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What is patchwork and bonded leather and why is it bad?

patchwork leather jackets

I’ve talked about patchwork leather jackets and items before. But some still ask me why it’s bad, or am I sure that it’s not that great? Patchwork leather can also be called bonded leather, although it is put together a bit differently. Rock design, Italian brick work and a few other fancy names are used for it too.

When leather is cut to make a leather jacket, purse or any other leather item, small pieces of left-over leather are made. At some point someone decided that instead of throwing it away they would try to put it together and make a big sheet of it so they can use it for more leather products.

The way they smash it together is done in two ways. In one, the leather pieces are sewn together, with some glue also used. Then they usually coat it with crap to give it an even, smooth feel and try to waterproof all those needle holes. The other way is called bonded leather.

In this way, the pieces of leather are fed into a machine that heats them and melts some plastic type of stuff on them. The heat and chemicals used “bonds” the pieces together. Often it is hard to tell from a normal sheet of leather unless you really know about leather well.

Imagine if they made fancy suits this way. Once they cut the fabric for a suit, there is pieces left over. Say someone decided to sweep them up and sew them all together to make another suit. I bet they would not sell it fast huh! But it’s even worst when you try to do that with leather.

That’s because leather is organic and needs to breath. When they shove those pieces together and spread glop on them, they basically are turning it into a stiff piece of plastic. I’ve cut into those patchwork leather jackets and peeled them apart. They are bone dry inside, nothing but brittle layers of dead cells crumbling off.

Plus when they scoop up that leather, they mix different thicknesses and parts of the hide together. So a bonded leather jacket can have pieces of the shoulder, stomach, side and ass end all mixed together. Not to mention a patchwork leather item weights twice as much due to the thread, glue and glop that holds it all together.

Of course soon that coating over all that thread wears off, and you get water soaking into all those needle holes. If you try to waterproof it, the stuff will plug up all those holes and make,,,,,,, mildew! So now you have a Frankenstein jacket of thread, poor quality leather, plastic, glue and now living fungus!

Hell, your much better off just buying a fake leather jacket than a patchwork or bonded one. In fact if you don’t want or can’t afford a quality leather item but want something that looks like leather, a leather-like jacket is what you want, not a bonded or patchwork leather one.

It’s just a matter of time before all those thread seams or bonded edges start to get weak and separate. Think of a bonded leather item as plywood verses pure wood. Actually cork-board is a more fitting comparison! So please, DON’T buy a patchwork, bonded, rock design or any other fancy name type of leather. It’s junk. Unless you own a patchwork dress suit!

8 thoughts on “What is patchwork and bonded leather and why is it bad?

  1. what are the right terms to discribe a light weight vented mottorcycle jacket?? I’m size 54 to 56…….so far all of the jackets have 30 pounds!!


  2. Hi Dave. 30 lbs. is a lot of weight for a leather jacket! You must be looking at the patchwork or bonded leather jacket types. Those weigh a lot because of all the extra crap they put on them to make them look somewhat good.

    A pure genuine leather jacket does not have any real term for it, other than if it’s a naked leather jacket or split leather. A quality leather jacket in your size should be around 8 to 15 lbs or so.

    It all depends on if it has a liner, braids and all that. Just try to find a good quality leather, not patchwork or bonded. The ones I carry in your size have a total weight of 8 to 17 lbs. depending on the style. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the explanation on bonded/pieced leather. I’ve never seen one as clearly written as yours. I see so many of these kinds of jackets on the market and didn’t know if they were OK or not. Thanks!

  4. My sister opened a website recently that sold “Diamond Plate” leather jackets made in China. I bought one for $56 to help her get started and out of curiosity. The snaps on both sides of the collar pulled off the first time I used them I took the jacket to a friend in Vernonia, OR at V&V Leathers for repair. Byron gave me an earful about how worthless those jackets are especially in wind & rain. Whoa! I live in the Pacific Northwest where it rains 8 months out o the year. I ride a Triumph Rocket III Touring which has me out in the elements. Since hearing from me & reading your article she has stopped carrying Diamond Plate apparel on her web site. Thanks for the post! – bob Mielke

  5. i have a patchwork leather long coat. it weighs about nine pounds. and it has no added goop covering it or any other such water proofing. the leather of it is as healthy as that of a standard leather jacket and i’ve had it for nearly a decade. so really your rant about it all being bad is a little wrong. since i’ve appearantly gotten a good one

  6. Well I’m glad your happy with your patchwork leather coat. But I can assure you it’s nowhere near as soft, flexible and quality as a regular leather coat. If you use it for casual wear and don’t demand much from it then a coat made from anything will last a long time.

    But for those who wear their leather a lot and really put them through some punishment, you will see the difference very fast with a patchwork leather jacket. Anyway if your happy with what you have that’s all that matters. 🙂

  7. I speak of black leather jackets!!!
    I have the same patchwork leather jacket like the one you have for the above image and I do enjoy the look it has! I do with it was made with better quality for the stitching as the treads are coming apart on it. but as for absolute style fit and firmness I just cant beat the look with a regular leather jacket they all seem to be either puffy (the worst its like something a girl would wear) flat and smooth and glossy like something my dad would wear when he takes his wife out to a fancy restaurant. or the last their boring to look at….. patchwork leater has something missing from most jackets…
    1. its stiff so it moves with the torso it does not float around it in a femine manner
    2. it has texture with the stitching that makes it look bad ass and gives it some grit
    3 its not something I will see a old guy wearing or someone from the yacht club
    4 you NEED muscles to pull it off!! I dont mean you need to be build like a bodybuilder pumped full or roids. but you gotta be fit and have a proper waist and upper chest going on. strong shoulders, bicep forearm, pecks, back, and abs. something any dedicated individual at the gym can get.
    and last of all
    5 I like how i look in the dam thing and hell thats all that really matters in the end women come and go a jackets just a dam jacket but I like what I like and patchwork leather just fits my style right now its right at the 20-25 age range of man that i sit in and i dont want to look primed up but i dont want to look like crap either. it works anywhere i want to go and I always get compliments on it

    Why? cuse that jackets so awesome? not really, but because how I carry the jacket and how I look in it.
    If i was 300 pounds and outta shape the jacket would just hurt me but I’m fit young and got the body for it so it works.

    on that note i would like some advice from you on where i could find a black leather jacket with the same sort of style and texture as the one above but made with very well done stitching or with a real nice rough texture to the jacket. no zippers… zippers are gross on a leather!.

  8. I’ve had a patchwork leather jacket for some years now. It was hand made, not exactly like what you find on the internet now. There was a leather shop and the woman decided to make some jackets out of the scraps.

    This thing has lasted 30 years, and several motorcycle accidents, severe abuse. I love it, but trying to get it fixed (seams tend to come out over time) does take money.

    It’s hard to find a skilled leatherworker, but I have to say, mine was made with some decent leather stitching used between the patches. It doesn’t look like the expensive patchwork jackets; no attempt was made to make it look “pretty”. All attempts were made to make it durable.

    A jacket is a second layer of skin. For my needs, this thing has lasted (with care) decades. I take it to people and ask if they can fix it, but I get high estimates. One of these days, when I trust the work they have, I’ll plunk down the cash to get some of the pieces re-stitched.

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