Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thrift Tip: Patches

When visiting stores for the field trip feature, it's rare that I'll actually buy something. After all, I'm a vintage lover on a thrift-store budget. But this bag called my name when I visited Treasury last month. I haven't been able to find a lot of information about it, other than what I can tell visually: it's an older leather bag made by Swissair (before it became Swiss Air in the early '90s). Oh baby, look at that adjustable strap. I had been searching high and low for the perfect camera bag, and this one just spoke to me. And so we went home to live happily ever after.

One problem: old bags sometimes aren't the strongest, and I tend to overpack. A camera, extra lens, and all my usual day-bag things (wallet, planner, giant sunglasses) weighed down the bag and ripped the leather on both sides just below where the strap connects to the bag.

Sad times.

I wanted to use the bag as much as possible, but didn't want it to totally fall apart when I was out and about. I decided to take matters into my own hands and use what little sewing skills I have to patch up the tears. While most of the patch options at the fabric store were of the iron-on variety, that was clearly not an option here. I opted for a set of two cowhide patches that ran me about $7. I sprung for some new thread too, so I would have some heavy-duty support. Below you see one of the patches, already collecting cat hair and dust while it waits to be attached to the inside of the bag.

Here's a tip. If you're working on repairing an item, don't wait until bedtime to do it. You should not be taking on vintage repair projects in your bed at 11 at night. It's just not a productive atmosphere. But, I was in a rush. I did what I could.

My trusty thimble was essential in pushing the needle through the patch and leather. I did not do an A+ sewing job, but I blame it on the fact that I was working on a bag. Late-night bag fixing, woooo!

So here's the bag after one of the patches was firmly affixed. I ran into some trouble because the tears left little space for me to stitch up the space, since the tears were directly below the studs that attach the strap to the bag. There wasn't a whole lot of leather to work with. Intead, I focused on reinforcing the area by stitching up and around the edges of the strap.

Now you can see a finished side. Like I said, it's not the best work...but it does hold. I'm a little nervous about stuffing the bag when I go out, and I have a tendency to touch those sections of the bag to assure myself that they're indeed holding up as I traipse around the city.

Almost good as new and ready to go....and I promise, I am wearing shorts under there.

Although I provided a quick fix, I want this piece to last. So I'll probably be calling Kristen and the ladies at Treasury for some advice on how to repair the bag further so that the integrity of the leather is maintained and doesn't worsen because of my slap-dash sewing job. As much as I like to fix things up on my own, sometimes you have to call in the pros and do it right the first time.

I'll keep you posted on the progress.


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