I love old suitcases. They may be antiquated luggage, but they have so many other things going for them. I’m not the only one that feels this way. People like old stuff, they like objects that tell a story and have a history. But the connotations of travel bring another level of excitement to these already awesome objects. When you think of travel, you think; adventure, exotic sights, and the unknown.
I think that’s what drew me to start my collection of old suitcases in high school. At the time, my best friends were traveling throughout Europe and it made me start to day dream of what it would be like to go to a place so different from the small town where I grew up (which I eventually did, but that’s another story).
Most of my collection came from my Grandma White. You might call her a hoarder. Well, she has a lot of stuff, but she’ll also give you any of it if you ask, so maybe that’s not really hording.
She gave me this suitcase probably 10 or 12 years ago, and it’s in pretty much the same condition now as it was then.
I’ve always really liked it. I could tell that it was a diamond in the rough. It has good bones.
Recently I was scavenging in the attic looking for something when I came across my suitcase collection and decided that I was finally going to tap into its potential.
Though a little rough around the edges (literally), I didn’t want to really change the outside; it was the inside that was making this beautiful and interesting piece unusable. I didn’t want to use it for storage or anything else in the condition that it was in. The fabric was musty, ripped, heavily stained, and pulling away from the exterior (exposing old, sharp, hand-forged nails. Ouch!).
It had to go.
With the lining removed, the case already looked a lot better. I even liked that the lid was lined with an old newspaper. Unfortunately, I didn’t see a date anywhere on it.
It was at this point that I decided that this case could make a nice display/carrying case for my artwork when I go to shows. Since I would be using the case in the open position at shows, it was important that the inside be lined and clean-looking, despite the shabbiness of the exterior.
I had the perfect fabric for this project. A gold, velvety material that I inherited during college, and I had just enough! The fabric and the case combined remind me of my old cornet case.
To line the suitcase I first cut out three pieces of book-binding board, to fit into the bottom of the case. This was a little tricky, but I eventually got the pieces to fit into the case nice and snugly.
Next, I covered the boards with the fabric. I used an iron-on adhesive to adhere it to the boards.
The covered boards fit very tightly in the base of the suitcase, so I didn’t bother gluing them down. I want them to be easily removed in the future if needed.
For the lid of the suitcase, I cut down a piece of thickest piece of cork board I could find and covered it with the same fabric. Then I tacked it to the lid using small nails, both original and new. The cork board is a way to easily attach products to the lid for display at craft fairs.
To keep the lid at a 90 degree angle, I attached some grossgrain ribbon in a contrasting chocolate brown.
I get a really deep satisfaction of a well executed DIY project, which I consider this to be. I got something that I needed (a display), used materials that I already had and treasured but wasn’t really using (the suitcase and fabric), and kept the integrity of the original piece while adding a bit of my own story to it.
Do you have a DIY project that you are especially proud of? I’d love to hear about it! Tell us about it in the comments below, or better yet, post a picture of it on zween’s facebook page.