Finishing Leather Edges: How to Hem Leather Pants and More

You can’t forget the little details. These little details are vital to the look and durability of any clothing item you make. Ignoring them means you have not finished your outfit and taking shortcuts. That is something you should avoid doing especially with leather.

It starts with using the right needle and planning the placement of the hem. Leather will show missed needle holes so make sure your plan gets the hem right the first time. You can use double-sided tape if you do not want to risk the needle holes.

To learn more about hemming leather pants and other leather items just continue to read our article. It asks the questions you want answers to and then leads you to the correct answer. A few minutes of your time is all that is needed to be informed on this important topic.

Does Leather Fray?


For the most part, leather does not fray. That characteristic is limited to the smooth leathers that make up a lot of the leather fashion industry. However, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Some suede materials, especially the soft kind, tend to fray somewhat if they are not treated well. Those soft suede examples are moccasins, lacing, and some suede used for clothing.

To stop those suede items from fraying, you can coat them in melted beeswax. The trick is not to bring the beeswax to a boil. Also, some smooth leather materials may pill a bit around the edges but a nice coating of melted beeswax will solve that problem as well.

Leather is a strong, and heavyweight material that holds its fibers together better than soft, lightweight fabrics. You shouldn’t have to worry about fraying when using the right leather materials.

Will Leather Fray if Cut?

Generally, the answer is no. Cutting most leather does not induce fraying. That means you can save time on hemming different leather items, like gloves, when you cut the fabric to look the way you want it to look.

That means that you can save some sewing time and forgo the hemming if you think the outfit looks good without that finishing touch. We mentioned gloves as many people like to cut the fingers off so they have a better grip on life.

That is okay as the leather, as long as it is not soft suede, should not fray around the cut fingertips. It will be up to you in the end what you want to do with your leather edges but you do not have to be afraid that your garment, etc., will be ruined if you leave cut edges alone.

Can You Sand Leather Edges?


It is possible to sand the edges of the leather. One of the quirks of this material is that it often leaves one side with a lot of burrs, a fuzzy nap, and other little items that ruin the smoothness of the fabric.

If you choose to do some sanding to get that fuzzy side smoother, you should go with some very fine-grit sandpaper. Usually in the neighborhood of 500 to 600 grit. There is no need to use rougher sandpaper as the object is to get the leather smooth not worn down.

Sanding is okay but it does not take the place of gum tragacanth process or burnishing. Those two procedures help smooth the leather fuzz and provides your accessories or garments with a nice, finished leather grained look.

What is Used To Seal Leather Edges?

We just mentioned the two main procedures that finish off leather edges nice and neat. The first is called Gum Tragacanth and this is a method that makes wallets and other smaller leather projects’ edges look rounded and smooth.

This is a great method when you want to make leather jewelry like earrings. The second method is called burnishing but a simpler term you may understand better is polishing.

That is what you are doing when you burnish leather and the technique produces some excellent results. It is also a time-consuming technique so you better have lots of free time on your hands when doing this technique.

Both techniques are not permanent and their longevity depends on how much you use the item. For example, Gum and burnishing will last longer on earrings than they would on purse straps.

Finishing Leather Edges With Beeswax


This is a time-consuming project and it has about 9 steps that you need to follow to get the results you want. The first step and the most important one is to melt the beeswax without boiling it.

For acing you can soak the lace in the melted beeswax just make sure it is totally coated before laying it on some wax paper to cool. You do not want a lot of wax or any flaky look so you will have to run the lace through your fingers to remove the wax or place it between paper towels and iron the excess off.

Also, you can use a paintbrush and fix any moccasins or other soft suede that happens to be fraying. All you need to do is dip the paintbrush inside the melted wax and put a thin coat of the beeswax on the edges.

Finishing Faux Leather Edges

This is done more by trial and error because not all faux leather products are made the same. It will take some time to figure out which is the best way for you and the faux leather fabric you are working on.

You can try the hot beeswax method but that works best on lace only. Treating the edges with beeswax is the only real option for large pieces of leather or faux leather. Be careful as the hot beeswax does burn the materials.

