I’ve seen had several people new to leatherwork or shoemaking tell me they’ve bought an awl but they are having real trouble getting it to make holes properly. Most times when I’ve asked them to show it to me, they’ve shown me one of these:
It’s called a scratch awl and it’s used for marking out patterns and pricking dots in leather. This is an awl, but it is not a tool for making holes. The ‘blade’ is round and tapers to a point. Sewing awl blades are flattened ovals and have a slightly chisel shaped tip.
If you’ve got one of these, keep it, they’re handy tools, but don’t try using it to make holes through leather for stitching.