Fab Vintage Suitcase Dog Cat Pet Bed- D.I.Y. Project

16 Mar

Hi gang!

With the weekend fast approaching, I thought I’d post a fast, fun D.I.Y project that could be completed in a few hours and your pet can be sleeping on it the same night!


Isn’t this the cutest thing! The dog’s cute too (Mommy’s Boy Luca) but I’m referring to the vintage suitcase dog cat pet bed. I picked up a terrific vintage leather suitcase last weekend at a flea market so I thought I’d post a D.I.Y. project today. Vintage suitcase pet beds are an inexpensive creative option to work a ‘stylish’ pet bed into a room and they’re the perfect snuggle spot for cats and dogs.

A suitcase pet bed also can become your pet’s home away from home when traveling, and can hold sweaters, leashes, balls, treats and food bowls in the space behind the divide.


Vintage suitcases can be had for a song at garage sales, flea markets, and thrift shops. In fact, you probably have one you can re-purpose in your garage or attic right now. So grab one when the feeling hits you and whip up this fab vintage dog cat pet suitcase bed.

I’m going to show you a fast and easy way to complete this project in only an hour or two. Sure, you can always get fancy sewing a box cushion with piping and reversible fabrics but if a throw, standard or king size pillow will fit your suitcase, you honestly don’t need to make extra work to have a nice, finished, washable piece using no zipper or Velcro or even a sewing machine for that matter! Whoopee; no zippers and barely any/no sewing gang!



Suitcase – Keep in mind the size of your pet when choosing one. Leather is attractive for a study or office, or a pink or blue old makeup case can be perfect for your teensy teacup companions. The sky’s the limit and cases with ‘stay-open’ hinges are ideal so one doesn’t have to worry about Fifi or Fido getting stuck in the case; however, when the bed is put against a wall this really should not happen. [A fix for this, not shown here because I tested mine with Doxi Luca and Catman Zeetz who were both able to ‘nose’ out of it, is to tack a strip of Velcro to the wall and the top back of the case where both meet. Additionally, you can remove the lid altogether.]

Fabric– Match it to your decor or to your pet’s personality. A yard or two should suffice depending on the size of the pillow, and you just might have remnants around the house from which to choose. Washing and ironing the fabric before beginning will address any shrink issue. *Note from one who just finished this project: the killer easiest option is to buy a cool pillow sham or pillowcase, insert pillow, stuff pillow in the suitcase and be done with it…it was those crazy corner tassels that make me say this now!

Cushion, fiberfill or pillow– Do yourself a favor here and don’t buy fiberfill or a pillow insert in the fabric/hobby store this will cost you $20 or more. Instead pick up the appropriate sized pillow/cushion in Wal-Mart at half the price.

4 wooden balls or blocks for fashionable ‘feet’– (Optional) -Now if you plan to travel with your dog and would check the suitcase on an airline, you might want to omit this step. A nice option would be to elevate the suitcase pet bed on stacks of books, glass blocks…you get the idea.

Ribbon– (Optional) -Attach several diagonal strips at the back of the case to form a lattice to tuck away photos of your pet and personalize its space, or simply tack photos as I’ve done here if your suitcase has a dividing panel. I’m going to the dollar store this weekend to find little photo frames to insert the pics of Luca and Zeetz and glue to the divide.

Tassels- (Optional)- Place inside good side of fabric at the corners before sewing/ironing ends of pillowcase.

Tie rack pegs or dowels– (Optional) – The same thickness as the holes in the wooden ball legs. I went to a hobby store to find the balls and dowels. My initial thought was to drill holes in the 4 corners of the case and attach them with pet-safe dowels but I glued the balls on instead to keep the integrity of the suitcase intact.

Wood Stain & Rubber Gloves – for the ball feet, complementary to the color of the suitcase or fabric you choose.

Glue– I used Elmer’s Super Glue Gel which bonds to porous and non-porous surfaces and it worked fine.

Tape measure, scissors, pins, sewing machine or “Stitch Witchery” or other fusible iron on tape (found in fabric, hobby stores & Wal-Mart) for a real easy, no-sew approach.

