DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic Paint

9.12.2011

DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic Paint 70′s-style colorblocking is a hot trend for Fall 2011, seen on the runways and now beginning to trickle down into street style and retailers.  I was hankering after a colorblocked purse, but didn’t want to pay a lot for it.  Thankfully, thrift stores are a wonderful source of older handbags, and I found an adorable cross-body bag for a mere $4.99.  But it was rather beat-up and needed a little makeover, so I figured it was time to break out the brushes and do some leather painting!  Though technically when you paint leather, what is most recommended is to use paint that is specifically formulated for use on leather, like Angelus.

However, if you are feeling squeamish about buying an unfamiliar product online, or they don’t ship to your country, or you want to use some acrylic craft paint that you already have on hand, fear not!  Leather and suede can actually be painted with acrylic paint, with fairly good results if you take the time to prep the piece properly.  So here’s how to add some vibrant color-blocking to some leather or suede pieces you already own:

How to Add Some DIY Colorblocking to a Leather Bag

You Need:DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic Paint

*leather or suede handbag

*acrylic craft paint

 

And…

*water

*small bowl for paint

*paintbrush

*masking or painter’s tape

*soft cloth

*rubbing alcohol

*fine grit (like 800) sandpaper

 

How To:DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic Paint

1.. Use fine-grit sandpaper to remove any shiny parts to the leather you will paint.  We need to rough up the surface so the paint will adhere.  (Not necessary on suede items.)DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic Paint

2. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth to remove residue.DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic Paint

3. Wipe the area with a cloth saturated with rubbing alcohol to remove any surface finishes or protective coatings the leather might have.

DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic Paint

4. Mask off the parts of the bag you will be painting with tape.DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic Paint

5. Now the bag should be ready to receive paint.  Mix the paint with water in a 1:1 ratio in your bowl, and paint on the mixture using long strokes.  DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic PaintIt will look streaky at first, but this is necessary to allow the leather to soak up the paint.DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic Paint

6. Add 2-3 more coats, allowing the paint to dry partially between coats.  DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic PaintDo not allow the paint to dry fully; the leather needs to remain damp between coats.  After each coat, flex the leather so the paint won’t crack.

DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic Paint

7. Now it’s time to use undiluted paint.  Spread on using long coats again, flexing after each coat.  Allow to dry between coats – you may need a couple.  It took 3 for my seafoam color to become truly opaque on my dark brown bag.

8. Remove masking tape once completely dry.

 

You’re done!  No protective coating is necessary, though if you’re worried about water-fastness, a layer of matte Mod Podge might be a good choice.

Wear with neutrals or mix it up with crazy colors for a Fall look!DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic Paint

**Whether acrylic paint will work on vinyl or manmade leather surfaces is fairly dependent on the surface; it’s mostly trial and error for faux.

Some other on-trend color combos to try:

Evergreen + Royal Purple + Orange                  Mustard + Gray                    Gold + Burgundy                    

Black + Cognac                       Seafoam + Cream               Teal + Silver

DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic PaintHappy DIY’ing!
xoxox
Carly

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Filed in: Accessories, DIY, Handbags, How-To, My DIYs

Tags: leather, leather painting

 

 

60 Comments on DIY Colorblock Bag A.K.A. How to Paint Leather with Acrylic Paint

    • carlyjcais
      9.13.2011 at 9:21 am (3 years ago)

      Yes, it’s so easy! As long as the leather item isn’t something that’s particularly soft or that crinkles a lot (otherwise the paint will crack and it’s probably much better to use Angelus), then acrylic paint will work!!

      Reply
  1. Diana
    9.13.2011 at 7:30 am (3 years ago)

    So cool! Can’t tell in the pic but does the Nine West logo stand out more under the paint? I really want to try this but will prob have to buy a new bag to do so. Great job!
    Diana recently posted..What I Wore: Fashion Night Out

    Reply
    • carlyjcais
      9.13.2011 at 9:20 am (3 years ago)

      No, the logo isn’t too bad. I smushed extra paint into it so it kind of “filled up” the divots. But it’s still visible, even under the paint.

      Reply
      • Diana
        9.16.2011 at 7:15 am (3 years ago)

        Still very fancy! I’m going to try this with one of my bags. I have an all-black ALDO bag and I want to try and paint it all burgundy. Will let you know how it turns out!
        Diana recently posted..IFB Weekly Roundup: Links À La Mode

        Reply
  2. Katarina
    9.13.2011 at 9:06 am (3 years ago)

    Thanks for the tutorial, really handy to know how to do it properly for future projects. I love that it can be done with ordinary supplies.
    Katarina recently posted..snip, snip, cut-out cage top

    Reply
  3. Lindsey
    9.13.2011 at 12:33 pm (3 years ago)

    that’s so crazy!! a great tutorial and I love the color you choose.
    Lindsey recently posted..First Giftcard Winner

    Reply
  4. Grace - stripes & sequins
    9.13.2011 at 1:25 pm (3 years ago)

    how fun! I am loving this painted clutch/bag trend… such a fantastic way to reinvent an old/out of style/boring bag and turn it into something special!

