Tinker Around

Welcome to my blog. It is full of basic projects and tutorials for things that I have done and feel like others out there would benefit from learning too. Be sure to take time to leave me a comment. Thanx, Pam

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gaining Storage and Decorating that old Luggage

Well, I said that this would be an informative blog, so let's get started on recycling that old hard sided suitcase that you found in the attic when you were putting up all the Christmas decorations.  This really is a quite simple thing to do, and makes the luggage almost like added furniture depending on how you use it.

Any luggage can be stacked and used as an end table as long as you have it securely stacked and the heavier pieces are on the bottom.  They can also be used as separates to hold dog toys and clothes, your yarn crafts, or just to store away seasonal blankets.  It is up to you what you want to put in them, I just decorate them.

First of all, let's talk about the different kinds of luggage and how it is put together.

Any luggage or suitcase that is made of fabric gets painted on, though you could do some sort of needlework on it.  Silk ribbon embroidery would look nice.  IF I am painting on a fabric suitcase, also known as soft sided luggage, then my choice of paints would be the Fabric Paints that are put out by Plaid.  They stay soft, not rubbery like an iron on, and you can barely feel where the paint is at all.  Really enjoy using this paint!!

There are two kinds of hard sided luggage.  There is the kind where the sides and front are smooth, the surface wraps around and leaves nice crisp curvatures.  Then, there are the ones that have gathers at the curves.  Now, let's talk about the later one first, the one with the gathers.  These are difficult to cover and therefore, I usually just paint them, like in the photo above.  Secondly, there were the ones that we mentioned with all the smooth curves.   These are great to cover with old book pages, fabrics, sheet music, anything that you can put  onto it with glue.  Yes, glue.  I use the cheapest, most inexpensive school glue that I can find.

Let's back up just a bit.  A project can only be as good as the prep that goes into it, so let's talk about prep.  Clean that old luggage up.  Take some rubbing alcohol to it, or any of your favorite household cleaners and get off everything that you can.  You are not worried about accidentally taking any of the color off or anything at this point, you are gonna cover the whole thing anyway, you just want it smooth.  Now, I hope you are one of those folks that gets those disposable foam brushes when they are on sale, we are gonna use a few.  First of all, pour a good amount of the glue out onto some sort of old throwaway lid or styrofoam plate.  Use the foam brush to put a thin coat of glue over about 1/4th of the suitcase, lay your paper over that and use a brayer to roll over it and get all the air bubbles out, then take and put another coat of the glue over the top.  Yes, my nice brayer is now nasty with dried glue and I will have quite the time getting it all off.  Now, 1/8th of your project is finished, 1/4th if you are only doing one side.  Repeat this project until the entire case has been done.  Let it dry for at least a day, it looks so good, don't rush it.

Did you wait?  Ok, take it out to the garage where there is plenty of ventilation and take some of those foam brushes with you.  Open your favorite can of sealer, mine is a glossy polyurethane.  You could use a spray, but it isn't good for our environment and it just doesn't go near as far.  Take your time and do this right, it is better to do two or three thin coats and not have to worry about drips and globs.  Do one side and let it dry for the amount of time it calls for on your can, then repeat.  After the first side is finished, do it all over again on the second side.  Do not think that sixteen coats of poly will protect your suitcase even more.  After about two or three coats it will start to cloud up, once it is clouded you will have a matte finish.  Once it is clouded there is not really anything that I know of that you can do about it.  IF someone has an answer for unclouding the over sealed item, please post it below under comments!

In this photo, The one in the back is the gathered edges and was a really learning process.  Learning that those are easier to just paint and go on.  
The Dick and Jane in the front, that is the one I like to cover.

So now I ask you, which suitcase do you wanna tackle first??  These are so much fun and so useful.  I sell them every year at craft shows and people are just so full of ideas as what to do with them.  I even have one that I did up for a train collection and it is on wheels.  Go for it!  Have fun with these and if you start early, you will have them all done up for gifts for your friends for birthdays and other holidays!  Be sure to send me pictures of the ones you do.

See you in a week, oh, what are we going to discuss??  How about if I show you a project that I did on my bedroom wall.  Lettering is not a hard thing to do at all, and it makes quite the statement!


  1. AWESOME! I love the Dick and Jane case. That would be a great decorating theme for a nursery. I'm thinking maybe I can do one with old sheet music for Phillip to use to hold all his piano music (I'm tired of it littering the floor by the piano).

  2. IF you need some music let me know. I have some extras. I get old beat up stuff at sales. After it is all glued down, and before you polyurethane it...you could antique it. Just a thought.

  3. I really like your Blog! But 6:30 AM???

  4. Linda,
    I don't know what you are talking about. LOL. Yes, it really did say that I posted at 6:30am. Sarah showed me how to put it to the proper time zone. Thank you for pointing that out, I should make you my proofer!!! You should like next weeks blog "Writing on the Wall". See ya in class on Monday.

  5. Kate, what a great idea. I have been trying to decide how to store all my piano music. Now I will go hunting at the antique stores for old suitcases. Yay!

  6. Welcome Pam, Great blog! Another way to cover the suitcases... Plaid makes a higher grade of decoupage medium called "royal coat". I love it. I covered a hard overnight bag about 15 years ago with it using wrapping paper and it still looks brand new. It leaves a shiney coat and you can't dent it with your fingernail. I used it as the glue and the final coat. ez!
    2nd I gotta say you look so familiar. We lived in Lewisville and I taught for about 3 yrs there at MJDesigns. Maybe we talked or something. It was about 15 yrs ago... sigh, I feel old now.
    hugs, Pam Miller

  7. Pam, When you do a lot of cases though, it can get costly. Thank you for sharing, I do like Royal Coat on smaller projects!!!
    I have only been in the Lewisville store a couple times, and it was about 6 or 7 years ago, so I don't know. I do a lot of one stroke stuff?
    Thanx again for posting.

  8. good job. You just get better and better!

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