So many buzzwords are thrown around these days, and it's time to sort them out.
A glossary of terms used in the Fine Leather industry.
Hand-made: Made completely with hands and hand tools. No machines are used. Pretty straight forward.
Hand-crafted: It sounds like it's made by hand, but it doesn't actually say it's handmade. In most cases, this term means it was made by a person, but with sewing machines, cutting dies, and presses. So by this logic, isn't almost everything technically hand-crafted?
Pull-Up: Pull-up leathers are dyed with aniline dyes rich in oils and waxes that are able to penetrate the fibers of the hide. The oils and waxes tend to darken the original dye colors and "pull-up" the lighter colors when bent or stretched.
Saddle Stitch: A process of hand sewing where two needles pass through each hole creating a durable stitch that won't come unravelled. Should a part of the stitch break, it's very easy to repair. The reason this isn't very common is because of how time consuming and labor intensive it is.
Machine Lock Stitch: This is a stitch made with a machine where two needles enter a hole, meet in the middle, hook the thread together, and move onto the next hole.. We've all seen that loose thread on an article of clothing that's nagging at us to pull it off. Beware! Once you start tugging at that thread, it's likely the entire stitch will come undone! I just watched a video made by a well known leather company about their bags being so high quality because they invested in expensive machines. It doesn't matter how expensive your machine is, or how skilled your machine operator is. A machine will never be able to deliver the quality of a handmade Saddle Stitch. Granted, one can purchase a decent bag made with a machine for a decent price, but it'll never stand up to the durability of a handmade piece. You truly do get what you pay for.
Back Stitch: A technique used to reinforce an area like the top of a pocket that gets tugged and pulled. Leather is a tough material, which is why we love items made with it, but it needs to be held together with thread or rivets. At ZeeBee Leather we only use the strongest thread which is 100% waxed polyester cord from Maine Thread Company. Polyester cord is tough, but it's not nearly as tough as leather. For instance, I have faith in leather being strong enough to take the tugging of a hand going in and out of a pocket, but a single piece of thread in a high-stress area like this is bound to fail. Enter: the Back Stitch. Many of the big leather companies out there don't use this basic technique. I started looking over a briefcase that I bought a few years ago from a renowned leather company, and I was able to point out several weak points that won't stand up to much abuse. I bought it before I was into Leatherworking and thought it was the best of the best, but as I learned more about the craft, I started to see some major workmanship flaws. Below are some examples of back stitching found in high-stress areas on ZeeBee Leather pieces.