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Instant Fix for Saggy Leather Purses or Totes

Sylvia Sky, astrologer, Tarot reader, and gemstone enthusiast, is a widely published author of books and articles about spiritual matters.

Put My Favorite Purses Out to Pasture? No!

All that was wrong with my two Dooney Lexington leather totes was that the leather was stretched, flabby and all caved in. After only two years of ownership I was sadly about to sell them on eBay for cheap. The perfect size and shape for me, they had shoulder straps, held my stuff, are durable, and were fine except for how out-of-shape they looked.

Online I found "base shapers," acrylic plastic reinforcers to line the bottoms of purses, costing $22 or so apiece, but they were only for super-elite designer purses like Chanel and Louis Vuitton, not for bags like mine.

Before: Despair

At age two, my purse looked severely depressed. . .

At age two, my purse looked severely depressed. . .

Trying the Alternatives: Cardboard, Foam Board, Plastic

Googling "how to fix stretched out leather" I learned that you can clean a schmutzy purse, have a new zipper or liner put in, and replace the straps and hardware, but stretched-out leather can't be fixed. It's skin. It stretches. Carry stuff in your purse or tote and it will stretch. That's life.

I favored this purse/tote style precisely because it was structured and businesslike. I travel and like a shoulder tote to have a top zip and exterior pockets. I feel as if my Galaxy Tab is safely padded within this style. It has a key fob. The interior pockets hold my makeup, pens, mints, phone and so on.

Leather hobo and bucket bags look artistic and mellow as they age. My bag's bulging midriff only made me look as if I was too broke to buy a new bag -- and that's not good for business. So I googled "fix a sagging purse" and tried the recommended:

  • Bag Hack #1: cardboard.

The advantages: It's light, strong, common, and cheap. My purse measures 12" wide, a very common handbag size; also 11" tall and 3.5" deep. So I cut apart a U.S. Postal Service Priority Mailing box and fit a single 14-inch piece of cardboard snugly to the inside bottom of the purse and about an inch up each side. It was unglamorous, but so is a bag's sagging torso. Cardboard might have worked for finer leather, but my bag's pebbled leather was too thick for a cardboard reinforcement to be effective.

  • Bag Hack #2, foamboard.

I custom-cut some foamboard about three-eighths of an inch thick. It was fine for the inside bottom, and could be wrapped in something so it wouldn't look so obvious, but there's no way the foamboard could be made to reinforce the sides unless I glued it, which I would not do. I foresaw the foamboard cracking, breaking and flaking.

Transparent reinforcement would be ideal. My own first bright idea:

  • Bag Hack #3, plastic

Those transparent plastic capsules holding pre-washed lettuce leaves, although nicely curved, were not tough enough to tone up the flabby leather -- and their cut edges were like scalpel blades.

I searched for anything else likely. In the garage I picked up a cardboard egg carton (I save mine for a chicken farmer). Egg cartons are very light, of course, and tough. It looked about the right height, length, and width.


In search of light, durable, and cost-free reinforcement I'd try anything. The egg carton was the right size.

In search of light, durable, and cost-free reinforcement I'd try anything. The egg carton was the right size.

So I Stuck It In the Purse

Why not just toss the bags and buy new? I was raised to "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." As an adult I buy for quality, which should theoretically last longer. This is a good-quality bag and it functions as always. But if your purse doesn't look good, neither do you.

Scroll to Continue

I stuck the clean, empty egg carton inside the pink purse, just for grins. Turning the carton on its side made it fit perfectly. And suddenly, from the outside, my purse looked trim and much younger.

My other doomed leather bag, same style but in the color I recall as "Aegean Blue," stretched out until absolutely boneless, looked really pathetic next to the pink one that now had egg-carton reinforcement.

The Boneless Bag

With and without: Compare and contrast.

With and without: Compare and contrast.

I inserted an egg carton, sidewise, into the blue one, too, and the change was radical. It even stood up on its own:

Rebirth

Remember, push the carton in sideways. The egg dimples can also hold small items such as vitamin packets.

Remember, push the carton in sideways. The egg dimples can also hold small items such as vitamin packets.

Suddenly the blue bag looked new, and whenever I set it down, like under a table, it stays upright, and therefore cleaner. Totes and bags with feet should be healthy enough to stand!

Suddenly the blue bag looked new, and whenever I set it down, like under a table, it stays upright, and therefore cleaner. Totes and bags with feet should be healthy enough to stand!

Frequently Asked Questions. . .

Q: With the egg carton insert, your purse lost several square inches of interior space. How's that working for you?

A: I did have to evict a makeup bag. Essentials like lipstick and tissues went into the bag's zippered interior pocket. The little pill packets, safety pins and band-aids I put in the egg carton dimples, so the carton is holding them and is actually functional. The rather bulky little makeup bag itself, I keep in the car.

Q. How does your tablet fit?

A. I push the tablet down past the side of the egg carton until it hits purse bottom. Fits just like it used to.

Q. Doesn't small stuff, like pennies, fall between the egg dimples?

A. I wrapped the carton in one sheet of glad-wrap so it won't do that.

Q. What if somebody sees the egg carton?

A. Here's a photo, below, of the bag filled with stuff. If anyone sees the carton and says something, I will explain how much money I saved by saving my favorite purses, and how glad I am.

The Only Time I Will Let Anyone Look Into My Purse

Yes, room enough for an orange wallet, lipstick, tablet (in day-glo orange protector), a mozzarella stick, mints, bizcards, phone and small miscellany.

Yes, room enough for an orange wallet, lipstick, tablet (in day-glo orange protector), a mozzarella stick, mints, bizcards, phone and small miscellany.

© 2018 Sylvia Sky

Comments

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on May 07, 2018:

Nifty trick!

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