Brilliant Vintage Map Suitcase Tutorial

How to Upcycle a Vintage Suitcase with Maps

I love decorating with maps and for my latest project transformed a vintage suitcase with them. This upcycled map suitcase is the new storage place for all my travel memorabilia, photos, trinkets, maps etc that I collect on my holidays. It also looks great next to my upcycled personalised map chairs.
I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to fabric, yarn, paper and other crafting paraphernalia. Ideally I would love to have it all on display in my own studio but unfortunately that’s not possible. Also if my stash was visible to everyone than the extent of my craft hoarding habit would be laid bare for possible criticism! Overall, I have found that vintage suitcases are a stylish way of storing my secret craft treasure. My collection includes a case for my yarn stash, (well some of it), and another is full of stationery including my washi tape addiction.
Make a fabulous map suitcase, by upcycling a vintage suitcase with maps.   This map suitcase has maps both on the inside and out.  Full tutorial.
Vintage Suitcases
Stationery Suitcase
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What you need to make a map suitcase

  • Vintage Suitcase – I bought mine for £2 it was a simple cardboard suitcase with a few scratches but as you are going to decoupage it you can cover the majority of them. The main thing to make sure is that the hinges and the catches on the case work fine.

  • Wire wool, scissors, rotary cutter & mat, pins & glue brush

  • Cardboard – any old cardboard from delivery boxes is ok

  • Cavallini world map wrapping paper and postage stamps.

  • Map fabric for the inside.

  • Standard PVA glue and either a waterproof PVA or acrylic varnish. (You can use Elmer’s glue instead of PVA)
    I upcycled my map suitcase in 2 stages; firstly I decoupaged the outside with paper maps and then lined the case with fabric.

    Stage 1: Transforming the outside of the map suitcase

    vintage map suitcase
    I didn’t cover the whole of the suitcase with maps I just cut out bits and stuck them on as I still wanted to see the vintage case underneath. The map is for decoration and to add interest not to cover up the whole suitcase. I wanted to achieve a look similar to the suitcases my friend Lisa Tiley from U Old Bag makes and sells.

  • Clean your suitcase with some soapy water and sponge the inside and out. Make sure it’s thoroughly dry before you begin the next stage. Use wire wool to gently rub away any excess rust on the hinges and catches. Don’t worry about removing all the rust as a little will just add to the vintage look

  • Plan your map design and cut out your maps

  • Starting with the underside of the suitcase, cover in PVA glue and stick down your map design. The edge of a credit card can come in handy to gently squeeze out any air bubbles trapped under your paper

  • When the underside is dry, turn your suitcase over and repeat with the top and sides

  • If you have any bad scuff marks that the map doesn’t cover, you can strategically use stamps or printed vintage travel labels to hide these. Personally, I don’t mind the odd scuff mark, since I find it adds to the vintage character of the map suitcase

  • Finally, cover your suitcase fully with a top coat of waterproof PVA (or acrylic varnish) to protect your design. Don’t worry about the PVA looking white and streaky when you put it on, it will eventually dry clear. If you plan to use your case out and about I would use 2 coats of PVA allowing at least 24 hours between each application
  •  Map suitcase tutorial

    Stage2: Lining your map suitcase

     Vintage Map suitcase

  • Carefully measure the inner sides of your suitcase and accounting for a 1cm seam allowance, cut 4 bits of fabric one for each side

  • Fold the top edge of about 1cm over on each piece of fabric and glue this down

  • Cover the 2 long inner sides of the suitcase with glue and stick down your pieces of fabric. The fabric will overlap to the shorter sides and the floor of the case; this is fine just make sure you also glue these bits down. You may find that it helps to pin the fabric while the glue dries

  • For the final two pieces of fabric, fold over and glue the side edges so they are the same size as the case. Glue these in place

  • You’ll need to make a top and bottom panel for the case. Measure and cut 2 pieces of cardboard that will slot into the base and top of the suitcase

  • Using your cardboard pieces as a template cut a fabric piece for each, again allowing for 1cm seam. Wrap the fabric round the cardboard and glue down the seam edges to the underside. You may find it easier if you mitre the corners
  •  Lining a map suitcase
    I love my map suitcase and may use it out and about and not just for storage. I bought another vintage suitcase at the same time I acquired this one and I am already thinking about how I’m going to transform that one so watch this space.
    Tutorial for a vintage map suitcase
    Upcycled vintage map suitcase - Wait till you see the inside it's even better.  Full Tutorial

