How should I create realistic stitching on my 3D model's leather grip via texturing? I have tried doing so by making threads with meshes and duplicating them as a curve, which is suggested by many online tutorials but that raises my project's polycount too much. Is there a way to add stitching texture on top of my leather material of my model? Any help is appreciated.
Create a stitch image in photoshop or gimp and transform it into a brush (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGSK3Q0Iy3c). It's color should be from over 50% grey to almost white color.
Use a method as shown here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbDA3XinISs
Set up the nodes as pictured below. We'll use a BUMP texture to create a depth to the stitches. Plug it to the Displacement input of the Material Output node. Add a Math-->Multiple node between them to control the bump size. Use a MASK texture to set a border between two materials (in this case jeans material and stitches material). Plug it to the Fac input of the Mix Shader. Now you have a full control over jeans (or leather in your case) and stitches shading within one cycles material using only textures.