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Whats Better? Hand Stitching or Machine Stitching

Discussion in 'Armoralleather' started by leatherman, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 30, 2001
    I've been meaning to address this for a while now, when I offer a choice on stitching it comes up nearly every time and I always forget to come over here and get my response in an easy to view and permanent spot. Well, here it is. I am going to put it simply now and add to it as I get the inspiration, and time.

    Pro's and Con's of Hand Stitching and Machine Stitching

    Hand Stitching, more expensive. Takes a lot more time to do while the machine saves me a ton of time, thus less expensive.

    Cut a stitch on a hand stitched (Saddle Stitch) sheath and it will not unravel. Machine Stitching will come undone much easier if the ends are not heated and smashed flat. Now, that ease of undoing the stitching makes it so I can re-stitch a sheath completely if it needs it. To re-stitch a hand stitched sheath is almost not worth all the effort required.

    I've got to get scooting, but if you can add to the thread please do! I want to hear everyone's views on the matter.
  2. magoo48


    Jan 11, 2009
    That is a very good question, Dwayne.

    I have quite a few of your sheaths and I have both types of stitching. I remember requesting hand stitching for one so I think that is where my bias lies. ;)
    That said - I am 100% happy with the machine stitching you do as well. I have never found a fault and the machine gives a consistency that is hard to replicate. Looks good in close up pics, too. That is one of the reasons I lean ever so gently towards hand stitching - they give the sheath a unique, hand-made look that is kind of - for want of a better word - rustic.
    I grabbed a few sheaths of your s and took a pic - just by looking a person can tell which is which. Pardon me for sticking and RMD into an RMDxLE sheath - I kind of rushed it !
    All that being said - I am happy with the Machine and would only be asking for hand stitching for those "special" projects.
    Hope the pic is good enough to tell:

    Last edited: Mar 3, 2013
  3. Skystorm


    Oct 17, 2011
    I hand stitch all sheaths, usually by the time I get done fiddling with the machine and changing thread colors I would be done or close to it anyway. I prefer having more control over the stitches as well. Sometimes the machine will get a mind of its own and ruin things for fun. Some people swear by machines, I usually swear at them.

    I've never had to re stitch a hand sewn sheath, I did pick apart one once just to see what the work involved would be. It sucked, I don't think I could undo one without ruining the sheath so I would just build a new sheath and save the frustration.
  4. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 30, 2001
    A little Deja vu happening here, I tend to swear at our machine and the wife swears at it more than I do. :D

    The time savings cant be ignored, but the savings in gnashing of teeth and ripping of hair is phenomenal.

    You have a great point in the machine taking off and having a mind of its own, I sometimes think this one is possessed. :p
  5. liamstrain

    liamstrain Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 16, 2013
    Question for you hand stitching fans. Are you using something like a lock stitching awl? Or are you prepunching the holes, then using a needle separately (and if the latter, what type of stitch do you typically use)?
  6. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 30, 2001
    I do a saddle stitch, two needles.

    The lock stitching awl does a stitch just like a machine.
  7. rayban


    Apr 14, 2007
    It's no wonder you're frustrated with a clutch motor....I've been there and had it run away from me, breaking needles, passing turn spots, ruining all kinds of stuff.......
    Servo Motor is the only way to go for sheath/holster/ making.......you have got to take one for a test drive.
  8. Noe Leather

    Noe Leather

    Jun 23, 2012
    I pre-punch all of my holes and then saddle stitch with two needles. Thought about going the machine route but decided I liked the idea of the thread not unraveling if a stitch gets cut. A machine sure would make it a lot easier on my fingers though. :)
  9. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 30, 2001
    Yep! Exactly and add a couple more issues and you've about got it nailed :) I've only heard good things about the servo motors, the ones I've seen on Youtube were amazing. With my luck I'll never get there though, I feel very fortunate to have the one. Curse and blessing all in one package. :p Darn thing does NOT want to stitch anything over 1/4" thick and with my Busse centered business its not a good thing.
    Yea, sore fingers are a trade specialty around here as well, though the last five or six years its not been as bad. I can stitch a sword scabbard now with little discomfort. The added hand strength and toughness could serve me well if I ever went into the assassin business. ;)
  10. Noe Leather

    Noe Leather

    Jun 23, 2012
    Haha...I'd never thought about that. You might be on to something there. :thumbup:
  11. Skystorm


    Oct 17, 2011
    I think when I started I could stitch a max of 4 or 5 sheaths in one day and then my hands felt like someone stepped on them for the following couple days. Now though after hand stitching enough thread to wrap around the earth twice I can stitch all day, Only thing I added were taking those little rubber fingertip things, Cut the ends off and slide them down so the thread no longer bites into the joints.

    Kung fu grip.
  12. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 30, 2001
    Good idea with the rubber fingertips! :)
  13. Noe Leather

    Noe Leather

    Jun 23, 2012
    I agree with leatherman. Great idea! I'm gonna have to give that a try. Thanks!!!

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