Vintage Purse Makeover

March 21, 2013Allison Murray

Hey, everybody – on Monday I shared some gold-ified crochet flats with you over at The Thinking Closet. Today, Lauren – a very creative and crafty blogger (plus a really nice gal) is over here sharing her brand of restyle with you! I’m so excited and I know that you’ll love Lauren and The Thinking Closet just as much as I do!

Hello dear readers of Dream a Little Bigger! My name is Lauren, and I am a huge fan of Allison and her blog. I have written, “I love this!” on more of her posts than I can count. So, it was a no-brainer to ask Allison to collaborate with me on a guest post swap this month!

On Monday, Allison popped by my craft and d.i.y. blog, The Thinking Closet, and shared her fantastic Gold Shoe Makeover. I sure hope you caught it because it was quite the transformation. But this woman hits shoe refashions outta the park every time, so why am I surprised? She inspired me so much, I thought I’d try a makeover of my own, but in the purse department. Oh, and it happens to involve gold, as well. Here’s my Vintage Purse Makeover:

Vintage Purse Makeover by The Thinking Closet featured at Dream a Little Bigger

About Ruth

This purse holds great significance for me because it originally belonged to a beloved family friend named Ruth. I can’t remember a holiday meal during my childhood when Ruth wasn’t at our table, warming us with her smiling eyes and clever quips. I have fond memories of visiting her ivy-covered house; we would sit on her back patio, sipping juice from tiny aluminum cans, and then play croquet in her big backyard. Ruth also made me feel special simply by the way she said my name. She pronounced it “Loren” as in Sophia Loren, which always made me feel so elegant. When I was in high school, Ruth passed away, and I took it extremely hard. I couldn’t even get through reading my written tribute to her at the funeral, I was so broken up about it. Ruth’s extended family invited my sister and me to her home to choose a few things to remember her by. I chose a box of old stamps, a tiny hand-mirror, and a black vintage purse. This black vintage purse.

Vintage Purse Makeover by The Thinking Closet featured at Dream a Little Bigger

The purse is a Coblentz Original, probably from the 1950s or 60s. It still opens and clasps shut with ease, but the exterior leather of the purse has seen better days. In these photos, you can see some scuffs and cracks, especially on the strap.
Vintage Purse Makeover by The Thinking Closet featured at Dream a Little Bigger
I knew Ruth would be proud to know that I wanted to give her purse a new lease on life and use it even more than I already do…so, makeover time! I decided to keep the gold and black color scheme, but knew the leather needed some serious help first. I consulted Allison as to what she might recommend for treating the leather, and she suggested black leather dye. So, although I had never before ventured into the leather dye aisle at Hobby Lobby, I decided to give it a go. I mean, black dye on black leather? It’s hard to mess that up! I picked up a bottle of Eco-Flo All-in-One (dye and finish) for $5.99. Throw in a 40% off coupon and it was only $3.60. Score!

Vintage Purse Makeover | The Thinking Closet


Step 1. First, I stuffed the purse with some rags to help me get into the nooks and crannies on the sides. I used some fine grit sandpaper (220) and lightly rubbed the entire surface of the purse to remove the shiny treatment on the leather. This was also necessary to allow the dye to soak into the leather. Vintage Purse Makeover by The Thinking Closet featured at Dream a Little Bigger Step 2. After sanding, I used a damp cloth to clean off the dust.
Vintage Purse Makeover by The Thinking Closet featured at Dream a Little Bigger Step 3. Next, it was dye time! I donned my rubber kitchen gloves, grabbed a foam brush, and started applying the dye to the purse in thin coats. There are NO directions on the bottle of the All-in-One, so I did some research online, and folks recommend using a rag or paper towel to massage the dye into the leather. I decided to be a rebel and try a foam brush instead. I just was sure to apply pressure to the brush as I went along, and it worked surprisingly well.

Vintage Purse Makeover by The Thinking Closet featured at Dream a Little Bigger

The leather soaked up the dye, and quickly, the blemishes disappeared and the cracks were camouflaged. I was so thrilled with the results, I was almost tempted to stop here and call it a crafty day!
Vintage Purse Makeover by The Thinking Closet featured at Dream a Little BiggerStep 4. But, I eventually decided to the purse could use some gold polka dots on those main panels. So, I used my Silhouette to create a quick stencil. My first attempt looked a little too much like Swiss Cheese, so I went back to the drawing board and used the “snap to grid” feature in Silhouette Studio to create perfectly spaced dots!
Vintage Purse Makeover by The Thinking Closet featured at Dream a Little Bigger Step 5. I secured the stencil to the purse with a rubber band, grabbed the same gold acrylic paint I used for my Punched Tin Christmas Ornament project, and painted in the polka-dots.
Vintage Purse Makeover by The Thinking Closet featured at Dream a Little Bigger TIP: After completing one side of polka dots, I learned that it’s VERY important to keep the stencil pressed flat against the purse and to use multiple thin coats. If you apply too much at once, you risk the paint seeping outside the lines and creating mutant polka dots. Where that happened, I just used some of the dye on a tiny brush to fix any blemishes.  And here you have it! My newly made-over vintage purse! Polka-dotted vintage purse, that is.