    Reply
  5. Rachel
    9.13.2011 at 8:05 pm (3 years ago)

    Wow, what a great idea! And the instructions for prepping leather for acrylic paint seem like they’re really useful for all kinds of projects. Thanks so much for sharing, Carly!
    Rachel recently posted..Sunday Street Style

    Reply
  6. Melissa
    9.15.2011 at 6:36 am (3 years ago)

    Great DIY!! I’ll definitely be doing this FOR SURE.

    I’ve used fabric paint & silkscreening paint on leather before & it doesn’t crack – because it’s developed to move with fabric. It’s fantastic. You should give it at try!

    Reply
    • carlyjcais
      9.20.2011 at 11:04 am (3 years ago)

      Wow! Great idea to make the painted colorblocking on contact paper – versatility at its best! Thanks for the link and great job!:-)

      Reply
  7. Lilia
    9.28.2011 at 8:26 pm (3 years ago)

    Hello!

    I would like to know your opinion… Can I do the same with my agenda? I found this perfect agenda Day-timer, (this one: http://www.google.ca/imgres?q=day-timer+leather&um=1&hl=en&sa=N&biw=800&bih=407&tbm=isch&tbnid=QdlucuwhcZ6zFM:&imgrefurl=http://cgi.ebay.ca/Italian-Leather-Binder-w-Buckle-1-Rings-Day-Timer-/320700779823&docid=KLL2T20-tBoG2M&w=500&h=536&ei=oOSDTrCFCIu5twfTy-HaAQ&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=579&page=6&tbnh=83&tbnw=78&start=58&ndsp=12&ved=1t:429,r:5,s:58&tx=40&ty=45 ) but it is black, I want it in blue (like this one: http://filofaxfixation.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/filo-faux-fax-a5-trial/ ). Can I paint it with acrylic paint? Thank you!

    Reply
    • carlyjcais
      9.30.2011 at 6:44 am (3 years ago)

      I suppose you can try, but it would definitely be a case of trial-and-error to get it right. I’m not sure if you plan on painting the inside as well, but what I would be concerned about is where the inside rings, paper, and outer flap touch. Acrylic paint will likely show signs of wear as you use the planner…and you probably want to be able to put it inside a bag or something to take with you places, correct? Either that or hold it in your hand…and both ways I would think would wear away at the paint. For something that has to withstand rubbing and is exposed to sweat/pressure routinely, I would think using Angelus Leather Paint would be a much, much safer investment. Or leather dye (done by a professional), since in a planner/agenda there’s usually backing or internal inserts that exist to stiffen the piece, and they may not be completely water-fast. Better yet, find an agenda in the color you like rather than painting one…and if you really, really want to paint one, try painting a design on the front (skipping the flap closure area) rather than a large swath of opaque color. Good luck!

      Reply
      • Lilia
        10.03.2011 at 9:19 pm (3 years ago)

        Angelus Leather Paint…! I will try to find it! Thank you for your advice. This agenda comes only in black, it’s in leather with tons of compartments ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXJRZ1rcZck ), usually costs 100$, now only $30! It’s better than Filofax, except for the color. I want mine to look this this ( http://www.flickr.com/photos/filomaniac/4484140538/ ) or aqua. If I succeed I will send you BEFORE and AFTER photos…! Thank you again! Lilia

        Reply
  8. Yesenia Mcintyre
    12.07.2011 at 10:26 pm (3 years ago)

    great bag, I love the shade of green you used! Or leather dye (done by a professional), since in a planner/agenda there’s usually backing or internal inserts that exist to stiffen the piece, and they may not be completely water-fast. I really want to try this but will prob have to buy a new bag to do so.
    Yesenia Mcintyre recently posted..Arthritis Tips

    Reply
  9. Natalie
    12.27.2011 at 5:14 pm (3 years ago)

    i just did this on an old pair of shoes and they came out fantastic! thanks so much!

    Reply
  10. how to paint a door
    1.26.2012 at 5:51 am (3 years ago)

    My girlfriend just read your article and went and painted her old shoes and they came up great haha. I didnt think the end result would look any good, but i must say. They look as if she just got them from the shop.

    Reply
  11. Soccer Mom Style
    3.19.2012 at 7:02 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Carly,
    I’m back to this post of yours. I am painting a leather belt. The belt will be flexed a lot of course. I am thinking adding textile medium to my acrylic paint to make it more flexible. Any thoughts? Did you purse held up well? It should have been since the area you painted is flat and seems like won’t be flexed too much.
    thanks!
    xx
    maya

    Reply
    • Soccer Mom Style
      3.19.2012 at 7:18 am (2 years ago)

      p.s.
      what a great tip about Angelus!! thanks!

