Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Vintage Chanel Refurbishment Story

This is a long handbag post. I apologize in advance. 
Feel free to opt out if purses aren't your thing. 
There aren't many rehab tutorials concerning vintage Chanel which is why I'm sharing this.

80s Vintage Chanel

 Before I quit my job, I had been on the search for the elusive, perfect, black tote bag. 
If you have ever been on eBay and those seconds are ticking away, you will understand how I got into this mess. 
  I missed out on a vintage Chanel because the seconds ticked away before I hit "Buy It Now". When it popped up as re-listed, I impulsively bought it.  

This purchase violated a few of my eBay rules. 
I usually don't buy unless I've had time to check out the feedback on the seller. 
I also don't buy unless there are quite a few photos so that condition can be determined. 
 Japanese sellers are my preference for designer items. They have very strict laws concerning the selling of replicas. 
All three of these rules were violated with this purchase. 
There were some nerves when this vintage Chanel showed up on my doorstep. 

The first thing that stuck out when it came, was that it looked like it had had a bad dye job. 

Dye was coming off of the surface. 

The corners were trashed. 


It did look and feel authentic, however. 

There was a brief moment when I opened up an eBay dispute so that I could return this bag. Unfortunately, when I rechecked the listing, the seller did not accept returns and the damage was visible in the photos. 
I closed the dispute. 
I was out of luck. 

Here is how I resolved the many issues with this purchase. 

Excess dye can sit on the surface of an item if too much dye has been applied. 
The first step was to remove that excess dye with acetone. 
The whole surface was rubbed down and then left to dry. 

The corners needed work. Glue and a little more black dye was applied to the corners. 

There was a huge issue, however, with the breakdown of the foam quilting. 
A new Chanel has very puffy quilts. 

The inner material broke down on vintage Chanels from this era.  
This didn't happen with my other vintage bag but this one felt powdery. 
On some Japanese eBay listings, the seller would indicate "blow powder". 
I always wondered what that meant. Now, it was abundantly clear. 
I literally vacuumed out the bag. It would take care of the problem for a day or two but then the powdery feel would return. 
The broken minute foam fibers were coming through the vinyl lining material. 
What? How? 

Let me interject at this point that Chanel will only work on bags less than five years old. 
There are bag restoration companies but no more money was going to be spent on this bag.

Opening up the lining and cleaning out the innards was the only way to solve this problem. 
Handbag construction is not unfamiliar to me, so seam ripper in hand, it began. 

In the zeal of cutting away the remaining lining material, I nearly cut through the outside of the bag. 
Thankfully, I saw what I was doing. 
The damage from my cut was confined to one of the pockets so it was not visible from the outside. 
 It was repaired with a few stitches and a little glue. 
All the foam particles were vacuumed out of innards. 

This bag had no structure anymore, so cardboard was inserted in between the lining and the outer walls to give it some. 

The straps were too long for a modern silhouette so six inches of chain was removed from each side. 
Some of it was added to another bag to give it an updated length. The rest was made into a bracelet. 
Vintage Chanel chain was gold plated which they don't do anymore. Just FYI.  

The dated and rumpled shoulder pads were also removed. 

The inside was a big black hole. 

A new lining in the classic Chanel burgundy was created out of heavy duty felt. 
 I'll do a post about bag liners/organizers at another time.  

Embellishing my Chanel with a cute and trendy poof in addition to the vintage bag charm was the final step in the transformation of this bag. 
Bag charms are still a strong trend. 

This vintage, black Chanel tote is not the dowdy and down trodden girl it once was. 

80's Chanel Tote, Vintage and Rehabbed

Not bad for a 30 year old bag. 

Here are some modeling shots. 

The bag can get a little heavy which is a bummer. 

Thanks for letting me share. 

Thanks for sticking this one out until the conclusion. 
Check out my Lure Of The Bag Pinterest board for tips on how to style vintage handbags.
Pin, Share, Comment.
The Pin It Button is in the top left hand corner. Hover over and "Pin It" it will appear. 
Have a wonderful day.

Here is where I party:


  1. It seems very interesting to use for some casual parties, and some functions. You have been my guide for some good dressing techniques also. I used to visit for this kind of helping material. Thanks a lot for being such a good guide for me.

  2. I stayed with you through the whole post as you give me courage to tackle things I wouldn't normally try to repair. I'm not a vintage purse gal, but I do have an expensive purse of mine that I've saved to try to figure out how to fix the frayed handles. I just might give it another go!

  3. Well, this little baby turned out drop dead gorgeous. You are so smart to be able to redo it so beautifully.
    I've done the same thing on ebay...when the clock is ticking and it's something you really REALLY want, our fingers click those keys before we know it. And, your modeling photos are adorable.

  4. You do such an amazing job with these vintage purses. Have you thought about a new career? also love those boots. super cute!

  5. Very beautiful bag...but If you want to save money while shopping online, here lots of options like ladies handbags online at

  6. Surely this handbag has been made from the quality material for which it seems to be a good choice. It sure is all about getting the quality writemyaustralia which majority has been looking for.

  7. I read it all ! I have wanted a Chanel bag however seen to always stick to my Louis Vuitton bags.
    I thought is was very informative how you refurbished this bag to look great.
    Now if I find a vintage Chanel in bad shape I know who to call for help.
    Thanks for this post about saying the japanese sellers on ebay are Ok I have seen few bags I would like and wouldn't buy from Japan


  8. Some of it was added to another pack to give it a refreshed length. The rest was made into an armlet. Vintage Chanel chain was gold plated which they don't do any longer. Just FYI. and eat Fruits

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  10. Hey gorgeous!! This was such a fun and informative post. My favorite part was how you used the felt lining, it was so smart! I recently purchased a vintage Chanel bag and the inside is basically "blow powder" as well so i've been looking up and down for cost-effective solutions instead of replacing the lining so this gave me a really good idea!! I'm going try it :) Thank you so much for sharing!

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