Leather glue recommendation and applique question

Can folks experienced with leather recommend a good leather glue? The stronger the better. I want to attach leather strips on the back of this so I can run a piece of nylon webbing through it.

Also, is it feasible to attach a thin leather applique to another piece of leather with just glue and no sewing? (Like the skull in the last pic.)

@emilycarolinemiller1 @Andy_Mock @morganstanfield


Barge cement works well for leather. It’s less offensive and easier to use (and still works) than some of the other contact cements. Ecoweld really doesn’t work at all, but it’s also non toxic, so… Contact cements are used in a lot of shoe and bag construction.

I also like Alene’s leather glue. It takes longer to dry and I usually stitch over it, but it actually holds fairly well.

CA glue will hold leather, but it makes it stiff and looks bad if it shows.

I have had occasion to use heat n’ bond iron on adhesive applique rolls in the past. I would recommend the permanent which is red. The purple is temporary. It does work but you have to use heat which is a little dicey with leather.

It looks as though you’re using stoned oil leather. If the tabs fold down, you might attach them to sleeves with sewing or rapid rivets for the nylon to pass through. I tend to use construction when possible to avoid relying entirely on glue, especially if there are stress points, but it might be enough. Let us know how it turns out.


I assume it dries in a flexible state, but the question is about Longer To Dry.
We talking couple of hours or overnight ?

Both Barge cement and Alene’s dries and remains flexible. Barge cement sits for 20 minutes and then you press together with pressure for 1-2 minutes and it’s good to go. The pressure is really the key here (which can interfere with tooled or embossed leather - fyi). I usually work Alene’s Leather and Suede glue within a couple of hours, but it could probably be worked a little sooner and I’m not sure when the full set time is. Maybe 24 hours? It’s fairly liquid. I use with with binder clips and then stitch it after a couple hours without any trouble. Though if I pulled at it, I might get it to come apart.


lots of great info here! thanks

Can you describe what your webbing will be doing/how much stress it’ll put on those glue joins? If the dark gray squares are the only spots you intend to glue and there’s a lot of stress I’d guess even Barge wouldn’t hold for long.
The glue itself would be fine but the fibers of the leather itself would tear at the glue join. Especially if you are indeed using a stoned oil leather since the oil finish won’t allow the glue to penetrate as far.

In college, our costume tech instructor always had us whack the hell out of Barge joins with a giant mallet - it made a huge difference in join strength. Cover the workpiece with a smooth piece of leather to protect from mallet marks. You’ll see shoe/bagmakers do this, too.

PS> Barge is highly flammable and full of toluene, work outside/well ventilated and keep away from your pregnant friends.


Ditto what @emilycarolinemiller1 said about glues. I use Ecoweld only on applications that have a hard time peeling apart, and I sew pretty or rivet pretty much everything else.

One option for your project would be to do a double-layer attachment. Sew the sections you marked “glue” in your illustration to a thin leather backing, such as suede. Then, glue the suede to your cuff using Ecoweld.

Prepping the background piece will help make a stronger join, whatever glue you use. It looks like the top grain side is up. (Leather has has either top grain/smooth-suede/fuzzy sides or suede-suede sides, suede to suede makes for stronger glue joins).

Trace the shape of your skull in the proper spot with a needle or awl, scratch it up really well inside right up to the outline and make sure your glue gets all the way to the edge so the skull won’t lift when your pieces bends.

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This is why I adore this place. Thanks for all the suggestions everyone, you guys are awesome.! I’m going to give barge cement a try and play with a few different designs and leathers to see what works best. I just didn’t want to waste time on the concept if it wasn’t even possible. I will forge on :slight_smile:

Yes, I designed the tabs to fold down and I was connecting them with elastic. It looked awful though as the tabs distorted the edges where it folded over. I abandoned the tab idea and was going to try gluing the strips on the back and avoid the edges.

It does need to be flexible, but not weight bearing as it’s just a decorative cover. I do want it to fit pretty snug to the nylon though.

Very good info! I think I’ve heard this before so will definitely give it a try.

Now that’s a brilliant idea. I was trying to come up with a way for more glue contact area and that’s perfect. I’ll have to hand sew it, but at minimum I can at tack the edges of the strips.

Good info! I was thinking of doing a light, rough engrave of the skull on the main piece to roughen it up and inset it just a tiny bit. Hopefully it works!


In that case I’d recommend you do this instead of strips if you have enough leather, it will give you more glue surface area. After you apply Barge bend the pieces roughly into shape BEFORE you press them together (suede or something else thinner will more flexible than your oiled piece):


Tanners Bond is my go to with my custom leather goods business. It is stronger than the leather and stays flexible.


Thank you!

No problem!