April 18, 2011

Restoring a leather bag

Kludging goal: Redye and condition a leather bag
Kludging skill level: Beginner

Permanence: Semi-permanent
Starting materials: Leather bag, leather dye, leather creme, mink oil or similar leather protectant

Required tools: Rags, kitchen sponge

I found this gorgeous purple leather bag on eBay and fell in love, but it's seen better days. The leather was dried out from lack of conditioning, and the dye had been worn off the seams. Otherwise the bag was in wonderful condition--  the leather without stains or scratches, all the seams perfect, and the lining clean and free from holes.

Faded leather and worn seams
 The color of the bag had faded to a reddish purple. You can see the difference between the original bluish hue (protected under a flap) and the faded reddish hue here:

I decided to spring for the bag as well as a leather dye and creme kit to restore this bag to its original beauty.

Tarrago shoe dye and creme kit in Purple, purchased online. $15 including shipping.

The first step was to prep the leather for dye. The kit included a preparing solution which is applied with the scrubby side of a kitchen sponge. This removed any dirt or leftover conditioning wax that would keep the dye from penetrating the leather.

Next I applied the dye to the most worn areas like the seams and strap. I admit that at this point I started to worry about the color matching, but since I knew I'd be treating the whole bag with coordinating leather creme later, I continued.

Dying the seams

After the seams were dyed, I applied the coordinating leather creme with a rag, working it over the whole bag.

The creme made a world of difference in correcting the faded color and restoring the leather's softness and lustre.

Reddish faded areas corrected with leather creme

Next I buffed the entire bag with a soft rag. I found the easiest way to do this was to put the bag over my knee.

Finally, I gave the whole bag a nice coat of mink oil to further condition and waterproof the leather. This also served to even out any irregularities in the color.

All done!

Seams after treatment...and before.

I'm very pleased with the final result. I can't wait to carry this bag for years to come!


  1. You did an amazing job, it looks great!

  2. so great! love how you didn't just give up on the purse, but decided to put a bit of time into it to make it last. looks amazing! i've had shoes/purses/even pants that I almost cried giving up haha, but if I had some fix-it stamina I could have held onto em. Eh maybe next time :) xoxo

  3. Nice. I have a green B. Makowsky bag I dearly love that has faded to a light brown. I am now inspired to fix it up (although I don't really care I love it so much).