Are you a beginner leather craftsman? Then you might need some background information before starting your first leathercraft project.
Our Beginner Leathercraft Masterclass: All You Need to Know on The Ancient Art of Leathermaking is a good starting point to get a basic understanding of leatherworking.
If you still have some questions though, especially regarding leather crafting techniques, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to saddle stitch leather.
What is Leathercraft?
Leathercraft, as the art of making leather into craft objects, is an extremely ancient practice surrounded by a rich cultural history.
Before the unfolding of the Industrial Revolution and its sewing machines, all leather goods were sewn by hand. Back then, a well-made leather coat could make the difference between surviving a blizzard or dying of hypothermia.
Although this is an unlikely situation nowadays, we believe that the care and attention to detail that goes into your leather items can still make a small difference in your everyday life.
What is Saddle Stitching, and Why Does it Matter?
The most common, and appreciated, leather hand-sewing technique is called saddle stitching.
While the machine-sewn lockstitch involves two separate spools of thread, one per side, which interlocks within each other, saddle stitching is done with only one thread and two needles to create two rows of stitching in one single row of holes.
Although using sewing machines is much faster and cheaper, the machine-sewn lockstitch has a weak spot where the top thread interlocks with the bottom thread: this is where a machine-sewn item always breaks first.
The hand-sewn saddle stitch lasts much longer. In addition to using thicker thread with hand stitching, each stitch is made up of two strong, independent, stitches. Unlike the lock stitch which will completely unravel, if a thread does break, the saddle stitch will still hold together.
How to Saddle Stitch?
Well, let’s get on with some explanation.
Before starting to stitch, you should glue the hides you intend to sew together and pre-punch the sewing holes using a pricking iron (learn more about leather crafting tools here.
- Insert your needle into the first hole and pull it through until there is an equal amount of thread on each side of the leather.
- Once your thread is centred, you can take the needle on your left hand and find the next hole towards you.
- Keep the right-hand needle behind the left-hand needle – that is being pushed through – in a cross shape.
- Pull the thread through until the loose tail is through the hole. Always remember to keep the needles in the cross shape.
- Now grasp the thread on both sides and gently pull towards you. You are creating space for the right-hand needle to pass behind the thread.
- Rotate your cross so that the right-hand needle can be directed into the same hole that you just pushed the other needle through.
- Still pulling on both sides of the thread, feed the right-hand needle into the hole and behind the thread.
- As you feed the needle through to the other side, also pull the thread on the left at the same time. This will ensure that you have not pierced the thread with the needle.
- If you did pierce the thread, it does happen now and then, especially to beginners – just pull on the left side until it pops off the needle.
- Now grasp the needle from the left-hand side and pull it through. Don’t ever pull tight simply by grasping the needles. This will eventually cause the thread to come off your needle. Instead, grasp the thread itself and pull.
- Now just keep repeating the same steps working your way down the line of stitches.
- As long as you follow the steps exactly, then you will have a very nice repetitive stitch line.
Tips and Reminders for Saddle Stitch
Beginners tend to make one or two mistakes – either their holes are not punched in a nice line, or they mixed up a step when sewing such as feeding the needle in front of the thread on one or two stitches instead of behind - but you’ll get there eventually.
Confused and still not sure where to begin? Here are some top saddle stitch videos to watch for beginners:
- How To Hand Stitch Leather - Saddle Stitch Tutorial, Beginner Leatherworking
- How To Hand Stitch Leather, Saddle Stitching Tutorial For Beginners
In this fast fashion world, the importance of great craftsmanship is losing its touch. Even a small sense of traditional leatherworking and techniques, especially about how to saddle stitch leather can become a delightful skill to learn.
Not only does it embrace true art but keeps it strong. Our value aligns with the people who wish to learn and embrace the art of leathercrafting, and for that purpose, we brought .Ar:ti|sans to life.
As a beginner, a great way to start practising your saddle stitching could be our Leather Craft Kits.
Fun and easy to use, .Ar:ti|sans Leather Craft Kits include everything you need to start your first leather project: vegetable tanned leather with refined burnished edges, thread and needles.
Our stark, yet beautiful, models are designed to avoid the need for glue and to be easily assembled and tacked with thread. We can even provide threads in contrast colour to make your stitching stand out.
Tailored to promote and celebrate human dexterity, these kits are a perfect way to move your first steps into leather crafting as well as great gifts to self, family and friends for all occasions.
The three designs currently available: