Travel Dollhouse in a Suitcase




Introduction: Travel Dollhouse in a Suitcase

About: Hi there! Thanks for stopping by. I'm new here, but I have been crafting various things in my spare time. I try to up-cycle existing materials or use natural elements whenever possible. I hope you enjoy my pr…

Hi there,

Thanks for stopping by! In this Instructable, I will show you how to create a travel dollhouse in a small suitcase. This is a really fun toy to have for your child to play with - it can be taken everywhere. It promotes independent play and imagination!

Supplies are rather limited and you can use many things around the house - cardboard, plastic containers, scraps of fabric. The project does take some time, but you can encourage your child to help you, so they can be part of the creative process as well!


- a cardboard suitcase. You can in principle make one, but it might not be stable enough. So I recommend buying it, usually it runs about $10, which was the biggest purchase for this project

- a doll or an animal to live in the suitcase. I recommend the height of the toy to be half of the shortest side of the suitcase

- cardboard

- plastic containers. I used one from strawberries

- scraps of fabric

- air dry clay and acrylic paint

- chopsticks or bamboo skewers

- coloured paper

- scotch tape, hot glue gun, superglue, and paper glue

- pompoms. For another idea on what to do with pompoms, see my Cutie Pi Baby Mobile Instructable

Step 1: Line the Suitcase Interior and Make a Ceiling for the First Floor

Pick your favourite colour and line the interior of the suitcase. I used yellow, green, and blue. The easiest way to do this is to trace the outside of the suitcase, cut the necessary shapes, and then glue them in.

For the floor, take two rectangular pieces of cardboard. Length is 2/3 of the length of your suitcase, width is the same as that of the suitcase. Glue two pieces together and then wrap them in coloured paper. I used red and yellow (see pictures).

Step 2: Make the Staircase

Cut out 30 rectangles with dimensions of 2'' by 1/2''. Take three, stack on top of each other, and tape with scotch tape. Wrap in coloured paper (see pictures). Secure the edges with scotch tape. I made 10 stairs, but I used 3 of them for other parts around the house. So I recommend making a bit more than you think you'll need.

Take 3 chopstick of the same length and offset them slightly - see picture. Secure with a piece of scotch tape. Attach top and bottom stairs at an angle. Remove the scotch tape from the wooden parts and continue filling in the stairs. In the end, your staircase should look like the one I show in the last picture.

Step 3: Making Windows

Pick your favourite images from a magazine or newspaper - you want them to be about 2''x1'' . I went with views of Dresden. Cut them out and make sure their size is the same.

Cut out window panes from a plastic container. Trace your images with a sharpie, then cut the plastic.

Make the frame from cardboard - you want to have about 1/4'' frame so sketch it out on the cardboard first. See an example in the picture. Colour the frames on one side - I used dark yellow acrylic paint. Let them dry.

Assembles the windows. Place window frame with the painted side on the bottom. Add plastic panels and then the images you cut out. Use super glue at the corners and let dry.

Step 4: Make Picture Frames

For the "art". I used pictures of sea life from the chopstick wrappers. Of course you can use anything you want. The size is approximately the same as that of windows - 2''x1/2''. Cut out the images.

Make the "glass" panels from plastic containers - trace out and cut.

Make 12 pieces of the frame - rectangles with the length matching the length of the images (see pictures). I wanted the frames to be different so I made different patterns on each. For patterning, I used chopsticks, pen, and a knife. Once you are happy with the shape and pattern, let the frame dry overnight.

I wanted a shiny look for the frame, so I used a nail polish. Acrylic paints would also work. Coat and let dry.

Assembly the "art" - frame, then plastic, then pictures. Glue the corners together with the superglue and let dry.

Step 5: Make the Mirror

Use cardboard to make a circle. Mine was 3'' in diameter. Take some aluminium foil and glue it on top of the cardboard. I used paper glue. Make sure to smooth the surface by getting rid of all of air bubbles - use a credit card or a ruler.

Make the frame of the mirror from clay. Roll a piece that will cover the whole circumference of the mirror. Add a pattern of your choosing - I went with lines and dots. Let the frame dry.

Paint the frame - I used the same nail polish as I used for the picture frames. Let the frame dry. Then use super glue to attach the frame to the mirror part.

Step 6: Attach the Stairs, Hang Art and Windows

For all of this step, I used hot glue gun. Attach the stairs first - you want to glue the parts of the steps that are exposed to the wall. Then attach the top floor. It needs to be glued to the stairs and the walls.

Then you can attach your windows - I used two on the first floor and two on the bottom floor.

Hang the art around the house - note that I left a spot empty for the mirror as it was not dried yet.

