DIY Fixes for Shoes, Purses and Belts

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You spend good money on a pair of shoes, a purse or a designer coat only to have it get torn, scratched or broken. Fixing these items can be pricey when done professionally. If you don’t have the funds to have your accessories mended (or you just don’t want to put any more money into those items), here are some quick do-it-yourself fixes using common household products.

1. Leather scratches. Scratches in leather are sometimes unavoidable. Unfortunately, scratches make leather goods look old and tattered. One way to get to reduce the appearance of leather scratches is with distilled white vinegar, which usually retails for less than $2. Use a cotton ball to dab the vinegar over the scratched area. If it works, the vinegar will cause the scratch to swell and even out. After it dries, use a clear shoe polish to bring back the luster. If the scratch is discolored, you can try filling it in with the same color felt tip pen, but if the pen color is even a little off it could ruin the project. For black leather, a black Sharpie works well. Different types of leather respond differently to scratch treatments, so be sure to spot test with the vinegar in a hidden area before you attempt the whole fix.

2. Misshapen handbags and shoes. If you let things pile on your leather handbags or shoes, they can quickly lose their form. An easy way to get them back in shape is to stuff them with plastic bags. Most people have a ton of plastic bags left over from the grocery store. All you have to do is ball them up and stuff. To keep them that way, store them stuffed and don’t pile other items on top.

3. Tarnished metal accents. Accessories often have metal accents either for form or function. If these accents loose their luster, the whole item can look dingy. A simple way to brighten up the metal on your accessories is to use a soft toothbrush with a little dishwashing liquid. For added kick, spraying a little window cleaner with ammonia on the toothbrush can also help make them shine. Again, be sure to spot test on the underside of the metal accent just to be safe.

4. Leather tears. Seams sewn in leather goods with regular cotton thread won’t last long. Leather needs stronger thread than most other materials. Polyester thread is commonly used to sew leather. If you get a tear in your coat or handbag and don’t have polyester thread handy, you can substitute dental floss instead.  Opt for the wax-free kind, and tint it with a sweep of magic marker prior to sewing.

5. Broken zipper pulls. If a zipper pull tab falls off leaving only a small hole on the slider, it can be very difficult to get the zipper open or closed. Replacement zipper pull-tabs can be bought a most fabric stores, but quick, easy and nearly free fix is to use a paper clip. A paper clip can slide easily into the slider and function as a pull-tab. For a longer fix, wrap the paperclip in fabric tape and use a market to match the color of the coat or handbag. For stuck zippers, rub the zipper with a pencil. The graphite should act as a lubricant and let your zipper glide easily.

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