Home > Handy Tips > How to Mend a Handbag

How to Mend a Handbag

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 17 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Handbag Repair Fix Strap Fastening

Finding the right handbag can be a difficult business, so it's no wonder we grow fond of them. They can cost a lot of money and many people treat them as collectors' items. So it's a real shame if they end up having to be thrown away as a result of minor damage. The good news is that it's actually possible to fix most common kinds of handbag damage at home, at minimal cost.

Broken Straps

There are two kinds of break which commonly occur in handbag straps: breaks at the base, where the strap joins the body of the bag; and breaks partway along the strap, often where it rubs against the shoulder or another item.

Light fabric handbags often break at the base because the strap hasn't been properly attached. With this kind of fabric it's difficult for the strap to bear the full weight of the bag, especially if you routinely carry a lot of stuff. If it has simply been stitched to the side of the body of the bag, with an inch or two of overlap, it will often fray and pull loose.

You can't simply stitch a strap like this back into place because the fabric will already be stressed and it will just pull away again, often within days. What you need to do is to take off the whole strap and find a replacement. Simply obtain a piece of similar of complementary fabric and roll it into a tube to make a basic strap. Pad it with filler fluff (available from most sewing stores) if you want to give it some extra shape and resilience.

Rather than attaching the old strap where the new one was, run it all the way along the inside of the bag. This will give it a lot more strength. Because, when it comes under strain, that same weight will be bearing down on the lower portion of the strap and holding it in place, you won't get the same problem with it pulling loose.

Where a strap is broken partway along, you'll need to cut out any stressed part (where fibres have pulled apart or leather is scuffed) and stitch it back together. For best effect, don't try to stitch through four layers but peel away more of the lower layer on the top piece and more of the upper layer on the bottom piece so that you can overlap them. This will also help to disguise the damage.

Don't use a leather needle on a handbag, as this sort of leather is far too delicate. Use a fine needle and sew by hand, using two rows of very small stitches. Secure your knots using a small amount of clear nail varnish, which will stop them fraying.

Broken Fastenings

One of the most common problems handbags suffer from is broken fastenings. If you have a clip fastener on your handbag you can usually fix it using pliers, but be careful how you do this. Wrap the clip in soft cloth before you apply the pliers, so as not to damage it. Try to estimate which way you will need to move it and how far. Repeated bending can weaken the metal and make it snap off.

If the clip on your favourite handbag is damaged beyond repair, don't despair. The easiest way to get a new one is to find a similarly sized bag in a charity shop and remove its clip. Clips are easy to fit. The trick is to use a bit of adhesive to secure your stitching and cover the finished work, on the inside of the bag, with a strip of ribbon or leather, which will give it extra resilience.

To fit a new zip closure to a handbag, don't simply try to sew on a zip to the existing inner lip of fabric. Instead, take two ribbons of thick fabric, each about an inch in width, and sew them onto these lips using a blanket stitch. This is most easily done by hand. You can then fold these outwards and attach your new zip to them using your sewing machine. When you're done, simply push the finished closure inwards and the edges of the bag should fold over it.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • beginner
    Re: How to Mark Your Fabric
    when making a ladies loose cotton top, can I overlock and sew together both fabrics at the same time? Thank You for your help
    17 May 2019
  • Tiku
    Re: Taking Body Measurements
    I am good stitcherbut I do not have confidence in how to cut pattern from body measurement.i only wish to stitch for myself.i prefer…
    22 October 2018
  • pink
    Re: What Equipment Do You Need For Dressmaking?
    Listen here monika it's a positive message please can you stop the negative comments
    11 October 2018
  • nirvanaheaven
    Re: What Equipment Do You Need For Dressmaking?
    IM happy about the tips I will be making my own clothes I will make some money I will get there
    11 October 2018
  • StartSewing
    Re: How to Make a Boned Bodice
    Chazzy - Your Question:I am making my daughter's wedding dress. She is a lovely slim shape with small breasts but I am finding that…
    29 June 2017
  • Chazzy
    Re: How to Make a Boned Bodice
    I am making my daughter's wedding dress. She is a lovely slim shape with small breasts but I am finding that quite a problem in…
    28 June 2017
  • StartSewing
    Re: Embroidery
    Kirstylou - Your Question:HiI'm really looking to start up a little hobby personalising items of clothing with initials :)I am completely new to sewing
    27 June 2017
  • Kirstylou
    Re: Embroidery
    Hi I'm really looking to start up a little hobby personalising items of clothing with initials :) I am completely new to sewing and I've seen online…
    24 June 2017