How to Decoupage a Suitcase

Written by katharine godbey
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How to Decoupage a Suitcase
Turn an old suitcase into a home accessory with découpage. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Vintage suitcases were manufactured from stiff, lightweight materials and covered with a water-resistant paper, leather or fabric. Although they may not be ideal for travel today, these stylish suitcases have a new purpose in home decorating and storage. A popular way to recycle a suitcase is to découpage the outside with cut paper or fabric, creating an updated look to coordinate with a room's decor and for storing craft supplies, children's dress-up clothes or memorabilia.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Hard-sided suitcase
  • Wash cloth
  • Towel
  • Decorative scrapbook papers or cotton fabrics
  • Scissors
  • Découpage glue
  • Disposable plastic plate
  • Sponge paint brush
  • Box-cutter knife

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  1. 1

    Wipe the surface of the suitcase with a damp wash cloth to remove dust and residue. Take care not to use too much water. Wipe the suitcase with a dry towel.

  2. 2

    Cut the papers or fabrics into small rectangular shapes. Match the sizes or cut various sizes as desired. Lay the shapes out side by side, overlapping slightly, to correspond with the suitcase's dimensions. This will help you visualise how the finished project will look and help you estimate how many pieces are needed.

  3. 3

    Pour a small amount of glue on the plate.

  4. 4

    Paint the glue over a small section of the suitcase's surface. Press the first piece of paper or fabric over the glue and smooth it.

  5. 5

    Brush glue onto the adjoining area and apply the next piece of paper or fabric, overlapping the edges with the first piece slightly. Smooth it and continue the process until the suitcase's sides are covered.

  6. 6

    Allow the glue to dry. Reapply glue to loose edges, and trim off any extra paper.

  7. 7

    Apply a thin coat of découpage glue over the decoupaged area and allow it to dry until it is clear and smooth. Drying times will vary. Apply another two to three coats of découpage glue, allowing each coat to dry between applications.

Tips and warnings

  • Instead of passing up a quality suitcase that does not suit your colour scheme, spray paint the outside of the suitcase prior to the découpage steps. Be sure to use painter's tape to cover any hardware before painting.
  • Use scraps of fabric leftover from a decorating project to découpage a storage suitcase to be use in the same room.
  • Thinner papers and fabrics will adhere best.
  • A box-cutter knife should be used with caution to prevent injury

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