Vintage Purse Makeover | The Thinking Closet

Vintage Purse Makeover by The Thinking Closet featured at Dream a Little Bigger

I think this calls for a backyard photo shoot! Whad’ya say?
Vintage Purse Makeover by The Thinking Closet featured at Dream a Little Bigger And like any reputable photo shoot, I needed an obligatory “unrealistic scenario,” so here I am swinging with the purse. {And yes, I am the proud owner of purple boots.}
Vintage Purse Makeover by The Thinking Closet featured at Dream a Little Bigger A perfect purse for an afternoon of sipping juice from tiny aluminum cans and playing croquet, if I do say so myself. A big thanks to Allison for having me here today and for offering your advice and encouragement as ventured into the uncharted waters of leather dying and purse refashioning. Couldn’t have done it without you, girl. And thank you, dear reader, for following along. I hope this inspires you to give some of those accessories collecting dust in the back of your closet a makeover of their own. Also, feel free to drop by The Thinking Closet anytime! You’ll find other transformations, like my Black Distressed Table Makeover or my budget savvy Craft Drawer Organization. If you have a Silhouette craft-cutter, you can check out my Silhouette tutorials and free cut files. Also, if you’re a fellow blogger, you might be interested in my Ten Tips for New Bloggers post or My Blog Migration Story. Looking forward to “meeting” you!

Comments (16)

  • Marta Trendiy

    March 21, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    That's a good craft! A good way to make old fashioned things into trendy ones! I really like your blog :)

  • Jessica @ A Humble Creation

    March 21, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    Another knockout makeover, Lauren or shall I say Loren! What a touching story of Ruth and a lovely tribute to her memory. Allison, glad to have "met" you through Lauren. I'll be back, I know!

  • Allison Murray

    March 22, 2013 at 2:17 AM

    Marta – be sure to check out Lauren's blog (link in the post above) if you haven't already to find tons more great DIY projects!
    And I'm so glad to meet you, too Jessica!

  • Rachel

    March 22, 2013 at 5:37 AM

    I love this idea way too much, lauren is brilliant!

  • Melyssa

    March 22, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    This is great! The purse turned out super cute and now I really want to use leather dye! I also love Lauren's silly and humble personality! The swinging pictures are great haha
    Thanks for sharing!


  • Allison Murray

    March 22, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    I agree, Lauren is amazing and so much fun! Definitely her over to The Thinking Closet if you haven't already! I absolutely love this girl and her blog :)

  • Jess @ Make and Do Girl

    March 22, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Wow! I love this! Great to know about Lauren's blog too.

  • Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

    March 22, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Wow! Thanks for all of the sweet compliments and comment love, everyone. I'm so touched by all of the feedback. It was truly an honor to be able to share my project here with the Dream a Little Bigger readers and to do a collaboration with Allison. I'm glad that the project has wrought some inspiration for y'all!

  • kelly thompson

    March 22, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    I loved that tute and the pic of you swinging was almost even better!

  • Allison Murray

    March 22, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    If you like my blog you will like Lauren's, too. We are pretty darn similar :)

  • Allison Murray

    March 22, 2013 at 9:44 PM

    We are so glad to have you. I honestly could not imagine a better first guest post for Dream a Little Bigger!

  • Marmie

    March 22, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    That's great how you learned from Allison about the leather dye and researched how to fix that purse. I loved how you made this a tribute to Ruth also. She would absolutely love this!! My eyes teared up at the end when you mentioned that it would be a "perfect purse for drinking juice out of aluminum cans and playing croquet." I am so thankful for Ruth in our lives and that you were able to revitalize something of hers to enjoy. Backyard pictures are so much fun with purse in hand!! The purple boots are a great look, too! xxoo

  • Bethany the ngnrdgrl

    March 23, 2013 at 1:20 AM

    Wonderful tutorial, Lauren! I teared up reading about your relationship with Ruth and reading your tribute at the funeral. So nice that the family allowed you to have something to remember her by. She would love your restoration of her purse. Hugs!

  • Rachel (Lines Across)

    March 23, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    Lauren, I LOVE how it turned out! I'm a sucker for polka dots :) I love how you turned a sweet keepsake from a beloved friend into something gorgeous that you will actually use and wear. I'm sure your friend Ruth would have loved how it turned out!

  • Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

    March 25, 2013 at 3:54 AM

    Thanks, gals! It's amazing how something as simple as a purse makeover project can conjure up so many deep and rich emotions. It was a joy to remember Ruth and all of the joy she brought to me and my family.

  • ANGIE V.

    April 22, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    Fantastic idea ! very nice blog !!

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