Big initial M Have you ever bought something you thought was really great, used it once or twice, and left it to sit in your closet for four years? Of course you have! We ALL have.

It's My Bag before @ 72dpi In my case, it was a black leather Ameribag. This is the little back-pack-like bag that’s supposed to be easy and comfortable to carry, even when it’s loaded with STUFF. Now, that claim is pretty much true. There’s something about its shape that distributes its weight in such a way that your shoulders don’t hurt five minutes after you’ve slung the thing on.

It has two drawbacks,though. First, they’re pricey, especially in leather, which is what I got, despite it being on sale. Second, mine sort of looked like a big black gumdrop, which is why it ended up in the back of my closet for so long. Until I remembered it was there and realized I could paint it!

Cosmetic sponges I used a technique I described in a post last year where you apply four or five or six colors of Lumiere over a black background, using a cosmetic sponge to dab and daub on the color. Below is a closeup of the kind of result you get.

I started by prepping the leather surface by rubbing it with a cotton ball moistened with rubbing alcohol. Then I picked my colors: Lumiere’s Pearl Violet, Metallic Bronze, Super Copper, Metallic Russet, and Metallic Olive.

It's My Bag paint detail @ 72dpi

I dabbed them on sparsely one at a time, and let each color dry before dabbing on the next. If you try this, don’t mush the sponge around or you’ll end up with mud instead of nice distinct colors. I used the flat bottom of the sponge and dabbed the paint on horizontally, then at the end I did some vertical dabs with the edge of the sponge to create more visual interest.

It's My Bag backpack purse @ 72dpi Let me show you the finished bag, then tell you about the detail painting and the leather beads I added.

I painted the trim, piping and pocket flap on the front in the solid colors, using the colors I had dabbed on. Then I went fishing in my stash and found some leather beads in the shape of leaves that I’d gotten years ago at a bead show. These are actually two pieces of leather glued together with a channel in between for the beading thread. Using Fireline and a leather needle (for penetrating the leather flap), I stitched down the leaves.

It's My Bag detail @ 72dpi This was just fine – for a couple of months. Then I discovered two things. One, I just wasn’t happy with the big block of Metallic Olive on the flap. It was too different from the nice daubed appearance of the rest of the bag.

Also, the leather beads started coming apart and drooping (in this photo they are still behaving themselves). When they did this, you could see the Fireline and the whole thing starting looking tacky instead of wonderful.

So I finally decided to change things. I took off the beads and painted the flap a solid black with Neopaque Black. The black mostly hid the holes from where I’d stuck the needle through the flap, and I liked the effect better. Then I went back to my stash to find a more durable embellishment.

I ended up the other half of a pair of embellishments I’d made, the first of which I used on a demo sandal, which I wrote about a few weeks ago. (If you want to know how I made it, click on that link.)

The result worked much better to my eye. I may do some fine-tuning, but for now, here’s my edited and revamped Ameribag!

It's my bag take 2 @ 72 dpi

If this type of bag interests you (or your shoulders), you can get one on sale at the Ameribag site or ebay, where you’ll find other people like me, who bought one and stuck it in the back of their closet. And if you don’t like the color it comes in, paint it!

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