Vintage Suitcase Repair & Free Digital Download

I’m such a sucker for old luggage. Completely functional vintage suitcase storage that looks so much cooler than Rubbermaid bins.I found an awesome OshKosh suitcase at one of my favorite little shops, Pick of the Litter, a Forgotten Felines thrift store in Santa Rosa, CA. (Scout isn’t very happy when I bring home things that benefit cats.)It was marked $8/As-Is because it was missing a handle…and, well, you know I love a good challenge!So I made a handle. I’ll show you how, although the chance of you having a suitcase like this with hardware like this needing a replacement handle is pretty unlikely, let’s just call this a lesson in general creative thinking and problem solving.

I could’ve just tied or braided fabric or twine into the hardware brackets, which is actually a very cute option, but where’s the challenge in that? And, I’ve been wanting to use the fabric spine of a too-smelly-to-read-vintage-book in a craft, and thought this would be the perfect opportunity. However, the book I wanted to use was just in too nice of condition to cut into, (Bible History, c.1881-1936.) So I scanned, Photoshopped (adding my name, of course) and recreated the book images for printing onto fabric sheets in my desktop printer.
I designed a pattern to follow for cutting scrap leather and fabric pieces out.(I know, my pattern sort of looks like a geometric female reproduction system, or maybe it’s just me.) Anyway, I had to make split end straps that would feed through the hardware that has center nails going through each which I found impossible to remove.Using the patterns, I cut out some ugly burgundy leather scraps (because the leather really won’t show,) as well as the printed fabric, and allowed for fold-over of the fabric pieces.I wrapped the leather pieces with the fabric and taped secure on the back. I cut an additional strip of leather for sewing to the underside of the handle.With my sewing machine, I stitched the handle pieces together and the end tabs separately. I stitched right through the tape and removed most of it afterward.I folded the ends of the handle pieces and slid them through the hardware brackets around the nail with the nail centered into the punched hole.Using E6000 adhesive, I glued the fabric tabs onto the ends and clamped with my handy-dandy plastic clothespins.The end tabs hide the cut ends and keep them from splitting apart and slipping back through the brackets when lifting the suitcase by the handle. Ideally, the split in the leather would be coming from the opposite direction of separate end pieces then attached with some beefy grommet to a center handle. Since I don’t have said equipment, this is the next best thing. This handle is more decorative than practical, so I will take care in lifting if the case is filled with anything heavy. For now, it makes a cool display and storage piece.I created a free digital download of elements from the book spine and ornament for you to use for your luggage or any other project, including gift hang-tags. Just click to enlarge and save.

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