How to Stiffen Leather Purses

Stiff Leather Purse

Is your leather purse all floppy and soft to touch?

Does the soft exterior give it an unappealing look?

Are you looking for an easy way on how to stiffen a leather purse without damaging it?

Apologies for sounding like a commercial, but we wanted to make our point and get your attention. So, let’s cut to the chase and talk about solutions ― water, heat, and wax. Those are your answers to stiffening a leather purse. No, you don’t need to buy any leather stiffening sprays because they don’t always give you the desired result.

Lack of sturdiness and rigidity can make leather develop uninviting creases. Whether it’s your new designer purse or one you’ve had for a long time and love dearly, sooner or later, you will see some signs of wear. The good news is that you don’t need to go to high lengths to fix your leather purse’s shape. So, without further ado, here are the top three methods on how to stiffen a leather purse:

Things You Will Need

  • A Pot of Cold Water
  • A Pot of Hot Water
  • Beeswax
  • Hammer

Method #1 to Stiffen Your Leather Purse

by Soaking It in Cold/Hot Water

Method one of how to stiffen a leather purse is carried out in two steps.

Step #1

First, depending on your leather purse’s size, fill a bucket or pot with cold water. Soak the purse in it, and let it stay for 10 minutes. Make sure that the zippers stay above the water’s surface to avoid the lining from getting wet.

Step #2

Boil water in a pot until the temperature reaches 180°. Use a thermometer to check the water temperature. You need to soak the purse in the water at the right temperature, or it might get damaged. If you can easily immerse your hand in hot water without wincing, it’s good to go.

Take out the purse from cold water, and soak it in hot water. Let it stay for a couple of minutes. If you see the purse start to curl and darken, don’t panic. This is a sign that the hot water is doing its work. Keep in mind that if you take out the purse too quickly, say 30 seconds, it won’t be inflexible despite being a bit hard.

Note: The longer the purse stays in hot water, the stiffer it becomes.

When the water starts to feel cool to touch, you can take out the purse and shape it as you desire. You will have a one-hour window to mold the purse. After that, the material will start to dry. You can either use your hands or a hammer to straighten the purse. After you are done, leave the purse out in the open to dry.

Fair warning, your leather purse might not look the same after you have stiffened it. All that soaking will shrink its size, so it won’t be as roomier as it once was.

Method #2 to Stiffen Your Leather Purse

by Baking it

Yes, you read that right! We are talking about putting your leather purse in an oven. Here are the steps on how to stiffen a leather purse by baking.

Step #1

Turn on the oven, and set the temperature to 120°. Soak the purse in room temperature water, and let it stay in for 30 minutes.

Step #2

Mold the leather purse in your desired shape. The leather is wet, and we want it to stay that way for the material to dry in the oven. You will find a little difficulty in maintaining its shape. Use stitches to lock the sides in place, and dry it slightly for 5 to 10 minutes.

Step #3

Place the purse in the oven in the position you want it to stiffen, and let it stay in for 90 minutes. Don’t increase the temperature because you might end up with a severely altered purse that has shrunk too much.

Step #4

Wear oven mitts, and remove the purse from the oven. Remove the stitches while they are hot, or you will have trouble taking them out when the purse has cooled down.

Method #3 to Stiffen Your Leather Purse

By Waxing it

Waxing is a more complicated and dangerous method of stiffening a leather purse than soaking in water and baking. It involves applying hot wax on the purse to stiffen the purse and give it a new shine. Let’s look at how to do it:

Step #1

Follow step #1 of the soaking method and the complete process of the oven method.

Step #2

While the purse is baking, melt a block of beeswax in a pot using a double boiler. Both the leather and beeswax should be hot when the latter is applied.

Step #3

Place the purse on butter paper, and apply the beeswax using a large paintbrush. If the leather soaks up the wax, it’s slowly stiffening. If it doesn’t, it means that the leather was not hot enough.

Step #4

Keep coating the purse in beeswax until the leather gets cold. You will see the leather-changing color, and once it no longer absorbs beeswax, set aside to dry.

Our Final Thoughts on How to Stiffen Leather Purses

Don’t throw your soft leather purse to the back of the closet and think nothing can’t be done. We suggest you try the tricks mentioned above. Moreover, we highly recommend you devote a good amount of time to purse maintenance. Clean it, condition it, stuff it with crumbled butter paper, place it in a soft cotton cloth, and store it in a box.

There are plenty of ways to maintain your leather purse and hundreds of products that can help you keep its original shine. In our opinion, the most effective one is waxing, but we suggest you start with soaking. In the end, all you have to do is condition your leather purse at least twice a year and keep it in a dry place so that the leather doesn’t get damaged. This will keep your purse in good shape, and you will seldom have to stiffen it.

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