I Like Big Bags and I Can Not Lie :)

First, a big juicy sincere THANK YOU to Beckie at Knock Off Decor for featuring my Driftwood Christmas Trees I posted about here and to everyone who found their way to this little blog because of it.  What fun exposure in my first week of blogging!  Thank you, thank you!!!

Now about this post, you heard me right, this girl is a sucker for a big a$$ bag.  Not only do I carry around the usuals, but at any given moment you could find a pair of sneakers, water bottle, a book or maybe even a Spanish dictionary in my bag.  (Estoy aprendiendo español.)  Today it looks like we have sunscreen, flip flops, some tennis balls and a water bottle.

I try to mix it up every so often.  If you were to talk to my friends (or see me in the street) you would learn very quickly that I am not the most stylish gal around.  My bag is often my only favorite accessory.  🙂

So, when I was getting tired of my old stand bys I rummaged through my bag o’ bags. Literally!  And I came across this oldie but goodie.

She’s nothing special, but good colors for this time of year, if you were to live in a place that has “this time of year” weather changes, that is.  😉  I remember buying it right before a big trip we took in 1999, making her about 12 years old.  She has aged quite well…except for the handle.

The whole handle used to be that dark brownish-blackish stuff that is now falling off everywhere.  I think it was probably faux leather at one point, now it is just a pain in the neck!  The specks really are everywhere, a friend of mine thought I had a new mole on my arm. Nope, just a handle speck, awesome!

This bag has done me well, and probably deserves a real investment, but that’s just not how I roll.  If I can avoid spending any cash you know I will.  I found some ribbon left over from something or other and tried to just tie at one end, wrap around the handle and tie at the other end.  I must have known that really wasn’t going to work because I never even cut off the excess ribbon.  🙂  (You can kind of see the unraveling ribbon work in the above pic of the bag.)  So, I unwrapped, re-evaluated and ended up with these handy handles.

Here was my process over the course of about 2 days with about one hour of actual work:

I noticed after unwrapping the ribbons that they were already dirty had started to show signs of use.  A darker color ribbon would work better, but have I mentioned yet that I do not want to spend any money on this project?  I’ve seen people dye things with tea, but I had just finished my coffee for the morning and thought…why can’t I just use the rest of the coffee I don’t want, add the grounds and a little more water and dye my ribbon that way?  I even poured in what I had just put in my mug.  This pic is for you De!

I actually boiled my little concoction, I don’t know why, I just did.  Hot coffee penetrates ribbon better than cold coffee, right?!?  Nope, no it does not.  😦  I let the ribbon sit in the coffee for about 24 hours.  TIP!!!  Skip this step entirely!  Here is the evidence of no change…

If anything, it emphasized the parts that were dirty before, now they were dirty AND coffee stained.  Awesome!  So, I looked through all my ribbon to see if I had any other options and found this beauty:

Except I wasn’t looking to make my handles feel like they were going to prom in the 80’s so I kept looking, remembered I had black paint and had an idea.  I opened the paint and put a little water in an old plastic container I use only for paint and started painting my ribbon.

I dipped just the very tip of my brush in the paint then kind of streaked it on the ribbon. Then I put my brush in the water and used that to thin out and spread the wet paint.  I was OK with imperfect color tones, hey, intentional imperfection is better than unintentional imperfection, right?!?  TIP!!!  Wear gloves, I did not and made a hot mess of my hands.  

While the ribbons dried I prayed they weren’t going to end up feeling like painted ribbon moved on to other things.  After about an hour and a few touch ups I was really excited about how they looked.

But I wasn’t ready to take the chance of these handle ribbons leaving black streaks on all my clothes so I hand washed them, let them soak in the soapy water overnight and lined dried them, hoping the sun has the same effect of locking in stains that an electric dryer does.  There was some fading, but I thought the result was totally usable.  And, I rubbed the ribbon on a couple different fabrics and there was no paint rub of.  Score!

What, they are still not the same width you say?  That’s alright, here was the plan:
Cut each ribbon in 4 equal parts, giving me 8 total parts:

Make 2 new ribbons alternating sewing the wide and narrow pieces together end to end like this (sorry for the ugly pic):

TIP!!!  Make sure your seems are all on the same side.  I just happened to get lucky when sewing on the third ribbon.  And just to be safe I put some clear nail polish on all of the ribbon ends to prevent fraying.

After I had sewn all my ribbon back together, giving me 2 long ribbons with alternating lengths I started wrapping.  I started with the thicker ribbon, thinking the thinner ribbon would be easier to work with once I got to the other end and needed to get creative. Considering how challenging that proved to be I would hate to learn if the wider would have been more difficult.  😉

I fed the first end through the metal ring and hand stitched it in place:

Then I decided to fold the ribbon over so I could start with a tight fit up against the ring and cover as much of the old handle as possible.

I really wanted a tight of a fit as possible so I decided to use some glue to try to help my cause.

Then just wrap away.  When you get to where the two ribbons are sewn together just fold under the wider piece so it matches the width of the narrower ribbon on the side that will be exposed and don’t worry about the other side, it will get covered on your next wrap over.
 When I got to the other end I had no plan.  I ended up doing some figure eights with the ribbon around both sides of the ring and over any area of the handle left exposed.
Then I went back and actually re-did the figure eights while slipping the ribbon under the previous figure eight a few times, that will make it stay, right?!?!
Then I knotted it and wrapped and tucked until the ribbon was gone.
I needed MUCH more ribbon at the end than I thought I would.  I just couldn’t come up with a real efficient closure.  I actually had to unwrap and re-wrap (twice!) my first handle.  It turned out that the ribbon was actually easier to manage with a little dried glue on it.

End result = a bag I can use without leaving little brown specks everywhere.  I succeeded in getting those dang specks ev. rey. where. when I was doing this project.  Of course I couldn’t just do it all in one place.  Ack!  It’s definitely not perfect, but it suits my style, it’s functional and it was free!  I will definitely be bringing her back into the big a$$ bag rotation.
Handles Before:

Handles After:

So, what do you think?  She’s no LV or Coach, but I couldn’t even use it a few days ago so I am thrilled with the transformation.  Can you think of anything else I could have used to fix the handles?  Or, what about a better way to wrap the ribbon over the rings at the end?

Just for fun, one of the things I absolutely love about this island is that when there is a log jam in the parking lot and I just need to run into the store to stock up on wine groceries, I can pull our Wrangler up on the curb to park and it is totally socially acceptable.  Taking a picture of said Jeep and log jam will draw some funny glances, however.  🙂

Please check out this page for the other blogs on which I will be sharing my post.  Enjoy your space today!

Leave a comment


  1. De

     /  November 8, 2011

    LOL! Thanks for the photo shout out. Note to self: Send Karah a Tony Stewart coffee mug for Xmas… and a NEW bag (I don’t think I have anything from 12 years ago! haha) Oh so clever though! 🙂

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