Hand sewing is a very important skill in leatherwork, and it's fairly easy to master even if you have no previous sewing experience. Part of what makes leather hand sewing a bit different than fabric sewing is the fact that you are sewing through pre-punched holes. These holes ensure that your stitches will be evenly spaced and mean that hand sewing leather requires somewhat less concentration and precision than sewing fabric. Leather needles are also fairly large and usually blunt, meaning they are easier to see and less likely to poke you. Hand-sewing (saddle-stitching in particular) provides the greatest strength and security when it comes stitching materials together.
While sewing machines excel in speed, they lack the manual dexterity of a craftsman with a pair of needles. The term “saddle stitching” originated from the saddle makers who employed the technique, though the origins of the technique likely go back much further. Saddle stitching is a form of hand-sewing where both ends of a length of thread are passed through each stitch hole, crisscrossing back and forth along the entire length of the sewn piece.
Machine sewing leather isn’t bad.
Or at least, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, machine sewing has one big advantage over hand sewing, and that’s speed. Therefore, it tends to be the default when it comes to manufacturing leather goods. Ultimately it comes down to the compromises that each company is willing to make in producing their product. With machine sewing, most factory always choosing to sacrifice some form of quality for the sake of speed.Very often, thinner or cheaper threads will be used, which can lead to a less durable product. Even when high-quality thread is chosen, machine sewing relies on what’s known as a lockstitch.