Sewing Machine Capabilities (Leather/Upholstery)

I am wanting to start doing some various projects that would require the beefier sewing machines(Pfaff, Consew, and/or Thor) such as upholstery cushions(with welts) and leather bags. I have sewing machine experience, and have run some test pieces(veg-tan) through the THOR after @talkers and I went to Sunny for training and a machine overview earlier this year.

My biggest questions relate most to knowing what machine to use, and when. The THOR will be overkill for all but a few hefty layers, but I imagine I’ll still have to utilize it at times if I’m sewing through several layers on a leather bag. Is the Consew capable of doing welting? Can it also do it with thinner upholstery leather?

If anyone is available, I’d be happy to bring some of the material I have in mind to DMS.

I have no idea what the CONSEW is capable of, But I should think it would be able to do that.

However, when I had the machine repair guy in, we determined that we did not have the appropriate industrial needle size needed for that machine. As such, he was not able to do any service on that machine, but opined that was likely the reason for the problem that somebody tagged it out of service.

I have not been motivated to pursue the needle issue further.

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That helps! I pulled up the sizes from the manual, I imagine I can get the correct ones from Sunny.

the babylock zests can do chrometan/upholstery leather. Bring your own needle :wink:

Yes - they are surprisingly robust for their size! I was impressed when sewing on several layers of ripstop-type nylon with heavy-duty thread.

If you want to get a couple of packages for the SIG, send me a copy of the receipt and where you want the check sent, and I’ll fill out a check request and approval to get you reimbursed. (which would make me insanely happy to not have to keep this on my to-do list.)

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For upholstery leather do you use the typical knife edge needles used for sewing leather?

So the Thor uses thread sizes from Tex 138 to Tex 450 and needles that are “DYX 3 or 794 system”. For Tex 138 this uses a #20-#22 sized needle. I have some Tex 210 thread that I picked up last time I was at Sunny, that uses #24-#25 needles. I was planning to pick up some #20 and #24 needles for the Thor. I’m not sure how often anything larger would be used on the Thor.

The Consew CN2053R uses #10-#19 needles. Their thread sizes in the manual I believe are “Metric,” which are like wire gauges and not very intuitive from what I can tell. I believe these correspond to Tex 24 to ~Tex 90. For my purposes I was going to get some Tex 69 and Tex 90 thread with #16 and #19 needles for the Consew. I imagine thinner stuff is likely not being sewn on the Consew to justify as small as a #10, but are any of the others helpful?

I know the last needles I bought were the barbed tip for veg-tanned leather, but I will ask about using it for upholstery. Thank you for asking @Photomancer, that’s a great question. I know the people at Sunny will be able to help answer that as well as making sure I have the correct type for each machine.

I’ll be going tomorrow morning when traffic dies down in the morning, I went a bit too deep down the research rabbit hole today to beat traffic.

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The leather I’ve been sewing on (stuff from gulf stream), I’ve just been using #18 size needles. No knife sides or such. The trick is a needle fat enough to accommodate the thread on the way through the leather. I could manage with a #12, but had to unstitch a lot. When it dawned on me to use a bigger needle, it was like butter.

I think I would concur with your thoughts on needle sizes. Stuff needing a smaller needle can be sewn on the Zests or the trusty Pfaff. Or either of the embroidery machines, for that matter…

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I am so glad you said that! I have a good bit of the Gulf Stream leather I would like to use :slight_smile:

Yes, generally - leather needles are designed to cut thru the leather. Fabric needles have rounded tips to push aside fibers and not cut them as they pass thru fabric.

Attached is a chart for standard sewing machines, like the Babylock Zests.
sewing_machine_needle_charts_sewing_craft_alliance.pdf (116.5 KB)


There are also many options for leather needle points for various seam appearances. It gets a bit overwhelming haha


I got a pack #23 needles for the Thor, he was out of anything smaller, but they are an S point, so perfect for leather.

For the Consew I picked up a pack of #16 needles and a pack of #18 needles, they are both R point, which is what he recommended for upholstery and soft leather.

I will note that he said the Consew is primarily for fabric. For what I mostly want to do, he said I would need a machine between the Consew and the Thor. So basically I’ll take some extra time to practice with each and work with what we have :slight_smile:

I forgot my cleaning wipes at home, so I didn’t swing by DMS on my way back. I will likely be up there late tonight or tomorrow morning to drop the needles off!

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Heckuva salesman! :wink:

Haha, he’s not wrong. A 206RB would be ideal, so I’m keeping an eye out for used ones. Size wise the Consew machine is great, it just lacks a walking foot.


@jrkriehn once mentioned this could be an option. Do you want to investigate it @gtometich?

Not necessary, it would not be a true compound walking foot.