Upcycled Statement Purses

Posted on by Ashley      12 Comments

What I Made:
Upcycled STATEMENT Purses!

My name is Lynzie Norquist and I’m excited to write this guest blog for Thrift Town. The stores are an amazing resource for crafters like me. I’m the owner/designer of Sea Siren Designs in San Francisco, CA. I truly enjoy designing cuffs and wearable art with rescued treasures. “With a little imagination, one lady’s lost earring can make one heck of a bracelet!” I encourage you all to take a look in your jewelry boxes and the Thrift Town jewelry case for orphan jewels just waiting to be rescued and worn again.

What: Upcycled black handbag with super trendy vintage owl embellishment.













What: Upcycled straw bag with floral and seashell embellishments.













What: Classy black evening bag with gorgeous one-of-a-kind vintage shoe clip.















When: February 2013

Where: I bought two nice quality black purses and embellishments at Thrift Town San Francisco and the straw bag and embellishments at Thrift Town San Leandro.

  • Owl handbag $9.99 -Vintage Owl $9.99
  • Straw bag $3.99, Flower .99, shells $2.00
  • Fancy evening bag: $3.99, Vintage shoe clip $3.99

Note on the shoe clip: The type of rhinestones, the style and the remarkable craftsmanship make it the perfect treasure to use as a focal point. This shoe buckle is so pretty that even after the era was over it looks like somebody turned it into a brooch. Clips like this go for about $25 and up  on ebay.

Why:  I wanted a statement bag with quality embellishments for just a little money.  My dilemma, luxury retailers sell beautiful clutches with high end embellishments for hundreds of dollars and big chain retailers sell purses with low quality embellishments like acrylic rhinestones and sequins that are still pretty spendy. I got creative with vintage embellishments and handbags from Thrift Town to solved my fashion dilemma!

How in 10 Steps:

  1. Select a basic purse/bag and your embellishments. It is important that the purse be without hardware or without any object that would take away from the focal point. Hunt for a purse or clutch that can be used as a blank canvas. Search for a piece of jewelry that has a flat back.  The size and style should compliment your bag.
  2. Get all your supplies neatly laid out and make sure you have them all before starting.  Materials NEEDED: Purse and embellishments, safety goggles, ruler, E6000 glue with nozzle, wire cutters, toothpicks, tailor’s chalk, Goo Gone (emergency glue removal), clean rag & toothbrush, syringe with a tip that works with E600 glue. (Photograph shows only some of the needed items.)
  3. Snip extra hooks, clasps, chains, pins, etc. with wire cutters from the embellishment. Wear eye protection because things can break off and fly in the air!
  4. Measure twice… Be very clear where you intend to place the embellishment(s). The glue may leave a residue if you have to move your embellishment and it can be very challenging to clean up. It is a good idea to use a ruler if you want to center your embellishment. You can mark the spot with tailor’s chalk. This helps to ensure perfect placement. It’s more than okay if you choose to ditch the ruler and “eyeball” your project by choosing random placement(s). (It would be really cute to place several flowers randomly on a bag. Back to Thrift Town I go!) When the layout looks good, then you can commit to the next steps.
  5. Fill syringe with the E6000 glue. Follow directions on the syringe package. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE GOOD VENTILATION WHEN USING GLUE.
  6. It’s time to channel your inner “Vintage Surgeon”.  Moderately glue the underside of the embellishment with the syringe. You can apply glue with a toothpick as well, but I highly recommend the syringe. The goal is to apply the perfect amount. Too much will ooze out on the sides, and too little you risk losing the embellishment while out on the town. (This Owl was a little tricky. I was very generous with the glue on the solid sections and used very little near the openings. )
  7. …Place once! Hold the glued embellishment(s) and land it/them right where you want and gently press down. Now that your decoration is placed, look over your work. If it is “ooze free” go to step #8. If you have glue that oozed, not to worry, just take a toothpick and swipe the excess wet glue off the sides of the embellishments. Make sure the embellishments stay put while wiping away any extra glue. I you have an accident on your purse, I suggest you use a little GOO Gone and water and wipe the bag with a clean rag.
  8. Wait for the glue to dry for about 8 hours. Leave purse in a dry ventilated place like a garage or near an open window. Lay bag flat so the embellishment does not slide downward.
  9. Touch up. Pick off any dry glue that pokes out. Remember it is best to try to keep your project clean right out of the gate, so don’t rush the above steps. After it dries take a clean toothbrush from your toolkit and softly brush off any glue dust.
  10. ENJOY your new statement purse and all the compliments that go along with it.

Additional Resources:

  https://www.michaels.com/ Great place for Goo Gone, wire cutters, E600. Check for their coupons online.

  https://www.jansjewels.com/  Vintage rhinestone scraps, wire cutters,  large selection of rhinestones and vintage rhinestones  (Mail order 20.00 min.)

  https://www.generalbead.net/     E6000 glue, tools, large array of rhinestones and vintage rhinestones. This is minutes away from Thrift Town San Francisco.

  https://www.dreamtimecreations.com/  Syringes, wire cutters, E600 and a large supply of rhinestones. (Mail order only.  Look online for coupons.)




I am the art director and marketing manager for Thrift Town. I have worked for Thrift Town for just about twenty years and I'm passionate about thrift, decorating, entertaining, crafting and, of course Thrift Town.


  1. this rocks!! this is exactly what i try to do everytime i go to thrift town!

  2. kattie miles


    • Thank you Kattie, Sea Siren Designs is currently working on doing that! Thrift Town will comment on this post if Lynzie’s items become for sale in any online or Bay Area shops.

  3. These are beautiful. I especially love the owl purse, but I can’t tell what the owl was, a brooch? It’s just lovely.
    Thank you for sharing these, dahlila

    p.s. YOU’ve got to love Thrift Town! 😉

    • The Owl was originally a pendant. Lynzie says, be careful when snipping off the loop.

  4. Great post. What are your recommendations for cleaning the purses, inside and out, and eliminating the musty smell? Thank you.

  5. Kelly Wheat

    In love with your designs! Big Fan!

  6. I'm in love!

    Just love everything you do! A true artist. Can’t wait to meet you!

    • Thanks Kelly, Lynzie is my sister. I passed your note along to her and she was excited to see it. She says you are in Dallas and we have a store in your neck of the woods. The address is on our store finder on our webstie. I know Lynzie wanted you to have a coupon. We are currently handing out our cute little savings packs at the registers right now. Happy Holidays and Happy Thrifting! -Ashley