Practical DIY Guide to Minor Fashion Fixes | DIY Quest #2

Vintage is the new trend with style-savvy, green-interested modern individuals. 

That said: vintage has always been a trend with style-savvy individuals anyway. And today I’ll show you a genius way to fix scratches on a vintage leather bag (works on any smooth leather or man-made-leather surface).

These days, as the Fast Fashion trend is more and more rejected, vintage is more and more embraced as a way to go. Terms like “modern vintage” are created to refer to things that are maybe a couple seasons old. Hey, given that, I only wear modern vintage, apparently!

Of course, this fights the consumption thinking, which, BTW, is never sexy, because it’s needy. Yes. I’d like you to think about this:

Consumption-driven behaviour is needy and totally unsexy.”

You are welcome to quote me.
On we go.

It occured to me lately that Fast Fashion has totally spoiled me. I stopped taking care of clothes (I’m a prat anyway, can you hear my mum sobbing in the corner at the thought of that? Sorry mum!) because I know I can trash donate them and buy new. And even if I wear stuff to bits, my wardrobe detox is quicky done: getting rid of everything except for the very few favourites like my Harley leather jackets. But I don’t know how to take care of those faves either. Sigh.

But fixing things? Ugh. How?

So here’s the true story: I needed to fix an old a vintage handbag I found hidden in the astounding depths of mum’s wardrobe. It was in a fantastic state but its edges were worn out and lost the black colour. It looked a bit too shabby chic and I don’t dig boho aesthetics. At. All.

The shoemaker person I asked for ideas and if he could fix it, looked at me as if thinking of spitting on the floor, remembered we’re in a mall and spat words instead: “Use an Edding.”
Then he returned to his sports newspaper. We’re in Berlin, so I wasn’t quite as shocked at that suggestion of a customer actually mending stuff themselves 🙂 But then wait, whoa, wow, wow, wowwww… An Edding? I like my felt pens and those fancy DVD markers but I once have tried them on a black leather heel and it looked… Just: no.

Later that day I spotted so-called “pearl pens” in the local crafts store. I got me some to experiment with illustration, but after trying it on an old t-shirt and a bit of cardboard it quickly dawned on me to try this on my black vintage bag. All I needed was the pearl pen, a protective glove and bits of old paper as tools as well as an old newspaper to protect the table (or in my case, the wooden floor).

Plus side: dries quickly, has shine that a felt pen lacks, doesn’t wear off or smudge once dry, comes in a huge variety of colours. Really easy for not-DIY types.

Minus side: well, I have no idea how toxic or not toxic it really is – it’s an air-drying plastic thingy – but since I don’t touch it at all (the fix effects the outer edges of the bag) and the fixes are minuscule I figured it’s okay.

And once dry, it looked really good.

I then used my Pearl Pen as black glue to fix a piece of fashion jewellery – an elegant punk necklace I made of ribbon and chain.



The repaired bits are as shiny as the normal surface and the colour difference is only oh so slightly visible on a shot with an extra harsh flash.

On the necklace, the bits where the ribbon meets the chain on the right (you see the backside in the photo) has worn out because it wasn’t properly sewn or maybe it just worn out. I glued the bits using the Pearl Pen so that the ribbon stopped snapping off. It’s all neat now.

Do you fix your favourite clothes or accessories? Do you possess vintage items and have you got a dressmaker who can fix your favourite stuff – or who at least can rescue them by creating something new out of old? 


Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

17 Responses

  1. I loved falling into your two trains of thought–maybe more like TGVs of thought!! 🙂

    I have been wearing vintage clothing since I was 15 years old (I am 43 now). And this started in a town just outside of Amish country in Pennsylvania–there was certainly nothing cool about it then or green. But it was the quality and the sharp appeal of the clothes and accessories that I was drawn to. And that fit the person I was starting to realize I could be (mainly based on books that I had read).

    When I moved to NYC and started making enough money to buy my first designer pieces, I chose carefully, based on what vintage I already had. And so I still have a lot of that and still wear it. I will put things away for a few years and bring it out, happy to see it again. I rarely update pieces and unfortunately my amazing couturiere, Madame Carmen, retired a few years ago. I fix everything and take good care of all that I have–because I love it still and can’t afford to replace it. 🙂

    And something tells me that you DO take care of your Harley jackets. But if you don’t, you might want to at least rub mink oil in them (if you aren’t against that, which I would understand) once a year…

  2. julia

    oh, i just saw that you encouraged me to “say something cool”. i don’t know if it was cool what i said.
    in case it wasn’t, something else:


          1. julia

            hehe. a bit! but hey, if people don’t have the self-esteem to consider their opinion as cool they might as well stay quiet 😉

  3. julia

    very creative way of fixing the bag (which is beautiful btw). thumbs up for that.
    i have a very good “leather guy” around the corner who fixed my beloved miu miu bag. but i had to wait three months (!!) for it because he is so busy. also my favorite cobbler died half a year ago and the new guy who now owns the shop isn’t nearly as good as the old one.
    i think, it’s a big problem that these kind of professions just become extinct due to mass consumption. people just don’t worship the stuff they have anymore….
    sometimes i try to fix little things myself. but how would i put a new sole to a shoe??
    have a great day.
    xx j.

      1. julia

        oh, maybe you are right and it has something to do with the city also, but i mainly think that the “problem” is that people are not in need of these kind of “fixers” anymore. i even heard the sentence once: “why should i pay 15 € at a tailor to repair my dress when i can by i new one for a tenner?”. of course, that doesn’t apply to everybody and especially if you have things that you maybe got from your mum/grandma or that you worship for another sentimental reason. but i believe the majority of people doesn’t think like that. you only have to look at the masses of people that walk in and out of primark everyday carrying tons of clothes out. and you hardly find a piece that is above 13 € there (btw. when i go in there i get very dizzy and it’s hard for me to breathe, would be interesting to know what kind of toxics they use on their garments).
        anyways… the book sounds interesting too. and i think a review would be a fabulous idea.
        love back to you
        xxx j.

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