I picked this suitcase up at a thrift store for $1.00. It’s just an old cardboard suitcase, nothing special. When I opened it up…
…it was stained and discolored all over. And it smelled like it had been sitting in a damp storage area for about 652 years.
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I decided to reline the suitcase with cute fabric. This was a fairly quick and inexpensive project, and could easily be tackled in a weekend. Want to know how?

You’ll need:
– A suitcase. My powers of observation are unrivaled.
– Some sort of fabric glue. NOT the stuff that’s temporary, like some spray adhesives; you want good strong glue.
– 1 yard of fabric
– 8 yards bias tape or ribbon (optional)
– Hot glue gun (optional)
I forgot to take a photo of everything needed, but below are the bias tape, fabric, and glue that I used.
First, rip out the old lining of your suitcase. This is grody and thoroughly unpleasant.


Next, measure the inside of the suitcase. Cut out two pieces of fabric that will fit to those measurements – one piece for the top, and one piece for the bottom. I cut the fabric generously, with plenty of overhang.

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Begin gluing the fabric into the case. Start at the bottom seam, and apply a thin bead of glue all along one side.

Note: A lot of suitcases (this one included) had a thin layer of cotton underneath the original lining. You can put a layer of cotton batting in if desired. I skipped this step. 

Press the fabric into the glue. Repeat on the remaining sides, tugging the fabric taut as you go. (I glued one side, waited 30 minutes, then glued another, waited 30 minutes, etc. It’s important for the glue to have a chance to set before you glue the other sides into place.)



When the glue has dried, glue the top edge. If your case has a metal band around the top, which I’m going to assume it does, glue right underneath that band. Again, pull the fabric taut as you go and give the glue time to set before gluing each side. When you get to a corner you can either cut the fabric from bottom to top and glue it flat, or just fold it over on itself and glue it into place. IMG_5210

When the glue has dried, trim any overhang. I cut the excess fabric by carefully cutting along the bottom of the metal band using a utility knife.

Repeat these steps to do the top of the suitcase.
If you would like to add trim, use the hot glue gun (or more fabric glue) to glue the bias tape or ribbon into place. Cover every seam.
The result?


Easy peasy! This case will probably be used for extra storage in my closet, but it’s almost a shame to pack away something so cute, right?
Have fun!

28 thoughts on “How to Reline a Vintage Suitcase”

    1. That’s true, thank you! Unfortunately, this suitcase was past the point of redemption and needed to be lined with fresh fabric. But for lesser odors, fabric sheets can work well.

  1. I love your instructions and want to surprise my niece with a vintage suitcase that looks like yours. Here's my question, how to remove vintage smell? I've already removed interior lining. Thanks for youradvice!!

    1. Hi Nancy! A good thing to try is sprinkling a heavy layer of baking soda inside the suitcase. Then close it up, leave overnight, and vacuum it out the next day. You might have to do it more than once, but baking soda will absorb the odor.

  2. I am supremely jealous that you got that suitcase for $1! I got a set of two just like that recently and it cost me $10 at the thrift store. Anyway, thank you for the great tutorial. I'll likely be using it to replace the inside of at least one of the little suitcases I got.

    Thanks Again!
    Miss Amelia Joy

    1. If I remember correctly I just removed the trim around the edges first, as it was stapled into place. Then I ripped the fabric out starting at a corner. There's not much to it if the suitcase is not the greatest quality. A higher quality suitcase might require more finesse.

  3. Great instructions. I've also lined suitcases with scrapbook paper using Mod Podge and then sealed the paper with acrylic spray when done. It's an addiction I tell you … I counted the # of train cases I have an it's nearly a dozen. Yikes! 🙂

  4. Have you tried your method on an old samsonite train case. I have one since 1960 and don't want to tear into it if you think it won't work.

    1. Does the train case have divided compartments inside? If it does I would be leery about relining it. If it doesn't have compartments inside, it should be like relining any other suitcase and I would say go ahead and try it.

  5. Thank you so much for posting! I just found a vintage suitcase I want to reline and these are the only good instructions I can find.

  6. I have a set of three, also, and have always wanted to do something like this to them. You've given me the courage to try now. THANKS for the tutorial.
    Im your newest follower. Please come visit me and hopefully you'll follow back? THANKS. 😎

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