      Reply
  12. Rachel
    4.19.2012 at 4:34 pm (2 years ago)

    This is such a great idea! I have a white leather purse that I want to paint this on. Do you think I still need to use the alcohol?

    Reply
    • carlyjcais
      4.19.2012 at 4:49 pm (2 years ago)

      I think so; the alcohol is not only to clean the surface but something that strips away any finishing chemicals that have been applied to the leather that won’t let the paint adhere. You could always try it not using the alcohol in an inconspicuous place and see how the paint sticks!

      Reply
      • Rachel
        4.20.2012 at 10:03 am (2 years ago)

        Thank you! :) That makes sense.. I’m going to use this to make a tribal pattern for my art project!

        Reply
  13. gess
    6.30.2012 at 11:18 pm (2 years ago)

    will this work on synthetic leather bags? :)

    Reply
  14. Kristine
    9.05.2012 at 2:01 am (2 years ago)

    I loved this idea so much I went out the next day and bought some acrylic paint for this leather clutch I had. I realized though that once the paint dries, it feels very rough and super dry. I did some research online and realized I could soften it up a bit by rubbing a cloth saturated with Windex over it a several times. Now it’s a really nice smooth, softer surface and I’m really happy with it. Just thought this tip might be helpful for others with the same problem.

    Reply
    • carlyjcais
      9.05.2012 at 10:22 am (2 years ago)

      Thanks, Kristine, for your great tip! I’m guessing the Windex has similar properties to the rubbing alcohol that softens the surface of the leather prior to the paint application…I had no idea you could apply it after the fact! Thanks again for your feedback – really appreciate it:-)

      Reply
  15. Jaime
    10.14.2012 at 2:02 pm (2 years ago)

    Thank you for this article. I am hunting for ideas on changing the color of cowboy boots…some folks use spray paint and some folks use brushes. I need to cover black boots with white paint, so my biggest concern is cracking. These are only to wear at a horse show…they do not have to last forever, but still a concern. Thanks a ton for the article and the pictures, both very helpful!

    Reply
    • carlyjcais
      10.15.2012 at 12:26 am (2 years ago)

      You’re welcome! Hope you’re able to revamp your boots and they don’t crack…I would proceed cautiously at the front of the boots, where the top of the foot hits your ankle; there could be a lot of wrinkling there, that could crack the paint. Really, Angelus leather paint is probably a better bet if you can get your hands on it! Good luck:-)

      Reply
  16. DUO iy
    2.07.2013 at 1:12 pm (1 year ago)

    cute idea!! does the color wear off after some time?
    we just posted a tutorial on a faux leather bag as well! duo-iy.blogspot.com if you want to check it out :-)

    Reply
    • carlyjcais
      2.08.2013 at 12:54 pm (1 year ago)

      Actually the color is pretty permanent…I haven’t had any problems yet! And that duo leather tote tutorial you posted is amazing! Can’t wait to try it out…:-)

      Reply
  17. Susan
    4.21.2014 at 10:08 am (3 months ago)

    Do you need to put any varnish on it to protect it from rain pr accidental spills? Will the paint rub off if wet?

    Reply
    • carlyjcais
      4.22.2014 at 5:55 am (3 months ago)

      Hi Susan-I personally did not put any sealant on top of the paint. I guess it depends how wet you get it, and how much you rub it. Too much abrasion and moisture will likely remove all your hard work. People who work with leather usually use Bag Kote (http://www.amazon.com/Fiebing%C3%A2-x20AC-TMs-Kote–Neutral/dp/B008ROQ34I/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1398170960&sr=8-2&keywords=bag+kote) to seal paint and give it a soft finish, rather than a hard plastic-y sheen. One forum says to mix Bag Kote with water 60/40, and apply. There’s ammonia in it, but if you’re looking for a top-quality sealant, that is it. You could also use a coating of beeswax for an eco-friendly option. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  18. Yasmine
    6.27.2014 at 1:57 pm (1 month ago)

    Just found this tutorial via Pinterest and I’m going to try a version of my own! Just wondering how the bag and paint have held up after a few years. Still in good shape or has it needed touch ups? Thanks!

    Reply
    • carlyjcais
      6.29.2014 at 11:11 am (4 weeks ago)

      Hi Yasmine! My bag is actually doing pretty well; the paint has softened over the years but not cracked. It looks a little “rubbed” in places and worn-in. I think this would work well for soft leather where you’re wanting a worn-in look, but for bright pops of solid color that need to stay bright and unmarred…maybe actual Angelus leather paint with a coat of sealant might be better. Hope that helps! :-)

      Reply

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