How to Repair Faux Leather

The best fix for damaged faux leather may depend on the material and the problem. However, fake leather, vinyl, PU leather and pleather aren't always marked properly, which can make it a challenge to prescribe a repair that works in all situations. Read through the options to find a fix.

Tip

  • If you're unsure about the type of material, show the fabric -- or a swatch of it -- to a cobbler or seamstress and ask for advice. Inspect the material thoroughly to determine if it's "real" or fake. Often, authentic leather has a distinctive smell that distinguishes it from faux.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinyl repair kit
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Spatula
  • Hair dryer
  • Cloth rags or paper towels
  • Leather conditioner
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing needles
  • Scissors
  • Polyester thread
  • Iron

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Patching With a Compound

For items that don't offer easy access to the backside of the material, a repair kit may be the best option for fixing a rip or hole. Find a compound that works with the type of faux leather you're repairing. Purchase a kit that includes the ability to adjust colors or shades. You may need to experiment with matching the color of the material on a hidden part of the item. To repair the material:

Step 1: Clean the Surface

Remove dirt and other particles from the fake leather with a fabric cleaner -- some kits include one. If stuffing juts out from the opening, you may need to push it down or trim it off. Use fine-grade sandpaper to remove contaminants.

Step 2: Mix the Colors

Before applying the compound to the material, mix the colors to make a sample and let it dry. The color of the dried compound may differ slightly from how it appears wet. If you can practice on a swatch of the material you plan to repair, do so. This also reveals the texture of the dried compound.

Step 3: Test It

If the material needing repair has a grain, test the texture created with the kit's grain pattern paper.

Step 4: Apply the Compound

Apply the compound to the material with a spatula or disposable stick. Make sure to cover the frayed edges. If necessary, cover the compound with the grain pattern paper.

Step 5: Cure It

Compounds that need heating will probably require the use of a hairdryer to cure the adhesive. Be sure to keep the hair dryer at least a few inches from the pleather or risk burning it.

Step 6: Dry It

Check the repair kit instructions for how long to let the mixture dry. Allow at least 20 minutes to an hour before testing the hold of the repair.

Step 7: Moisturize the Area

Moisturize the faux leather with a leather salve or conditioner to keep the area from becoming brittle or cracking.

Tip

  • If possible, find a repair kit that doesn't require heat since applying a hot iron may cause more damage.

Sewing a Rip or Adding a Patch

Sewing together a torn piece of faux leather can be a sturdy fix. However, stitching a tear will only work if there's a clean cut with edges that can be easily matched; otherwise, the thread may pull the material and make the repair look worse than the damage. Another possibility is sewing on a patch with a matching piece of fake leather.

With either approach, if you don't have access to the underside of the material, you may have a tough time maneuvering the needle. Curved needles make the task easier, yet you also need experience and talent to do it well. Some faux vinyl easily tears or is too thick to easily push through a needle. If you're unsure about the texture of the material, try testing a hidden edge or corner.

To sew vinyl or faux leather:

Step 1: Determine the Method

Decide if you're going to repair the material by hand or on a machine. If you can easily feed the material under the foot of a sewing machine, do so; otherwise, you'll need to sew it by hand. A Teflon foot on your machine may be necessary to hold down a rigid faux leather.

Step 2: Choose the Materials

Select the appropriate needles and thread. Whether sewing by machine or hand, the right tool and material helps determine the success of the project. With many types of vinyl, leather needles are too large and leave holes. If possible, test the needle on an unused section. A strong nylon thread is necessary for either hand- or machine-sewing. Once again, test if possible to make sure the thread doesn't tear the material. Do your best to match thread to the color of the seams or material.

Step 3: Clip the Material

Avoid using pins to hold the material in place while sewing since they can leave holes. If possible, use clips to hold the ends together or hold a patch in place, pulling them off as necessary as you finish sewing.

Step 4: Sew the Faux

Sew the fake leather, keeping in mind that a longer stitch -- such as 3.5 or 4 machine stitch -- looks better than a shorter one. If machine sewing, silicon spray can help move the needle through the machine a little easier.

Step 5: Press It

Iron the material, from the back if possible, since it's less likely that you will damage the fabric.

References

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