Tutorial: Altered purses

I had a request for a tutorial about my altered purses, when I posted one at Wardrobe Refashion. It’s pretty easy! Here’s the step-by-step:

1. Choose a boxy, flat-sided purse with minimal detailing. Be sure it’s in good structural condition, inside and out–no point in altering a bag that’s on the verge of breaking or tearing.

Maroon purse, before

Maroon purse, before

2. If the bag is cloth, skip to step 4.

3. If the bag has a shiny vinyl/leather surface, you’ll want to take the shine off — wipe it down with acetone (nail polish remover), or you can try a very light sanding.

4. Use tape to mask over any labels you want to protect from paint.

5. Cover the sides with a layer of gesso. Let it dry.

6. Paint your main color over the gesso. Let it dry.

7. Mask off the places you want to add a second color.

8. Paint on the second color (and a third, if you like). Let it dry.

Painting over the gesso

Painting over the gesso

9. Print or xerox copies of the image and/or text you want to use; in this case, I took a detail from a 1913 image of suffragettes, from Flickr Commons.

10. Use modpodge to affix the images and text. Modpodge under the image, modpodge over the image, and always use thin layers. Pay attention to your brush strokes because they will show at some angles. Watch for bubbles and do your best to press them out while the modpodge is still wet. Let the modpodge dry. (You might want to do two coats for extra protection.)

Modpodging the image onto the purse

Modpodging the image onto the purse

11. You can add stamping after the modpodge is dry–but be sure your ink is permanent! You can also add sharpie or nail polish accents after the modpodge is dry.

12.  IF you want to spray a layer of glossy Krylon on the purse, just be sure to modpodge over any last-minute Sharpie work first, because Krylon can make dark permanent marker run a little.

13. Final result:

Maroon purse, after

Maroon purse, after

Want to see more?  Here is my Flickr set of completed purses, backpacks, cases, and luggage.  Want to buy one?  Contact me and we’ll see what can be arranged.

25 Responses to “Tutorial: Altered purses”

  1. Cindy McMath Says:

    Penny, another fabulous purse, and a wonderful tutorial! Thanks,

    Cindy 🙂

  2. Dymphie Says:

    Thanks Penny. I’m sending the link to my mixed media friends 🙂

  3. lindaloe Says:

    wow great job got the link from Dymphie. never saw something like this.

  4. Marci Says:

    Penny – thank you for writing this tutorial. I will never look at an old/unwanted purse the same way. I think I will start with something smaller, a wallet perhaps and see how it goes. Thanks again!! Marci

  5. indicommons» Blog Archive » Suffragette Purses Says:

    […] suffragette purses! Now you can carry around any Commons image that you love — she provides a tutorial […]

  6. Bleubeard and Elizabeth Says:

    This is fantastic. I’ve decided to try this on a cloth bag. Thanks for the super tutorial.

  7. Kim Says:

    Love the purse…thanks so much for the tutorial!!

  8. last minute lynn Says:

    Thanks for the inspiration…off to the thrift store in search of a purse!

  9. Mary Loucaza Says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial ! Your work is very creative and beautifull. Best.

  10. Gera Scott Chandler Says:

    What a fantastic concept- I think you’ve inspired a LOT of people with this!! Your work is an absolute treat- so glad you used Lisa’s polymer clay buttons which got you on the Google Alerts for Polymer Clay so I could discover you!


  11. Modest Mom Says:

    That is so awesome! I’m off to look around your blog.

  12. Don’t tempt me « Pennamite Says:

    […] a lot of gesso, acrylic paints, sharpies, modpodge, krylon.  (See my altered purse tutorial here.) And that button. […]

  13. Handbag Auction Store Says:

    Ha, that’s really cool! I wish I had the creativity you do, really clever way to dress up a purse!

  14. fidgetrainbowtree Says:

    thanks so much for this tutorial – oh no – something else I want try and probably not do so well at! ha ha

  15. Purse Auctions Says:

    Isnt that the coolest thing ever, I would have used a cool celeb pic like britney or megan fox.

  16. spin Says:

    This is soooooo cool! Thanks for sharing! 😀 you Rock!

  17. liannallama Says:

    oh, you know how much I love your purses! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial!

  18. merrie Says:

    what a great idea thank you.

  19. Smithsonian’s Women in Science uploads, pt. 3: DIY | Scientopia Guests' Blog Says:

    […] take a few days to make, but if you’re game, here’s my online tutorial for the […]

  20. Smithsonian's Women in Science uploads, pt. 3: DIY | Scientopia … Says:

    […] take a few days to make, though if you’re game, here’s my online tutorial for a […]

  21. Soxy Jane Says:

    This is so cool! I was about to get rid of some old handbags at a yard sale, but I’m going to take another look at them. I might try it out on an old wallet first.

  22. OCDIY: Fail, Fail, Succeed Says:

    […] Statement Piece: Carry this bag wearing a burlap sack, and still be fabulous […]

  23. Katharina ka2rina Says:

    Thank you, Penny, this is such an awesome idea. Your purses are wonderful ♥

  24. Nancy S Says:

    Great tutorial,thanks so much for sharing!

  25. Smithsonian’s Women in Science uploads, pt. 3: DIY | Scientopia's Guest Blog Says:

    […] take a few days to make, but if you're game, here's my online tutorial for the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: