How I Revived a Marc Jacobs 'Scooter' Bag with Tarrago Dye

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Earlier this year, I saw a thread in TPF's Balenciaga forum where a woman had dyed a bag white and the transformation blew my mind. Seriously, color me sold.

I followed her instructions to the letter in hopes of getting similar results out of a well-loved ivory Marc Jacobs 'Scooter' bag I bought through Poshmark. It's hard to see the extent of the wear in the pictures (the lighting makes the bag look whiter than it was), but believe me—there was cracking and fading aplenty from years of use. Challenge accepted.

{View the original thread here.}

I started off by pulling out the lining and cleaning it with Palmolive dish soap. I attempted to spot-treat the pen marks with rubbing alcohol, but didn't have much success—I'd say of all the bag interiors I've cleaned up, this one was the most resistant to my tender, loving scrubbing.

The dye, Tarrago Self Shine Color Dye and Preparer #1 (White), arrived in the mail the same day. After scrubbing down the bag with Weiman Leather Wipes (which honestly didn't seem to do anything), I got my supplies together and set up shop on the balcony.

My supplies included:

• Tarrago Self Shine Color Dye and Preparer #1 (White)
• Trash bag (to shield table from dye)
• Sponge Brushes
• Apron
• Scotch-Brite Scouring Pad
• Rubber gloves
• Roll of painter's tape (to protect interior lining/hold phone upright on the table)
• Q-tips (for thin strips of leather and hard-to-reach areas)
• Toothpicks (for detail work)
• Leather wipes
• A sick playlist (which in my case consisted 100% of Bad Religion songs)

I started off by pouring some Tarrago Preparer onto a scouring pad and used it to scrub the leather. I let it dry for a few minutes (but should have waited 15+ minutes—oops!) before preparing and applying the first smear of dye.

Wild, right?

For a while, I followed the guidelines on the box—that I should use the little brush to apply dye to a small sponge, which should in turn be applied to the leather—but eventually resorted to dipping the little brush in the dye pot and applying it directly to the bag with my left hand while using the sponge brush in my right hand to evenly distribute the dye.

Time flies when you're having fun, so the first layer was done before I knew it. I left the bag outside to dry for a few hours before bringing it inside to admire.

Both sides (listing pictures)
Both sides after Round #1

For whatever reason, there were spots on the front and back that refused to take the dye... during my second session the following morning, I carefully dabbed just enough dye over the stubborn spots with a Q-tip to give later layers of dye something to grab onto. I gave the straps an additional coat or two and even tackled the inner area with the gold-embossed "Marc Jacobs" logo. (The toothpicks came in handy here!)


The overly-white areas were the result of my own stubbornness—I kept applying too much dye in an attempt to cover the spots, which then ended up getting absorbed by the area around the spot instead of by the spot itself.

I painted an additional thin layer over those spots a few hours later, then ran out of dye before I could apply a follow-up coat. D'oh!

Original Listing Pictures
Round #1
Round #2 / #3

A week later, I touched up the rough spots on the back and gave the front one final coat. I could have easily kept going, but I'm going to consider it 'finished' for the time being!


I did try using the leather dye on the rectangular "Marc Jacobs" plate, but the result ended up looking kind of barfy. I used alcohol and a Q-tip to remove the dye and decided to just leave the color alone. (It adds character to the bag IMO!)

So, to recap:

Original Listing Pictures
Round #1
Round #2 / #3
Round #4 (Not much different from Round #3 TBH)

Original Versus Final:

Original Listing Pictures
Round #4
...and so began my addiction to buying and re-dyeing leather handbags.

(I wish the 'after' pictures were better, but this bag is oddly difficult to photograph. It's like this bag and I were made for each other.)

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