As long as people wear suede and leather garments, they’ll make holes in them. Cigarette burns, punctures or pinches might cause the holes.
When the skin is burned through or a piece of the skin is missing, the usual mending method won’t be practical. The missing piece of skin needs to be replaced with a piece that matches the surrounding area in color and texture. For example, if the surrounding skin is a red cowhide, the replacement piece must be a matching piece of red cowhide.
“But the skin around the hole is hard, brown and drawn-up because of the heat of the burn that caused the hole in the first place,” you say, or “The hole in the skin is irregular in shape. What do I do?”
I’m glad you asked. What you need to do is to cut out the brown, drawn-up or irregular hole in the skin in such a way that you leave a clean circle. Then you must cut out a matching piece of skin of the same size to fit into the circle you cut out of the damaged skin.
The matching piece can be held in place with a larger backup patch made from any piece of suede or leather glued to the underside of the damaged area with permanent glue — just like you’d do if you were mending a tear.
“How do I cut an exact circle in the damaged skin and in the matching piece I want to glue into the hole?” you ask. The secret is to use a set of punch-out tools. Punch-out tools are available at craft stores in kits, much like socket-wrench sets. Hole sizes include 5/16", 1/4", 3/8", 7/16", 1/2" and so on.
Punch out the hole and the patch using the same-size punch, so that the patch fits the hole precisely. Hold the punch in place with one hand, and hit the top of the punch with a hammer to drive the sharp end through the skin with the damage in it. Repeat the procedure again with a matching skin.
Then, glue the patch to the back of the hole punched in the garment using permanent glue. This will hold the patch in place through subsequent wearings and cleanings. Don’t use too much glue on the backside of the patch, however; it will come up through the cut seam.
When the glue dries, the mended area will be less noticeable than the hole (especially on suede), and your reputation as a leather expert will grow — along with the cash in your register!