How to Fix Damaged Leather Shoes

Some common damage made to leather shoes may look unattractive, but be relatively simple to fix. With the help of the right leather and suede maintenance tools and replacement parts commonly available to purchase at craft and shoe stores, you can breath new life into old shoes and keep wearing them for a long time to come.

Restore suede's appearance if it's worn. Brush suede with a suede brush to fix the nape of the fine hairs.

Repair small holes in shoes using a leather patching/repair kit. These are often found at auto parts stores as they are commonly sold for the purpose of patching steering wheel or seat covers. For minor tears on seams that aren’t in high-stress areas (such as decorative portions of the shoe or the very top), glue the shoes back together using craft leather cement (also available where leather crafts are sold).

Attach new half-soles directly to the old sole. Half soles are available at shoe repair stores and “big box” variety stores. Trim them using a sharp utility knife and attach them using shoe repair contact adhesive (this is stronger stuff than basic leather cement).

Replace missing parts like buckles, grommets (those little metal hole liners), snaps, or laces. Find replacements for these at shoe stores or leather craft suppliers. Buckles usually need to be re-sewn, a process that first requires tearing out the old buckle stitches with a seam ripper, then resewing using a needle and thread through the original holes.

Attach new grommets with grommet fastener. This device compresses the metal of the grommets, locking them in place (you can also use this tool to re-attach loose grommets that are already there).

Repair torn seams due to torn thread. Remove the old threads with scissors or a seam ripper, then re-sewing through the old holes. Use a strong leather thread, but avoid anything stronger than that (having thread that‘s too strong is what causes leather to get shredded when stitches are stressed).

Fix torn seams where the leather has torn. Trim away the shredded portion and create a new seam. Get some leather sewing needles (available where leather crafts are sold) and a leather stitching awl. This is a strong, handheld metal spike designed to poke holes through leather for sewing. You can also use a leather punch, but this will create larger holes and is usually only appropriate with styles that already use large holes, like some moccasins.