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Which are better machine or hand-sewn products?

Hand sewn leather

Hand vs. machine stitch

One of the characteristics that make a Walnut Tree Leather product very special is that we currently offer hand-stitching on all of our products. Here I’ll to explain which are better machine or hand-sewn leather products and what it the difference means for you.

Let’s start by comparing a single line of stitching on a finished product.

When you use a sewing machine, that row of stitching requires two separate threads that interlock around each other in what is known as a “locking stitch”. Whereas, a hand-stitched line uses a single thread with needles on either end. The thread runs back and forth on either side of the leather in what is called a “saddle stitch”.  (This is different to a “running stitch” which goes back and forth just once with a single needle and there are visually gaps alternating along the length of the seam.)

So, which is better?

Technically speaking, the hand-stitched piece that uses the “saddle stitch” provides a stronger and more durable construction than the machine sewn piece that uses the “lock stitch“. 

Hand vs. machine stitch comparison
(The above image is from ” The Art of Hand Sewing” by Al Stohlman)

A lock stitch isn’t locked together, it is interlocked with a second thread on the backside of the seam.  With machine-sewn leather items, the thread will often sit proud of the surface.  Leather, even poor quality, is much stronger and wear-resistant than thread.  So as you put and pull your wallet into/from your pocket or have it moving round in your bag then if just one loop of a lock stitch wears and becomes broken, the other side will automatically be loosened and start to unravel.  Often this process of unravelling will continue until the entire seam or product is ruined. 

However, in a hand-stitched piece, the thread can not unravel and the leather pieces will not separate from each other.   It’s also easy to see that hand-stitched items are designed to last a lifetime. 

We also take this one step further so that as each needle passes we knot the threads, to doubly secure them.  

Like many things there is no right or wrong answer and this also applies to the type of stitching. That said you can get problems when the incorrect type of stitching has been used on a product in the wrong place.

Function and design

For us, the look of the finished product is just as important as the construction of it. After all, our products are meant to be worn and displayed. Using the tools, materials and techniques of hand-stitching allows us to make very deliberate choices when we design a piece. 

The size and type of thread we use along with the stitches-per-inch and technique help to contribute to the overall aesthetic of a product.  As designers, we take pride in the overall design of a finished product. As artisans, our personal pride rests in a beautifully executed line of stitching.

What does it mean for you? 

We don’t look to cut corners and reduce costs to increase our profits. Our primary goals are #1: your happiness and #2: being able to honour the Heirloom warranty provided with all our products. It’s that simple.

Not many manufacturers say this but we want you to never have to buy another leather product.

We look forward to being able to help you find what you are looking for.

Kind regards,


Keeping in touch:

I hope that this guide helped you to know which are better: machine or hand-sewn products. If you would like to be kept up to date on all our new products, special offers, flash sales and new information like this then join the email list below. (Don’t worry, we won’t spam you, promise)

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