such as leather or canvas. It is a thin, tapered metal shaft, coming to a sharp point, either straight or slightly bent.

Should you glue leather before stitching? ›

Because leather is such a delicate material to work with – pins will leave permanent holes and the teeth on fabric clips can leave imprints on the grain – gluing is the safest, most effective way to secure leather for sewing. There are two methods you can use to glue leather: liquid adhesives and basting tape.

What tension should I use to sew leather on sewing machine? ›

While stitching thick fabric, such as denim or leather, a tension of 3.5 to 4.5 is recommended. This is to sew through the fabric and maintain neatness throughout easily. Inspect your sewing machine's attachments and adjust the tension before beginning to sew any thick cloth.

What is the best thread to stitch leather? ›

4. USE THE RIGHT THREAD: Never use cotton thread when sewing leather, as the tanins in the leather will erode the thread over time. Instead, use polyester or nylon. You may want to use heavy-duty top-stitching thread; it's not necessary, but leather does look nice when stitched with heavier thread.

How far apart should stitches be on leather? ›

Step 1: Making the Stitching Holes

It doesn't really matter how far in from the edge the stitching line is, but I typically set the distance at an 1/8th of an inch.

What can I use instead of an awl? ›

Alternative Tools to an Awl
  • Compass Tool. Image Source: Amazon. The compass tool is used to draw circles. ...
  • Tweezers (with sharp tips) Image Source: Amazon. Tweezers are another commonly found tool that can be used to punch holes in your book signatures. ...
  • Thumbtacks. Source: Amazon.
5 Jun 2016

Should an awl be sharp? ›

It is not necessary to make the awl so sharp that it will cut an atom. The main thing is that the blade be smooth enough to barely cut and slide through the leather. The tip should be sharp enough to punch in and glide through the leather with as little resistance as possible.

What is the difference between an awl and a scratch awl? ›

A stitching awl usually has a hollow handle where a bobbin for stitching thread is located. You will need to attach your thread to the stitch awl as it has an “eye” that allows for this and then you can begin stitching. Stitching awls generally have curved ends whereas scratch awls have sharp pointed ends.

What tools do I need to sew leather? ›

Tools Needed
  • 2 sewing needles.
  • Thread, preferably waxed (if not pre-waxed, you can wax it yourself with beeswax, a candle, etc.)
  • Ice pick, sewing awl, or hammer/nails.
  • Binder clips, small clamps, or something of the sort.
  • Fork.
  • Pen (optional)
13 Jul 2018

What is the difference between an awl and a Bradawl? ›

The Awl is a small hand-held tool with a sharpened point. A Bradawl is similar but is flattened at its tip to produce a sharp chisel edge.

Can you use a hammer on a scratch awl? ›

Can You Use a Hammer on a Scratch Awl? Yes. It's easy to use an awl to make holes in softwoods like pine.

Should you wet leather before cutting? ›

Leather that is too dry will be difficult to cut and cuts will not open up nicely. Your swivel knife will feel like it is dragging rather than gliding smoothly through the leather.

What is the strongest adhesive for leather? ›

Leather cement, sometimes called contact cement, offers the strongest bond when working with leather, and it's suitable for everything from crafting to repairing furniture and accessories.

How do you seal leather after cutting? ›

To burnish, apply water, wax or gum tragacanth to the leather edge. Rub a burnishing tool vigorously back and forth with a good amount of pressure; you want to create heat to work the wax or gum into the leather fibers. This compresses the leather fibers and seals the edge against moisture.

What size needle is best for sewing leather? ›

From my experience, for most leather projects, sizes 90/14 and 100/16 are a good choice. However, if you are working with thicker leather, you may need to use a size 110/18 needle. What is this? When it comes to sewing leather, suede, vinyl, or real fur, it's best to use a leather needle.

Why does my sewing machine skip stitches when sewing leather? ›

If you are sewing denim or leather fabric, it is hard to avoid skipping stitches. The primary cause of skipped stitches on a thick fabric could be either the needle is bent, dull or could have a nick. Other reasons for skipping stitches on thick fabric include: Needle bar is too high.

Do I need a heavy duty sewing machine to sew leather? ›

You can try to sew leather on a regular sewing machine, but you may find that the leather sticks, that the feed dog marks the leather or that the needle breaks. This is often down to a regular sewing machine not having enough power to feed the needle and thread through the leather.

What tension should I use for leather? ›

3 – 3.5 is just right. What is this? I also decreased my thread tension to 1 (instead of the normal 3-4) and adjusted the foot pressure for sewing leather.

What needle is best for leather? ›

Glovers Needles

Glover needles are one of the few hand sewing needles that have a sharp point for penetrating leather as it is sewn. They have triangular points on one end and an eye for thread on the other. They are generally used for sewing hide and buckskin articles together.