Step 7: Make the Bed

The bed is fairly straightforward - just make a frame (see images). Make sure your bed is long enough to fit your doll, the rest doesn't really matter. I choose not to paint mine, but I made it out of white cardboard. I think it looks good, but it would have also been nice to paint it! I attached beads as door legs, using glue gun. I then attached the bed to the second floor. I also made some bedding by sewing two pieces of fabric together.

Step 8: Make the Armchairs

I wanted to have some storage space in the furniture, so I used lids from face wipes, since they can open and close easily. For the seat, I added some padding by using an old piece of thick fleece - just outline the lid and cut out a matching piece. For the back, I used a piece of cardboard. Both the seat and the lid were then covered in fabric - see pictures.

I have then glued the back and the cushion to the lid - see pictures.

To make the bottom part of the armchair, I decided to create a box out of cardboard. You can see that I made a regular box, cut the cardboard, and glued it together. Once the box was done, I have placed my lied on top of it and secured with hot glue.

As you can see, I initially painted the armchair. But in the end, I did not like the colour, so I glued some glitter paper on top. I think this matched better with the rest of the house interior.

I made two armchairs - so repeat the above steps twice. If you have some extra fabric, make some pillows!

Step 9: Make the Couch

For the couch, the procedure is basically the same as for the armchairs. First, make the bottom part by tracing out the lid on a piece of cardboard. Then, make the sides from a rectangle - width should be the same as the cardboard part of the armchairs and the length should be the circumference of the couch lid.

Secure with scotch tape and then put glue around the seam - see pictures. Let it dry and apply another layer.

Meanwhile you can work on the seat cushion and back. Same idea as with the armchairs - take a piece of thick fleece for the cushion and wrap it in fabric. I used yellow fabric this time around. Glue on the cushion and let it dry - I used clips to make sure things don't move in the process. Glue the cushion on the lid. Glue the top part to the bottom part and let everything dry overnight.

Either paint the cardboard part of the couch or glue some paper - I used glitter paper this time as well.

Step 10: Make the Coffee Table

I used an old cap from a tea can for the coffee table. Take a piece of fabric that cover the top part. Stretch it out and secure with clips. Start adding another colour on the side by gluing it downright below the top of the table - see pictures. Continue around the perimeter and make the ends meet. Wrap around and secure on the bottom with super glue. Secure with clips and let it dry.

Step 11: Make Cake and Pies

I wanted to make one cake and two pies, so I used three bottle caps. Paint all bottles caps - I used golden nail polish, it took only two coats. Let the bottle caps dry.

Fill two of the bottle caps with some clay - just like you would for a pie shell, about 2/3 of the total volume. Let it dry and then paint it in the yellowish colour to resemble pie crust.

For the cherry pie, you will need to make the cherries first. Roll a thin tube and then cut it up into small pieces - see pictures. Roll the pieces into small balls. Let them dry. Once they are dry, put them into the pie shell and dump some red colour on it. I used nail polish in this case as well. Swirl around to cover all berries and let dry. In the meantime, make the dough lattice - cut thin strips of clay. Intertwine them - see pictures. Then place on top of the cherry pie. Pain the lattice in the same doughy colour.

For the other pie, you only need to make the border and the central flower. Same idea here - mould out of the clay, let dry, glue onto the pie shell and paint - see pictures.

For the cake stand, you also need to make the base. It has two parts - a circle and a leg. Mould both out of clay, let dry, and paint in the same colour as the cake holder top.

For the cake, make a cylinder with a slightly smaller diameter, than the bottle cap. Add some texture to the edge of the cake by piercing it slightly with a knife - we want to simulate frosting. Add a spiral on top for decoration. Let it dry and paint - I used dark chocolate colour for the cake, and some red and white for the decorations. Glue the cake to the base. It is ready to be served!

Step 12: Make Fruits and Vegetables

For pineapple, make oval-shaped pieces out of clay. With a knife, make diagonal dents - see pictures. With scissors, pinch the centre of the diamonds to create pineapple look. For the top part of the pineapple make slightly smaller ovals. Make longer cuts with scissors to imitate the green leaves. Paint with yellow and green paints. Add some brown to the centres of the yellow diamonds - see pictures.

For the corn, make long cones first - they do not have to be perfect and can have some cracks. Make a thin, long thread-like piece out of clay. And then wrap it around the cylinder - see pictures. Make small indents along the length of the cylinder with a knife to imitate corn kernels. At this point, I suggest painting the corn yellow. While the paint is drying, cut out triangles from the clay - see pictures. Those will be leaves and they should not be the same size. Attach one by one to the corn, make sure the edges are smooth and well-connected. Paint the leaves in green colour - see pictures. You might need a couple of layers to make it look great.

