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How to patch or fix a giant hole in leather or vinyl upholstery?

Most holes in vinyl or leather upholstery can be fixed with a subpatch and leather filler. However, when the hole is larger than several inches in diameter, it’s better to incorporate a top-patch for appearance and feel, because leather filler is stiffer when used to fill very large voids. Picture of dog next to the damage done from chewing the arm on a leather couch

Here’s how to repair this giant hole damaged by Fido chewing on the arm of the leather furniture.

  1. If necessary, repair any damage to the substrate foam by plugging in a new piece. Buy heavy-duty upholstery foam from an upholstery or fabric supply. Don’t be afraid to cut away more of the original foam; this may make plugging another piece easier. Be patient in sculpting the new foam to fit the hole. The subpatch and repair will hide minor variations, but the foam plug should be even and fairly smooth. Use a non-toxic fabric glue to adhere the new foam to the original (the glue we sell in our subpatch kit has a solvent which will melt the foam). You can also do a couple large whip stitches with thread if that’s easier, but take care to avoid tearing through the foam.
  2. Prepare and insert your subpatch. Cut a piece of twill or thin denim that’s an inch larger than the hole. Lay the patch on top of the hole. In this example, there are multiple curves on this section of the arm, so little triangles must be cut where the patch buckles or wrinkles. Do this until the patch lays flat across the hole. Round any corners for easier insertion. Then insert the patch underneath the leather and glue down with a strong, flexible fabric glue (the glue in our subpatch kit is perfect).
  3. Prepare and apply your top-patch. If there is not any excess of the original material, source a leather or vinyl (PVC) with a similar thickness, grain, and if possible, color. Do not use polyurethane (PU) leather. Cut the patch to fit inside the hole, minimizing the gap between the original material and your top-patch. Ensure there is no overlap. Use the same subpatch glue to adhere the top-patch to the subpatch. Glue it down, making sure the entire perimeter is secure. Make sure the glue is totally dry before applying filler.
  4. Repair the remaining gaps with leather filler. See how to use our Soft Filler in this video.
  5. Apply a water-based finish to conceal the repair. Learn how to match color or change color.

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The Knowledge Hub is a library of articles and videos complied to help our customers complete their DIY leather and vinyl restoration projects.