Monday, 22 December 2014

Up-cycling a Vintage Suitcase: The Grand Battle

So I have never re-done a suitcase before, I have never even used a glue gun, it was one huge experiment that went pretty well I think!

About a fortnight ago I was walking to work in zombie mode, really not feeling it, having one of those kind of days, y'know, just bad. When I happened upon a pile of rejected stuff, suitcase stuff. Now I must admit I have a massive thing for old luggage, to the point where back home in England I have several finds from car boots still hanging out in storage (at one point I was banned from collecting any more....). My pride is a steamer trunk (£15 on ebay, a steal!). So, of course, I had a root through and found a lovely little suitcase (it is in the pic on the right not the left). Sadly all the others were beyond hope, otherwise the doctors bag would have been taken too. But frankly it stank and was kinda filthy so I had to rush to the store to buy some bin bags so that I did not dirty up the rather nice apartment I was working in that afternoon.

I just want to say it REALLY smelt. Carrying it home I was acutely aware of it. So I stuck it on top of the washer in the bathroom and plotted my next move (whilst my two roommates febreezed the hell out of the bathroom at regular fifteen minute intervals. I am not going to detail the ins and outs of the war, but lets just say it was A WAR. I can only assume the white stuff on it was mold....

In brief the onslaught went as follows:
1.Wiped the outside thoroughly with warm water with washing up liquid and French Ariel equivalent.
2. Had a go at the inside with it.
3. More febreeze than is possibly required.

Momentarily thought I had conquered it OH NO. Ten min later it came back through the febreeze.

4. Washed it again with stronger solution, more thoroughly then left it to dry for 24hours in a really warm room.
5. Still bad, it is suggested I use lemon juice, so I dilute some lemon juice and tree oil (because the latter is anti-bacterial) in a spray bottle and blitz the inside. Blitzed the inside with the solution and left to dry. This was a miracle- it halved the smell.
6. Repeated miracle step.
7. Read that cat litter helps, persuade a friend to give me some kitty litter, throw it in, close it up and leave it for a week. 

At this point it had been kicked out the bathroom on the grounds of being an annoyance, both in location and smell. Despite my claims of it being way better than upon its arrival.

I lived with it for a week, kinda got used to the smell, started coughing more, got paranoid it was the case, but by this point we had bonded... So I decided to gut it.

It did not look great. 

Gutting the top was hard because it had a pocket, so whereas for the bottom half I just ripped it out, for the top I had to attack with a craft knife. It felt GOOD. As I had been contemplating the drastic move over the weekend prior, I had popped to Ikea on our free Ikea bus (so happy to discover we have a free Ikea bus!), and bought some rather lovely entomological themed fabric for 5E a meter.

I was not prepared for how fiddly this was....

I measured the inside panels and drew out one huge panel that was the two long interior sides and the base, plus the two sides and cut these out to put aside.

I initially thought I would trace around the panel inside the lid directly onto the fabric, but when I pulled it away some of the card came with it and I was worried about the structural integrity of the inside, so instead I dug out some cardboard Amazon packaging and made a template from the original panel onto that.

I forgot to take a photo here, after I had cut out my cardboard panel I threw out the original rather gross one and stuck the fabric on with my brand new glue gun, pulling it taught as I went.

Then by hand I stitched up the lining for the bottom. It took a while....

Me making sure the side panels were level.

Then I placed it all in to see if it fit, it did. So then I started gluing.... HAHA It was messy.
I did the top first which was easy, glue and then press it in. The bottom was, uh, not so easy.

So I pegged the bits of leather that used to be attached to the lid out the way, then pinned part of the lining excess to the top edge of the suitcase- this was so I had something to work against. I started with the top right corner and glued that in place and then gradually worked around, taking special care with the corners.

Demonstrating the use of my new gun. (Or more helpfully doing a corner).

I found when it came to doing the top seam it was just fiddly and there was no way of escaping it. It helped to peg bits in place so I had something to work against, but no matter what this seemed to be a pain. I just took it bit by bit, putting hot glue on the suitcase and pressing the fabric in, then moving along, until I had done the whole thing.

Et voila! Fini. Looks good right? 

It wasn't perfect because it was rather warped so the lining isn't totally straight but for a first attempt with little practice at this kind of thing, I am quite proud. And ripping out the inside really helped. Ignore the incense, I will actually fill it with incense now and leave it closed a while longer whilst I ponder exactly what I am going to use it for...

Case closed. Haha. Battle almost over....

I have not quite finished it, I will probably put something on the exterior leather as it doesn't feel great after my attack. But as I am sat here writing this I can't smell the suitcase, so that has to be a good sign. 

Co-habitation may indeed be possible.

Let me know if you have had any suitcase/similar experiences. I am thinking when I finally get my others back I may do them up too...

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