how to-sday . vintage suitcase cat bed

December 21, 2010 separator DIY Tutorial

I haven’t done a tutorial since September 14 – gross, I know. I slack. I’m sorry. I’m back with a bang, though. I have always loved the cute little vintage suitcase cat beds that I’ve seen on Etsy, but I just can’t justify the price tag. I decided to try my hand at it and to mix things up a bit by only using thrifted components for the project! 
That’s right – everything for the bed (except the nuts and fusible hem tape) came from Salvation Army, and it cost me a grand total of $14.87 for the curtain, table, suitcase, and pillow! 
  • vintage suitcase (Hard-bodied is preferable.)
  • legs
  • fabric
  • stuffing or a pillow insert
  • washers and nuts to fit the leg screws
  • drill
  • wrench or pliers
  • sewing machine or fusible webbing 
1.   Begin by separating the top of your suitcase from the bottom. Mine came apart pretty easily because the suitcase is thin fiberboard, but you may have to really work at it with the pliers. Be careful not to damage the outside of the suitcase. Set the top (the side without the handle) aside to repurpose for something else. 
2.   Decide where you want your legs. Closer to the edges will provide more stability. Measure, and mark each of the corners. I did mine two inches in from each corner. 
3.   Use a drill bit the same width as the screws for your legs or one size smaller for a really tight fit. Drill a hole through each of your marks. 
4.   Thread the screw for a leg through one hole. On the inside of the suitcase, thread a washer over the screw, and then being to screw the nut over the washer. Using a ratchet or pliers, tighten it down as far as it will go. Attach the other legs the same way. 
5.   This part is optional if you want a washable cover. I decided to use a pillow insert so that I can remove the cover to wash all the cat fur nastiness off from time to time. I bought a cheapy pillow at Walmart. I set it in the suitcase to gauge the size, and then I cut off the excess edge and pulled out the extra stuffing. I then used Stitch Witchery fusible tape to iron the seam back together along the side. 
6. If you’re using a pillow insert, then use that as your template for the cover. Otherwise, trace the inside of the suitcase onto your fabric, and cut it, leaving some excess for the seams. Again, I used Stitch Witchery to “sew” the whole thing together. Because I used an old curtain, I already had nice, finished edges to put together. If you’re starting with raw fabric, you’ll want to neaten up the edges by “hemming” with the fusible backing. 
7.   To finish the case, I left one end open and trimmed the top edge, leaving a long flap on the bottom edge. This allows me to tuck the flap in to close the case so that I can toss in some catnip or take it off to wash it. You could also add a zipper or button closure. 


Notes from My Failures
  • Use shorter legs. These guys are way too wobbly for my poor little tubby. 
  • Use a hard plastic suitcase. It’s much sturdier. 
  • Slip some catnip under the cover so that your little guy(s) know what the heck the new piece of furniture is for. Otherwise, they’ll break your heart by ignoring it. 


  1. Pingback: 15 Easy DIY Cat Projects - My 3 Little Kittens
  2. I am one of the sellers on Etsy with these suitcase pet beds. I’ve learned to keep the top and make another bed from it. Instead of the handle the suitcase comes with…just put on a drawer pull. Voila! Two beds.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing that tip! Anything to reduce waste is super helpful!

    2. How do you clean the inside lining? I bought a good sturdy suitcase to covert. I am a breeder and want to make one of these for momma cats having babies so I can tote it with me from room to room, if need be. I will put replaceable pads in the bottom but wanted to clean or replace the lining, it smells musty and mommy might not like that.

      1. Hi Terri! For your purposes, I’d suggest tearing out the lining entirely and just using an extra-puffy cushion to fill the space. Those smells are SO hard to remove!

  3. I am now trying to do this… And this tutorial was really helpfull. I’ll send you some pics when I’m done! Thank you and best regards from sunny Lisbon, Portugal! Rute & Bazinga

  4. I am now trying to do this… And this tutorial was really helpfull. I’ll send you some pics when I’m done! Thank you and best regards from sunny Lisbon, Portugal! Rute & Bazinga

  5. I am now trying to do this… And this tutorial was really helpfull. I’ll send you some pics when I’m done! Thank you and best regards from sunny Lisbon, Portugal! Rute & Bazinga

  6. Thank you so much for this tutorial! I’m not crafty but have been wanting to make one of these to sell to raise money for an animal rescue ever since seeing them on etsy! I love the detail you provide and that the pillow is no-sew. If I actually get it done, I will post pics:)

  7. I was inspired by this cute bed so I went to a thrift store and bought a vintage suitcase for 8$ then went to Lowe’s for the legs. I had to buy short legs because one of my cats is overweight and cant jump high. Im not finished yet but it’s in the works and my cats LOVE sleeping in it already! Thx

  8. I love this idea! Though Cookie and Roscoe need absolutely no catnip bribes to sit on anything. As I write this, they’re taking over my gift-wrapping area.

    You know what a good source for table legs is? Ikea. We use them all the time for shoots, they sell tons of different heights/materials. I think their sofa legs/feet would be perfect for this.

  9. Awesome! Great tutorial. My cat currently uses an old basket with a old sofa pillow. This is far more appealing to the eye. Thanks for sharing.

  10. this is so ridiculously cute! I’m in love, I wish I had a cat (alas, I am allergic). But this would make a great gift..

  11. It’s adorable. I agree that the legs might be a little tall, but yours seem to be a style that you could shorten if you wanted. I’m glad your cats are enjoying it 🙂

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