Creative LMent

I believe that creativity is a powerful skill that can be practiced and developed. I hope my blog inspires you to find your very own "creative lment". ~LM

DIY Suitcase Sewing Kit

Motivation to “create” comes to me in many forms.  Sometimes, it’s simple curiosity, other times, it’s outright need.  A “need” was what most certainly what started the motivation behind my latest infatuation.  After receiving a bill of $130 to hem 5 simple cotton dresses (and 5 pairs of unhemmed yoga pants still waiting in the queue at home), I decided it was time I learned to sew.  The idea made more and more sense the longer I pondered it – in fact, why hadn’t I thought of it sooner!  Not being one to waste time, I quickly scouted out the most highly recommended, most affordable, sewing machine I could buy locally.  1 generous funding contribution from my loving husband (thank you honey!) and 6 days Sears-delivery-time later, and I was on my way to becoming a “sewer”….giddy!

Of course, there was the little matter of sewing supplies.  Never having sewn before, I was unsure of what to buy, how much of it to buy, and what to do with it all once I got home.  With three beautiful, but overindulged, cats in the house, every project I do requires constant monitoring.  If I’m not actively engaged in a project, then everything  needs to be tucked away, far from the reach of curious paws and pink noses.  Leaving anything out is just asking for trouble.  Not wanting to spend a fortune, I decided to look around the house to see what could be reused.

That is when I had the idea to use a novelty suitcase  – one which had originally been given to us as a gift basket.  While the case was not durable to use as luggage, it was terribly cute.  I hoped one day I could find something equally cute to put inside of it – and now I have.  With just a few simple supplies, I converted it into my very own custom sewing kit.  

To make this, I first did some research online, looking to be inspired by a similar project.  However, I could only find examples using wood or fabric inserts, or ones designed by tools I did not have.  Since I did not want to use a drill – and I did not own a hole punch capable of making holes in the centre of scrapbook paper, I had to come up with an idea that worked for me.  I started thinking about pegboard – which I didn’t have either, but I realized that I could use foam core board and a simple skewer to create the same type of functionality as pegboard. And this is how I created my very own, custom DIY Suticase Sewing Kit. Useful for other hobbies besides sewing, I thought I would share the steps I used to do this project, in the event you wanted to try it as well. 

To make this, I reused a piece of foam core board (I had used in an old art project) as the foundation for the insert.  I cut it to the exact proportions to the inside of the suit case cover, then cut some scrapbook paper to fit.  I also used acrylic paint (to paint out the edges since my scrapbook paper was a little on the narrow side), a foam paint brush, a glue gun (with extra glue sticks), some elastic and a bamboo skewer. The only item not shown is glue – which I used to adhere the scrapbook paper (edges) to the form core board. If you have any large pieces of foam packaging or extra core foam board, grab it as well – it will provide protection for your working surface when you go to poke the skewer through to make your holes. To finish off the project, I also had a few other items on hand, such as stamps, ribbon and buttons, but these are not required.

After I cut the foam core board and placed my scrapbook paper over top, I realized that the paper didn’t fully cover over the edges  – so I painted out the white (that would show on the edges) using black acrylic paint with a foam brush.  If you use larger paper, then you won’t need to do this.

Once the edges were dry, I adhered the scrapbook paper onto to form core board using thin strips of double-sided glue strips.  Be sure to just glue down the edges – you don’t want to try and skewer through layers of glue later!  For decoration and a bit of fun, you can see I used the foam brush to soften the edges (it’s totally up to you if you want to do the same).

The next step was to determine what items I wanted easy access to and how I wanted those items organized. I had to be sure not to place items too high, as the lip of the case would restrict access to pulling them out later.  So, I limited the number of items and kept them fairly low.  At this point, I snapped an image of the layout with my camera, just so I wouldn’t forget where everything was supposed to go.

Once I was happy with where everything was placed, I then took a pen and made tiny marks to indicate where I wanted to create holes.  These holes will be used for the elastic, which you will add later.

Pushing the skewers through the foam core board (and the scrapbook paper) was very easy.  To do this safely, I placed Styrofoam packaging (from my new sewing machine) underneath it, so I didn’t have to worry about damaging my table.  It worked like a charm!

The only elastic I had on hand was a little on the thick side, but you know what, I actually like how sturdy the final product turned out (because of the thickness).  To insert the elastic into the holes, I just curled the ends to make a tip and then poked them through, screwing them in a little to push them through to the other side.  Once they were through, I placed the item (in this example, scissors) in their new holder, pulled the elastic back to create a reasonable amount of tightness, then tied the back.  So easy!  Once I had all the elastics on, I took the additional step of gluing a small piece of folded black ribbon (to make a loop) which I glued to the back (top middle).  Once the board was inserted and facing the right way, the loop of ribbon was just long enough to tug on.  This will help me remove the foam core organizer should I decide to add one or two more items to it down the road.  Last by not least, I added a few finishing touches, such as my initials and a few coordinating buttons, which I just hot glued on.

Since it was especially important that the insert sit snug inside the case (since the case was going to be opened and closed regularly), I tightened the fit by using a little strip of hot glue on the bottom edge of the foam core board.  The hot glue provides a nice rubbery grip and creates a tighter fit – helping to ensure that the insert wouldn’t  fall during use.  Once I was done, I put the insert in, stood back and admired my frugal yet useful creation.  By using the supplies I already had, and recycling the suitcase and the foam core, this project ended up costing me $2.25.  Not bad.  With case in hand, I put on my “determined face” and headed out to the design studio for my first ever sewing project….(stay tuned!).

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4 comments on “DIY Suitcase Sewing Kit

  1. suemac
    April 25, 2012

    hope you can get a few good sewing lessons under your belt; I just came back from a quilt retreat….51 ladies & what fun, inspiration & fellowship that we shared; I’m ready to go again, but have to wait for another year. I’ll be busy scrapbooking this week. Good luck with your new found passion; hope you won’t be disappointed.

    • CreativeLMent
      April 27, 2012

      Thanks Sue – yes, I would love at this point to take a few basic courses, just to understand some of the techniques. I’m glad you had such a great time at your retreat, they sound wonderful!!

  2. Lynda MacDonald
    April 26, 2012

    Best wishes on your new endeavours! Enjoy using your new sewing machine,Lisa Marie! Love your creative blogs!Thank you for sharing.

    • CreativeLMent
      April 27, 2012

      Thank you so much! Within 4 days. I already finished 2 projects….I think I’m hooked! :D

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