Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Weekend DIY: Vintage Handbag Makeover

 Good morning!

Well, I am glad to see you guys were as excited over my typewriter as I am! I'm going to have to see if I can't find some reproduction ribbon, or if I can jerry-rig some kind of solution to the inklessness. Then....THEN we'll be cookin' with gas, won't we? :) Today, I have a story of transformation...featuring skulls. You know you want to hear about it!

The estate sales I hit with my dad this weekend were a little lackluster. It may have been that we got a late start, i.e. later than our usual start time of 8 AM. I think I picked him up around 9:30 this time and I'm telling you, that crucial hour and a half made a big difference-- lots of the houses we visited were furnitureless, with a few drab little knickknacks still strewn hopefully around large indention marks where a cherry Queen Anne bedroom suite had been.

Soon, I'll do a luggage case and have a three piece set for traveling!
One house in particular was funny-- at a Patterson sale in Brentwood, it was necessary to remove your shoes at the door if you wanted to come in and look. I can kind of understand, as the house was a) already under contract by new owners and b), a gorgeous, white carpeted affair in a nice neighborhood. Lord knows the kind of clodhoppers attached to the feet of well meaning people, scouting out second day deals and tracking mud all through your fine future home, so ok. Dad and I both looked at each other-- the "provided [surgical] booties" in a communal bin next to the welcome mat looked neither enticing nor particularly sanitary, as each had been used before by some earlier-bird shopper. Still, I slipped off my flats and ran gleefully pieds nus through the house, while Pappy waited in the car. Aware of his patience-o-meter, which goes into the red after about ten minutes with nothing to do, I was like a vintage seeking springbok, lightly leaping through each room. I picked up a purse in one bedroom, with an inviting half off the $6 price tag, bought it, and went back out to the car, realizing for the first time that it was a little worse for wear in terms of scuff marks, and also quite different from what I'd seen in the house. Namely, in color.

Me to Dad, squinting at the purse: I thought this was black.
Dad [appraisingly]: Nope. That's navy. [looking it over] It's not even dark navy, it's a kind of cobalt color.
Me: IT WAS DARK IN THERE AND I WAS HURRYING. [takes bag back into hand with a spiteful look at its coloring] Who even wears navy any more?!

Well, kiddlings, it was time to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.


You remember the case from my Desperately Seeking Susan costume? It's one of my favorite DIY creations, and yet there are less suitable opportunities than you would think for lugging around an egg shaped train case with skulls all over it. Too big for a purse and too small for a suitcase, it's had some service as an overnight bag, but spends most of its time balefully looking down at me from my closet shelf of purses, seeming neglected. Eureka! I would do a similar do-over on this sad, sad blue handbag, and see what the results are. As you can see, I don't think they're too shabby!


All I did was masking-tape out the gold metal fixtures, then spray paint the whole thing black. Once it had dried, I took a metallic silver Sharpie and outlined the figures two or three times over. They look a little more gummy-bear like on this one side than I would like, but the side pictured on the second from the top one turned out really well, I think! The flat, vinyl surface of the purse, plus the cosmetic imperfections and the much hated navy hue, made this a prime candidate for a do-over, and I've actually put this handbag into my weekly carry-on accessories rotation. I haven't noticed much color deterioration yet, but it's only been a couple of days, so we'll see how hardy the materials end up being after a week or two in heavy use. You could do this with tons of stuff, though! I thought cut-up word poems or stencils of frog skeletons or any kind of thing would be neat for future cover-ups, if I find any more suitably distressed materials with which to try such a project.

Now, does that mean I would do this to just any vintage clasp handbag? Does heck go with no? Just to show that my loyalties are still correctly aligned, here are some purses from my collection that I would do absolutely nothing to cosmetically. They're perfect as they are!
Don't paint us! Plllleeeeeease don't paint us!
Do you not love, love, LOVE faux alligator handbags? You can tell I have a problem with them because every time I see one, I pick one up. Brown is very close to navy in my wardrobe playbook under "colors I never wear because all of my shoes and belts are black, all of the time", and yet here you can see two brown handbags I bought because the price was right (none of these were more than $4, I am positive about that) and I loved the trapezoidal little shape of them. So chic!


