Saddle Stitching

When teaching a leather craft or making an item for someone, I am often asked about the machine used to sew such thick leather or through so many layers in tight areas.  People are often astounded when I explain that this is all hand sewn, with an awl and two needles.

Some earlier work. Good, but not great, stitching.

I learned saddle stitching before the internet was a thing and without a book.  I was sewing leather bags, moccasins, and clothing in a relatively poor and untutored way.  As I became more savvy over the years I was able to analyze older pieces and read an article or two about saddle stitching and cordwaining that began to make my work look more professional.

Saddle stitching is the only way to build a large, complex leather project without some ridiculously expensive machinery.

While I have considered making a video to give an introduction to saddle stitching I know there are many master craftsmen out there far more skilled to do this properly.  One of them is Nigel Armitage of Armitage Leather.  He is a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen of Britain which I understand is nothing to sneeze at (I can hardly imagine the level of dedication most of these men and women have for their crafts).

Image result for Guild of Master Craftsmen

On to the show…

This is probably the best and simplest tutorial I have seen online about learning the basics of saddle stitch.  If you are new to this, remember, the pricking iron is not an absolute necessity for starting out but it will make you seams straight and beautiful.  If you don’t own one, you can still mark and follow a line or even mark the stitches with a ruler and awl (I did this for a very long time).

I hope this answers some question for those getting interested in leather work and saves you some of the headaches I experienced without proper instruction.

 

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