I’m going to start this with a bit of a disclaimer. Suitcases come in all shapes and sizes, and they have all sorts of different fittings, handles, hinges. They’re made from various different materials, and no two will ever be the same – even if they look totally similar! So here’s a few tips and techniques to get you started, in the hope that you’ll be able to figure out the rest yourself. Of course, if you come up against any problems, let me know and I can see if I can explain a little further, but for now, here’s how:
You will need two contrasting fabrics – one outer, and one lining. I used around 75cm of each fabric for my size case. To help see what you need, I’d measure the top, and the height. You’ll need two tops and two strips of height for both the lining and the main fabric, and that should do it.
Glue – we used Cartonnage Glue
(an awesome glue that is quite similar to Mod Podge)
A craft knife; scissors that you don’t mind messing up (no dressmaking shears here, please).
Cut the your outer fabric to the same size as your suitcase, with 2cm extra all around. Then cover the base of your suitcase with the glue, spreading it thick and evenly. Lay the fabric over the glue, centrally, and smooth it so there are no creases or bubbles.
Cut snips at approximately 2cm intervals around the edge.
Cover with glue around the edge 2-3cm up, and stick up the flaps you’ve cut. The slits cut should help you go neatly around the corners. Be prepared to get a little messy – think back to primary school and covering your hands with PVA type messy, and you’re on the right track.
It should start to look something like this.
Measure the side of your suitcase, then add about 4cm to the width. Cut a strip of outer fabric to this size. You’ll need one or two strips to go around the edges, depending on the size of your suitcase.
Spread glue over the side of your suitcase. Lay the fabric face down, lining up 1-2cm in from the base edge of the case. Then spread a bit of extra glue on the 1-2cm fabric that is touching the case.
Fold the fabric up, and smooth down on the side of the case. The last step gives you a nice neat folded edge.
Carry on in this method around the edge of the case, until you get to the hardware at the front.
Carry on gluing as normal, sticking your fabric over the top of your locks etc.
With your knife, cut a cross over the metal parts to allow you to get to them later. Then leave for the time being. Cut extra space around your handle and any other hardware.
Cut slits and the excess fabric over the top edge just as you did for the base. Then repeat this entire process for the top of the case. Then put aside to dry.
Once your glue is all dry, return to the hardware, and using your craft knife, trim all around the edges as neatly as possible. You may find that the fabric is stuck slightly to the metal, but give it a tug and it should all come free. The fabric will have hardened so you can get a nice clean cut with your knife.
Spread some extra glue all around the cut edges of your hardware. It’ll dry clear and seal any raw edges so they won’t come undone over time.
Cover the handle the best way you can manage. If the handle doesn’t need covering, don’t bother, as it can be one of the trickier bits.
Cover any hinge on both the inside and the outside before starting covering the inside. Once this is done, start covering the inside using the same techniques you used on the outside.
Cover the sides first, folding a neat edge along the top, and overlapping the bottom.
I actually made a bit of a mess of the bottom of this one – but luckily managed to save it with the use of some handy apron tape
… It is worth pointing out that you need to keep the area around the rim of the main case and the lid as finely covered as possible, as if the fabrics are too thick, you’ll have trouble closing it. With this case, I actually over did it. With a few taps of a hammer to slightly soften and curve the rim on the base I got it back in to fit – but it is tight
. I’m hoping it will loosen up with use. On the last one I made, a slight sanding helped.
Don’t worry about leaving too much glue on your outside – it’ll dry clear and you shouldn’t see it. Put it to one side to dry while getting on with the contents of your case.
The next installment will be on the 9th January, when we’ll make a mattress to perfectly fit your case!