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18 January 2008 @ 12:10 pm
recycling a worn-out handbag into Western-style accessories  
My favorite handbag finally got too tatty to carry around, so I recycled it into some Western-style accessories for my frontier costume. I made a belt purse, faux skirt lifters, a knife sheath, and a pair of wrist cuffs: DIY accessories  

Here I am modelling all the accessories. I wanted to show off my frontier costume but couldn't shoot myself in the mirror without creating wretched glare from the flash. So I guess you'll just have to take my word that it's a pretty awesome costume, considering that almost everything was sourced from thrift stores or DIY projects.

I don't know how people manage to take their own photos. After moving the mirror to three different locations, I finally gave up on creating a self-portrait for my introduction post for steamfashion. Yes, I am still meaning to fill out that form, no matter how much time goes by!

This is the original handbag after the first incision. I salvaged the outer pocket, which was still in good shape except for a small tear.

The belt purse was easy. I just trimmed the outer pocket carefully, leaving a flap on top to sew onto the belt. I don't plan to leave it on this belt, though, as I think it would look better on a narrower belt.

I livened up this boring thrift store skirt by sewing on the flaps from the outer side pockets of the handbag. I call these 'faux skirt lifters' because they are non-functional. It's much more work to make them actually adjust the length of the skirt, and I may end up putting them on a different skirt anyway. I like skirt lifters because they expose a petticoat, and I love petticoats. Everything looks horribly crumpled, for some reason, maybe I shot the photo too close.

I used this pattern to make a no-sew knife sheath. The pleather ended up being too thin to support the knife, so I had to sew the seam. It's just a prototype, I'm going to make this again with a thick piece of water buffalo hide.

At this point, I had used up the entire handbag except for the strap and the scraps left over from the side pockets. So I decided to recycle the strap, too. I made a pair of wrist cuffs by sewing on snap fasteners. I originally wanted these to be sleeve garters but the strap wasn't long enough. I might add some brass rivets for decoration.

Current Location: the office
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Lisa Mantchevlisamantchev on January 18th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
Brilliant recycling!
mllevioletmlleviolet on January 18th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I was quite pleased with the results, and the fact that my favorite handbag now has a second life.
Loricocoajava on January 18th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)
Good work! I love these sort of posts, since I think it's a lot more fun to recycle/recreate than to go shopping. Thanks for giving me some brain-sparks!
mllevioletmlleviolet on January 18th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I love recycling, I am very thrifty and always hang onto old straps and scraps and broken stuff. I get such a kick out of my outfit, knowing that it cost less than $20 (except the boots, not visible in the pics). I am so cheap, wearing a $20 costume gives me more satisfaction than if it cost hundreds.

I will keep my eye out for more worn-out handbags in thrift stores that I can recycle into other things.
Loricocoajava on January 18th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, we are definitely birds of a feather. you think the way I do! Cheap is FUN!

We have a new thrift store in town, and it's not been fully picked over yet. I need to make a return visit and check out the purses and belts to use as ingredients in other creations.
Old Halloween: Parasol2oldhalloween on January 18th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
The skirt lifters are a brilliant idea.
mllevioletmlleviolet on January 18th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you, they are so easy, you just scrunch the fabric and safety pin it, then tack in place with a few vertical stitches. I used the purse flaps to cover the stitches but you can use any sort of decoration, a button, rosettes, whatever you like. It is a super-easy, fasy modification and a nice way to show off a colorful petticoat or underskirt.
(Deleted comment)
mllevioletmlleviolet on January 18th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I did feel quite pleased with myself for being so thrifty :)
arkivariearkivarie on January 18th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC)
I love the pink skirt! That kind of rumpled, distressed look is very big in Sweden now, btw. Boutique Tuzzi (where the upper-crust shops) has similar type things in it's windows all the time!

mllevioletmlleviolet on January 18th, 2008 08:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks, it's actually brown, probably just changed the color when I was tweaking it in Photoshop. It looks a bit more rumpled in the photo than in real life.

I saw a whole lot of rumpled, crinkled shirts at a department store where I was browsing during my lunch hour - under a sign that said "New for Spring" so I guess it's the latest fashion.
Liz Reay: Maxim/Oggielizreay on January 18th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
Awesome job! I love recycling things into new projects. Maybe I'll take a look at the mountain of purses I never, ever use and try my hand at making something gorgeous. :)
mllevioletmlleviolet on January 18th, 2008 08:34 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Recycling is the best. If you have any purses with outer pockets, it's very easy to turn them into belt purses. The hard part is cutting up a purse that you like - it took me months to get up the nerve to hack up my all-time favorite handbag. But now it has a new life so I'm very happy that I didn't just throw it out.
hulazombiehulazombie on January 18th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC)
I really like the skirt lifter idea. I might see what can be done with some of my skirts.
mllevioletmlleviolet on January 18th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, it's very easy, just scrunch, pin, and tack with vertical stitches, then you can add an embellishment. I've done it with another skirt, too, and it came out better because the skirt is cotton. The skirt in these photos is polyester so it doesn't drape as nicely. But it is a very easy DIY modification.
scorpionturtlescorpionturtle on January 18th, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
love love love reuse projects. was the belt part just the strap for the bag or a seperate belt?
mllevioletmlleviolet on January 18th, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I love recycling stuff, too. The belts are both separate ($1 apiece from the thrift store, woo-hoo!). I actually just Scotch-taped the outer pocket of the purse to the belt since I want to find a different belt for it, I think that belt is a little wide to be a belt purse. The strap of the bag was very plain, you can see part of it in the handbag photo. I used it to make the wrist cuff in the last photo.
beware of cheap imitations.: aviatrix dashingbete_noire on January 18th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
wonderful recycling! hardware reuse rocks. great concept, too.
mllevioletmlleviolet on January 18th, 2008 09:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks :) I love recycling stuff, it really appeals to the environmentalist in me.
Poop!: Jolly good what?pure_terrorist on January 19th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC)
Good use of materials. I have to keep this in mind for future projects.
mllevioletmlleviolet on January 20th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Old handbags are great for recycling. I had fun with this project.
clarisse_montagclarisse_montag on January 21st, 2008 01:38 am (UTC)
huzzah for repurposing old things you love!
you get to keep on loving them in a new form, and knowing their history!
also, commendation for being willing to tear up accessories with abandon
mllevioletmlleviolet on January 21st, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
Thanks! It's hard to tear up favorite old accessories but the ends justify the means :)