Step 13: Make Cutting Boards and a Bread Box

Use a matchbox to trace out a rectangle on a thin piece of clay. This will be the base of the board. Cut out a slit with a knife and smooth out the edges - see pictures. Make a similar rectangle for the second board, but this time attach a handle instead. Smooth out edges and make a little hole in the handle - see pictures. Once the boards are dry, paint them with brown paint.

For the bread box, take the box part out of the match box and paint it. I used a brown colour to simulate wood. Use tissue paper to line the inside of the bread box.

Step 14: Make Pastries and Bread

For the donuts, make thin rods out of clay. Wrap into a donut shape and connect, smoothing out the edges - see pictures. Let them dry.

For croissants, make clay triangles first - see pictures. Then, roll up, starting from the longer edge. Let them dry. It helps if you have some real croissants - both for inspiration and for snacking ;)

For the berry rolls, take thin rods and wrap them in a spiral. Let them dry.

For the bread, make an oval shape and squish it slightly from the top. Use a knife to add some texture to the top - see pictures. Let it dry.

Paint all pastries and bread with a beige colour - you might need two coats. I give an approximate colour combination you could use in one of the images. For the donuts, I added chocolate glaze - brown acrylic paint. For the berry buns, first paint the top white and then add some red paint. Arrange all in a bread box you made in the previous step.

Step 15: Make Flower Pots and Vases

For the flower pots, make a cylinder from clay. Make a hole in one side - see pictures. Smooth out edges and let the pots dry. I made three, so repeat for the remaining pots. Let them dry and paint - I used same colour as the pie dishes and cake stand.

To make the plants, cut up triangles of different shades of green. Make a bouquet, secure with scotch tape and place inside the pots. To secure in place, add some hot glue into the pot. Arrange flower pots around the house.

For the vases, make the top part by cutting out a flower from clay - see pictures. For the bottom, take a cylinder of a similar diameter and make some small cuts around the edge. Let both parts dry separately and then glue them together - see pictures. Paint, let them dry and place your vases around the house!

Step 16: Make Plates

Take a small bottle cap - a deodorant cap or one from essential oils would do. Cut out a circle from a thin layer of clay. It you have a cap of smaller diameter, make an indentation on the plate - see picture. Now the plate is flat, to make it a bit more concave twist up the edges a bit. Let it dry upside down, keeping the shape intact. Repeat for as many plates as you'd like, I made 7. Let plates dry and paint - I used golden nail polish from the previous steps.

Step 17: Make the Books

Make some rectangles out of clay - these will be the base of the books. Add some texture by gently touching the edges with a knife - this will resembles book pages. For each of the books, make a cover by cutting out a thin rectangular-shaped piece that is big enough to wrap around the book - see pictures. Wrap around the book and let dry. Repeat for other books.

First, paint the white part of the books, then add some colour for the covers - see pictures. Put the books in the house and glue them down with a glue gun.

Step 18: Make the Carpet and Outside Cover

Trace out a circle in the lid part of the house - see picture. Start in the centre - glue down several pompoms. Continue working in circles, gluing down the pompoms both to the floor and to the other pompoms. Make sure they don't stick out, you can put something heavy on top to weigh the pompoms down a bit. Let everything dry.

I did not like the cardboard look on the outside of the suitcase, so I decided to cover it in fun cartoon wallpaper. I just searched Google for free high-resolution images of kids cartoon wallpaper and printed the results. I then glued the wallpaper on the outside of the suitcase - I also added some glitter glue!

Step 19: Make Sure Everything Fits!

This is highly important, check that you can close the suitcase with all of the contents included. I put food into couch and armchairs, the doll goes in the bed.

Step 20: Time to Play!

You are done! Time to throw an awesome tea party - in a park, in a car, on a plane, or in your living room! You decide :)

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    1 year ago

    Oh wow! Most detailed instructable I’ve even seen and how cute??!! I have a 10 year old boy and I’m now trying to think of alternative suitcase worlds to adapt it for him! Failing that, I might just have to make one for myself...! Best of luck in the contest!


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you so much for your lovely comment! I’m actually making another one for my nephew (this one is for my niece, my daughter is currently too small for it). My nephew is obsessed with LEGO, so his will be a LEGO-themed one! Another great option is a garage in a suitcase - for hot wheels or regular small cars - with roads and ramps and a repair shop. Or a dinosaur jungle! Or a regular jungle! Just listing all these options makes me want to make more 🤣


    1 year ago

    I really like your project! I think you'll probably win, so good job!


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you so much, I really appreciate it :)


    1 year ago

    Looks like a prize winner to me!
    Good luck in the contest.


    Reply 1 year ago

    You are too kind! Thank you for a wonderful comment :)
    Your garlic Instructable was epic!

    This is so cute! I might take some of these ideas and give it a go!


    Reply 1 year ago

    I really appreciate your comment! And please share your creation, would love to see how it looks!

    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    1 year ago

    So many great little details :)


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you!