To fix fraying faux leather edges, you can use a lighter and just melt the material together. All faux leather is made of is plastic and it melts as plastic would melt. Just do not hold the lighter too close to the other parts of the shoe or purse, etc. You may melt that and ruin the look of those faux leather items.

How do You Hem Leather Pants?


Generally, leather pants are hemmed like any other pants made from different fabrics. You should put them on and then put your shoes on to determine the exact length you need. Do not pin leather as the material shows those pinholes very easily. Mark with chalk.

Also, make sure you have the right needle. Then cut off any excess material and leave yourself about 1 to 1 1/2 inches of material to make your hem. Once that is done, fold the hem allowance up to the mark and press with an iron.

Then you sew the hem and this can be done using a straight stitch, a zig-zag stitch, or using your serger. Plus, you can sew the hem by hand if you think your fingers and wrist can handle the task.

How To Hem Leather Pants Without Sewing

The initial steps outlined above are the same. You need to have a good plan on how you want that hem to look and where it needs to sit. Then to get the exact length, you need to put the pants on with your shoes and mark the hemline with chalk.

Next, you need to fold that hemline up to the mark after removing them from your legs and press the hem in place with your iron using a dry heat setting. Also, you should trim off any extra material that is more than 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length.

Then place the double-sided tape in the right spot where it won’t be seen and press the pants again. That pressing should have the tape stick to both sides of the material. Just make sure it is strong enough to handle leather and the physical activities the user is going to be doing.

Where To Hem Leather Pants


The location for hemming leather pants is the same as it is for pants made by other fabrics. But that is the obvious answer. You can do it yourself if you like dealing with tough fabrics that are hard to sew or need a special machine to sew them.

Or you can let the professionals do the task as they have the experience, the know-how, and the equipment to handle the job just right. Tailors, dry cleaners, and even seamstresses will all be good choices if the price is right.

Sometimes when you are working hard to work with fabrics like leather, it is best to not do the job yourself. Some times leather makers can be a good choice for where to get the hemming done. Their experience and knowledge will have the task done quickly and look better.

How To Hem Faux Leather

First, you should check the fabric for flaws or scratches. Hopefully, they will be in a position where you can cut those flaws out without ruining the material for your project.

Next, use a leather needle up to a size 16 or 18 but if your machine can’t accept that size, then use the maximum size needle your machine can hold. Then avoid using pins. Like real leather, once you make a hole it is there until you toss the leather item in the trash.

To keep hems and seam allowances open, use leather tape. This tape is designed to work with leather and holds on tight. Once in place, do your sewing. The technique for sewing leather is not that much different from other fabrics.

If you try to press the seams or hems, make sure not to use high heat as faux leather is really plastic and it melts just the same.

How To Finish Leather Cord Ends


This is a bit tricky as you have to find the right cord ends that will work with the thickness of the leather fabric. Some good options may not be available anymore so you are stuck with second rate materials.

But the easiest way to finish leather cord ends is to just get a fold-over clasp and place it in the spot you want it. It is okay to have extra cord length as that helps hold the clasp in place and you can always cut off the excess.

Once you have located the clasp, take a pair of needle-nose pliers and fold over the clasp’s holder and make sure to squeeze tight. Then do the same for the holder on the other side of the clasp. Use a bigger pair of pliers to squeeze both holders into place making sure the leather will not escape under stress.

Then cut the excess off and do the same for the other side of the leather cord.

Can You Hem Leather With Glue?

Again, the initial steps for this option are the same as any other option you choose to use. You need to get the hem in the right place and you already know how to do that. Once that is done, cut your excess and get ready to glue.

You can apply the fabric glue directly to the leather or put it on a plate and use a paintbrush to spread the glue over your hem allowance. When you have finished fold the hem up and press firmly together.

Use a fabric clip to hold the hem in place after you smooth out the material with your fingers. Then let dry.

Some Final Words

Hemming leather is not as difficult as the same procedure for other fabrics to apply here. There are just a few differences, like avoiding pins, etc., that make working with leather a little more difficult.

Once you are done, you can be proud of your accomplishment.

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