How can I reuse or recycle leather/suede purse/bag?

We’ve had an email from Joanne:

Hi, I have an old leather zipped wallet type purse which is old, worn and quite grubby. I would rather recycle it somehow than put it in the bin but am not sure how to do this. Do you have any ideas?

First, it obviously depends on the state of the item but it might benefit from a makeover. Trying cleaning and polishing the leather, or if it’s suede (as Joanne suggested in her email’s subject line), you can get suede cleaning tools for just a couple of £/$s — they’re obviously good for maintaining all sorts of suede items, they don’t make them spotless but they can improve them a lot. Any other ideas for makeover/upcycling suggestions?

If it’s too far gone for that, the leather might be reclaimable for craft projects – including ones that’ll benefit from a “distressed” look to the leather. The suggestions given on our post about recycling leather/suede from an old sofa might need more leather than a small purse would provide but there still might be enough to make small things with — a larger handbag might have enough good quality leather to make a smaller coin purse. Or it could be used to make small art artefacts – like these cool leather scrap mushrooms.

Any other suggestions?

(I’ve used a stock photo, not Joanne’s actual purse so don’t feel restricted based on the photo – just think old leather purses/bags in general.)

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4 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle leather/suede purse/bag?”

  1. Bobbie says:

    I use an old strong purse to carry my rolled coins to the bank. Even hubby uses it, lol.

  2. Kara says:

    Many purses have enough leather or suede to back brooches or bead embroidery, make flowers or appliques, make two-piece slipper soles or a child’s slipper soles, and some handbags have enough to make a whole pair of toddler shoes! I’ve also made thimbles and scissor cases with leather scraps.

  3. I used pop tabs to make a purse once. I was really proud of that reuse project and i still get comments on it a couple years later. I look it to a fashion show in Egypt and the designers asked me about it.
    As far as leather goes, i love to save all my leather and then sew it in to patchwork quilts. I know it sounds strange, but it really works!

  4. Alice says:

    Suede is great wherever you need grip – spade handles, bike handlebars, sewn on the palms of gloves…

    For covering tool handles etc, ideally cut a strip of suede and wind it around the handle, slightly overlapping the edge and stretching it tight (as it will stretch a little with use anyway).

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