    Map Roses

    Don’t just throw away any map paper scraps use them to make some gorgeous map roses.
    How to make map roses. Lovely home decoration and great Valentines gift. Flowers that don't wilt and die.
    Here are some of my other Map upcycling projects you might also enjoy:
    How to make personalised map chairs
    Easy map table mats
    Upcycled map magnetic board
    Ikea hack map table
    & here are some other suitcase upcycles.
    Easy no sew denim suitcase tutorial
    Upcycled vintage suitcase side table


    58 Responses

    1. Ilove your map suitcase! It matches my desk and globe lamp that I just blogged on.

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you. Just looked at your desk and lamp they look great.

    2. What a great idea. I particularly like the maps on the inside of the suitcase.

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you, I really like the lining too it’s a nice surprise when you open up the case.

    3. Fabulous, if only a suitcase this size would hold all of my travel stuff! thanks for sharing on craft schooling sunday!

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you, you could always have another one.

    4. This looks beautiful, I love the inner maps!

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you, yes I agree the inside does look great.

    5. This is awesome!
      I hope you’ll share your suitcase with Idea Box :


      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you, and thanks for the invite.

    6. this is such a cool idea! love it! thanks for sharing xx

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you

    7. Claire, this is so darn clever! And I love the pictures where you are holding It. Really cute!
      Thanks so very much for sharing at Something to Talk About!

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you very much, I just took the photo in front of a neighbours garage doors as I love the colour for background shots.

    8. I just love the look of your suitcase! I picked up a box of maps and I have many vintage suitcases….I could do this! I always hesitate on upcycles because I am afraid I can’t do it right and in the process ruined some great vintage pieces. Your method seems easy enough!

      • Claire Armstrong

        You should definately give it ago. You can layout your maps before sticking them down to see how it would look

    9. This is great! Love the vintage suitcases paired with the maps!

      • Claire Armstrong

        Cheers ! Yes I do think they go well together

    10. […] Brilliant Vintage Map Suitcase from Claire @ Pillar Box Blue […]

    11. […] has a fab use for those old maps on Pillar Box […]

    12. Hi I just wanted to stop by and first thank you for linking up to the #HomeMattersParty last week. And also to let you know that this post was selected as one of the featured posts for the party this week. You can see at Make sure to grab the I was featured button to display proudly in your sidebar. Thanks for linking up and hope you come back and visit us again.

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you for selecting my post as a feature.

    13. Janice@Curtains In My Tree

      That is so unique
      you did an excellent job

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you very much

    14. this is such a creative idea, thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. Pinned xo

      • Claire Armstrong

        Cheers ! Thanks for hosting.

    15. […] Katie’s favorite this week is the vintage map suitcase. […]

    16. […] Brilliant Vintage Map Suitcase from Pillar Box Blue […]

    17. Really nice! I love your creative idea and I love vintage…
      Greetings from Belgium, Sigrid

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you that is really nice to hear.

    18. Party in Your PJs #70 - Bumblebreeblog

      […] Vintage Map Suitcase […]

    19. […] Vintage Map Suitcase | Pillar Box Blue […]

    20. […] Vintage Map Suitcase | Pillar Box Blue […]

    21. […] Vintage Map Suitcase | Pillar Box Blue […]

    22. […] Branch Ladder on The Summery Umbrella | How to Upcycle a Vintage Suitcase with Maps on Pillar Box […]

    23. I found this over at Hometalk’s Instagram page. Such a cute project. I would love it if you would stop by and share it at my Sunday link party: Celebrate it Sunday! I think my readers would love it! I am pinning this and sharing over at FB and Twitter! Hugs, Chloe

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you ! And thanks for the invite

    24. This is so cute, I love it and it would be so easy to personalize with specific maps! great idea! Thanks for sharing with us at The DIY Collective Link Party! I hope you come back and link up again next week! – Cassie @ Little Red Window

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you ! Personalising with maps is what I love to do.

    25. What a fabulous project! I thought it was so great on the outside, and then you went and did the inside with map fabric and it was like… OK… I’m totally in love now. I’ve got to find me a vintage suitcase so I can do this too. Thanks so much for sharing this at Vintage Charm Claire. Hope to see you at the next party.

