No more falling-apart luggage

I had it all planned out – my blog posts would continue through my vacation (to see Wood’s family). I would start posting again when I got back. No such luck. I was so busy catching up from being gone that I missed posting anything last week. This week I’m sharing a project I started since coming back.

Some years ago I purchased a set of luggage. That isn’t the noteworthy part. I travel, some for work, some for pleasure, so my suitcases can take a beating. We had been talking about buying some new luggage for me, but I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t sure I’d find what I wanted.

When I travel for work I pack myself into carry-on luggage, and check two large suitcases from the office. I have no control anymore over what suitcases they purchase. The ones they have sent me in the last few years have been the “spinner” variety.

I know that the spinners are touted as being great for walking in the airport. However, I don’t just take suitcases to the airport. There are hotels, elevators, and road construction job sites/offices. Those job sites have anything BUT smooth surfaces. I find it usually takes main force to pull spinner suitcases over gravel surfaces. I also find it difficult to gang up multiple spinner suitcases together. And the spinner wheels tend to get stuck in the crack at the elevator.

With all of that, I side firmly in the camp of preferring two-wheeled suitcases. I decided that if I were to get new suitcases, they would be two-wheeled. Besides, the airlines start measuring carry-on bags from the wheels up, so spinner wheels leave less room for packing my stuff.

While on vacation, we met the family one afternoon at an Outlet Shopping Center. Wood spied a Samsonite store, and suggested that we stop in. I wasn’t quite ready to purchase, but agreed to look. The sales person showed us their name-brand spinner suitcases. I was just too prejudiced to accept the spinners, no matter how upgraded the wheels are purported to be.

We found some soft-sided suitcases in their sister brand (no affiliate) that I liked. While they weren’t my favorite blue color, they are soft sided, have two wheels, and each can convert to a backpack. I don’t expect to use that backpack option, however. I bought the upright 32”, upright 26”, and the wheeled carry on. Those three sizes nest well for storage. Because we bought three the clerk gave us free shipping to our home. Yippee! After unloading the old suitcases I found out how close my old set were to falling apart. Talk about just-in-time purchases!

matching luggage set

When I got home I realized that when I’m driving I use a size of bag that wasn’t included in that brand. I call it my “car bag”, and put stuff in it like snacks, water, maps, etc. I didn’t want to keep the old bag, I wanted a matching set. So I commenced making one for myself.

I liked the width of the old bag, and how it rested on a suitcase. The depth was fine as well. However, the height of the old bag meant my metal water bottles didn’t fit well inside. So I added an inch or so to the height. I didn’t want a zipper, so I added a draw-string top to the plan.

Now, all of this needed to color coordinate. At my local big box craft store I found some neon yellow-green fabric that has a backing. While not exactly the same color, it is so close that most people wouldn’t notice the difference, and it was on clearance. I also found some black vinyl on clearance.

I found that the black vinyl was a bit more stiff that I had anticipated. That works well for usage, but sewing was more of a challenge. I cut two rectangles out of the vinyl. I learned for the future that I should have sewn the bottom first, then topstitched the seam allowance down.

I used only the yellow fabric on the inside, and included a stabilizer made out of quilting template plastic. At least everything inside will contrast well with the fabric - it will be harder to lose things in it.

Knowing that this bag would sometimes sit on my front passenger seat, I didn’t want it to scream “steal me”, so I toned down my planned use of the “yellow” fabric. I also tried to include design elements from the luggage I purchased. I found that the drawstring at the top of the bag can be pulled all the way out, allowing the fabric to flop down into the bag. That allows the bag to be used as an open tote. How do you think I did?

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