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Get a Handle T

Feeling strapped? Carry your under-the-leather handbags to these craftsmen, who can stitch and patch without straining your purse strings.

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There's nothing more annoying than digging out your old flea-market scores -- crocodile purses, groovy suede shoulder bags -- and finding that their straps are cracked and their zippers are broken, especially since the trendy new versions cost zillions. Our advice: Get the old ones repaired. The following shops save anything from ratty duffels on up -- and leave you cash for stuff you can't get on 26th Street.

Artbag's known for expert repairs on very high-end bags, but their prices can be very un-Madison Avenue (a nifty trick: They can replace worn sections of crocodile bags with embossed leather). Restitching handles is $38 and up; replacing is from $70. But beware: Remodeling (say, making a tote into an evening clutch) starts at $400. Repairs take up to three weeks. Fordham Repair Center's another great bet for bags (they do work for Kate Spade, Donna Karan, and Eric Javitz), but they're best known for fixing luggage. In addition to doing repairs for companies like Hartmann and Samsonite, they've amassed a huge stock of designer hardware -- a lifesaver when you bang up a lock or a foot on your vintage Vuitton (from $20 per part). Restitching holes on nylon bags starts at $15. Sprucing up color's from $28. Replacing handles is from $65. Another bonus: Jobs take only about four days.

They're slightly more expensive, but for extensive or particularly delicate repair, call Superior Leather Restorers. They specialize in altering leather clothing (for stores like Bergdorf's and Gucci), but these craftsmen are equally adept at restitching anything from slashed Tumi carry-ons to worn alligator. Tricks include sewing up leather without punching any new holes (from $20), fixing tears in nylon (from $35), and custom-making handles (from $250). Work takes about two weeks.

Artbag, 735 Madison Ave., near 64th St. (212-744-2720); Fordham Repair Center, 10 E. 33rd St., fourth floor (212-889-4553); Superior Leather Restorers, 7 W. 30th St. (212-967-0554).

Picks of the Week
Joan Vass is taking half off her chic, comfortable clothes, including luxurious hand-knit sweaters ($120-$300), all kinds of coats ($350-$550), and dresses ($200-$600). 36 E. 31st St., third floor (212-213-0405); A.E., M.C., V.; Thurs. 10-5; 11/9.

Levi's Red and Vintage Clothing lines for men and women, which include lots of tees, jackets, and dresses, are at least half price. Everything's under $150. 261 W. 36th St., second floor (212-947-8748); A.E., M.C., V.; Tues. 10-7, Wed. 8-6, Thurs.-Fri. 10-6, Sat. 10-3; 11/7-11/11.

Chaiken is clearing out loads of chic city gear -- cozy sweaters, wool coats, and sharp tweeds (and yes, those famous pants). Everything's 60 percent off, from $20 to $250. 24 W. 40th St., first floor; A.E., M.C., V.; Tues. noon-6:30, Wed.-Fri. 11-6:30, Sat. noon-4; 11/7-11/11.

G-III Apparel Group makes men's and women's leather garments and outerwear for loads of brands you've seen in department stores. At the sale, the stuff's half off, from $50 to $300. Sizes S-XL. 512 Seventh Ave., second floor (212-403-0500); A.E., M.C., V.; Wed.-Fri. 11:30-6; 11/8-11/10, 11/15-11/17, 11/29-12/1.

Denyse Schmidt Quilts, chic, contemporary styles the design press adores, are up to 70 percent off at the sale, from $800 for a basic one to $2,400. Klisanin Ross Gallery, 26 Second Ave. (800-621-9017); checks
accepted; Fri. noon-7, Sat. till 5; 11/10-11/11.DO NOT PHONE: Send suggestions to Sales & Bargains, New York Magazine, 444 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022-6999, four weeks before the sale.

Check out New York Shops, our guide to the city's best stores, including a five-month roundup of "Sales & Bargains." On sale at newsstands now. To order a copy, call 800-496-7833 ($4.99 plus $2 shipping and handling).


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