Well, I've tried answering that in my own way many times using my own words, thoughts and opinions. And sometimes I get the deer-in-headlights stare as I try to explain myself. Recently I came across a blog post by Mary Savel from Leather Beast, and with her kind permission she is allowing me to repost it here. I hope you find it as informative as I did. 

 This is a post written by Mary Savel from the Leather Beast, and the original post can be found here, https://www.leatherbeast.com/blog/why-i-and-maybe-you-too-continue-to-saddle-stitch. 

 

Why I (and maybe you too) continue to Saddle-stitch [6 reasons]

Have  you ever felt like your clients, customers, friends or strangers at a  trade show (who pickup your products and put them back down  unceremoniously), have no idea the time, effort and care that goes into  producing a traditional leathergood?

A lot of people that i’ve  come into contact with (maybe you have too) have no idea that leather  workers who use traditional hand tools and who saddle-stitch their goods  even exist. And when they find out that we exist, they’re a little  baffled and wonder, “why would you do that”? Why would you create  something with super old traditional hand methods when you could just  whip it together quickly with more modern tools and machines and call it  a day?

It’s a good question and i’m going to get to that but I’ve also realized another interesting thing lately.

Some  leatherworkers that are using traditional methods and taking the time  to hand saddle-stitch themselves don’t even really know why they’re  doing it. It seems that in some cases, it comes out of necessity because  they don’t own a machine but they want to create some leathergoods so  they just started hand-sewing.  

This is not how I or many of you out there, I would imagine, came into the craft.

Below  i’ve listed 6 reasons, starting with the more indisputable reasons why  we choose to hand saddle-stitch over machine stitch and then I round it  out with more personal reasons as to why I hand saddle-stitch all of my  leathergoods. These are purely personal reasons, but who knows, maybe we  share some of the same reasoning here too.

1 | Strength Saddle-stitched goods are generally stronger than machine stitched goods which has to do with the thread typically used  as well as the method of construction. Now I know that there are plenty  of super high quality handbags and leather goods that are machine  stitched. And we could argue over which of these leather goods will last  longer but let’s just agree that they both have a pretty long shelf  life for now. But what I am talking about is comparing fast fashion  (i.e. a wallet purchased from a discount dept store for less then $20  that’s made from "genuine leather" (genuine leather sounds good but it's  actually code for bottom of the barrel leather) vs. a saddle-stitched  wallet made from high quality full grain leather. It's an indisputable  fact that the saddle-stitched wallet is a stronger leathergood that will  last much longer. 

2 | Durability A  saddle-stitch leathergood that uses a thicker linen thread that has  been waxed and is not synthetic will last longer than the average  machine stitched leather good. The wax on the thread creates a moisture  barrier and protects the stitching from rotting as does the waxed edge finishing.  Linen thread as is typically used in higher end leather goods, is often  times regarded as a superior material to synthetic thread main reasons  being, that it doesn’t ‘give’ and because of its inherent strength as a  natural material. 

3 | Saddle-stitching looks soo much better then machine stitching.Ok,  we’re getting into my own personal reasoning here, but if you look at  the stitching of a hand-stitched leather good with the uniform perfectly  slanted stitches created by using handtools like pricking irons or  stitching chisels and then look closely at your average machine stitched  product with long straight stitches, made with thin thread, it looks so  much nicer. Don’t you think? 

4 | Tedious processes allow me to think.The  tedium of processes like creating guidelines for my stitches, making  stitching holes, threading my needles and then stitching each stitch one  by one all by hand makes me feel like i'm doing something where i'm in  total control of the process and i'm able to think. If I were sitting at  a machine, yes i’d be thinking but i’d probably also be  focusing on  keeping my fingers out of the way of the needle too. With traditional  leather work, where you are the machine behind the tool, you make space  for other thoughts and the process becomes quite meditative. 

5 | Keeping it basic has had the best track record.I  like simplicity and traditional leatherwork and handstitching can be as  simple as you make it. There are of course some innovations like laser  cutting or using dies to cut your pieces, but I really appreciate and  try to keep the entire process as simple and as grounded as possible. If  I sense that things are getting too complicated with a project then  they probably are and I take a step back and ask myself some questions."Am I trying to mold this thick piece of leather into something that it doesn’t want to be?""Am I trying to change this dark color to something lighter?"I  like listening to that voice that is telling me to back up and keep it  simple. In my experience, keeping it simple tends to produce better end  results because you're listening to the material and your tools. 

6 | Functional History behind traditional leatherwork.I’ve  always been drawn to lost or dying arts. Processes and methods that  existed in a simpler time that were borne out of necessity and function  before design, fascinate me. Sometimes we only look as far as the  revival of traditions that come full circle and become popular again and  forget that there is actually a long and winding history behind it that  tradition.  Other dying arts like the  Japanese art of sashiko which is very basic embroidery that was not done  for it's decorative elements originally but because it strengthen worn  out fabric, was used in patching clothing and as a result created  thicker and warmer pieces of cloth.Or with wood carving and carpentry you only need a handful of tools and then the sky's the limit for what you can build.For  me leatherwork is a handful of tools, a lot of patience and the  commitment to create something functional that becomes beautiful because  of the historical methods, effort and care that went into it creating  it. 

These are just a few reasons why I (and maybe you too)  continue to use traditional methods like saddle-stitching and  traditional hand tools, even though machines exist that could do the  heavy lifting for us. It’s not only about the end result. The end result  is important but how we got there is just as important.  ~~~

 This is a post written by Mary Savel from the Leather Beast, and the original post can be found here, https://www.leatherbeast.com/blog/why-i-and-maybe-you-too-continue-to-saddle-stitch.