How To: Dye a Leather Bag


If you haven’t realized it by now, I’m a huge HUGE fan of affordable fashion. One of the ways I’ve gotten some of my best pieces is by buying them in pretty iffy condition and restoring them to their original splendor on my own.

I bought this Marc Jacobs bag on Bonanza back when it was Bonanzle, but I didn’t love the destressed look it had. I’ve since found out this is exactly how the bag was supposed to look, it does make it look dated and just isn’t my cup of tea. I’m slowly but surely turning it into the bag I want it to be with the help of a saddle supply shop and a trial and error system of leather dying 😛

If you want to play too, here’s the supplies you’ll need:

  • Leather handbag (make sure it’s actually leather or you’ll just make a mess)
  • Leather Deglazer
  • Leather Dye
  • Bag Kote
  • Soft clothes
  • Rubber gloves
  • Blue painters’ tape (not pictured)
  • About 1million Q-tips (not pictured)

Step 1: Apply leather deglazer to the bag using a soft cloth.

Use rubber gloves to protect your hands! Don’t be stingy when it comes to the amount of deglazer or the force it takes to rub like crazy, especially if the bag is a few years old. The deglazer will not only remove the coating that keeps the original leather dye in place, it will also get rid of any dirt or oil that’s been left on the bag overtime and get the bag ready to accept the new dye you want to apply. WARNING: leather deglazer stinks to high heaven, so you may want to do this outside or in a garage.

Step 2: Use the painters’ tape to cover anything you don’t want to dye.

Make sure you protect the inside lining of the bag, any metal pieces, or any leather you don’t want to change the color of (if you deglazed this leather, you’ll want to reglaze it at the end following step 5).

Step 3: Apply your first coat of dye

This is when you’ll need the rubber gloves again unless you want to have leather colored fingers for weeks! The dye comes with a tool that looks like a cotton ball on a wire handle, use this for the big areas, dipping the tool in the dye and working in a sweeping motion. After each area, wipe down the surface with a soft cloth to remove excess dye, then use Q-tips to work the dye into any corners or areas you couldn’t cover with the dying tool. Continue until your entire bag has been dyed with one coat. Don’t worry if this isn’t the exact color you want, the color will become deeper and richer with the second coat.

Step 4: Let dry, then repeat step 3

Set the bag so none of the wet part is touching a surface. Your best bet may be to hang it over a chair rail or from a hanger. When you do the second coat, pay careful attention to the corners and small details so you get an even finish, if after a second coat you’re still not liking the color, let it dry and apply a third coat using the same apply, wipe, dry method.

Step 5: Apply Bag Kote

I haven’t made it to this step yet, so for now the best I can tell you is to follow the steps on the package. The process looks relatively simple and my test patch came out really well. Everything I’ve read suggests you only need one coat of this to keep your dye in place.

Step 6: Comment

Okay, okay, it’s cheesy I know, but if you’re in the process of redoing any bags, I’d love to hear about how you’re doing it, any tips and tricks you’ve found or if anything in this post helped you out 🙂


30 responses »

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  2. Normally I don’t read post on blogs, however I wish to say that
    this write-up very pressured me to check out and do it!

    Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice post.

  3. Right here is the perfect site for anybody who wishes to understand this topic.
    You understand a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want to…HaHa).

    You certainly put a fresh spin on a topic that has been written about for a long time.

    Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!

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  5. hi..i live in Australia and I was advised by a bootmaker to use the following process. 1. You can use methylated spirits to ‘strip’ the colour and then ‘Raven Oil’ to change the colour…We didn’t discuss the final process you suggest which locks in the colour..Probably an important step as the colour may come off on clothes as the handbag rubs.

    • So what is methylated spirits and where can you purchase it? So what do you suggest to use for final process in locking in the colour?

  6. hiya!
    i want to dye a leather bag i own and was just wondering how much all the stuff costs and where you got it from?
    thanks xx

  7. Thanks for the info!! I was going crazy looking for a site to explain how you could dye a bag. I am tired of sending my bags off for a few weeks just to get re-dye. I am thinking I could do it myself and save me some money. 😀 Glad I found this site!

    • I am dying my own handbags and just curious in what a company would charge to dye a bag? I am sure that it isn’t cheap because you have to be very careful or you could destroy a bag.

  8. I’m glad I found this website, I couldn’t locate any knowledge on this matter before. Also operate a web site and if you are ever interested in undertaking some visitor writing for me if possible really feel free to let me know, im often search for people to check out my web site.

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