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thanks ! It shouldn’t be too hard to find a vintage suitcase for this project. As you are covering both the outside and inside, it doesn’t have to be perfect to start with.

    26. Oh my–I love this transformation! Great job!

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you very much !

    27. Hi Claire! I just popped back in to let you know that I’m featuring your fabulous suitcase at Vintage Charm tomorrow. Thanks so much for linking up your amazing projects.

      • Claire Armstrong

        Thank you very much look forward to seeing it !

    28. […] totally in love with this vintage map suitcase upcycle by Claire at Pillar Box Blue. Honestly… she had me with the outside, but wait until you see […]

    29. […] totally in love with this vintage map suitcase upcycle by Claire at Pillar Box Blue. Honestly… she had me with the outside, but wait until you […]

    30. Pam

      I love it. The inside looks so cool I would be tempted to display it somewhere and leave it open.

      • Thank you ! I love the inside too it’s a nice surprise when you open it.

    31. […]   Unfortunately there isn’t a tutorial here but if you follow the tutorial for my Vintage Map Suitcase you can easily make your own.       7. Superhero Closet – Polish The Stars […]

    32. […] collected over the years tend to just sit around in a draw, well I actually keep them in the Map Suitcase I made last year. I have used some of them in crafts before like with my map chairs. This time I […]

    33. I don’t what I’m more charmed by- the inside or the outside of this suitcase project?I will be hitting the thrift stores this weekend to find my own vintage suitcase to decorate. Thanks for sharing at the #ThisIsHowWeRoll Link Party.

    34. I just love this! You have such a creative mind and it’s very inspiring to see the things you do. The suitcase with maps on it is darling to begin with but to use it for storage and carrying your crafty things is perfect.

      Happy Thoughts of Home. 🙂

    35. Your suitcase is so cute! Your tutorial made it look pretty easy, as well. Thanks so much for sharing. On the hunt for vintage suitcases now! 😀

    36. This is absolutely fab! Love it, must give it a try. Those style of suitcases are hot property now, quite hard to get hold of reasonably priced ones! This would work great for bashed up cases in need to some love!

      • Thank you very much! I always manage to get my cases really cheaply as I picked the more unloved ones to revamp.

    37. Claire, what a cool way to upcycle those vintage suitcases!! Love the map lining! Great idea to hide the craft stash in the suitcase. 🙂 Thanks for linking up at Sweet Inspiration!

      • Thank you very much. I stash a lot of my craft supplies in vintage suitcases, I have one just for yarn.

    38. Love this suitcase! Maps are so fun to decorate with! Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday!

    39. […] pick : Brilliant Vintage Map Suitcase | Pillar Box Blue (PIN […]

    40. Good Morning!! I wanted to stop by and let you know that your post has been selected as a Feature post for the Welcome Home Wednesdays Link Party!! Stop by this morning to see your post linked up and don’t forget to grab your Featured Button too! ~Lisa~

    41. […] spoon wreath This map suitcase is so […]

    42. Hi. I love your suitcases!! I was wondering if I could use your photos? I work for a non-profit and we post a daily devotion everyday on Instagram and Facebook. I’m always looking for different photos to use. I wanted to ask be doing so. Thank you so much!

      • Thank you ! You can use one photo as long as there is a direct link back to Pillar Box Blue.

    43. ok, I like the cute suitcase with the maps inside and out but I’m curious what that footlocker is used for!! LOL I have one that was my Dad’s from his military days and want to keep it but it needs to be useful to take up space in my home! TIA

      • Thank you. Being English I’m not familiar with the term footlocker, but if you mean the big metal trunk, I use that to store the families ski clothes in.

    44. […] you will probably like some of my other popular map crafts. Treat map hearts for Valentine’s Vintage map suitcase Map heart ornament   If you are making map roses as a gift for someone because they love maps, […]

    45. What a wonderful idea! I’ve always loved maps of any kind. I’m an armchair adventurer, though. When I saw your project, I immediately thought to use a suitcase lined and covered with maps for a cat bed. I’d put some kind of small pillow in it and leave it open on top of the stack of large wicker baskets I have. The cats love to be up high and I love maps–so, there ya go.

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