We all love exquisite goods made of leather, whether it is a comfortable jacket, a lovely handbag, or gloves that keep us warm. Much has been written and said about the types and grades of leather. Although that is elementary knowledge to help one make an informed choice, a lot more goes into making a finished leather product. The most important among them are different ways to stitch leather.
Without meticulous craftsmanship and leather stitching techniques, making a durable leather product is not possible. Stitching leather has a lot of similarities with fabric stitching, for instance, the use of needles and thread. However, leather is a thick and tough material. It requires additional tools such as an awl, stronger thread, and the formation of stitch holes before stitching. It should be done with precision and expertise, as you cannot fill the holes formed in leather.
This blog is an in-depth guide about types of leather stitch patterns and answers all your questions about leather stitching.
Types of Leather Stitch Patterns
In leather work, stitching forms a bond between two pieces of leather. Leather products are known for their longevity, so the stitching must be sturdy and not unravel easily. Craftsmen use several patterns to stitch leather, including standard or unique and decorative patterns. Though patterns are various, the stitching method is relatively simple, involving passing the thread through leather with the help of one or two needles. Leather stitching patterns can be categorized into single needle stitch and double needle stitch types.
To stitch two pieces of leather via a single stitch method, you need to form equally spaced holes on the edge of the leather. Pass a single thread through the eye of the needle. After that, start sewing the leather by passing the needle through the preformed holes. In the end, burn and press the leftover thread to finish the stitching run.
Single stitch, although the easiest, is not commonly used for functional stitching. It is used for decorative stitching where forming a solid bond with a double stitch is not required.
Due to the strong bond it creates, double stitching is the most common hand stitching method, which many artisans prefer. The technique uses two needles and often requires using a stitching pony to make the process easier. The thread is passed through needles at either end, and leather stitches are formed in a particular pattern by passing each needle through the hole. Double stitching forms a corresponding stitch pattern on parallel holes on each end.
In some products, two pieces of leather need to be joined at a perpendicular angle, such as the corners of a handbag. Box stitch is the best pattern to create an integral bond for this. This double stitch pattern involves passing the thread back and forth through the equally spaced holes on the edges of both pieces of leather. It is better to use a stitching pony to easily create the box stitch.
Box stitch pattern gives a nice finish to the product and requires precision which beginners might lack.
The cross stitch method forms each stitch in an x-shaped pattern and is a go-to method where pieces need to be firmly joined. The cross stitch method is similar to how one ties laces on the shoes as the thread passes back and forth through holes on either edge in a crisscross pattern.
Saddle stitch, another common hand stitching technique, forms a straight stitching run on leather. It is mostly used to join pieces stacked upon each other rather than side by side. The thread is passed through two needles on either side, and each needle is then passed through a hole, one after another. With saddle stitch, the pieces are bonded together in a sturdy form.
The distinctive v-shaped stitches form a baseball stitch line on the leather. This is also a double needle hand stitch method. To begin, the two pieces of leather with equally spaced holes are placed alongside each other, aligning the holes. The thread is passed from the back side of each hole; each time, either needle passes through the seam first before the hole. As you proceed, pull the threads to tighten the seam, which would give you the characteristic v-shaped stitch line.
Z stitch pattern is made through the single stitch method, where a single thread and a needle are used to sew leather. Form the first stitch by passing the thread through the first holes on the edges of both leather pieces. After that, pass the thread through the second hole on the other piece of the leather to create a slant line, and then the second hole of the first piece. Continue sewing this way to get the z-shaped pattern.
A sturdy double stitch method to join two pieces of leather is to use the butt stitch method. The pieces with pre-formed holes are placed next to each other. A thread with needles on either side is passed through the first holes. Needles keep passing the aligned holes consecutively, forming a strong bond.
French Seam Stitch
A french seam on leather creates neat looking stitching lines visible on the top side. Unlike the methods mentioned above, a french seam stitch is a machine stitching technique where you first sew two pieces of leather by keeping some range of seam allowance, that is, the area between the edges of the leather and the stitch line. The seam allowance on both sides is then flattened and sewn to create a smoother finish and even distribution of seams.
Methods to Stitch Leather
Sewing leather, unlike fabric, is a two step process, where you first need to pierce a stitch line with the help of an awl. This is done to be sure about where the stitches will be placed. After that, you can pick a suitable stitch pattern and sew the pieces together. The stitch type also depends on the thickness of the leather, as you can use simple tools for lightweight leather and complex techniques to join thick pieces of leather.
Leather can be stitched by hand or on industrial machines. A robust synthetic thread such as nylon is used for stitching, as tannin in leather can degrade the cotton thread. Hand stitching the leather is an art perfected by skilled leather artisans. While machine stitching is undoubtedly quicker, saving you time, hand stitching is definitely sturdier. For thick leather, hard work required to force the needle through the leather. But it is easier to stitch thin leather.
