Wedding Wednesday – It’s in the Cards, Suitcase Tutorial

Wow! That is all I can say. I am right in the middle of the DIY wedding project I want to show you today. I was thinking about all the DIY brides out there and how many cute things there are on Pinterest for the vintage theme. The vintage suitcase seems to have taken center stage along with the must have mason jars. We can talk about the mason jars another day but, for today let’s take a look at the suitcase.

First, a lot of vintage suitcases are made from cardboard and then covered with some kind of canvas fabric. I have bought and sold quite a few of these so trust me I have checked out the construction. So if the suitcase is made out of cardboard why not make your own. No, I am not kidding. Why would I want to make my own you ask?

Well, there are several reasons you might want to make your own suitcase one of those reasons being price. Since the suitcase has become a popular reception prop the price has sky rocketed. Now if your family or friends have beautiful vintage suitcases stashed away in the attic, then by all means use those. If not maybe you will want to try your hand at making one. Another really good reason to make your own, is that you can customize it with paint and trim.

Now I am not going to kid you, there were certain times during this project that I wanted to pull my hair out, jump up and down, cry, and toss the whole thing out. I didn’t, toss it out that is but, the rest of the stuff I did do. More than once.

I hope this tutorial of sorts will make it much easier for you to try your hand at this project.

I am going to make a make up size suitcase.  I think this is a good size to hold cards.

I started with a size 14 Nike bright orange shoe box and I happened to have an inspiration piece, which you can see here

Big shoebox with the lid attached (this makes it much easier) and my inspiration piece

Big shoebox with the lid attached (this makes it much easier) and my inspiration piece

First thing I did was cut the lid and the bottom with a rounded edge so it would look similar to the inspiration

Here are a couple of pictures

cuttingit up cutting corners round the bottom sides will curve

Ok, next step was to open up the box and paint both sides. I used some spray paint I already had. This is where you get to pick the color to match your wedding. I did spray a coat of white on first.

paint it

Once it is dry and most of these spray paints dry really fast now days. Put it back together. As you bring the sides up bend them so they follow around the curves you cut. You may have to trim the sides a little if they don’t curve like you want them to. At this point you could use a glue gun to glue the sides around the curve or you can do like I did and use the trim to hold everything together. (What trim, you didn’t say anything about trim?) I know I am getting to that.

this is the trim I was talking about

this is the trim I was talking about

The “trim” is a paper grocery bag cut into strips. I then used spray glue and attached it around each seam on the box. I just want to tell you, I hate spray glue. It goes everywhere but where you want it. You could probably get yourself some of the brown paper packing tape that is pre glued you know, like you see cardboard boxes sealed with. I know the UPS store has this product. Since I am trying to use stuff you already have or that is free, I cut up the grocery bags into strips.

After you get it all trimmed you can use a brown sharpie and make the “stitching” I am telling you it is all in the details and like I always say ” you should start early if you are going to have a DIY wedding” Just saying.

Let’s move on.

Next step add hardware

Next step add hardware

Ok the next step after you paint and trim. (I went back and added some brown and raw sienna acrylic paint over the turquoise to age it a bit. After all this is supposed to be a vintage case. Right? There is no right or wrong here, just do what you like.

Add some hardware. Now this is when I had a little screaming fit. Just kidding. Ok, I am not kidding, this was irritating. My first attempt at a handle was with a brown paper bag and some plastic grocery bags. I stuffed the plastic bags into the brown paper and rolled it up like a cigar. This was looking good, until I started trying to bend it in place and then it looked like, I don’t know what it looked like, certainly not a handle for an awesome DIY suitcase.

rolled up

So I threw that all away.

Then I thought, why not just take pictures of the hardware and handle of my inspiration piece? Now if you don’t have an inspiration piece there is plenty of clipart out there of handles and hardware, just google luggage hardware and you will be amazed. I would give you a PDF of mine but, sadly I haven’t figured out how to do that, yet 🙂

Anyway, enough about my shortcomings, just find you some paper hardware and print it out and voila! It is starting to really look like luggage, don’t you think? I did not glue the handle all the way down, I wanted there to be a little 3d look to the handle. You can see it in some of the pics.

What else? I used some vintage clothes patterns for my tissue. Oh yes, I did cut out some cardboard letters, since this was going to be used for cards I had to let people know.

cardboard letters

spray paint

Now here are some pics of the finished case. This is not really as hard as I have made it sound. I am excited about this now I could make all shapes and sizes of suitcases. I may make some more to use for different holiday vignettes. We will see. I tried to use common household things most of us would have around the house.

  • Shoebox
  • paper bags
  • print out the hardware
  • paint
  • pizza box
  • brown sharpie
  • spray glue and a little hot glue
  • some patience
Here is the finished suitcase

Here is the finished suitcase


Here it is closed

Here it is closed

It looks pretty good for cardboard and paper. See how the handle looks 3d? (the bottom is not glued down)

Here it is with the inspiration piece

Here it is with the inspiration piece

I hope you will give this a shot and if you do I would love to see it.


The youngster is good. He has a MCL sprain and will need to do a little physical therapy but, it won’t be long he will be back on the field.



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