DIY Results of recovering dinette cushions in a vintage travel trailer



This look was once an update. Someone took the birch paneling, painted it hot dog barf beige. They took the upholstery and covered it in off-white canvas, then kicked it up a notch with navy pillow case style slipcovers, capping it off with worn out bed sheets seamed into clip on curtains. I can only imagine what it looked like ‘before’ to inspire this look as a way of improvement.

Next owner (me), came in and updated it again. Cleaned up the man-hunting trailer theme of the place, added some tidy fresh paint in cheerful colors, made new curtains and removed the funk smell. The smell removal was the toughest part.

After Boot Camp style cleaning and fresh make-up she is ready for company.

After Boot Camp style cleaning, painting and redecorating there is a big improvement.

On my first round of updating I used items I had on hand to keep costs to the family budget at a minimum. Borrowing a dab of paint from a friend who was building a home, a tablecloth from my linen closet and some upholstery I found when cleaning out my mothers home when she passed, really helped with a new look very inexpensively. A year passed and choosing to share my trailer Thelma Lou with others, required me to give her yet one more face lift. A look that both men and women would feel comfortable in whether for dinner or an overnight stay. Shown below is the kind of fabric I was hoping to find for the new update. Look at the bench shown here in the back of Roxy, my 1963 Aristocrat Lo Liner.

1967 Lo-Liner Stove

The fabric seen here is actually in another trailer of mine. The cushions had the same original upholstery though, so you can see what the fabric was that inspired my new covers.

My latest update had a vision to bring back some ‘old’ feeling. I purchased some indoor outdoor fabric for durability on this round. I wanted the look to be similar to the original upholstery from 1965 shown in the photo above. After locating something with that same basic visual feeling, I followed up my purchase of new fabric by searching and watching YouTube style videos online. I needed to learn how to sew this idea into reality. I can add this to the list of skills I am practicing/learning with these travel trailers. After some stalls in my confidence, I overcame fear and designed a version of an envelope pillow (my newly emerged designer skill). Using this basic skill idea, I made new dinette cushion covers with no zippers or velcro. It took some serious wrestling moves to get the foam inside on the first cushion, but after a few attempts I learned some tricks that made it doable. All the hours spent on a bench at wrestling meets paid off here. The little trailer, near 50 years old is schooling me in all kinds of ways and all kinds of growth. This cottage feel that is inherently Thelma Lou, makes me feel happy when I open her unassuming and plain little door, a nice cozy surprise from a somewhat lack luster exterior. Here is her latest update. New cushion covers for the dinette/bed conversion.

My camera has decided not to talk to my computer, so I had to use an ipad for the photo using natural light. Forgive my grainy photograph, but even so, I think you can agree there is a good thing going on here. At least you should be able to agree it is a positive upgrade compared to her prior owners vision. I’m pleased with the way this update gives an old cottage feeling with a nod to the original fabric on her dinette. I liked using the new improved Sunbrella fabric over the old cotton duck cloth because it is so stain and moisture resistant, but comfortable to touch. The cushions are reversible so I can change up the look easily. In the photo below I have one of the cushion backs turned over to show the stripe as seen on the right bench.

TL with sunny dinette and red pillowsThelma Lou is ready for company, or in this case, an Adventure rental or perhaps a mobile Guest Cottage at your house.


Lily amongst the crafted vision

ImageCreative process…and Lily (the Blue Heeler) amongst the vision.

I like taking something and making it my own, personalizing it, kicking it up a notch from ordinary to extraordinary. Sometimes that happens with paint, other times with hammers, glue guns or pliers, but this time it happened with sewing.

