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  • Melissa Geskie

Belles & Whistles Transfer - A Vintage Suitcase Makeover

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

As a furniture artist I sometimes find something cool that would make for a great makeover. Like this vintage suitcase I sourced at a local Goodwill for $5! I knew it would be the perfect size to try the new Belles & Whistles Transfers from Dixie Belle.

Product List

First things first, as always clean your item with White Lightning. This cleaning agent is a great way to prep your piece before paint as it removes oils, dirt, and grime.

The inside of this suitcase was still in great shape so I left it original. For a video of how to replace fabric inside of a suitcase click here.

The suitcase was a perfect size to pair with a old luggage stand. Together they will make the cutest table. Let's start!

In my mind I knew I would be using this transfer by Dixie Belle. Its called Steampunk and part of their Belles & Whistles line. The colors I chose for the paint were based on this design. There were golds, browns, and some soft grey blue colors in the transfer. I chose to paint this suitcase in Chocolate, Mud Puddle and Burlap. But, before I could paint I needed to get the surface ready. Enter Slick Stick, a primer for slick and shiny surfaces. The covering on this case was a vinyl material that needed a gripper for my paint to stick. You need to apply one even coat of Slick Stick, waiting 2-4 hours between coats. Once the second coat has been applied you need to wait a full 24 hours before painting on top.

I wanted an ombre-aged effect on this piece. So, I started painting in the middle with Burlap, and surrounded the edges in Chocolate and Mud Puddle. I used separate brushes for each color, laying down the color pattern. Once the base coat has started to dry I used my spray misting bottle to dampen the brush and pull the two tones together.

Once the paint has dried I was ready to add some transfers This one is called SteamPunk!

So, how do they work?

Inside each tube of transfers you'll find a burnishing tool, the transfer sheets, and a instruction card. Gently unroll your transfer and decide where you would like to apply it. I like to cut mine up into smaller parts to use and on multiple projects. Once you are ready to apply the transfer, gently pull back the clear release sheet to separate the transfer from the protective paper. This paper is white. Working from the outer edge inward, you apply pressure by rubbing to the transfer using the enclosed tool. You can gently lift the clear release sheet to check it has adhered correctly. These transfers are very easy to apply, bend and adhere to any item. Take note: Transfers can be layered, distressed, and sealed.

For this piece, I cut the transfer into multiple parts and applied the pieces of the transfer to the suitcase. I overlapped some and applied the transfer to each side of the case. I even overlapped the opening so that the image would be front and center on the case, you can easily cut the transfer with a sharp knife or blade where you have the opening. Next, burnish the transfer down after application with a soft cloth to ensure there are no air bubbles. Once I was done applying the transfer I used Satin Clear Coat, applied with a Blue Sponge, to seal the transfer and protect my work.

Satin Clear Coat & Blue Sponge

Next up? Woodubend! I love Woodubend products. For this case I selected gears, or #515. Dixie Belle carries over 50 exclusive Woodubend designs not available anywhere else! They are a great way to add layers of depth to a piece. I wanted to add the steampunk style gears to the case in gold. Woodubend mouldings are paintable, stainable, and sandable! I used Gemstone Mousse in Golden Gem and applied one thin coat onto the Woodubend gears. Once the Mousse has dried I was ready to adhere them to the case. Did you know that you can bend the mouldings when they are warm? This makes them the perfect fit for the curves on the suitcase. Flip your Woodubend mouldings upside down, and using a heat gun to heat up the back of the moulding you can get some flexibility. Apply your Wood Glue and then adhere to the suitcase. I then use the heat gun to blast the gear one more time ensuring it is stuck on the piece.

Gemstone Mousse in Golden Gem on the Woodubend

It's time to age the suitcase, and the best product for that is Best Dang Wax in Black. Using my French Tip Brush I applied the wax to the edges and around the gears. I used a wet wipe to pull back any excess wax on the piece or around the Woodubend gears.

I then added Caviar to the trim edges, painted on with a small brush to get into the edges. Once this dried I added some sparkle with Gilding Wax in Gold. And, I painted the gold onto the hardware as well.

I took the freshly made over case and put it onto the suitcase rack. Volia! A new Steampunk table!

Thanks for joining me on my painting journey! To watch a Tik Tok of this process click here!

This great transfer can be combined with many matching Dixie Belle products, check out this Silkscreen Stencil Steampunk that matches perfectly! Your only limited by your imagination!

Want to watch a video of this look? It's up and running on the Dixie Belle paint page on YouTube! Click here!

Happy Painting!


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