Doll’s mini suitcase tutorial

Make a mini suitcase from laminated cotton for Barbie, or other toys in this quick sewing project.

This mini suitcase is perfect for a Barbie or other toy to pack a few essentials for a trip away!
This is intentionally a quick project – the suitcase in unlined and uses laminated cotton so you don’t need to worry about frayed edges.

Accurate cutting is the key to getting this looking good. As usual, I’m giving measurements in both metric imperial/US measurements, but this time the measurements themselves differ slightly to make the numbers easier, they’re not just conversions – don’t, whatever you do, mix the two!

I made my version in laminated cotton, which works well for this project. If you want to do it in something else, look for a fabric which has a bit of stiffness so the case will hold its shape without the need for extra interfacing, and preferably something that doesn’t fray, as the edge closest to the zip is not hemmed (although you could add a hem allowance and turn it under if you wanted).

You could probably adapt this to a more substantial fully lined and quilted version, but I decided to keep it quick and simple for an afternoon project.

Materials

  • laminated cotton – see Cutting for exact sizes, but a piece about 30cm x 20cm (12″ x 8″) should be big enough
  • 30cm zip
  • 23cm (9 in) ribbon, 25mm (1 inch) wide
  • 2 D rings, 25mm (1 inch) wide.

If you want, you can layer two ribbons together like I did: if so, do this before starting and sew them together along the length. Then treat them as a single ribbon for the rest of these instructions.
layer-ribbon

Cutting

The finished size of the suitcase is 10cm x 7.5cm x 3.5cm (4″ x 3″ x 1.5″).

  • Cut two strips 2.5cm wide and 27cm long (1.25″ wide and 11 inches long)
    These will attach to the zip.
  • Cut one rectangle: 12cm wide and 20.5cm long (5″ wide and 8.5″ long)
    This is the main body piece.

All seam allowances are 1cm (1/2″).

Instructions

  1. Take one of the long strips and sew it to one side of the zip, right side up, with the raw edge close to the zip coil. If you find that the presser foot is sticking to the laminated cotton, put a sheet of tissue paper over the top when sewing.
    sew-tissue-paper
  2. Repeat with the other strip, sewing it to the other side of the zip.You should now have one 27cm (11″) long strip with the zip down the centre: I’ll call this the zip strip.
  3. Trim the width of the zip strip to 5.5cm (2.5″). At the top and the bottom of the strip, cut out 1cm (0.5″) squares as shown. Clip both sides 7.5cm (3″) from the square, and then another 10cm (4″) from the first clip.
    Be as accurate as you can with this step – the more accurate your cuts here, the easier the whole suitcase will fit together, without having to fudge it. Set this piece to one side.
    strip-clip
  4. Centre the ribbon so it runs lengthwise down the long axis of the main body piece, and sew it down, leaving 15mm unstitched at each end.
    The ribbon will be longer that the rectangle – leave the overhang for now, and pin it back on itself so it’s out of the way for the next step.
    sew-ribbon

  5. Place the main body piece face up. Take the zip strip and open the zip fully. On one side of the zip, open out the strip at the first clip, and align this with the corner of the main body piece, with right sides together (see photo). The short end of the zip strip should be towards the centre of the long side of the main body piece (on the right in the photo).

    sew-gusset1a

    You can use paper clips or similar to hold the pieces in place, or you can pin or baste in the seam allowance – I have deliberately allowed generous seam allowances. Make sure that the loose ribbon ends are pinned out of the way.

  6. Sew the long edge of the zip strip round the edge of the main body piece, aligning raw edges and pivoting at the next clip/corner. When you have done one side of the zip, repeat with the other side. Ignore the short ends of the zip strip for now; these will remain unsewn.
    sew-gusset2
  7. Now clip the main body piece at the end of the sewn zip strip. This will allow you to bend the main body piece so it matches the corners at the zip strip.
    clip-main

    Align the raw edges of the short edge of the zip strip and sew across the end of the zip strip; this is easiest with the zip strip uppermost. I like to do an extra row of stitching over the zip.
    ends

  8. Repeat for the other end of the zip strip.
  9. Trim all the seams back to about 5mm. Cut back the points at the corners as shown.
    clip
  10. Flatten out the top of the suitcase with the seam away from the zip, and sew the ribbon to the top edge about 5mm (1/4″) from the seam.
  11. Thread one of the D rings onto the ribbon, and sew the ribbon to the top of the suitcase as close to the D ring as possible.
    handle1
  12. Trim the ribbon to match the raw edge at the zip, and seal the raw ends with a flame – I keep a lighter in my sewing kit for this reason! Alternatively you could allow a little extra and turn it under, but this adds bulk to the edge.
    handle2
  13. Repeat on the other side for the second handle.
  14. Turn right side out, and poke out the corners.

And there you have it – one zipped suitcase, ready to pack! Here are some more photos of the finished case.

Make a mini suitcase from laminated cotton for Barbie, or other toys in this quick sewing project.Make a mini suitcase from laminated cotton for Barbie, or other toys in this quick sewing project.

Make a mini suitcase from laminated cotton for Barbie, or other toys in this quick sewing project.Make a mini suitcase from laminated cotton for Barbie

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