I am not the kind of highly trained seamstress that has a special room filled with everything in its place, sunlight and flat space framed with cabinets of storage abounding. I am the kind of seamstress that tries to remember a few pointers from 1974 when I was in Mrs. Smith’s 101 Home Ec class, then takes over the dining room table my great grandfather built for my grandmothers kitchen nook. I am the kind of seamstress who sweeps the kitchen floor before laying out the 50% off $24.99 a yard fabric on the floor for cutting. I am the kind of seamstress who has paper bags of fabric scraps to dig through and one organized sewing basket of sorts. I have great ideas, and YouTube videos to figure out how to make those ideas come to pass. I am not, I repeat NOT professional, and I am okay with that. What I am is creative and not afraid to work at a project until I consider it a success. What I am learning is,  I am not a group project kind of person. Here is how I know. When my 8 month old kitten and my 3 year old blue Heeler want to help my sewing, I think about making them into jerky instead of enjoying their company.  The jerky didn’t happen of course, I am just admitting to the thought.

Vintage Roving started out as a dream come true for a 50 year old, who was once a little girl at a summer picnic in the eastern Oregon mountains of Grant county. The first time I saw a small travel trailer it wasn’t vintage. It probably wasn’t five years old, but I knew I wanted one of my very own. I never told anyone, but the dream lingered with me. Fathers Day 2011, my husband I drove to Prineville and considered my first ownership. We towed it home and the work of cleaning it up to look like a dream, instead of a nightmare, and  a vision of  ‘what could be’ began. On that creative journey of cleaning and personalizing my playhouse, I had a mustard seed of an idea planted in me to share my trailer with those who wanted to share her unique ability to help folks relax. That would mean decorating with less of me in mind, and a theme a wider range of people could enjoy. Image

Thelma Lou’s dinette the day I brought her home to stay. The walls were sloppily painted a color a I labeled “Hot dog barf” and white, navy cotton fabric folded over the top of dirty canvas was the upholstery. 

I initially used some old fabric my mother had leftover from a loveseat she had recovered, because I had it. Now I am recovering those original dinette cushions with something more period correct, washable, durable, and less girly. Something a man won’t force his eyes to not to roll when he spies the cushions. Hence, my kitchen/dining room sewing project with Lily the Heeler and Reece the wildcat/kitten. It has been a challenge. Something akin to taking a 3 year old shopping with you for a formal dress, or rebuilding a carburetor with your 2 year old ‘helping’.

Apparently if you are a Heeler who never leaves her humans side for more than 5 minutes, and your best friend-enemy is a kitten who loves to provoke as much as to be chased, a sewing project on the floor is the best kind of project in the world. All the bonding you could ever hope for in one central spot in the house. So when you rent one of these rolling adventures, don’t forget someone with lots of love and patience made those cushion covers, with lots of help from my friends, who share this vision, a little more involved than perhaps I would like from time to time. This was one ‘Adventure, delivered’ I had not bargained for, but an adventure nonetheless. I will show you the before and after when I get this project all sewn up and in place.

Vacation Location. No Wrong Answer.

I came across a quote recently that made me think about vacations.

“Find what brings you joy and go there.”
— Jan Phillips

That seems to sum up a vacation to me. It isn’t the destination spot in itself. It isn’t having matching luggage, it isn’t wearing mouse ears or climbing rigging, or the perfect set of clubs; it isn’t anything specific, it’s how I feel when I get there.     It is…what brings you joy.

1970 people vacationing by Paul McDonough

Paul McDonough the great NYC photographer shared this nostalgic  peek into 1970 vacation time. He has a great exhibit showing now. More info here:

We all know the places that make us happy, and it is a fact those very specific things are not what pleases everyone. Vacations, adventure, or just time away to rest looks differently to each of us. Sometimes just finding a place to go can be the most difficult aspect of buggin’ out of the daily chore life. Our family dynamic proves out this challenge over and over again. I am happy just sitting creekside for days on end with a book, small fire, bucket for berry picking, good food and wines or new craft beer to explore. I don’t have to even leave camp to be happy. The further out of civilization the happier I am. My family refers to me as Pioneer Woman. My two teen boys are often opposites in their relaxation. One wants a slice of the city, a place to get pizza, a way to have internet and music access, and a good longboarding road or challenging road to push his bike to new limits.  The other son wants a quite, challenging road to bike, a hiking trail to conquer, a crawdad hole to discover or perhaps an endless clamming hole the size of Idaho and without question, water is somehow involved. My husband wants a place to journal, think about how to make things with his hands and sketch out the idea, drink nice coffee, paddle on some water, explore, visit with new folks along the way, yet never be far from some freshly baked treat I have created back at camp next to my small campfire.