Hand Stitch Vs Machine Stitch
We have explained several hand stitching methods for leather using one or two needles. By going through them, you can get an idea of how the skill requires concentration, time, and a lot of work to create even one small leather product. It also allows you to use waxed thread, unlike machine stitching. Waxing a thread before stitching leather protects it from moisture, making it stronger.
Tools are needed for hand stitching, including needles, thread, the awl to form leather holes, and a leather pony to keep the pieces of leather together. They are inexpensive compared to tools needed for machine stitching. Hand stitching is more durable and robust than machine stitching.
For machine stitching leather, an unwaxed thread is used. Although machine stitching is quicker than hand stitching, it also requires skill and precision. You get an even stitch line with the machine, neater than one obtained by stitching through hands. Methods like box stitch, baseball stitch, or single z stitch can only be done by hand.
What is the Difference Between Functional and Decorative Leather Stitching?
Functional stitches ensures the strength of the leather product and is used to make a sturdy bond between all the pieces so that it doesn’t come apart easily. Double needle stitching techniques are primarily used to create a functional stitch.
In contrast, decorative stitching mostly uses single stitch methods and adds to the appeal of the product, just like embroidery. Both machine stitching and hand sewing methods can be used for a visually appealing stitch.
Custom Leather Stitching Services by Poshele
When ordering a custom leather jacket, opt for a stitch type of your choice. Poshele offers a variety of stitching types that you can pick for your customized jacket, such as single stitch or double stitch patterns. After you choose the material, our design consultants can guide you in selecting the appropriate kind of stitch that would ensure the durability of your jacket.
Besides selecting the type of functional stitch, you can also go for decorative stitching and embroidery to adorn your personalized jacket.
What is the most common way to stitch leather?
To sew leather, the saddle stitch is the most common method that craftsmen use. The saddle stitch method involves forming a straight stitch line by passing the thread back and forth through aligned holes of leather pieces with the help of two needles.
Which type of stitch is suitable for leather?
The hand stitch creates a running stitch on both sides of the leather, forming a more robust construction than a machine stitch. If a single stitch comes off, the rest of the stitched lines stay intact in hand stitching However, the machine stitch is more vulnerable to damage, and the whole stitched line can come undone in case of a broken stitch.
What type of leather stitch is the strongest?
When it comes to the strongest leather stitch, the saddle stitch is unparalleled. Joining each hole twice in the same row with the help of thread and two needles, the saddle stitches are secure and strong.
Which type of leather stitch is the easiest?
The single needle stitch method is the easiest of all leather stitches. The technique is simple, using a threaded needle to sew pieces of leather or to do embroidery. It is the best technique for beginners, as double stitch methods and complex patterns require skill and time to master.
What are leather stitching techniques by hand?
There are two basic techniques that artisans use to sew leather by hand. The first is the single needle stitch, where a needle with thread runs consecutively across the stitching line. The other way to stitch leather is by using two needles threaded onto a single thread. Popular double stitch patterns are the cross stitch, box stitch, saddle stitch, or butt stitch.
What tools are used to stitch leather?
There are a lot of hand tools used to create impressive leather pieces. Here are the basic things you need to get started with leatherwork:
- Soft hammer
- Waxed thread
- Leather pony
- Binder clips
- Precision knife
Which threads are commonly used for leather stitching?
Strong synthetic threads, also known as upholstery threads, are used to sew leather. Leather workers prefer using nylon, polyester, or sinew thread to stitch leather. Nylon thread can hold the leather seams better than the rest.
Threads made of natural fiber, such as cotton, can decompose due to the presence of tannin in leather.
Can you stitch leather using a regular sewing machine?
Thinner and softer leathers can be stitched using regular sewing machines, as they don't require industrial grade needles or a lot of strength as opposed to thick, full-grain leathers. If you attempt to sew thick leather on a regular domestic sewing machine, the needle would break time and again due to the bulkiness of the leather.
How to double stitch leather?
You can hand sew your next leather project using the double stitch technique. Firstly, poke holes in both pieces of leather with the help of an awl to determine the stitching line. Place them over one another and align the holes. Take a piece of waxed nylon thread and pass it through two needles on either end. Pass one needle through the first hole, pulling up the thread halfway through. Pass it through the next hole from the back. Now pass the other needle from the other side, creating a straight running leather stitches like that of a machine.
Common types of double stitches are saddle stitches, baseball stitches, or box stitches.
If you are new to leather work, learning the different types of stitches is essential to ensure the product your make has a neat finish. We have stated several ways to sew leather, ranging from simple to complex methods so that you can practice and master them.