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Saddle Stitching: The Ancient Art of Joining Leather

Updated: Jan 6


Maybe you’ve heard of it before. Maybe you’ve seen it in my product descriptions. Maybe you haven’t heard of it until now.


Let me explain what it is, how it differs from a machine stitch and why I use this hand-stitching technique for the majority of my work. (Outside of not yet owning an industrial sewing machine)


Strength

The saddle stitch is arguably the strongest stitch we know of, when used in the appropriate situations. It originated in 365 AD in saddle work and is still used today. For reasons discussed below, the strength can be a much needed application in items such as holsters and, well…saddles.


Durability

While a machine stitch uses two pieces of thread to perform a lock stitch, the saddle stitch is achieved with two needles on the end of a single thread. Sewing machines push an upper thread down through all layers, where a lower thread then loops around the upper. Then the upper thread is pushed back up. This produces the lock stitch.


A saddle stitch in its most basic form is both ends of a single thread passing through each hole in opposite directions. There’s more to it than just that, but this helps illustrate the idea along with the graphic below.


Quality and Repair

Whereas a lock stitch will easily unravel from a tear if you pull on it, a saddle stitch will not. In fact, early on I used to make some mistakes requiring me to unravel a section of stitching and let me tell you it’s more laborious than the stitch work itself.


The quality factor is this: a torn saddle stitch only affects the area of the tear. The rest of the stitch will be just as strong and unaffected until repairs can be made. This is CRUCIAL in saddles when at times a life or death situation could arise from a whole stitch line failing.


On wallets and other small leather goods its arguably not necessary but if you’re purchasing handmade leather goods you are looking for quality in all areas of the product anyway. If your item suffered a tear, it’s not only still able to be used, but typically quick and easy to fix as you only need to repair the torn area, not the whole stitch line.


Let’s Talk!

So if this was interesting, helpful or maybe you have some questions then please leave me a comment below. Do you have other questions that could become future topics? Email me at matt@direwolfleather.com and that could be next.

Have a great day everyone!