What do you think about my makeover? Was it sacrilege to spray paint a vintage hand bag? You should know I'm usually diametrically opposed to "upcycling" or changing the base state of about any vintage item, but in this case, as the thing was worn out and navy enough to draw a "just sad" rating from Michael Kors, and a "I'm going to save my shopper's dignity and make this into something I can use rather than something that has to go back to Goodwill" from me.

Do you have any vintage handbags like this in your collection? Done anything neat to rehabilitate a way-far-gone vintage piece? Have any neat DIY stories from recent memory? Let's talk!

That's all for today...see you cats right back here tomorrow. Til then!

15 comments:

  1. First of all, "vintage seeking springbock"!!! My goodness, you're hilarious!

    Second of all, I love your bag makeover. Like you, I'm pretty much opposed to altering a vintage item, however sometimes things just need a little help to be useable. Now, had you altered something from your gorgeous handbag collection, I may have shed a tear or two.

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    1. 1) Thanks! It really was like something out of a nature video...I was all over that house! 2) I'm the same way, I hate to see some vintage chifferobe that was in fine condition repainted and "repurposed" when there was nothing wrong with it in the first place! Of course, when it's more a salvage job than a travesty, then that's ok, in my book.

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  2. Wunderbar! I love it!!! What an AWESOME pattern you've created here AND using little skele-buds! Seriously in love with this design. I think it's a great way to enhance an otherwise plain Jane handbag. The shape on the larger bag is so nice. Great finds and great job!!

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    1. Thanks, Sus! Skele-buds for LIFE.

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  3. It turned out awesome. I have an alligator frame purse in brown similar to one you pictured. I love it, but it has a heinous stain on one side so I just always have to carry it with that side facing me. Any tips for cleaning those bad boys and not messing with the integrity?

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    1. Hm...I haven't had any experience with cleaning 'em. I did see some pretty useful information on this blog, though: http://vintagegirl68.blogspot.com/2012/02/cleaning-and-storage-for-your-vintage.html

      Hope it works for you, let me know how it turns out!

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  4. What a collection of handbags! Love them. The shoeless estate sales are hilarious. I've only been to a couple. Still on the lookout for a great alligator bag. No luck as yet.

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    1. Haha, I just can't resist one when I see it! I can't tell if any of these are real, but one is a pretty good fake (the black one second from the left). I only take it to wedding receptions and job interviews!

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  5. Love your paint job! I also avoid brown and navy. They creep in sometimes, but not often.

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    1. Thanks! No, I know, I feel like they're "advanced" level colors because they need their own accessories, which I am too lazy to coordinate.

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  6. Your DIY turned out fabulous!!! And it's funny how we get used to the idea of anything vintage being automatically awesome and worth saving, but there were some plain ol' ugly things made back then! (Though I'll confess to having quite a few navy blue items in my cloest ;)

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    1. Thank you! And I agree with what you said. It took me forever to realize, "Wait, I can't just buy EVERY old thing. Even if I were around in 1947, there would surely be things I wouldn't buy because I thought they were ugly...so do I like this because it's old, or do I like this because I like this?" I still struggle with leaving vintage items behind, especially if they're, say, the only old thing at an estate sale that took a lot of going to get to. And as for the navy, maybe someday I'll step outside my box! You never know.

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  7. i think it looks great! you NEED a full suitcase to make the set!

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    1. Wouldn't that be hilarious? I'll have to keep on the lookout for a clean suitcase with an ugly exterior.

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  8. I love it! Such a simple and fun idea. And I love doodling all over everything. Gotta try this!

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