Hidden treasures in your mother’s wardrobe
Leather goods are great; the more they are used the better they look. It's when they have that ‘worn’ look that you really start to appreciate the item you’ve got – it's practically glowing! Best of all it is free to reuse your family’s jewels, although some family members might want you to pay them a little (especially if they remember how much they paid ‘back in the day’). Your mother/aunt/grandmother/etc probably spent quite a lot of money on it and will hopefully be happy to see it being reused. It really is a win-win situation considering the prices of new leather items, the amount of time it takes to wear it in and the fact that we should be reusing as much as we can.
When I got home from York in June I had been thinking about my mother’s leather backpack. The trend really started with the leather backpack a few months back, although leather is always in style one way or the other. Considering it being so trendy (and practical!), yet expensive from most shops (unless it’s not real leather which is not what we want as it never lasts very long) I remembered a picture of me as a child with her wearing it. So where am I going with all this? I will show you what I’ve found, and hopefully that will give you a few pointers on what to look for, and tell you how to easily get something into shape.
1. Cleaning. The backpack had to be thoroughly cleaned as it was full of rust and dust after over 15 years in the attic – you poor thing! The best tip you’ll probably get in this article is that leather should always be cleaned with baby wipes. They have exactly the right amount of moisture, and really take care of the gentle textile. The rust you clean off with a wet cloth, then use silver nail varnish to make it shiny and pretty again. No one will ever know; I won’t tell if you don’t!
2. Impregnation. Make it last another generation by using leather impregnation for the lovely wet summers and even wetter rest of the year. You should always avoid getting leather wet. If you have been unlucky and you can see that the leather has absorbed the water – use a hairdryer with a cold air setting – before it’s too late.
3. Leather plier punch. It will allow you to make your own holes in different sizes, but be careful. The thicker the leather the heavier it is to get through. If it is too heavy for you to get through make sure the person you ask to do it does it in exactly the same place as you. The only thing I had to do with this was make a new whole for the adjustable strap, as it was way too big for me. You can do that with the leather punch, which you can get as cheap as £3 on Amazon.
These were just dying to be used in my mother’s wardrobe. Look especially for any embroided belts as they never really go out of fashion, and they are beautiful. Great with any type of denim – jeans or shorts. And the coin purse is self-explanatory, they are so useful!
4. Sew the buttons so that you don’t have to worry about them falling off. Leather is such rough material that dainty little buttons might have already fallen off or are loose when you find the item. In that case, my little secret tip is to use dental floss, which is made from very strong material to sew the button back on/strengthen the sewing. Colour it with a sharpie first, or use it parallel with a black thread; and no one will notice. I bought these leather shorts in a vintage shop, but my mother does have two leather trousers which I could have ("oh no I couldn’t") sawn into a pair of shorts… if I only had the time.
Of course leather doesn’t last forever, and if a strap breaks then there really is no fixing it yourself. But there are people who can do it for you – like Cox’s in the Shambles. Definitely worth the investment if you see a future in the item. Oh, and there is no guarantee that any of your family members have held onto their precious things. For once I can be happy that I have a mother who struggles to let go of things.