Weather/Distress Leather - New Method?


Active Member
Hello everyone.

Now I know that weathering and distressing leather has been discussed plenty but I just wanted to share a process I just used. I took some traditional methods and added a little twist of my own and I was pretty pleased with the result.

I recently bought a close replica of the Owen Grady vest from Jurassic World and I wanted to 'break' it in and make it look a little better.

  1. First I took some 70% Isopropyl Alcohol and put it in a small mist/spray bottle. I liberally applied it to the vest and wiped it down with a rag. This knocked down some of the shine and also took some of the excess dye out of the leather.
  2. Second, after letting it air dry for a bit, I wet down a sponge and used some Fiebings Saddle Soap on the vest. Let it dry a bit, buffed it with a rag, hit it with a just damp sponge and then buffed again with a rag.
  3. So far so good. This took out some more of the dye and really brought out the natural texture of the leather. It also darkened it up a bit which was good. With some intermittent balling up and smoothing out again it was looking pretty nice but now I needed to distress it. I really wanted to give it that worn look but not abused look and this is where, lying in bed last night, had an idea and got creative.
  4. I took 2 sheets of sandpaper (120 & 220 grit) and wrapped them around a pair of old shoes securing them in place with a couple of rubber bands. I then took the shoes, and a couple of boots for good measure, and threw them and the vest (zipped up) in the dryer. Set it to no heat/fluff and ran it for about 10 min. Now I have and old dryer and I wasn't too concerned about damage to the machine. It's just an old front-loader gas may tag. It was pretty loud but when I pulled it out, and it was a tense 10 min since I had no idea how it was working, I was really pleased and impressed.
I then hit it with a rag again to clean it up a bit and now it's supple, shows some nice wear and looks great. It brought some highlights to the pockets and scuffed up the zippers a bit.
Below is one before/after pic (before-right, after-left) and a few close-ups of the grain and wear. You can see some more before pics in my album on my profile page.
Has anyone had this idea before? I don't have access to a sandblaster or other common distressing methods so I had to get a little creative. I wanted an overall look without having to do a bunch of hand sanding and such. I'm interested to hear what you guys think.

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