Joy, is personal. Finding it is just as personal.


The thing I love about Vintage Roving is that the quaint little trailers allow you to use the space as a jumping off spot to adventure, or a perfect place to hole up in the environment that best speaks to you. If you have people with varied interest vacationing together the trailer you can give you a tool to divide and conquer. You can camp near a city and go urbanite by day and camper by night. You can go find a barista or a craft beer and come back and whip up a great campfire hobo stew from things you bought at the Farmers Market exploration and finish with a homemade (bought at the local bakery) blackberry pie. It’s all in the location.

I’m curious, where do you like to travel, explore and find joy in Oregon?

Mountains? Dessert? Ocean? City? I think it would be fun to know more about what that looks like.

Where is your idea of the perfect spot for  a Vintage Roving -Adventure?

Adventure, delivered.


Travel. The only thing you buy, that makes you richer.

There is something to be said for staying home and just kicking back.
Having said that, there is something restorative about getting out of Dodge and relaxing outside of your regular environment. One thing I love about the vintage trailer experience is that it allows me both luxuries.

For me, relaxing is nothing to do but read, go for walks or bike rides, journal, explore, and munch. For others it looks different, but one thing vintage travel trailer unwinding offers, is that it can be such a custom experience. You make the adventure, you set the time lines, you control the environment. Tent camping has some of those features. I tent and car camped for 25 years. The one twist, is the tent itself, even a big tent, never seemed cozy or refreshing. Utilitarian and perhaps on the right trip even comfortable, but never cozy.


Not having to worry about outdoor conditions like wet or dry, mud or dust, cold or muggy heat with no wind, can open up your possibilities for relaxing. Not having to stow your gear in a fashion wild animals can’t get at it, and being able to lock the door on your sleeping accommodations offers some sense of security as well. I love, absolutely love a good campfire roast or sing along after dark. Cooking scrambled eggs in the rain and getting coffee started by means of getting a roaring fire going with damp wood, not as fun. Sleeping with rocks underneath me is also less exciting at 50 than it was at 20 something. I am not saying I haven’t loved those adventures, in fact  it’s how I chose to spend my honeymoon over 20 years ago, and I am willing to do it again.

Even though I love traditional tent camping, it is so nice to have food inside when it’s preferable, no rocks under my hips when sleeping, no soggy sleeping bags, and coffee or a hot meal at the flick of a gas burner, then stepping outside to enjoy nature until bedtime and locking the door when I go to bed.


The old saying aptly reminds us:

“Travel, the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

I would agree with this wholeheartedly. Something changes in a person when they get outside of their usual environment. You see yourself and others with fresh eyes. I am not a worldly traveler. I have a passport now because it was a priority on my bucket list. I have not used it once since I have owned it, but it gives me freedom just knowing I have it. My possibilities are enlarged. Having access to a travel trailer that is small, comfortable, and Lo-tech offers me a different kind of passport. It beckons me to come slow down without the trappings or obligations of an address, but gives me the old fashioned sense of a dwelling.

The travel trailers have amenities, but not bells and whistles. They have the basics, but not the instant gratification of satellite tv. You have to slow down and engage. You have to make the coffee on the stovetop, plan a meal, use a rotary can opener, and pull the sofa into a bed. It has the earmarks of slowing life down and enjoying the process more than hotel resorts that do absolutely everything for you, yet leave you by and large unengaged. In the vintage trailers you step outside and you are in nature choosing what comes next, not on a stuffy tour bus. The experience repeatedly reminds you that you have stepped back in time a bit, without the modern push button experiences.

