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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Train Case Tutorial

Sandi Bodnarchuk of Sandi'sstuff has written this wonderful tutorial about how to alter a train case. Please note that all of the photographs that accompany this tutorial are the property of Sandi and are not to be copied.

For more information about Sandi and to learn how she came to do these wonderful train cases, please read the interview with Sandi that follows the tutorial.

Sandi, from everyone here at Etsy Cottage Style, thank you so much for offering us this wonderful tutorial and for sparking our creative juices!


Let me begin by stating I am no expert in refurbishing train cases and I learned simply by trial and error. However, if I can help anyone who has always had the desire to make an old train case into a beautiful keepsake or heirloom quality item , I will be happy to share what I have learned.

There are a lot of old train cases out there – however the really old ones have the best bones because they are more squared off than the newer ones (i.e. fiberglass). The squared shape is easier to work with as was the type of material used to make them. The fiberglass ones tend to have a rougher exterior.

I start off by totally gutting the inside carefully. I say carefully because I try and save what I have taken out so that I can use it as a template for the new fabric I will be lining it with. If your train case is like new condition inside and you wish to leave it. You can simply embellish it with extra lace, trims or roses, prisms or whatever you feel will partner well with what is already there. Needless to say, your outside d├ęcor will have to co-ordinate with what is already inside.

Ok – we will go with a total gutting for the purposes of this tutorial. Once you have gutted the interior and set your templates aside – give the outside a light sanding. Don’t worry if there are slight dings or scuff marks – that just adds to the beauty of your treasure. I then prime the exterior with a white primer. Let that dry really well and then start painting whatever colors you have decided on. There is usually a lot of trim pieces on train cases and that is where I tend to put most of my colors, leaving the largest areas either white or white with a light color wash.

Now if you are able to paint roses or use a stencil, the fun part begins. I usually paint my own roses, but you are free to use stencils, decals or decoupage whatever you envision your train case should look like. I often do a collection of handmade flowers on the lid, but that is just me. Take a pretty ribbon and tie it to one end of the handle and then just keep going around and around the handle until it is all covered with ribbon. You can then glue a bow at each end or at one end , whichever you prefer.

Be sure you seal your art work with two coats of a good sealant to protect it. This of course should be done before you attach fabric flowers or ribbons.

Let me just go back to the interior for a second for those of you who will be totally redoing the inside. I take my template and cut out new pieces adding an extra inch all around. I then cut out lightweight cardboard pieces with the same template. I use a white (clear drying) glue and totally brush the cardboard with glue. Gently place your fabric on the piece of cardboard and using a little extra glue, fold the extra inch to the inside all around. I usually do the bottom first and then add the sides after that so that it reaches over the bottom edge a bit. I glue my pieces into the train case with heavy duty hot glue. Your ruffles and/or ribbon trims will be hot glued in place last of all. Always remember to cut an extra salvage edge when cutting the fabric to fit your cardboard pieces.

I like the cardboard pieces because you can fit them into the train cases before you glue the fabric on so you will know if they fit well. This way you are not wasting any fabric if you happen to make a mistake in cutting the cardboard.

I hope this little bit of information will give you the encouragement you need to try and do your train case. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Good Luck and when you are done please send me a picture of your wonderful keepsake train case.


Lynn said...

Thank you SO much Sandi for sharing your creativity with others, not all people are willing to give away any secrets and I think this is so generous of you :)

Southern Lady's Vintage said...

Great tutorial Sandi! Beautifully written and explained. Love your train case!!

Dianne Hadaway said...

Wow, this is so helpful. I've been collected train cases for quite some time now. I find them all the time at yard sales and I just can't resist them! I've been meaning to tackle refurbishing them, but just didn't know where to start! Now I know! Thanks for sharing this great tutorial!

Debbi said...

Sandi paints beautiful dreamy old fashioned roses! Her work is like stepping into a cottage garden!
Great tutorial Sandi!

Anna said...

I have an old Samsonite train case that was my Mothers may be about 50 or 60 years old. I want to refurbish it and i was reading your posting and I am very excited. Can you recommend a brand of paint to use on the outside. I read that some paints leave it tacky. Or do you just use the white primer as the base.

Anna in Tucson