Can I use a regular sewing machine to sew leather? ›

Absolutely! And you can even sew leather on a regular machine without a special foot – in the tutorial below, I'm using a standard sewing machine foot and a leather needle! But, it is advisable to invest in a special non-stick or teflon foot is you end up sewing quite a bit of leather!

What are four rules for working stitches? ›

Choose the correct stitch for the work to be carried out. Use the correct size of needle and right types of thread for the fabric. Fasten on and off securely/start with a double stitch and end with a double stitch. Wear a thimble on the middle finger of the hand which is used for sewing.

Should I keep my stitches covered at all times? ›

Keep your stitches or staples dry and covered with a bandage. Non-absorbable stitches and staples need to be kept dry for 1 to 2 days. Absorbable stitches sometimes need to be kept dry longer. Your doctor or nurse will tell you exactly how long to keep your stitches dry.

Which person uses an awl? ›

It looks kind of like an ice pick, but an awl is a tool used by shoemakers, carpenters and other craftsmen who need to punch small holes through leather or wood.

Is an awl necessary? ›

Yes, you do need an awl in your toolbox. Not only because it can create holes but also because it's an essential part of marking before cutting the materials into your desired shape.

Is an awl the same as a stiletto? ›

A stiletto, also known as a tailors awl is used for making eyelet holes in needlework, sewing and leather work. It can also be used to guide fabric under a sewing machine, pick seams that are too small for a seam ripper or turn applique edges.

What is a bird cage awl? ›

Birdcage awls are used by pushing down and twisting. The sharp ends act like reamer to cut away the waste (in other words, the pointy end cannot be a round point. It needs cutting edges – hence the ream-like shape).

What is a clicker awl? ›

An essential leathercraft tool, the clicker's awl is used for piercing holes in leather and for marking out in preperation for cutting leather. 2 1/4" sharp point awl fitted with a beech handle. Also available with special edition handles.

What is cobblers awl? ›

A stitching awl or cobbler's awl is a tool with which holes can be punctured in a variety of materials, or existing holes can be enlarged. It is also used for sewing heavy materials, such as leather or canvas. It is a thin, tapered metal shaft, coming to a sharp point, either straight or slightly bent.

What is an awl with thread loop? ›

Essentially what you do is thread the awl and puncture the two pieces of material you wish to sew together. Then you begin creating loops on the backside of the material that you can place the lead end of the thread through in order to stitch.

What is the use of round tip awl? ›

A round awl is useful because, unlike a sewing awl which is a wider diamond shape, it is a small point that you can use to find the space around the existing stitch and go over it instead of through it. A small round point also stretches the stitch hole less than the diamond shaped awl.

What do you use to hold leather together? ›

To keep leather items in top shape, use glues that are waterproof, clean-drying, and flexible. Most importantly, you want to choose a glue that can create permanent bonds. Shoe glue is a versatile adhesive that bonds, seals, and repairs leather, vinyl, canvas, textiles, foam, reinforced polyester, and many rubbers.

What is an awl in needle felting? ›

Awl - for making holes for eyes and legs

This needle felting tool is ideal for making the holes for our glue-in eyes and Wire Bird's Legs, and silk clay additions such as claws, beaks etc on wires. It is easy to hold and comes with a clear plastic cover for safe storage.

Do you need awl? ›

Yes, you do need an awl in your toolbox. Not only because it can create holes but also because it's an essential part of marking before cutting the materials into your desired shape.

Can you apply Vaseline to leather? ›

You don't need fancy leather moisturizer to take care of your favourite leather jacket. Petroleum jelly does the job just as well. Apply, rub it in, wipe off the excess, and you're ready to go.

Can I use PVA glue on leather? ›

PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue can be used on leather, though generally won't provide strong adhesion. A common form of PVA glue is the white Elmer's glue. While it can hold leather pieces in place, say for light sewing, it won't provide very strong hold for a long time. It's easily removable.

Can you hit an awl with a hammer? ›

Grab an awl, and place it where you want your hole to be. Then take a hammer and hammer the awl through the wood. Awls are small, so this hole won't be terribly large, but you'll have a hole! Recognize that the ease of this method (and all the other methods) is directly related to the material you're working with.

What is a diamond awl? ›

Vergez Blanchard Diamond Point Awl is made from hardened high quality steel and has a wooden handle. The handle has an ergonomic shape for punching holes in leather while stitching. It is flattened from both sides, so you can hold the tool at the same consistent angle as your pricking iron or wheel marks.

What is the difference between a Bradawl and awl? ›

The Awl is a small hand-held tool with a sharpened point. A Bradawl is similar but is flattened at its tip to produce a sharp chisel edge.

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