DIYdiy projects

kate spade fun: gold leaf bag

by Grace Bonney

Good morning guys! I’m a little blurry-eyed this morning because I think just about every inch of my face (and living room) are covered in gold leaf. Last night I participated in an event that Erica from PS I Made This hosted at Kate Spade. Along with six other style/design bloggers I put my crafty skills to the test and customized a Kate Spade London bag. Everyone had different ideas (check out Erica’s twitter feed for updates and images of other bags) but I chose to go with gold dots inspired by the gold polka-dotted zipper pouch in the bag’s interior. Rather than paint it, I used gold leaf (imitation, it was was more affordable) to create big shiny polka dots that felt very Kate Spade to me. I’m going to test this out for a holiday-related DIY later this month, but I thought I’d share my steps with you this morning in case you felt like getting crafty with a bag of your own. Happy Crafting! xo, grace

*P.S.: Barb will be teaching us how to silver leaf frames for Before & After Basics this week! Stay tuned for that on Thursday…

Full how-to steps (and pictures of the adorable mini hotdogs they served!) after the jump!

You’ll Need:

-Clear contact paper
Gold (or silver) Leaf
Spray Gold Leaf Fixative (I used one from the brand “Mona Lisa”. Look for it next to the gold leaf sheets. I preferred it to the liquid fixative)
-Scissors or Exacto Knife
-Several round cans or objects you can use to trace for your circles
-Soft paint brush
-Plastic bag or sheets of paper (to cover bag while you spray fixative)
Sealer (to cover dots when you’re done)


1. Clean your bag’s surface (this works best on leather, vinyl or a smooth fabric. Bumpy fabrics are a little too rough for this material) so there are no sticky patches or dirt.

2. Using a square of contact paper (just cut into 5 or 6 inch sheets if you have a roll) fold the squares in half and trace 1/2 of a circle against the folded edge (like how you would make a snowflake or heart for a card). Keeping the sheet folded, cut out the half circle portion so that when you finish cutting you have a circular hole in the contact paper. (You’re using the hole portion of the paper as a stencil, NOT the circular shape you cut out)

3. Cut the excess contact paper off of the sheet so you are left with about an inch of contact paper all around the circular stencil.

4. Lay the contact paper stencil on your bag in a desired location and press to attach, smoothing out any air bubbles. It helps to stuff your bag with paper or something to fill the interior so you can get a smoother surface on the outside.

5. Cover the rest of your bag with newspaper or a plastic garbage bag so you only have the circle stencil showing (You’re going to spray fixative and don’t want to get it on the rest of the bag or the gold leaf will stick to that).

6. Take your bag outside (or in a well-ventilated room) and spray the stencil with the spray fixative. Spray two LIGHT coats from about 10-12 inches above the stencil.

7. Wait 2 minutes for the fixative to set and then gently lay the gold leaf, gold side down (if you leave it attached to the tissue paper) on top. Smooth gently until you can see it’s covered the edges of your stencil (You’ll see the outline through the gold leaf). If you need multiple sheets of gold leaf to cover the circle it’s ok, it will smooth out and look beautiful when you’re done). I used a piece of fabric to gently press down on the gold leaf and make sure it had attached. An old sock works perfectly- just rub gently on the gold leaf surface and make sure it’s sticking to all of the fixative in the stencil.

8. Gently remove the excess paper or plastic bag from around the stencil then gently peel off the contact paper revealing your gold leaf circle. Using the soft paint brush, brush off any excess gold leaf. (If the edges of your circle are jagged, just tap a little extra gold leaf on them with your fingers and press down. The fixative should pick it up and then you can brush away the extra for a smoother circle line.

9. Repeat with different sized circles until you’ve reached your desired pattern.

10. Coat the dots with the sealer, let dry and you’re good to go!

Adorable mini hotdogs at Kate Spade. Though I seriously wouldn’t have expect less from them- they are the masters of cuteness. :)

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  • Super duper cute! I love the idea of the gold leaf, I’ve been thinking about using it on a furniture DIY, but found metallic gold spray paint that looks like the real thing!

    for something as delicate as this though, gold leaf is PERFECT. And the polka dots go perfectly with Kate Spade!

  • There is nothing in this world, including an already-cute Kate Spade bag, that a little gold leafing can’t improve.

  • That is gorgeous! Such a great idea…were you nervous? :) I would have been a wreck, knowing I would mess it up somehow! Did you get to keep it, I hope? Just beautiful….

  • Great job Grace, the bad is adorable. I so think you need to expand into more clothing, accessories and home goods next!

  • I love it! Very tasteful touches of shiny. I do have a question, though- gold leaf is so delicate, even with fixative and sealer I wonder how durable the bag would be under normal wear & tear?

    • chrissy

      i think really rough wear and tear would lead to marks here and there, but you can easily touch it up with more gold and new sealer. i’ll let you know how mine wears :) i made the bag as part of the event without really thinking about the day-to-day wear of it (i didn’t know we got to keep them, i figured they were just sort of a display thing) so i’ll test this out and see how durable it is. but i really think a coat of poly on top is pretty durable.


  • This is stellar! I can only imagine how cute a matching teensy tiny polka dot patterned wallet would be tucked into this sweet bag.

  • stunning – very kate spade indeed – in fact, it should be added to the line!
    polka dots make everything better – sunshine in a bag!

  • Every time you have something about gold leafing I make a comment saying you need an entire section of this site dedicated to gold/silver leafing. Its like a drug, once you start to gold leaf something you cant stop and you want to gold leaf everything.

    p.s. you know what works great for smoothing out gold leaf? makeup brushes…particularly blush brushes that are clean and unused. Just swirl around over the gold leaf and any lines will disappear!

  • Grace, that’s brilliant! I lovelovelove that bag, and the gold polka dots are surprisingly perfect with it. Bravo!

  • what was the name of your adhesive exactly? and would ot stick to cotton or silk and be able to.be hand washed? if not do you know anything that will?

    • hi elijah

      i used 3M’s spray adhesive. i don’t know about gold leafing on anything being washed, i doubt it would stand up to that :(