January 2020

What is mattress side stitching?

Mattress side stitching is an important part of the building and manufacturing of a quality sprung mattress. It's a key detail that you can use to assess the quality of a potential mattress. Which in turn will help you avoid cheaper poorly made beds.

When looking for a new mattress there are a number of details you’re going to need to assess to select the best mattress for your requirements. Spotting the smaller details can sometimes be really helpful when comparing mattresses.

Artisan tailored pocket 2000 3
Side stitching will help you identify a hand made mattress from the mass-produced – Click here to view our range of hand-stitched mattresses

This guide will explain the different types of side stitching with the benefits of each. All to help you work out whether a potential mattress is good value and well made.

What is mattress side stitching?

Mattress side stitching is the process of stitching the side panels of a pocket sprung mattress to the perimeter springs and supporting bar. Without this, the sides or walls of the mattress are susceptible to bulging as we have seen with both some IKEA models and the Premier Inn Hypnos mattress.

Side stitching is a mattress construction detail that’s found on all higher-end mattresses. It helps your mattress in a number of ways and should be expected on any quality mattress.

There are two types of mattress side-stitching that you need to be aware of. One method is a fake and it has absolutely no support properties at all whilst the other is a time-consuming process that will ensure you have a mattress fit for a king. We will now go into detail as to how to spot the fake stitching from the genuine so you will never be fooled by retailers again.

Machine Side Stitching (MSS)

Machine side stitching is not really side stitching at all but a fake sometimes used by mattress manufacturers to trick people into thinking it has been hand side stitched. In fact, some descriptions will elude to the fact the bed has been ‘genuinely side stitched’ but this can still mean machine side stitched.

Machine side stitching is not always a bad thing as long as you know its a machine side stitch. For budget reasons sometimes a machine side stitch is perfectly acceptable. Especially in sub £1000 mattresses where hand side stitching is simply not possible.

Origins Pocket Latex 1500 air vent
Machine side stitching is acceptable in entry-level mattresses if other perimeter supports included like our Origins range. Click here to see the details.

There are other mattress construction details that will help give edge support without hand side stitching, such as butterfly clips on the perimeter bar of the mattress, seen in our Origins Range.

Again you need to know what type of side stitching is used and then ask about other manufacturing techniques to prevent bulging. Ie perimeter butterfly clips, proper mattress turfs and spring insulators for example. The lesson here is to make sure you ask retailers and manufacturers whether the side stitching is a machine stitch which will help you then ask further questions about edge support.

Hand Side Stitching (HSS)

Now for the good stuff. Hand Side Stitching is a true craft where a skilled upholsterer will hand stitch the side panel to the perimeter rows of springs in a mattress. Its time consuming and very detailed. Lines of cord are passed through the side of the mattress, passes through the side row of pocket springs, looped back and then passed back through the side of the mattress. It creates a bond between the spring unit and the entire perimeter of the mattress meaning no bulging.

Hand side stitching a John Ryan By Design mattress in action

It also creates robust support for the edge of the bed whether you’re sleeping or sitting on it. This is essential for heavier Natural fibre mattresses such as models that are 60kg plus for a kingsize. If you’re only using machine side stitching there would not be enough support for these and turning the mattress can actually cause damage as the sides warp over time.


Machine side stitching is acceptable in entry level models with other perimeter support
Machine side stitching is acceptable in entry level models with other perimeter support
Hand Side Stitching is only found in high end mattresses at £1000+
Hand Side Stitching is only found in high end mattresses at £1000+

How long does Hand Side Stitching Take?

During the manufacture of our Artisan range, it can take up to 2 days to both create the side panels and then hand side stitch them to the spring unit. It’s a really time-consuming detail which is well worth it if your budget can stretch. This is why looking at mattresses that claim ‘genuine side stitching’ which cost less than £1000 is simply impossible.

mattress hand stitching up close
Hand Side Stitching takes care & skill. Each stitch needs to be carefully tensioned by a craftsperson. Click to see our HSS range.

How to tell the difference between a machine side sitch and a Hand side stitch?

There’s a quick trick to be able to spot the difference between a machine side stitch and one done by hand. You will notice when you look at a genuine hand side stitch that the squares created on the panel will have a padded feel to them as they protrude slightly. Upon inspection, you will also see a tension in the joins between these squares where the cord passes through and is then tied around the spring. Once you’ve seen hand side stitching you’ll be able to spot it against machine stitching.

Another trick you can use on cheaper mattresses or those you suspect of machine side stitching is to sit on the very edge. A machine side stitch may bulge out, especially if perimeter support is missing. This is the quickest way to prove whether a mattress has genuine hand side stitching or not!


Hand side stitching can take your bedtime comfort to the next level. It separates the midpoint mattresses from the exceptional by extending the lifespan of your mattress and increasing the comfort. If you’re looking for the best possible mattress then you shouldn’t settle for anything less if spending over £1000.

If you’re constrained by budget a machine side stitch is perfectly acceptable if there are other perimeter support qualities like butterfly clips, genuine tufting and spring support bars like our Origins range, The quick trick is to always sit on the edge and this will show you the poorly made that bulge from a quality mattress that doesn’t.

If you need more mattress advice why not give our small friendly team a call on 0161 437 4419.

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