Who says that suitcases are only meant for traveling? If you unearth an old suitcase in your attic or garage, give it a makeover with sheet music.
Don’t let a beaten or battered appearance, not to mention an off-putting smell, sway you from what it can become. Turn your vintage suitcase into beautiful shabby chic storage decor for a bedroom, living room, office, music room…well, just about any room you can imagine.
There are dozens of uses for this retro transformation and crafting it requires no special DIY skills.
Create a cute vignette for a wedding reception, bridal shower or birthday party by placing your decoupaged sheet music suitcase on a table and opening it to receive cards or to hold favors for guests.
Tea Dying Paper Instructions
If you choose to make copies of sheet music, rather than use the originals, the paper will be crisp and white. Give them an old, aged appearance by tea dying the paper.
Steep 3-4 single serving, tea bags in a cup of boiling water.
Place an old towel on a cookie sheet. Choose a towel that can be designated for crafting as it will also become tea dyed.
Using a paintbrush, paint the tea on both sides of the paper. If desired, rub a tea bag on the paper for variations in the shading.
Lay the paper on the towel and place the cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven.
Flip the paper every 15 minutes until it is dry. Drying time will vary depending on the weather and the amount of steam that’s generated from the dampened towel. Note: While drying time may take longer, you can hang the sheets on a clothesline with clothespins. The benefit to this is you can do all of your sheets at once. If your clothesline is indoors, you will want to lay plastic down to protect the floor from stains.
Basic Decoupaging Instructions
While shapes and angles will be different on most 3-dimensional objects, basic decoupage techniques will be the same. Use these simple steps throughout, noting other special instructions within the project.
Using a paintbrush or sponge brush, apply Mod Podge to an area slightly larger than the paper you are applying to the surface.
Lay the paper over the Mod Podge and press with your fingers to remove wrinkles and air bubbles.
Apply another coat of Mod Podge over the paper.
Continue decoupaging more paper to your project, overlapping the edges of the previous piece.
Decoupaging Your Suitcase
Things You Will Need:
- Vintage suitcase
- Rags, all-purpose cleaner, vacuum
- White craft paint
- Sea sponge
- Sheet music
- Mod Podge, decoupage medium
- Paint or sponge brush
- Craft knife
- Folk Art Home Decor Antique Wax
- Paper plate
- Stencil brush
- Mod Podge will be white when wet, but will dry clear.
- If you need an alternative to Mod Podge, slightly thin down craft glue with water. The dried finish tends to be a bit rougher so a sealer applied to the finished piece is recommended for easier cleaning.
- Some wrinkles and bubbles are inevitable. To eliminate more wrinkles, a brayer can be used. To eliminate bubbles, pierce bubbles of a partially dry surface with a straight pin and press with your fingers.
What To Do:
Thoroughly clean the surface of a vintage suitcase.
If also covering the inside of your suitcase, remove the lining. This is usually an easy task of simply pulling and peeling. Old adhesives tend to become dry and brittle over time and are basically ineffective. If the lining does give some resistance, a craft knife and scissors should help with removal. Sand rough areas and vacuum the interior. This process should also remove any horrible odors. If not, mist with your favorite odor eating spray and allow the suitcase to dry and air out.
Moisten a sea sponge with water and squeeze out. You want it damp, not wet. Dip the sponge in white craft paint. Sponge paint over the handle, hinges and locks. Do not worry if excess paint gets on the surface of the suitcase. If your suitcase is like the suitcase in this example project, paint over the border straps. If a different suitcase, paint any decorative trim or elements that will not be papered. Allow the paint to dry.
Open the suitcase. Note: If you are not covering the inside of the case, tape off the top of the cloth lining. Paint the top edges of the opening in the same way as the outside of the case. Allow the paint to dry.
Cut music sheets into four similar-size pieces. If desired, you can cut smaller sizes and/or tear for a scrappy edge. Start with 8-10 sheets at a time, cutting more as needed.
Measure and cut paper pieces to fit around hinges, locks, handles and any other hardware on your suitcase. Decoupage these pieces in place.
Cover corners. If your suitcase has outer corners to cover (the example does not), place paper over the corner. Cut slits with scissors, fold over and decoupage the overlaps to mold and shape the corner.
Framing-Decoupage around the edge of the lid. DO NOT fold into or decoupage inside the edges of the opening.
Decoupage the remainder of the lid’s surface within the framing. Note: Cut, trim, tear and rotate the paper pieces as desired. Allow the Mod Podge to dry.
Repeat the lid instructions for the bottom half of the case. Allow the Mod Podge to dry.
If covering the inside, open the suitcase. Place paper in the corners. Cut slits, fold and decoupage the overlaps to mold the inner shape.
Fold a paper piece in half. Fit it in the crease between the side and bottom of the suitcase. Decoupage in place. Repeat around the entire bottom perimeter. Apply the same instructions to the lid.
Continue to decoupage the sides, bottom and lid in the same way as the outer surface of the suitcase. Allow the Mod Podge to dry.
Use a craft knife to trim any paper that may extend past the opening edges of the case on the inside and outside. Lightly sand the open edges as needed to remove any ridges of dried Mod Podge.
Pour a small amount of Waverly Antique Wax on a paper plate. Dip a stencil brush in the wax. Scrub off most of the wax onto the paper plate. You want the bristles to be almost dry. Wax over all the painted edges and painted surfaces using the circular motion. Repeat until all paint has been covered.
Suitcase Embellishment Ideas
The example suitcase was embellished with burlap, lace, fabric, rosettes, feathers, a skeleton key and beads. A stenciled quote was also added and the battered handle was wrapped with fabric. There are many different embellishments that can be applied to your suitcase to personalize to your own tastes and home decor.
The following are more embellishment ideas that will make your decoupaged sheet music suitcase a one-of-a-kind treasure.
- Copies of vintage photos, randomly scattered and decoupaged over the sheet music.
- Cover from an old sheet music book. Decoupage to the suitcase in the same way as the sheet music.
- Silk or handmade fabric flowers-Silk can be reclaimed from previous arrangements or purchased new. Search the internet for hundreds of easy fabric flower tutorials.
- Costume jewelry-Grandma’s old jewelry would be a perfect addition to this vintage makeover.
- Small rusty tidbits-Old metal hinges, door knob plates and decorative appliques are just a few suggestions.
Undoubtedly, these old suitcases hold stories and memories of long-ago travels. Why not up their whimsical charm with a unique upcycle. So what are you waiting for? Brave the dark recesses of your home’s storage areas or head to a local thrift store to find your own suitcase to restyle.