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LARP costume can be expensive, particularly good quality kit made from natural materials such as leather or metal. That's why we recommend keeping them in tip-top condition for the years to come.
This article will give you some key information on storing, cleaning and repairing your leather costume.
The first important step is storing your leather kit correctly.
Make sure your leather products are dry before you pack them away. If they're damp, air the item to allow the leather to naturally dry without artificial heat, because this can leather to lose shape or grow mould.
The optimal temperature for leather storage is 15 - 20 degrees celsius. Lower temperatures don't often have a negative impact, but can introduce damp to your kit. Keeping your leather kit in high temperatures will take its toll. Avoid leaving leather in direct sunlight because it will fade or stain the shading.
Shaped leather, such as curiass, helmets and boots, should be stored in a way that maintains their shape. Ideally, armour should be fitted to a mannequin or stuffed for optimal maintenance; newspaper or an old blanket are often perfect for this.
Different levels of dirt need different levels of cleaning. Here are some of the most common issues:
If your leather goods are muddy, allow the mud to dry and then brush away any dirt with a hard brush. If there is still dirt engrained then you can try to wipe the leather down with a damp cloth until it appears clean, then allow to dry fully.
For deeply engrained mud, stains or tougher marks, we advise using Saddle Soap. Carefully read the instructions on any Saddle Soap you purchase. The process usually involves the following: gently rub on the leather soap with a clean, damp cloth until the leather appears clean. Remove soap with a separate damp cloth to wipe away any soap residue and then use a dry cloth to wipe away any remaining product from the leather.
Being a natural material, leather offer suffers from mould if left damp. Do not panic! It’s easy to fix and prevent.
If you notice small white patches on your leather Larp kit it can be cleaned and prevented from returning easily. The first step is making sure the leather is completely dry. Once again, do that in a warm environment without exposing the leather to artificial heat. Try scrubbing the mould away with a damp cloth, drying with a dry cloth and leaving to dry. If that doesn’t work, Saddle Soap will fix the issue and increase the quality of the leather 99% of the time.
You should always condition leather after cleaning, since the soap will have removed some of its natural oils. Treat the leather with mink oil, olive oil, or beeswax polish with a clean cloth, gently rubbing a small amount of oil or polish in circles into the leather. Allow the leather to soak in the oil before wiping the leather with a final clean cloth to remove any excess residue.
As with shoes, leather boot polish can be used to condition your leather products. Always read the instructions on the shoe polish before you begin. Here are the things you need to know; black and brown shoe polish will add some colour to your leather kit. That can be wonderful if your leather is looking a little worn or scuffed. However, the shade of the polish might not match the tone of leather you’re conditioning. Shoe polish also leaves a residue which can rub onto other things. We recommend ‘Kiwi Neutral Shoe Polish’. This polish is effectively clear and can both clean and condition your leather LARP costume.
Lots of leather repairs can be done at home and often add to the realistic aesthetic of your outfit.
Small tears and rips can be stitched carefully. Remember, it’s always advised to invest in some good quality leather thread and a set of strong leather needles to pack when you are setting out to an event. If you do sew your kit by hand, protect your fingers, because it can be tough to push the needle through thicker hides.
Occasionally, a large section of leather, particularly suede, can become weak and start to shred in multiple places. In these cases, you can’t sew the tears and it might be time for a patch or replacing the broken panel.
Missing rivets can easily be replaced. Rivets are cheap and can be tapped in at home with a hammer on a hard surface. However, if you want your rivets to match or keep their neatly domed shape you should probably bring it to us.
Removing rivets and replacing them can be tricky, even if they are rusted or degraded. A set of pliers is a good place to start if you want to remove a rivet, but you must be very careful not to make rivet hole larger or you may struggle to replace them. If the rivet is still being stubborn, we recommend going to a LARP trader.
Larp Inn normally has a bunch of things ready for repairs in the field to fix emergency costume malfunctions. If you need extra belt holes, straps replacing, new buckles, rivets, buttons or tears fixed we can generally help. However, sometimes an item might need to come back to the workshop to get a good result.
If we’re not at your event, we always recommend Tim at Darkblade for fixing leather kit.
IIf you need any help at all, quoting repairs at Larp Inn or advise on repairing at home - drop us an email.
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