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Eco-Chic: Crafting a Denim-Clad Suitcase with Fabric Decoupage

Learn to upcycle an old suitcase into a unique denim statement piece with our fabric decoupage method. No sewing skills needed – just creativity and old jeans!

When I stumbled upon a neglected suitcase on the brink of being discarded, I knew it was the perfect candidate for one of my signature denim upcycles. The transformation into a patchwork denim suitcase was simple, enjoyable and a creative twist to traditional sewing projects.

My fascination with repurposing old jeans has led to various unique home decor items, from a waistband denim rug and cosy denim pillows to a practical denim pocket organizer.

On Pinterest, denim upcycled bags are a hit, and I’ve had my fair share of creating them. However, this time, I wanted to venture beyond bags and delve into something more distinctive – a denim suitcase.

I have always been drawn to the charm of vintage old suitcases, especially for their potential as quirky storage solutions. While I dream of having a studio of my own one day, for now, these upcycled suitcases are perfect for stashing away my crafting supplies.

Join me in this exciting journey of transforming an ordinary suitcase into a fabulous denim-clad treasure without needing a single stitch!

How To Upcycle A Vintage Suitcase With Old Jeans

Materials For Denim Suitcase

  • Old suitcase: For this project, I chose a suitcase that had endured a lot of wear and tear, and I managed to pick it up for almost nothing at my local thrift store. Since you’ll be covering and lining the suitcase, selecting one that’s a bit worse for wear is perfectly fine. The critical aspect to check is the functionality of the hinges – ensure that the suitcase opens and closes smoothly, as this is crucial for the project’s success.
suitcase before
  • Old Jeans – I cut the denim into squares 4cm by 4cm. Therefore, if you have lots of scraps of denim from previous projects, these would be perfect. I also used the two waistbands and the jeans seams from one pair. To achieve a good patchwork effect, you need a variety of denim in different shades.
    jeans stash
  • Fabric or paper for lining your suitcase: I chose a fabric and used almost a meter for a medium-sized case.
  • Strong white glue (PVA) or fabric glue and glue brush
  • Scissors, pins and bulldog clips

The Denim Fabric Decoupage

 As with my vintage map suitcase, I upcycled the outside of the suitcase before lining it.

Step 1: Cut the denim fabric into squares 4cm by 4cm. You will need enough squares to cover the entire outside of your suitcase. A rotary cutter makes cutting the denim straight easier.

Denim patchwork squares for decoupage

Step 2: Apply the decoupage glue to both the suitcase and the wrong side of the denim scraps as you stick them down individually. Make sure that each square touches the next. Start with the top of the suitcase and vary the shades of the denim scraps to achieve a random checkerboard effect.

decoupaging the top of the suitcase with denim squares

Step 3: The sides of the suitcase lid were precisely the width of a jeans waistband. So, instead of squares, I glued the waistband on the sides. One waistband wasn’t enough to go around the suitcase, so I used two pieces of a waistband. I used bulldog clips and pins to hold the waistband in place while the glue was drying.

Securing denim waistbands with bulldog clips

Step 4: This process was repeated with the bottom, sides, and underneath the suitcase using bulldog clips and pins where necessary. To add extra interest, as with the waistband on the lid, I stuck a denim seam around the bottom edge of the suitcase.

Step 5: Finally, as my suitcase came with an ugly plastic handle, I covered it with strips of denim. I would have just left it if it had been a pretty leather handle.

Upcycled denim suitcase tutorial
Upcycled Patchwork Denim Suitcase

How To Line An Old Suitcase

Step 1: Measure the inner sides of your suitcase and, accounting for a 1cm seam allowance, cut your fabric. The diameter of your suitcase will be bigger than the width of your fabric, so you will have to cut two pieces.

Step 2: Fold the top edge of about 1cm over on each piece of fabric and glue this down.

Step 3: Cover the sides of the suitcase with glue and stick down your pieces of fabric. The fabric will overlap with the shorter sides and the case floor; this is fine. Just make sure you also glue these bits down. You may find it helps pin the fabric while the glue dries.

Step 4: You’ll need to make a top and bottom panel for the case. Measure and cut two pieces of cardboard that will slot into the base and top of the suitcase.

Step 5: Using your cardboard pieces as a template, cut a fabric piece for each, again allowing for a 1cm seam. Wrap the fabric around the cardboard and glue down the seam edges to the underside. You may find it easier if you mitre the corners.

Lining denim suitcase tutorial
Patchwork Denim Suitcase - No Sew Tutorial
No Sew patchwork denim suitcase

Conclusion and Other Ideas

This revamped denim suitcase has become the perfect home for part of my fabric collection, neatly tucked alongside other suitcases that cleverly conceal my crafting treasures. While it is a stylish storage solution, it could easily be repurposed as a chic weekend bag.

I’m continuously searching for vintage suitcases to transform and am excited to turn the next suitable find into a unique cocktail cabinet. How would you creatively repurpose a vintage suitcase?

Decoupaging denim is a fun alternative for those looking for no-sew denim projects and is a great way to decorate for big fans of upcycling old jeans. It is also easy and eco-friendly to use those small fabric scraps.

Did you know you can also use denim in a fabric version of paper mache, like with this denim fabric bowl?

You’ll find all my denim upcycles here, and check out these decoupaged denim projects;

Other fabric decoupage projects on the site include this gorgeous fabric mirror and a Kaffe Fassett decoupaged vase.

Patchwork Denim Suitcase

Don’t forget to look at the AtoZ of denim crafts.

denim suitcase on wall


Wednesday 5th of September 2018

Super Cool, love it

Claire Armstrong

Thursday 6th of September 2018

Thank you so much Mary.


Monday 23rd of July 2018

I have lots of denim and no ideas on what to do with it. I love creative people who can give me ideas and I run with the idea and give it my own bit of personal flare. Thanks for sharing your ideas with others like me.

Claire Armstrong

Monday 23rd of July 2018

Thank you, you are welcome. I too love to share my ideas.


Thursday 28th of December 2017

I love recycling jeans. This is such a great idea. I started with your sunglass case and am loving all of what you have done!! The suitcase is great and I keep returning to your chair. Have a really cute little baby bib done with recycle jeans and well. I seriously thinking of trying the suitcase. Perfect. Thanks for sharing your great talent and for recycling!!!

Claire Armstrong

Thursday 28th of December 2017

Thank you so much Rosemary. The denim baby bib sounds fun.


Tuesday 26th of July 2016

did you cut and glue around the clasps, or take them off and put a square underneath (which is what it looks like, but seems like it would be super hard to get the clasps off.

Claire Armstrong

Wednesday 27th of July 2016

I cut and glued round the clasps, they weren't easy to remove so didn't want to risk it.

Maria T Ford

Thursday 7th of July 2016

You are so talented and you have alot of patience. I seen a blanket made out of jeans, can you tell me where I can find it? I have alot of jeans that are taking up space.

Claire Armstrong

Friday 8th of July 2016

THank you ! I haven't done a denim quilt tutorial yet, but I'm sure you can find one on Pinterest or if you search on hometalk I know there was a denim picnic blanket recently featured.