In preparation for our tour to Taiwan last month, Em and I were busy little bees! (reference: the scene in Gladiator, when Joaquin Phoenix accused his sister of plotting against him). teehee.
Whereas our ragtag Clov army is normally very unorganized about our merch, this time we were determined to have one of those nice suitcase merch setups — you just open it up on the merch table and voila! you have Exit Clov merch ready to sell like hotcakes
I’m sure there are any number of ways to design a merch case, but here are the pretty simple steps we took to outfit an old vintage suitcase for tour.
1. Procure the suitcase!
Chops and I dropped by a local thrift store (Georgia Ave. Thrift Store) on a rainy Saturday afternoon. We made a beeline for the suitcase graveyard in the back corner, and within minutes picked out the perfect classic-looking black case. Ideal characteristics included a smooth interior so that it’s easy to glue fabric onto – ours had a few gross crumbs in it, but it was cardboard on the inside so it would glue very well. We also wanted a light case because we would be carrying tons of cd’s, records and posters in it in the sweltering Taiwan heat. And lastly we made sure it was somewhat miniature in size, again to minimize the weight. As you can see, the suitcase had more than a few broken clasps and buckles, which might have been problematic when we checked it as baggage on the flight, but I decided those things were fixable.
2. Measure and cut fabrics
To outfit the insides of the case, first pick out a nice fabric to use. I dug through my inventory of scraps and picked a deep mauve linen for the bottom tray, and a white and blue-striped cotton piece for the top. Especially if you’re going to be selling your merch in dark clubs, a bright top piece will really help your merch case pop a bit mo’, perhaps catching the wandering eye of a passing fan. Next, measure the full length and width of the inside of the suitcase – a tape measure is easiest so you can get around the curves of the case. When marking your cloth, add an extra 1.5 inches both vertically and horizontally so you have cloth to spare for a 5/8″ seam allowance on each edge.
Then cut the fabric along the lines you’ve marked.
3. Sew the seams on the edges of your fabric
Taking your fabric, fold each edge over (toward the wrong side of the fabric) by three-quarters of an inch, pin it in place, and then sew the fold together. (Or just hold it in place with your hands while you sew if you’re lazy like me).
Do the same to all four edges of the cloth. Then iron them flat.
To create the corners, it’s really not as tricky as it might seem. Each corner has two edges right? Making sure the cloth is right side up, hold both edges of a corner and fold them upwards toward each other, to create a little triangle shape about 2-3 inches long. Pin it in place. You want to sew the two sides together along a straight line (laterally) like this:
Then fold the triangle portion to one side, along the line you just sewed. Whaddya know – it’s a corner! If you want to be very anal about it, you can pin all four corners in place first and make sure the whole fabric fits snugly in the case before sewing the line.
5. Glue fabric to suitcase!
Alas, you’re ready to glue the fabric to the inside of the suitcase! I used glue stick since it would be dry and easy to apply on fabric. But for the edges of the cloth I ended up using super glue to make sure it was strong enough to survive the rough and tumble of a tour. Glue gun would have been even mo’ better for the edges, but I didn’t have one and it was crunch time hehe. Voila! Here are some glamour shots of the suitcase.
So you could be done now, or if you’re like me, a work of art is never quite done. Feel free to embellish on the suitcase however you like (think Christmas lights, signs, burlap!). We had 3 cd’s to sell, so I cut out small fabric squares and mounted pieces of paper with the name and price of each cd. See first photo above to see them posted inside the case.
Also, since we were going to be checking the merch case as luggage, I made a lil’ badass sash to wrap around the outside of the case incase the clasps continued to fall apart. Of course, we had to throw on this skull patch that I saved from an old baseball cap… (did you really have to ask? 😉 ) thought it was a little more subtle than “STEAL AT YOUR OWN RISK.” har har.
All of this said, however… if you really want to learn how to SERiously spruce up a merch case I’d recommend checking out Bellflur‘s.