How to Hand Stitch Leather & Why it is Far Better Than Using a Machine.

At Hide & Home we pride ourselves on using traditional methods and tools to create our leather products entirely by hand. One of the main processes that most of our handmade leather goods go through is hand stitching. Although hand stitching is much more laborious and time consuming compared to machine stitching, it is by far the more superior stitching method and here I will now try my best to explain why!


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The type of stitch we mainly use is the saddle stitch. This style of stitch dates far back and is a preferred stitching technique for many artisan crafters such as bookbinders, leatherworkers and tailors for its strength and durability. Saddle stitching with leather requires a length of waxed thread with a needle at each end, the thread is then stitched through the material to its mid point. From there the needles snake in and out at the same points to create a reinforced binding.


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Unlike machine stitching, if a saddle stitch becomes damaged the stitching will still hold strong on leather items. This is due to the way the thread, once stitched, in this style knits the leather together in individual links, with the beeswax on the thread helping to create a slight bond to hold it in place. It is easily repaired should it become damaged, making it a preferred choice with many artisan leatherworkers with a passion for creating pieces that designed to last.


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Although there is an initial cost for a sewing machine to machine stitch your items, its still a widely used method of stitching in leather working. It is much quicker than traditional methods and largely used and related to, mass production of goods. The type of stitch created by a sewing machine is a lock stitch or a link stitch. This is achieved by the thread looping together instead of passing each other to form many little links. The downside of this is that, unlike the saddle stitch, when damaged the thread will unravel, breaking all the links in the chain of thread. This has happened to a couple of my favourite shop bought handbags in the past and is truly worth throwing a tantrum over!


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I think I'll always prefer the traditional hand stitching method over machine stitching. Not only is it quite therapeutic, you have total control over what you are producing. I enjoy stitching all of my products. But my favourite pieces have to be the larger products that require hidden stitching to hold compartments in place and have a long running stitch line to hold panels together - nothing more satisfying than finishing the A5 notebook cover!