Attaching Patches to Your Vest

Iron-on patches don’t always adhere to leather vests very well. I’ve had good luck adding hot glue to the patch before adhering it as outlined below. This also works for non-iron-on patches, you just use a little additional hot glue. You’ll need an iron, ironing board, hot glue gun, a sheet of newspaper to work the hot glue gun on, and a rag or old dish cloth.

  1. Plug in your iron on the hottest setting, and your glue gun. Be sure the steam is turned off on your iron.
  2. Set your vest on the ironing board and decide where you want each patch placed.
  3. Once the hot glue gun is ready, put a fine bead of hot glue all the way around the back of the patch near the edge. If the patch does not have an embroidered edge be careful to stay back a bit to prevent the glue from squirting out.
  4. Cover the back of the patch with a zig-zag pattern of hot glue. If the patch is not an iron-on patch, don’t be afraid to use extra, it will soak into the patch and the vest (note we’re talking about open-grain cowhide vests, I don’t know if this would work the same on finished leather).
  5. Set the patch aside on the newspaper to cool. Repeat with all of your patches.
  6. Make sure there are no “strings” of hot glue hanging off of the patches, these will leave dark lines on your vest.
  7. Use the iron to pre-heat the leather where you’re going to place your patches.
  8. Place the patches on the vest and cover with the rag (this keeps the bottom of the iron clean).
  9. Press down on each patch with the iron for a full minute and a half. Periodically move the iron slightly to avoid cooking an iron shape into your vest.
  10. Remove the rag and let the vest sit without moving while the hot glue cools and sets.
  11. Press on the patches with your fingers. If the patch got hot enough to melt the glue, you shouldn’t be able to feel any ridges from the hot glue zig-zags. If you do, bring back the iron and try again.
  12. Once the patches cool several minutes, gently check the edges to make sure they are adhered. Particularly with irregular edged patches (like the campfire flames) the tips may need an additional dot of hot glue and a quick hit with the iron to adhere.
  13. Set the vest flat until completely cooled so the edges don’t pop loose.