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Glue is Worse Than a Four Letter Word

I have been buying, selling, restoring and loving antique purses for over 15 years. When I first discovered that I had some of the talents required to excel in the field of purse restoration, I knew I had been given a special gift. I embrace each purse I work with and when it leaves my possession, a part of me goes with it. The joy of every completed effort is complimented by the customer who appreciates and recognizes the purse as the unique work of art that it is.

One issue I've come to terms with is, I cannot be concerned with the amount of time it takes to achieve the desired results. Each restorative detail must be worked in total harmony with the original nature of the purse. The result is a handbag that has been brought back to it's former glory, strength and appearance, or at the very least, as close to it as possible. No matter what the task, the purse is given every consideration towards originality and precision while fulfilling the buyer's requests and expectations.

Keeping this in mind, I can state most assuredly and without any doubts that glue was never an original component on any antique or vintage purse, whether beaded, mesh or fabric. There may have been the occasional pasted in rhinestones or marcasites on the frame but beyond that, glue was not used to attach a purse to a frame nor a lining or trimming to the interior of a purse. So why would anyone want to use glue on a vintage purse? Simply to save time and make their chore easier. If you are going to have someone repair your treasured purse, ask if they intend to use glue and agree that it will not be used in any way unless absolutely necessary.

Now, I'm not trying to tell you that certain exceptions cannot be made or that the job cannot be done well with glue. For example, some purse frames do not have sew holes on the frame for sewing on a new lining. These purses and linings are crimped into a much thinner interior frame that is then riveted to an exterior frame, hence, no sew holes. If a new lining is needed and there are no sew holes, this is the only situation that I could even remotely endorse the usage of glue, providing the person is exceptionally skilled, able to properly apply the glue so it does not effect the body of the purse or be seen. This is a tricky job that takes practice. If there are no sew holes, do not sew a new lining onto the purse itself because the stitches will cause stress to the beading or fabric when the purse is carried and eventually cause splitting or tearing to the area of the purse where the lining has been stitched.


I am appalled when there are sew holes on a frame but someone uses a glue gun or other means and glues the new lining onto the interior of the frame, or worse yet, the purse itself. The problem is, if you ever want or need the lining changed or altered, you'll experience great difficulty in removing the fabric and the glue. My experience with this matter is that you will not be able to remove the glue successfully without causing damage. Don't forget about the glue that has seeped into all the little crevices of the frame and possibly the sew holes themselves, causing further ruin to the frame. The practice of gluing linings is done by persons that either don't have the skill to sew on the lining or don't care to spend the necessary time to do it correctly for the benefit of the purse and it's owner. It takes time and patience to re-line a purse, making sure every stitch is in it's proper place, in some cases, time is money. However, if a person is skilled enough to pattern and make the new lining, they certainly should be able to sew it onto the frame properly and securely, they simply choose the easy way out.

Consider the strong likelihood that some of the glue will spread or seep under or away from the lining and overlap the purse's fabric. If you have ever seen or handled a purse that has glue on it, you would know that the effected area is ruined. The use of glue on any part of a vintage purse reduces the value in various degrees and pretty much makes the glued area, non-restorable. So, if you have no concern about the potential value of antique or vintage purses, then go ahead and use glue, but if you do care about the future value of any purse you are having restored or about to restore yourself, then put your glue away.

If a purse frame has sew holes, it is a must that you sew the new lining or re-attach original loose linings onto the frame's sew holes, the way it was intended to be done. It is unthinkable that glue would be used for this type of restorative work or to close up a hole, repair a tear or do some other similar mend. Using glue to stop fringes from falling off the bottom of a purse is a huge no-no. Also, stop gluing the trimmings onto the linings, sew them on like they should be and always have been done. Remember, I am not saying that these restorative glue jobs can't be done well, I believe this practice should not be done at all and that the original integrity of the purse should be protected from the use of glue.

So, if you are repairing or re-lining purses and using glue to do your work for you, stop it and leave the labor to someone who loves and enjoys doing it right because when it comes to restoring antique and vintage purses, "glue is worse than a four letter word".

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