Dyeing a Leather Purse. A Tale of Craft Fail and Success
I’ve had this purse for just over a year. And for that year I have bravely attempted to keep it its original, lovely ivory color. On the first day carrying her an ill advised attempt at eating sushi in the car gave her a nice sprinkle of purplish brown dots on the front side causing a sincere bout profanity. Did I mention I was driving?
I then spent almost 2 weeks with my little nephews. These kids don’t just like me for my stellar company. No, they also like the Auntie A Carries It All! service. We’ll be walking down a hallway and one will start digging in my purse and when I give them the stink eye I will be informed that I’m carrying Spiderman / a half eaten, open and melting Toblerone / a Capris Sun conveniently strawed up and ready to go. You name it and I’ve probably unwittingly carried it in my purse for those two little buggers.
Now when I bought this gal I really didn’t think twice about the color. I loved it and that was that. It soon became clear after my soy sauce incident that keeping it clean was going to be extremely difficult. See up above? It’s a close up of the war wounds my bag acquired in about two weeks.
And if I’m carrying this bag there is a 99% chance that I’m also wearing jeans. And since it is a cross body that sits on my hip, the denim rubs an awful stain onto the back. See the strap. Yeah, it looks so darn nasty. And I’d have to clean my purse every few days but who the heck is that diligent?
So I went to the store looking for the same bag but in a different color. All they had were white ones on steep clearance. Apparently I was the only idiot who thought this color choice was a good idea. I decided that I would salvage my bag by dyeing it a fun color. And I knew just what fun color I wanted, too.
I got online and bought myself some Fiebings turquoise leather dye and got after it. It looked fine while it was still wet but when I came back to it the next day it quite literally looked like a bruise. Oh. My. Goodness. This. Is. Tragic.
I put another application on it to see if that fixed the problem. All it did was make the bruise even darker and I managed to get frustrated and apparently wiped my neck a few times with my gloves on. And since my neck is essentially human leather, I had a nice turquoise bruise looking discoloration that I got to deal with for several days. Sweet. This is one awesome DIY, folks.
So I ordered up yet another round of teal dye. This time opting for Fiebing’s Acrylic Leather Dye in Turquoise . I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d be getting but the description was that it was opaque which sounded right about what I needed at this point.
It suggests to use a soft brush, so I used my Martha Stewarts because they are by far the silkiest brushes I had. I went ahead and just got after it figuring if it failed at least I could put my poor bag out of its misery.
First coat on the first pocket had me pretty darn stoked. This is going to work!!!
But then it dried and I just knew I’d ruined this bag AGAIN. I went ahead and did another coat and after it dried, I was pleasantly surprised. This is going to work out after all.
The pic above shows two coats on the left and a single on the right. Big difference. Huge.
And here you can see the bottom done up with acrylic dye and the horrendous regular dyed back.
And there she is. I had to do three coats total for decent coverage. It took at least a week for it to dry to the point of no longer being sticky, but I figure it has a lot to do with the high humidity we were having here. Overall, I am really, really happy wit how my purse turned out and I’ve learned a lesson. I will never, ever dye white leather again.
I hope very much that you take from my tale a few things.
- dyeing light colored leather can be difficult. In the past I’d only dyed things in a similar color family. If it’s something you can’t live without, don’t do this because it may not pan out.
- acrylic leather dye is essentially a runny acrylic paint. while with typical leather dye you have to wear gloves, this is just the same as dealing with craft paint. It will easily scrub off your hands.
- if you have humid weather it may take some time to dry, so work that in if you need the project complete in a time frame.
Happy Thursday out there!