If you’re not familiar with Stitch Witchery or fusible iron-on tape, all you do is place the tape between the fabric pieces you wish to attach and hot iron it to ‘stitch.’ This stuff is wonderful to have on hand. Instead of lugging out the sewing machine, you can use it to hem slacks, drapes…all sorts of things in a pinch. 

I’ve been sewing for years but I wanted to post a do-it-yourself project that anyone could do, with or without a sewing machine. If your skill set is limited or if you’re just in a rush to give your baby a plush plopping place, by all means, grab a nice printed throw pillow or pillow sham and the toughest part of the project will be done.

Assuming you are using a standard or king sized pillow as your pet bed cushion, I came up with an easy process that I’ve never done before but it worked out well with very little sewing. We’re going to use that envelope sham approach, which will remove the hassle of having to insert a zipper or work with Velcro. Grab a pillowcase that fits your size pillow and find a workspace.  Lay your fabric right side down (the good side that you’ll see) on your workspace. Now lay the pillowcase in the middle of your fabric with the longest yardage going width-wise. This is better explained in photos.


As usual, I left an extra inch for seams (see photo); however, surprisingly I was left with inches of waste at the ends so I’d suggest laying your case against the fabric edge or only adding ½” to both sides of the length.

Wrap your pillowcase with fabric so that there’s a 4-6 inch overlap of fabric going length-wise across the pillow (this will be the envelope flap where you will simply tuck your pillow).

Add ½” inch (not one inch as shown in photo) to the other side of the length and cut.


Fold over ½” on both ‘flap ends’ and pin and sew or use iron-on fusible tape to make finished flap edges.


Now, fold the overlap back into place and pin together, then pin together the sides of the pillowcase* and sew/iron stitch.

*If you picked up tassels, now is the time to insert them on the inside of the fabric (good side) at the corners, pin and carefully sew the tassel strings when you sew up the sides of the pillowcase.


Tuck your pillow into your sham and wha lah; you’ve finished your pet bed cushion!

Okay, now stain your balls. I’ve got to say that again, “Stain your balls!” Brush it on and wipe it off with a cloth. They’ll dry in seconds to be ready for gluing.


Make sure you flip the suitcase over, and then glue all four balls to the bottom of the suitcase. (I put it in bold because I almost glued the ball feet to the top of the case!)


Flip the vintage pet suitcase bed right side up and place it in your chosen spot. All that’s left is to embellish the back of the top lid, either with trellis ribbon, with photos as seen here, whatever you choose.


For inspiration, take a look at Google images for “vintage suitcase dog beds” and let your imagination run wild! It’s funny, I thought I came up with this bright idea until putting this post together and I thought to Google it. Nuts, apparently lots of other folks had the same terrific idea! Take a look; here are two fun examples:



Go ahead and try it yourself, then send a photo to donnalsadd at Gmail dot com; I’ll be happy to post your project here! Additionally, please feel free to ask any questions you might have.

For another fun pet D.I.Y. project, check out my post “HEALTHY DOG BISCUITS AND BONES YOU BAKE AT HOME! – PET D.I.Y. PROJECT.”

Why not grab a copy of my doggie story LUCCI THE NO SMOOCHIE POOCHIE and read it to your pet…it’s a terrific bedtime story!

12 Responses to “Fab Vintage Suitcase Dog Cat Pet Bed- D.I.Y. Project”

  1. Kathy March 16, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    This is adorable!! Really, way too cute for words. What a fab idea!! Thanks for sharing it!

  2. Donna L. Sadd March 16, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    My pleasure Kathy, and thanks again for Tweeting it! I’ve really have to learn how to use Twitter effectively; I don’t quite understand how to reply and retweet to make it count…but I’ll get it!

  3. conniejjasperson April 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    What a cute idea! I think I’ll keep this in the back of my mind for if I get a little poochie of my own again!

    • Donna L. Sadd April 16, 2013 at 6:54 am #

      Thanks Connie. Believe it or not, my big ole basset hound sleeps in it everyday, though he doesn’t quite fit.

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    […] another fun D.I.Y. pet project check out my post “Fab Vintage Suitcase Dog Cat Pet Bed-D.I.Y. Project” and whip up a snazzy pet bed in […]

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