DIY Suitcase Makeover (awesome gift idea)

It’s been a few days since I’ve been able to work time into my schedule for blogging.. 😦 I will say that I have been doing well working towards other goals, just need to work a little harder on keeping a balance amongst the many things. That being said, today I have a project to share that I was so excited about doing a couple of months ago – this was one of my Christmas presents this year.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I am completely obsessed and inspired by A Beautiful Mess blog. I found a suitcase makeover project in their archives that I completely fell in love with and decided I wanted to replicate as a Christmas gift for my sister. She loves to travel and has her heart set on studying abroad in Germany in the next year or so and is a little more of a 60s child anyway. The idea behind recovering a suitcase is to find a hard side suitcase (more of a vintage look) and you can find them in thrift shops if you pay attention or do what I did, and search on eBay. The difficult part of searching online though, is that you want to make sure your suitcase is hard side and that it has stitched seams so that you can tuck your fabric into it.

After I found a  large blue suitcase and ordered it off of eBay, I went to my favorite Hobby Lobby and browsed fabrics. It took me a while but I did finally find a bright, whimsical pattern that was on sale (score!) and that looked great with the blue suitcase that I had.

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I bought a lot more fabric than I needed to because I was almost positive I was going to mess it up and have to start over and didn’t want to risk not being able to find the fabric again in time for Christmas. So, I think I ordered about 3 yards – but definitely have a lot left over. You want to have enough to lay your suitcase down and trace around it so that you have an inch or 2 (I would recommend or 2) hanging over past the area you want to cover, just so you don’t end up falling short and have to start over.

FxCam_1356026279258I didn’t quite have 2 extra inches past the area I wanted to cover, but I would recommend leaving a little more than what you see here. Lay your fabric on top of your suitcase to make sure that it does, indeed cover the area you want to cover.

FxCam_1356027092956I have this awesome craft table (that I recently added to our office) where I can do projects and spread out someplace other than the floor. I moved the suitcase to the craft table and began to mod podge (gloss) the fabric onto the suitcase.

FxCam_1356027907581You’ll want to do this in sections because the mod podge does dry quickly. You’ll go back afterward and pull up corners and add more and retouch places so don’t stress too too much about getting it perfect the first time. I went back and touched up most of the edges.

After your fabric is securely adhered to the suitcase (half an hour – an hour or so), you’ll want to get rid of the loose edges and tuck them snug into the seams of the suitcase. You can use a butter knife or get rotary cutter. A rotary cutter just may be my new favorite tool, you just roll that baby down along the edges of the seams and it trims/tucks your fabric as you go. Work in small sections though so you get as straight of lines as you can. While this is an efficient means for this project, definitely be careful with this tool – the blade is pretty sharp and you can get to rolling pretty quickly. It wouldn’t be difficult to get your fingers. If you do fray your fabric on the ends a bit (I did a bit) I went back with a smaller brush and tucked and mod podged over those ends so that everything was tucked or snipped and nothing loose was hanging off.FxCam_1356028530102

If you really look at this photo, you can see that the edges are darker where I went OVER the fabric with mod podge. It does dry clear though, so give it some time.

FxCam_1356031772475This suitcase was a bit larger than some of the ones that you can find and would definitely be reasonable to take for a week-long trip. Everyone has the rolling suitcases these days, but this is a fun & unique alternative for a weekend or few days trip and you can definitely spot your suitcase amongst all the black ones on the conveyer belt if you do check it while flying.

Overall, maybe 2-3 hours of work (including shopping and dry time) to create an awesomely unique gift or new twist on old luggage that may be sitting in the back of your closet. You could also use fabric that matches your home decor and leave a couple of suitcases stacked on top of each other in a corner and BONUS: store knick knacks, out of season clothes, or linens.

Happy crafting!

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Darling Little Things: DIY Dog Treats

With 2 fur babies of my own at home and a natural inclination to lean towards DIY things, I’ve found my newest [slight obsession] hobby! I’m sure it’s pretty common knowledge, but did you know how EASY it is to make your own dog treats??! And, bonus: way healthier! I tried a couple different options that I wanted to share.

Make at home dog treats

dog treat ingredients collageThese were my items of choice for my first batch of dog treats. You’ll need whole wheat flour and baby food. The original recipe I used called for TWO four oz. containers of baby food and 2 cups of whole wheat flour. Mix together to form a stiff dough and then roll out to a 1/4 inch thickness, and cut out with cookie cutters as desired. In keeping with the season, I chose to buy a few holiday themed cookie cutters and later, on the second batch used smaller cookie cutters.. because they came out a little too large for my 2 pups who are about 25 pounds and 40 pounds. Also, make note when choosing baby food selections to choose flavors that are dog friendly. (See arrows.) Anything with onions or onion powder is NOT dog friendly, so avoid any flavors with onion. Carrots and sweet potato are pretty big favorites in our house, so I went with those.

Roll out your dough and cut out your favorite shapes

Roll out your dough and cut out your favorite shapes

After you’ve rolled out your dough and cut out some shapes, add some wax paper to a cookie sheet and pop those babies into the oven at about 325. Bake 20-25 minutes.

First batch: sweet potato and chicken and carrot flavored

First batch: sweet potato and chicken and carrot flavored

Unfortunately, I did not store this first batch properly, or the carrot flavored ones just don’t have a very long shelf life.. still trying to determine which factor, or if both did me in with these. I let them cool [although maybe not enough] and placed them into mason jars and put the caps on. About 4 days later, every single one of those dog cookies had mold growing on them. Since making a second batch not using baby food, I think it may be the baby food that causes the dog cookie to be so moist that it cannot harden all the way. In this case, maybe adding a bit more flour to the dough would help, or letting them sit out overnight would aid in storage. I let them sit out all of last night and while my second batch is harder than the original, they’re still a little springy. I’ll leave a couple out for the next day or two and the rest will be kept in the freezer and taken out as needed, because they can be stored for up to two months in the freezer.

Third batch: Completely different. I perused different websites for new ideas. After reading a few, I noticed that there are a few ingredients that are interchangeable: flour (different kinds, usually wheat), rolled oats, egg, milk, water. For the third batch I used 1 1/2 cup wheat flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup peanut butter (warmed in the microwave to help with mixing), 1 tbsp vanilla extract, and drizzled honey throughout. I did half to add some water to get the dough to hold together. I baked these for a minute or two longer (about 24 minutes) and these came out much harder to begin with, and as they sat out hardened even more and are rather crunchy for my dogs to munch on. That said, I don’t think they’ll grow mold like the baby food ones, but I might still freeze them to be safe.

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Making these DOES make a mess. 🙂 It’s completely worth it though to make 100 treats using $4 worth of cookie cutters, a $3 bag of wheat flour and $3 worth of baby food. The rest of the ingredients, I had on hand. I made extras to freeze and store for later, but these might be great little gifts for the dog lovers in your life. Besides being totally inexpensive, you can control what ingredients your pups are eating and be a bit healthier all around.

Check out my Pinterest board for some of the other homemade dog treat recipes that I found.

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