DIY-plus Fringed Handbag


I may have mentioned that I’m pretty useless when it comes to DIY projects. I can do some basic jewelry repairs and overdye the occasional garment, but anything more complex than that? I am more likely to bung it up than I am to make it work. So I buy things that are just right instead of almost-right, knowing that my attempts to “fix” them may render them useless or unwearable.

BUT. Sometimes I get a wild hair and things work out. And this bag represents one of those times, thank goodness. Because I kinda love the look of fringed bags this season, but all of the ones I wanted to buy were in the $300+ range. And I don’t mind ponying up for a quality bag, but since fringe is trendy and I may end up carrying this bag for two years or less, I wanted a cheaper option.

Enter this 100% leather bag, which cost a whopping $35:

orignal bag

Those are the stock product shots because I never expect my DIYs to work and always forget to take “before” shots. This bag has potential, but a couple of things about it bugged me. The slider on the strap seemed like a detail you’d see on a gym bag, not a trendy Boho one. And the plain top zipper opening seemed oddly utilitarian, too.

This photo is post-alterations, but will give you a sense of what the bag looked like in person initially:

fringe bag before

I happen to live in a town with an AMAZING fabrics, notions, and crafting supply store called S.R. Harris. Trinknitty took me there years ago, and I’ve since been back with Audi and Mark as well as my dad. Mark bought leather for his Etsy shop, Dad bought leather for the seats of dining room chairs he was building. So I knew I could get some quality, affordable leather there. I bought a small hide for $19.

Then I took my bag, my hide, and my vision to George’s in Arden Hills. (There is also a great place in St. Paul called George’s that does leather repair. The Arden Hills guys tend to be less busy, so I went to them. If I remember correctly, the two families are related!) They were very patient and game to give my project a try. In fact, the two young ladies and gent behind the counter seemed pretty jazzed to be tackling something other than a re-sole job. I wanted a rough, Boho look to the bag and it turned out that the reverse side of the hide matched the bag’s leather the best. So we mocked it up and I left it in their capable hands.

fringe bag after

They removed the buckle, reattached the strap, and stitched a portion of the hide onto the back of the bag’s opening. The flap conceals the zipper completely and tones down the fringe a bit. But plenty is still visible. These adds/changes cost me an additional $25. So $35 for the bag, $19 for the hide, $25 for the alterations. $79 isn’t super cheap, but it’s far less than I would’ve spent on any of the pre-made bags I’d been eyeing. And this bag is completely unique and exactly what I wanted.

fringe bag before after

I’m extremely pleased with the finished product. I’ll need to be careful of the raw leather flap as it won’t be water- or stain-resistant in any way, but I love how mottled and rough it looks and hope that any additional wear will just make it look cooler. Not a true DIY, I’ll grant you, but about as close as I’m gonna get!

Originally posted 2014-10-09 06:37:10.

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4 Responses to “DIY-plus Fringed Handbag”

  1. Ginger

    How will you shorten/lengthen the strap without the sliding buckle?

  2. Janice Harper Jones

    I love it! You are so talented in many ways! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Heidi Keating

    This is really cool looking! BTW, could you use a waterproofing agent (like you would on shoes) to help protect it a bit?