Please read this whole process before beginning your own! Oh, the things I have learned and will do differently the next time (and I do have a few more of these).
I began with this
The outside was scuffed and scratched with parts of the leather edge missing. I had originally wanted to remove the leather and reuse it but time, and the elements in which is was stored, took a toll. The inside was so much worse.
It smelled awful and was peeling away. Upon removing part of the lining, I discovered the wooden case underneath was coming apart and damaged. So I removed all the fabrics covering the inside and out, along with the leather trim. It all came apart in pieces and there was lots of dust from the dirt and glue residue. This really should be done in a well ventilated area and wear a mask especially if you have respiratory problems.
The glue they used in these cases was an animal based glue and that’s the cause of a lot of the odor. Once the case was stripped, I used a diluted solution of bleach in a spray bottle to spritz the case, inside and out. Again, use cautiously and with proper ventilation. After I let it sit for a bit, i rinsed it off with a sprayer in my kitchen sink. Yes, I know it’s wood. Yes, wood swells when wet. I don’t soak them, just spray them down. Sometimes the glue can be scraped off when it’s been damp. You could also let it dry and sand it away. I scraped it off.
This is what I had when I completed the cleaning process.
The lid came away from the piece mounted to the hinges and the side of the case came off. Before I reattached anything, I pulled the stitching out that didn’t come away with the leather strips. Can you imagine the sewing machine they used to stitch it into place? That thing had to not only sew through leather, but wood as well!
Once the stitching was removed, I used gorilla wood glue to put the pieces back together. To help reinforce and hold together all the corners, I used a staple gun with shallow staples. Even so, I still had to hammer the ends over in places once it dried.
After the glue dried, I thought wrapping the joins on the outside with glue and paper bags was a great way to strengthen the edges. This would be perfect if I hadn’t later decided to hand sew vinyl in place of where the leather had been. ::groan:: It can still be an excellent idea if you plan of not using vinyl or leather *or* you re-drill the holes before proceeding from this point. I had to poke a t-pin through the holes from the inside and that was NOT easy. Plus I still drilled the holes with the smallest drill bit we had.
This was what I had (minus holes) once I wrapped the edges in brown paper.
I think this would be enough reinforcement if you chose not to add vinyl or leather. I had thought maybe I would use the torn paper bag decoupage technique to create a leather look case. Then I thought a more feminine look possibly. Just as I was about to head to the quilt cave to peruse the fabric choices, I looked at my half bathroom and realized I had left over wall paper begging to be used here!
Before applying any covering, I tried to polish the hardware.
Before and after pictures 🙂
In hindsight, I will be opting for new hinges in future case restorations. These will suffice, but I would have been happier with newer hardware here. The clasps and handles are fine and I wouldn’t replace them unless they were rusty. In fact, the metal portion of the handles shined up quite nicely.
On the left is before, the right after.
I have to tell you the inside isn’t complete right now, but now is the time to remove any pieces in there, even if you want to replace them. You don’t want to mess up the outside once it’s done. I didn’t remove it all before I started but was lucky enough to not damage anything. It will be easier to recover the pieces if they are removed first. You may also discover you don’t need them in there anymore. The foot pedal holder (big black metal piece in the before photo) won’t be needed with my modern foot control. Besides, I have other plans for this inside space 😉 I will be replacing the bottom right hand piece (or at least I think so) because it helps keep the machine from shifting around.
If you use wallpaper, please realize that even if the self glued paper holds right now, it may not hold as well in time. I used mod podge to cover my case. Since my wallpaper had a washable, shiny coating, I only used mod podge to adhere the paper. You may want to use it over the top if your paper isn’t as durable.
This is a photo of a corner once the holes had been re-drilled.
After I had covered my case, I noticed one of the repaired corners was starting to come apart again, even though I had glued and stapled it together. I found some fiberglass paper tape in my stash and hope this will hold it better.
Because I had planned to wrap the outer edges in vinyl, I didn’t wrap the paper over them. I did wrap around the edges leading into the case, with about an inch or two glued inside. I roughly cut the paper to fit around the hardware before applying the glue. Once glued, I used a stiletto and sharp knife to push the paper down and around the hardware. This was another instance where I wished I had used new hinges.
After I let the glue dry overnight, I started to drill the holes and attach the vinyl trim. I measured a piece of the old leather to get the proper width and placed it across the edge to see how far out to stitch it down. My vinyl had a bit of stretch one way but not the other, so I chose to place it with the stretch running around the edge. I pulled it a bit as I got to the corners which helped me ease some of the fullness in place. I don’t like how I had to place gathers at the corners, but unless I cut it, I had to do it. I not only wanted the vinyl for looks but for strength as well. I chose a sturdy thread and did a back stitch from the inside. Do yourself a favor; after you pre-drill your holes, sand them down inside.
I’m not sure if I will do the next one with a vinyl trim. Although it is beautiful, it was quite time consuming. That could be because I didn’t know what I didn’t know!
The handle can be placed back on at any time after the paper is applied and dried. It is held in place with screws from the inside and very simple to remove and replace. It does have to be done before finishing the inside.
Here it is, the outside recovered!
I need to work on polishing the clasps. In the next few weeks, I’ll be finishing the inside. Check back for part 2 to come!