Leather, faux leather, and leather-life materials (including suedecloth, vinyls, and more) are really popular for cosplay garments, accessories, and accents that need to look rough or rustic. No matter how you're using leather in your cosplay, you'll need to decide how to bond them in place. Unless you have the necessary tools and machines, however, sewing leather can be a pretty big undertaking on its own. That's why many cosplayers choose to glue their leathers together instead.
Leather (and all of its variants) can be somewhat difficult to glue because of the different layers and finishes the materials have, but thankfully, you have a lot of glue options at your disposal. In this post, we'll explain how to glue leather for cosplay using common adhesives and discuss some best practices for using glue on either side of the material.
Best Cosplay Glues for Leather Materials
- Contact cement: Contact cement, or barge, is a really popular option for gluing leathers because of its strength. If you want a permanent hold for your leather materials and don't want to have to reinforce anything with sewing or lacing, contact cement is may be your best option. All you need to do is spread it on both pieces you're sticking together, wait 10-15 minutes for the glue to get tacky, then press them together. However, contact cement is highly toxic and you don't want to breathe in those fumes, so make sure you only work in a mask and/or in a well-ventilated area.
- Attach & Build double-sided adhesive sheets: For a non-toxic, no-mess, instant bond to the smooth side of untreated leathers, Attach & Build double-sided adhesive sheets are the perfect option. You can cut this adhesive sheet into whatever size and shape you need, then applying the adhesive is as easy as peel and stick. While Attach & Build is only recommended for the untreated side of leather, it does work with almost any cosplay material you might be adhering your leather to, making it a great option for multi-material builds.
- Super glue: Another option when working with leather is super glue. Because it's typically sold in such small bottles with precise bottle applicators, super glue is a quick and easy adhesive that can be great for pressing leather seams together, fixing gaps between leather and whatever you're adhering it to, or adding small leather accents or details to your cosplay. Super glue dries quickly, meaning you can move on to the next task without waiting a long time for a complete glue cure.
- E-6000: E-6000 is an industrial-strength adhesive that you can also use when adhering leather. While it can be used on a wide variety of cosplay materials, E-6000 is one of the best glues for smooth and shiny surfaces like leather, vinyl, plastics, glass, and rubber. While E-6000 does require some time for the bond to cure, it dries clear and is completely paintable. It also holds up well under high temperatures, and things can tend to get warm if you're wearing a lot of leather.
- Leather/fabric glue: Finally, if you're gluing pieces of leather together, repairing leather pieces, or attaching leather to other types of fabric, a white fabric glue that's designed for use on leather (like Aleene's Leather and Suede, for example) can be the quickest and easiest way to get the job done. Additionally, if you're not looking for the most permanent hold, but you need something that will hold your leather pieces together until/while you sew them, fabric/leather glue is a great option.
Which Side of Leather Can You Glue?
One of the main characteristics of leather and several of its alternatives is that the fabrics are composed of several layers. While this is part of the reason leathers are so sturdy, it's also part of what makes then difficult to adhere. If not glued carefully, the layers can peel apart from each other or away from the other surface it's being attached to. However, there are methods for adhering both sides of leather.
The flesh side of leather is generally easy to glue, and it's the side you're most likely to be working with more often. However, gluing the grain (the nice, smooth side) of leather can be a lot trickier. You have the choice between using an adhesive that can stick to the smooth side of leather, or you can alter the surface of the leather that will be underneath the part you're gluing down. Some leather crafters suggest using a rougher to "rough" up the smooth grain so that the adhesive can get down into the material for a better bond. Another option is to use a knife to remove the top layer of the grain that will be hidden by the piece you're gluing down so that the adhesive can get a better grip. Either method will help you get the best bond possible when you're working with leather and glue for your cosplay.