No-Sew DIY Leather Tear Repair
Last week, I debuted this killer Doma Punch Scale Leather Jacket, which I scored at the swap meet for $20 - and now it probably makes more sense why I got such a great deal! The back was torn from the right armpit practically down to the bottom hem. Wearing it as-is wasn't an option despite my love for distressing, since the torn leather flapped and flopped awkwardly to one side. Thankfully, my DIY rescue plan paid off.
Step 1: Cut Iron-On Patches to Fit Damage
Since I wanted to make the repair site as innocuous as possible, I decided to patch the tear from the back side of the leather. At first I thought I might use iron-on tape, but the area around the armpit takes a lot of stress, so I ultimately chose to use iron-on patches so that I could vary the width and provide more reinforcement to the leather in some areas and less in others. Because my jacket is perforated, I chose the color to match the black lining, which is a brownish black. If the leather had been smooth, I would have matched the leather color as best as possible. Low-stress areas got patches of about 3/4" width, and the high-stress areas got patches of about 1 1/2" width.
Step 2: Carefully Fit Edges Together
After cutting patch pieces to more or less match up to each angle of the tear, I inserted one patch, with the glue face up, under the lower portion of the tear (I started with the lower portion to reinforce the body of the jacket so that it could help hold the more awkward armpit seams in place later). Then I had to very carefully line up the edges of the tear (jigsaw puzzle style) so that the patch stayed right below and overlapped the tear on either side. Holding both edges and the patch in place with one hand, I then used my other hand to wield my iron.
Step 3: Ironing
I had to experiment a bit with the iron heat, because I was afraid to damage the leather. At first, I used a lower setting and a thin cloth between the iron and the leather, but the heat was not enough to melt the glue on the patch. I ultimately had to use the high iron setting directly on the leather, pressing with the tip of the iron for about 15 seconds at a time until the glue fully melted. Then I let the patched area cool and set before moving up to the next portion of the tear. In the photo above, I tried to show the glue through the perforations, but it's barely noticeable at all IRL. If pressing left any indents in the leather, I gently and quickly smoothed them with the iron - the heat loosened those creases, and they disappeared naturally.
The result was great! I successfully wore my repaired jacket multiple times since then, and I've not had a problem. In fact, the repaired seam is probably stronger than the rest of the leather since it's now bonded with the durable cotton canvas of the patches.