Intro: Portable Wardrobe Suitcase Conversion
You can easily convert a large old suitcase into a portable wardrobe in a few hours.
The is useful for people who have kids involved in dance competitions
The project basically consists of adding a wood frame inside the lining of a suitcase to support two pegs. Those two pegs are used to support a frame made from PVC that is used as a portable wardrobe.
The PVC frame comes apart for storage inside the suitcase.
Step 1: Materials You Will Need
You will need
• a large suitcase. and older one you can get for free is best.
• 1 – 1 x 6 x 8’
• about 24” of 2 x 2
• About 8” of Scrap 2x4
• 12” 1” Dia. Oak Dowel.
• 2 x 8’ of 1” ID PVC Pipe
• 2 x F-F Adaptor
• 2 x 90deg F-F Elbow
• Carpenter’s Glue
• Pipe Solder
Step 2: Open the Suitcase
Locate the zipper in the lining
Unzip the lining and fold it open
This will expose the inside of the suitcase
Step 3: Examine the Obstacles
Look at the obstacles that might be in the way of the wood frame that will be used to hold the frame
The mounting plates for the casters might be in the way.
The handle mechanism needs to remain free to operate
Step 4: Top and Bottom Frame Boards
Measure the inside atthe bottom
The measurement should be for a snug fit, but not so tight that the wood stresses the fabric of the suitcase
Once the wood is cut to length, ease the edges with a sander or router to prevent any sharp 90 degree cuts from pressing on the suitcase fabric
Set the fame in place for the bottom and repeat for the top
Set the frame boards as low as you reasonably can in the suitcase to leave room for the frame pegs (later)
Step 5: Side Frame Boards
Measure the distance between the top and bottom frame boards
Cut the two side frame boards for a snug fit.
I cut these boards about ¼” longer than the measurement to ensure a snug fit.
The cut ends of these boards only contact the top and bottom frame boards, so there is no need to ease the sharp corners.
Step 6: A Lesson Learned the Hard Way
If your suitcase has straps on the inside and you want to be able to use them after you are done, you need to pull them back through and run them on the inside of the frame as shown
If you don’t re-run them on this inside, they will get pinched by the frame and you will not be able to use them
If you don’t do this now, it is really difficult to do once the frame corners have been screwed together
Step 7: Corner Connector / Stiffeners
Cut a length of 2x2 at 5-1/4” to fit in each corner.
I chamfer about 1” off the corner facing the inside of the suitcase to save room and prevent sharp edges from catching on the lining.
Pre-drill the 2x2 corner stiffeners in 2 places on each inside face
Apply carpenter’s glue to the two outside faces
Screw the stiffeners into the corners
Keep and eye on the other corners as you put the first stiffeners in to make sure the frame stays aligned
Step 8: Cut Dowels and Mount the Supports
Cut 2 pieces of 2x4 each 5” long
If you want to save room and help protect the inner lining, make two 45deg cuts on each piece as shown, or at least sand the sharp edge.
Using the 1” spade bit, drill a hole into the top of each piece to a depth of about 1 ½ “.
Cut a length of the dowel so that with the 2x4 mount set at the bottom of the frame, the top of the peg is flush with the top of the suitcase. (If the peg is too high it will rub on the suitcase lid over time)
Glue the peg into the hole. It will be a snug fit
Pre-drill 3 holes in the 2x4 mount and apply glue to the back of the mount
Screw the mount to the frame so the bottom of the mount is even with the bottom of the frame
There should be at least 3” of dowel sticking out of the mount so that the garment rack is not wobbly
Step 9: Build the Garment Rack
The garment rack is made from 5 lengths of the plastic pipe that come apart to fit in the suitcase for transportation
Two of the lengths will have 90 degree elbows soldered on
Two of the lengths will have F-F couplers soldered on
All suitcases are slightly different sizes, so make sure the pieces of pipe can fit
Solder only one side of each fitting so that the pieces can be pulled apart for storage in the suitcase during travel.
Step 10: Finish Up
Vacuum out the inside of the suitcase. Clean up any glue that seeped out.
Make a small cut in the liner at each mounting peg and push the peg through the hole in the liner
Set the liner back in place and zip it back together
Take the 5 sections of the garment rack and bind them together with an elastic.
Store the garment rack poles in the suitcase.