Leather Craft

Embroidering on leather

embroidering on leather Gunold thread on Olivenleder by Lena Beier Reutlingen University

Ad| With over 25 years experience in the textile and embroidery world and working as an ambassador for the German embroidery thread producer Gunold, Reiner Knochel knows what you have to look for while embroidering on leather.

Reiner, what fascinates you about yarns?

Well, it is not the threads only, there are so many different aspects that can make an embroidery great and special. When I started to work with embroidery, to be honest, I did not know much. But I quickly learned about all the technical and creative possibilities with embroidery.

And I noticed that of course, the producers have all the technical skills. But those who decide about embroidery, they don’t have this knowledge and experience which is one reason, why so many embroideries look the same…

In the end, this was one of the reasons to start my work as a freelance consultant. I love to show, to explain, and to motivate people that embroidery can be so much more than just the standard logo.

A well-done embroidery can be the sophisticated highlight of a garment or an accessory and can carry the values of a brand in a very nice way.

Gunold’s „Poly“ Thread in different densities. Design: Westsächsische Hochschule Zwickau

Which 5 most important steps does one have to consider while embroidering a logo or motive on leather?

  • Use the appropriate yarn: Polyester thread is the most appropriate one for working on leather. It has a better tearing-strength than viscose and doesn’t get dirty quickly. The upper thread and the bobbin should correspond with each other. But of course, depending on the type and use of the leather, also other thread types such as Viscose, cotton or wooly ones as well as sparkling and glittery ones can be used. If you use metal yarn, be aware of the oxidation which could happen in-between the yarn and the leather.
  • Use the appropriate needle: The needle should have the right size referring to the leather, in most cases it will be a size no. 75 or 80. The needlepoint shouldn’t be too sharp otherwise the leather will be perforated. The best needle for embroidery on leather is half-round
  • Use stitching fleece: To have a high-quality embroidery, almost all materials need a non-woven material as a stabilizer. Also leather needs this kind of backing. It helps to stabilize the material during the embroidery process and to keep the embroidery in shape. The embroidery companies also use other tricks to embroider delicate leathers such as suede, for example, to avoid a ring from forming around the embroidery hoop…
  • Note thread tension: The tension of the upper thread and the bobbin has to be fixed correctly so that a smooth and good-looking embroidery will be produced.
  • Design and embroidery programme: This is a very crucial point about embroideries on leather. The digitizer must be informed that the embroidery will be on leather because there are some things worth consideration: for example, the design shouldn’t be too dense. Too many stitches could perforate the delicate leather, as well as too many underlay stitches. Too short stitches should be avoided as well. Best is to choose a design with open elements, not too heavy, with rather open structures.

What is your latest embroidery development with regard to leather?

Oh, I have some beautiful new developments on Olivenleder, a sustainable leather tanned with a tanning agent made of olive leaves.

embroidering on leather_Gunold threads on Olivenleder by Anja Wanninger Modefachschule Sigmaringen_

Different Gunold embroidery threads on Olivenleder. Design and embroidery by Anja Wanninger, Modefachschule Sigmaringen

Textile design students from Reutlingen University and fashion design students from Modefachschule Sigmaringen shared their latest embroidery designs with me, which we presented already on the Munich Fabric Start and Premiere Vision Paris shows. New projects will soon start also with the great materials from RecycLeather.

Other great design ideas were developed in cooperation with Indian couture hand embroidery companies. It is amazing, when you just start, the creative process never stops…

embroidering on leather_hand embroidery on leather with Gunold threads by Modi Embroidery

Hand embroidery on leather using different Gunold embroidery threads:
design and embroidery by Modi Embroidery India

For what kind of industries is leather embroidery of interest?

Generally, there are no limits. Like embroidery on fabrics, there are so many possibilities also for embroidered leathers: In fashion, on shoes, for the car industry, in home interior, the list goes on and on.

With your knowledge, you support designers, product developers, students, and creative minds to choose the right yarns for their products and to interpret current trends. Please tell us more how this works, especially for leather.

In my seminars, I explain all the different thread and backing types, the embroidery machines and techniques and of course the vocabulary you need to know in order to communicate on a professional level with the digitizers and embroiderers.

I work a lot with original samples because seeing and touching authentic samples is much more impressive than just looking on pictures.

Best is to keep in touch with the brands and designers, for example, to meet me on the international fabric and accessory shows where everybody can see the latest developments on the Gunold booth.

embroidering on leather_hand embroidery with Gunold thread by Modi Embroidery

Hand embroidery with sequins on leather using Gunold “FILAINE” embroidery thread by Modi Embroidery India

We always show new trend developments and later, in separate meetings or communications, I can help the designers and brands to bring their own handwriting into the collection by using embroidery or other embellishment techniques, made by embroidery machines, sewing machines, by hand or with other techniques.

On leather of course, but also on all other materials. As long as a needle can go through, it can be embroidered!

If you want to know more about Reiner Knochel or book him for a workshop, visit him on his website or on Instagram.

© Cover picture: Gunold’s „Poly” thread on Olivenleder designed and emboidered by Lena Beier, Reutlingen University

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