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How to Use a Sewing Awl for Leather and Heavy Fabrics Full Guide of 2024

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how to use a sewing awlLearn how to use a sewing awl with this easy-to-follow guide. With a few simple steps, you’ll be able to sew leather and heavy fabrics like a pro.

What is a sewing awl?

A sewing awl is a hand tool used to make holes in leather and other thick materials.

How to use a sewing awl

  1. Choose the right awl for the job. Sewing awls come in different sizes and shapes, so choose one that is the right size for the hole you need to make.
  2. Sharpen the awl. A dull awl will make it difficult to make clean holes.
  3. Mark the spot where you want to make the hole.
  4. Hold the awl at a 90-degree angle to the material and push it through the material.
  5. Use a leather punch or awl to make a hole in the other side of the material.
  6. Thread the needle through the holes and tie a knot.

Tips for using a sewing awl

  • Use a thimble to protect your fingers.
  • Work slowly and carefully.
  • Don’t force the awl through the material.
  • If the awl gets stuck, try using a little oil to lubricate it.

With a little practice, you’ll be able to use a sewing awl like a pro.

Key Takeaways

  • Use a sharp needle for best results.
  • Use a needle threader if you are having trouble threading the needle.
  • Be careful not to push the needle through the fabric too far.
  • Keep an eye on your thread tension as you sew, and adjust it as needed.

Parts of an Awl

Parts of an Awl
To use a sewing awl, you’ll need:

  • An awl
  • A needle
  • Thread

The awl has a metal handle, a sharp point, and a large eye.

The threader is included and the awl comes with a case to store the awl, needle, punch, thread, and waxed thread.

Set Up Your Stitch

Set Up Your Stitch
With your awl threaded, push the needle through the material from the backside.

3 things to remember when setting up your stitch:

  • Pre-drilled holes aren’t required.
  • Mark your hole positions first.
  • Create the “grabber loop” by slightly pulling back on the awl.

Once you have created the grabber loop, balance the thread and pull the needle out.

Start Stitching

Start Stitching
With your stitch set up, you can start stitching.

Push the needle through the material from the backside, fully draw out the thread on the front-side, long enough to do the entire project.

While keeping your thumb firmly over the thread on the handle of the awl, hold the thread and pull the needle back out of the hole.

Pull the needle through the second hole as far as it will go.

Pass all of the thread through this loop, forming a lock stitch.



To finish, pull the needle out of the hole, forming a lock-stitch.

Finishing Tips

  1. To prevent the needle from slipping out of the leather patch, make a small knot in the thread before pulling it through the last hole.
  2. To prevent the thread from unraveling, dab a bit of glue on the knot.
  3. To secure the thread ends, tuck them under the leather patch and glue them in place.
  4. To make a knot, wrap the thread around the needle twice and pull it tight.
  5. To cut the thread, use a sharp pair of scissors and cut it close to the leather patch.

Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks

Finishing your stitching with a whip stitch will help to secure the thread and prevent it from unraveling.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Use a sharp needle for best results.
  • If you’re having trouble threading the awl, try using a needle threader.
  • Be careful not to push the needle through the fabric too far, as this could damage the fabric.
  • Keep an eye on your thread tension as you sew, and adjust it as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between a sewing awl and a leather punch?

A sewing awl is used to create holes for stitching, while a leather punch is used to create holes for rivets or other hardware.

How do I know what size awl to use?

To choose the right size awl, use one that’s the same diameter as the thread you’ll be using.

How do I prevent the awl from slipping out of the hole?

Grip the awl firmly with your dominant hand.

Use your non-dominant hand to guide the awl through the hole, preventing it from slipping out.

How do I make sure my stitches are even?

To make sure your stitches are even, use a needle threader to help you thread the needle, and use a sharp needle to prevent the thread from catching on the fabric.

Keep an eye on your thread tension as you sew, and adjust it as needed.

How do I finish my project neatly?

To finish your project neatly,

  • Knot the thread ends
  • Tuck them under the stitches.

You can also use a dab of glue to hold the knots in place.


With a sewing awl, you can easily sew leather and heavy fabrics. Just follow these steps, and you’ll be a pro in no time.

  1. Choose the right awl.
  2. Prepare your materials.
  3. Mark your stitching line.
  4. Start your stitching.
  5. Weave your thread through the holes.
  6. Finish your stitching.
Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a site dedicated to those passionate about crafting. With years of experience and research under his belt, he sought to create a platform where he could share his knowledge and skills with others who shared his interests.