Painted Thrift Store Purses

Last December I started painting gift bags and I liked it so much that I was sad when January rolled around and I had nothing left to paint! This is my problem. I have some weird emotional baggage when it comes to comes to painting for the sake of painting, so somehow, sticking to familiar/functional/inexpensive objects allows me to free up my creative mojo, which is exactly what I want right now. The dreariness of winter has a way of squashing my creative spirit, so a simple project like painting old thrift store purses is exactly what I need. Also, cute purses. Look!
There really isn’t any design or method involved here, just a series of slaps and dashes and color. Lots and lots of color.


Thrift stores are fantastic for finding pocketbooks for a dollar or two. Many of them appear to be new or nearly-new, and lot of them are made from leather, silks and satins. I almost feel bad painting them!

The key ingredient here is an all-purpose paint that will stick to fabric or vinyl, and great flat brushes. Mark-making is such an easy way to create simple patterns, but if you don’t have a couple of great brushes, it’s much more difficult to get the paint to lay down just right. Double-tip brushes are especially handy for building up leopard-like patterns in a hurry.

Apparently Lolabelle does not approve of this method and decided to knock everything over.


Thanks, Lola.


Heads up: you might see some more painting projects around here the next few weeks. I’m not sure if it’s a phase or the stirrings of winterish cabin fever, but I’m on a painting binge and I hope you’ll ride it out with me!






  1. says

    Those would be really cool gifts for girlfriends. I like.

  2. Kate says

    I may or may not have a bit of a thrift addiction and have painted a few leather/vinyl purses and wallets that I adore. But I highly recommend a thin coat of spray on polycrylic to finish. The pieces that got a quick blast of the stuff have lasted well over a year with a lot of use, but the one i skipped got all chippy almost immediately.

    • aunt peaches says

      Good to know. I have a lot of faith in this particular paint (it’s even held up on shoes!) but a thin coat might be a good idea.

  3. Amy says

    The yellow with Dalmatian spots is so cute, and you’ve sold me on upgrading my acrylic craft paints to Martha Stewart’s line. Lola has the same cat-attitude as my Suki, knock it over and sit on it if possible.

  4. Deb in Oklahoma says

    Oooh, these are pretty! Reminds me of the purse that Carrie painted on “The Carrie Diaries” in the the first couple of episodes, after nail polish was spilled on it. (Yes, the show tanked after a season; I had high hopes since it featured a young Carrie Bradshaw, pre-SATC. Don’t judge.) She actually wrote her name across the front of the purse. It was funky and unique. But I like yours better–esp the teal one with all the hot pink. Dang, I wish I still had all those handbags I gave away!

    • aunt peaches says

      I never saw that show — I’ll have to Netflix it ASAP. 😉

  5. says

    I see nothing bad in more colourfull projects like this – so bright and summery ^_^ Sure last time I tried to paint something on my own I had to call professional home cleaners but still had fun 😀

    • aunt peaches says

      The joy is in the doing! 🙂

  6. says

    I love this idea and am going to steal it! I’ve actually just got halfway through doing much the same thing on an old T-shirt so it’s a bit of a coincidence that I stumbled on this. What kind of paint are you using?

    • aunt peaches says

      The Martha Stewart line from Plaid. It runs around $2.50 a bottle, which is a little more than most, but I have found that the coverage is excellent, and it’s waterproof. I paired it on the back of some glass dishes and it’s hung around through several rounds of hand washing — fabric has a lot more grip, so I’m confident it will stick. 90% of the colors are muted and “Martha” like, which is my only complaint. It’s not great for super vibrant, rich colors.

  7. Marie says

    I love your purses! I have done something similar with thrift store bags and paint and fabric. My question is, do you find that the finished bags are “sticky” after they are completely dry, and do you put a finishing product on top of the paint? I’m not sure if it’s my paint or Mod Podge that is sticky. Thanks!

    • aunt peaches says

      No stickiness here so long as the paint isn’t layered up super thick. If you like to layer the paint a lot, I think the trick is to make sure the paint cures in between each layer (not good for impatient folks like me!). So long as the paint has something to ‘absorb’ into, it’s good. But it’s sort of like painting on top of plastic if not. Diluted Mod Podge is pretty good, but I still don’t think it would stop the stickiness, as the ‘sticky’ is just the result of paint that isn’t full dry. Hrmmm…

  8. Marla Reed says

    Did you use regular craft store acrylics or a special one for outdoors, glossy, etc? I can’t believe those paints would deliver one-stroke color this brilliant.

    • aunt peaches says

      Yes– the paint is critical. The line I used here is the Martha Stewart line (satin finish) available at craft stores for around $2.50 a bottle. That’s slightly more than most craft paints, but I find that it is worth every penny. Some fabrics still need two strokes for vibrant colors (satin seems especially absorbent) but if you are canvas or leather, yeah, prepare to be impressed.


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