Monday, April 8, 2013

My Spring Break Project: Restoring Leather Purses

I love purses, especially buttery leather ones. When I browse the racks at TJ Maxx, I touch the purses and always manage to select the most expensive ones! Stone Mountain products always, always find their way into my hands.

While I love soft, quality handbags, my budget doesn't. I've yet to purchase a Stone Mountain purse. Even discounted, they're usually over one hundred dollars.

So I was browsing local consignment shops and thrift stores, and I came across not one, but two genuine Stone Mountain purses! (I also came across a fake Coach purse, but I left that one on the rack. I'm not big on fake products.) The smaller, tan purse was beat up. It felt dirty, had a few scratches and dings, and the color was mottled in areas. The black purse was in better shape, but the leather was dull.

The price tags teased me. $5.99 and $7.99 for authentic Stone Mountain purses! Could I pass them up? Really?

Of course I couldn't.

I snagged both, headed home, and promptly Google'd "how to restore leather purses." E-How had an informative article which you can read here, "How to Restore a Leather Purse." I figured even if I ruined both, I would be out less than twenty bucks.

Here are the Before pictures (my camera didn't capture the condition very well):

 

 

Next, I had to try to find leather cleaner and mink oil. I tried PetSmart and Pet Supplies Plus, but neither carry horse products. I checked Lowes, thinking they might have leather products, but they didn't. Two weeks went by, and I stopped at our local Tractor Supply Company--they had the soap and mink oil. Yay!

As with all "projects" I've learned not to rush anything. I sprayed, scrubbed, and cleaned the purses one night and left them on the counter to dry. The tan one looked ten times better just being clean. The black one already started to reclaim its previous luster.

The next day, after verifying they were dry, I applied the mink oil. One of my concerns was the oil would smell bad, but it had a pleasant scent, and I lathered it on thick. I let it soak in a few hours, then buffed both purses until all traces of the oil had disappeared.

The end result? The black handbag had started out in better shape, and it looked the best. The tan one, my favorite, still had a few dings, but it looked and felt so much better, I happily began using it the next day.



Total costs:

Tan Stone Mountain purse: $5.99
Black Stone Mountain purse: $7.99
Leather cleaner: $4.99
Mink oil: $4.99

Total? $23.96

Time spent:

I wasted time hunting down the leather cleaner and mink oil, but won't include that here. :)
Vacuuming out the interior of the bags: 10 minutes
Applying leather cleaner and wiping both bags: 40 minutes
After drying, applying mink oil: 20 minutes
Buffing purses free of mink oil: 30 minutes

Total? Roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes

I still have plenty of leather cleaner and mink oil, so I may be snatching more used purses up in the future!

Do you ever tackle small craft projects? What was your favorite?

Have a lovely Monday!!

25 comments:

  1. I'm so impressed by your perseverance and tenacity! Your hard work is a very practical example of why it pays off. I love antique furniture, so restoring unique pieces tickles my fancy. The sanding, re-staining and oiling old wood back to life brings a satisfied smile each time. :)

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    1. I learned long ago, if I want something but it isn't in my budget, there's always a way! Restoring antique furniture sounds right up my alley. I'd love to tackle that sometime! I'm sure your home is filled with beautiful furniture. :)

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  2. I have bags from 20 years ago and every so often I take them out and give them a shine and voila, new purse. Love that I don't have to spend any more money. (Because I too, am a purse junkie.)

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    1. I can be an anti-hoarder, meaning I get rid of stuff I no longer use. But I've found that quality purses can hang around for years. I plan on hanging onto these forever! It's like shopping for free, right? :)

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  3. What a great find! And your TLC made the purses look Fantastic!

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    1. Thanks, CJ! I love when something unexpected pops up in a thrift shop. Makes my day!

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  4. How cool, Jill!

    Well, usually I don't get brave enough to tackle even small craft projects. I used to paint a lot, which doesn't really count as crafty but it did feed the artist-wannabe in me. But even that has pretty much fallen by the wayside lately. So, I so admire people who are good at crafts and can make such pretty things out of older materials!

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    1. I admire them too! My mom is one of those talented souls. She can sew anything! And she cooks everything from scratch. Love that about her!

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  5. They look great, Jill! Great job! I like to do this kind of thing to furniture, but I've never doctored a purse. I may try it out.

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    1. I would love to buy some older, beat-up furniture pieces and work some magic on them. I'm impressed you do already! That's awesome!

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  6. Very cool! I love a soft, leather purse myself. :)

    Mink oil...if your husband has work boots or cowboy boots, this stuff works great for conditioning the leather. We use a bunch of it around here. :)

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    1. Ooo, good tip, Erica! I should confiscate his work shoes this weekend... :)

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  7. I don't like crafty stuff and try hard to avoid it. My hat is off to you, superwoman! WOW!!! I think it's so cool you figured out how to do that. Enjoy your lovely, "new" purses. :-)

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    1. Ha, ha! Thanks!! I appreciate it. :)

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  8. I love that brown one! And I think the dings and wear (cleaned up) add lots of character--I actually LIKE that. I'm such not a crafty person, but love seeing how other people are!

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    1. I do too, and I love how it is already broken in. It melts right to me. Yay! This was a really simple project. If you come across one, you should try it!

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  9. What a great post. Your purses look great. I love the black one. I have done a few craft projects. I painted my bookcase blue and added a doily on top. The piece went from ratty to cozy in no time.

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    1. Thanks, Nancy! I'll bet the bookcase turned out pretty AND unique! I mean, how often do you see a blue bookcase? Awesome!!

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  10. WOW!!! Great job!!!
    SMALL craft projects?
    Sometimes.
    I prefer to wrestle with power tools and furniture.

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    1. You're too funny! I'll take oiling up some leather any day!

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  11. You've impressed me! I fixed up an odd cabinet the other day. Stenciled a pretty design on the front & now we use it as our recycle bin.

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    1. Ooo, sounds really pretty! I love finding new uses for old things. :)

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  12. Yay! Thank you for sharing! I just snagged a vintage Coach (a real one!!) for $3 at a garage sale and a Hobo at Goodwill! They both need a little tlc to make them shine! I'm heading to Tractor Supply right now!

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  13. I just conditioned one of my own purses and I'm a little confused about what everyone means by "buffing." Is this just rubbing the leather with a cloth?

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    1. Yup!or you can buy a buffing brush(I think they work better). Buffing is an important step, as is helps to settle and remove excess oil, as well as bring out the Lustre and shine of your leather.

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