Handmade with Meadowgate Leather means handmade!

Some people have an elastic interpretation of what handmade means. With leather items they tend to include the use of a sewing machine, but there is a big difference between machine and hand-sewn items. First, the machine-sewn leather looks just that - so regular that a robot may have made it. Machine-sewing is not as strong and hard-wearing as hand-sewn, two-needle saddle-stitching.

If you have ever had a dress hem or a jacket where the stitching has started to come loose....and then before you know it, there is several feet of thread hanging down. Well, that could happen with a machine-sewn piece of leather, because the way the machine sews is the same.

Saddle-stitching on the other hand ties a knot in each hole where the needle passes from one side to the next. Each stitch swaps needles, so the left-hand travels to the right and the right to the left and then back the other way on the next stitch. Much stronger thread can be used too in hand-sewing, so a break is less likely but if one does occur, it means that only one stitch is undone and will not pull the rest out as they are individually knotted.

Everything I make uses saddle-stitching and nearly all of my work uses the Ritza Tiger polyester waxed thread, widely recognised as the best in the world.

Perhaps hand-crafted would be a better description?

It is not just the sewing by hand, the leather needs cutting first using a variety of knives, mostly designed for the job in hand. Stitch markers

Stitch holes need to be marked using sets of very expensive stitch prickers which, after a good 'whack' with a rawhide mallet leave little diagonal slits in the leather, ready for a diamond awl to be inserted during the stitching process.


Marking stitchesAt this stage, the leather is usually dyed. There is a wide range of dye colours for leather - for many of my items I show the colour choices available.

I will accept that a pyrography burner is electric, but then it totally useless without the artist's hand to guide it. So not really a machine. I know some use computer-driven lasers to make patterns - very nice they are too, but not hand-crafted.

Very often there will be a need for various holes to be made in the leather. Perhaps a camera aperture for a phone case, belt holes, holes for a Sam Brown stud and so on. These are made by hand using different shaped metal punches and a large mallet.Pippin slot punch

The layers of protective wax are worked into the leather using nothing but elbow grease and usually carnauba cream.

If the edges of the leather are to be burnished, this needs edge dye applying first, followed by a patent mix of beeswax which is then rubbed into the leather's edge to lay the fibres flat and hopefully give it nice shine.