There is some old fashioned waiting for things, but since you are on vacation, you don’t mind. It is centering to get out of the noise of instant, and relax with the quiet, where the whirring you hear is from a cricket, not a game console or microwave fan. It is letting the batch of brownies in the oven baking give you time to set out the outdoor table with a tablecloth and watch the sunset on the landscape overtake the daylight. It is the choice of napping, or reading in the shade, or on the sofa lying on the down comforter. It is opening the window to smell the ocean breeze, or take in the earthy forest outside your door, instead of switching on the air conditioning. It is traveling and resting, all in the same deep breath.

It’s having coffee in bed in the morning.


If you would like to experience traveling in the slow lane, choosing the pace and arriving to a turnkey camping experience, might I suggest contacting us today about renting one of our vintage trailers.

Auntie Mil or Thelma Lou can help you slow down and recharge;

 All you will be in charge of, is when to turn out the lights.


Adventure, Retreat, Repeat

From the time I was a young girl and saw my first travel trailer I’ve known I would have one for myself. The dream has been decades arriving, but I now have my own trailer and it’s possibly the most rewarding ‘thing’ I’ve ever owned.


Vintage Roving is more than just vintage travel trailers, it’s a vision that has been taking shape over my lifetime, I just didn’t know it until 2 years ago when I drove 225 miles to buy Thelma Lou. On the journey home something changed in me. My new trailer in the rearview mirror carried the last piece of an incomplete puzzle I had been discovering since childhood.

Owning a trailer is fantastic – for me. It’s not for everyone…

The thirst for adventure though is nearly ubiquitous. When I pull my trailer I always feel as though I’m on an adventure. I’m open to possibilities as endless as the road before me and I’ve got the world by the tail. My trailer gives me the freedom to park, disconnect and rove the countryside – all the while knowing I have a welcoming bed and a cozy place to reflect on my days adventures.

Auntie with the newly sewn upholstery I made.

Auntie Mil the 10′ vintage Shasta and her the newly sewn curtains and upholstery. Perfect for a couple or even time alone.

I’ve found that this portable sanctuary of respite is what helps me remember and imprint my experiences after a day of roving. It’s like using something to set the color of your Easter eggs, or waxing some old piece of wood to bring out the true character. Respite is in short supply. Time away is even more precious.

The Missing Piece

As it turns out it was not adventure or owning a trailer that was calling me,  it was respite.  As a girl I knew a little of the importance of retreating and gathering my experiences to the canvas of my mind and allowing the colors to set. It wasn’t until I grew up and let life run roughshod on my days, that I realized just how important it was to retreat and recenter.

Towing Thelma Lou across the mountain pass between her neglected storage area and my driveway gave me lots of time to think – and get hungry… In the little town of Sisters, Oregon my husband and I stopped at a store, picked up some chili, a bag of Fritos, crossed Highway 26 and parked in the elementary school parking lot. That inaugural trip  became the catalyst for more than a meal on wheels. It became a measure of quiet in a noisy world. After twisting open the propane bottle and firing up my new (to me) cooktop to heat our dinner, a lifelong missing piece snapped into focus…

Getting this trailer home,  it was time to get her road ready. That took not only vision, but a good deal of elbow grease. While pulling an all nighter doing clean up, updating and repainting, it was in the wee hours of the morning it struck me like thunder, I found a clear calling. I realized this trailer isn’t just for me. It was mine to own, but more importantly, it was mine to share.

paint cans in thelma lou

It was like seeing my grandmother’s missing earring in the carpet, years after I had given up looking for it;  A prized heirloom restored to me.   The missing piece of my life is not a travel trailer,  it’s sharing a recipe of rest and refreshment. So, here it is my friends – the big reveal on why Vintage Roving exists…

Mil, Kayaks, Ruby, Praise at PRAISE

10′ 1970 vintage Shasta Travel Trailer ready for a unique rental travel adventure. Getaway to recenter, alone, as a couple or even a family.

The Mission

Provide rest and adventure through renting vintage travel trailers, pre-delivered to various destinations.

It’s a simple concept who’s time has come and I believe I’m the one called to make it happen. Truth be told, I couldn’t be more pleased.


1970 Shasta with wings, 1965 Kit Companion

Here are the girls on their first mission as Mobile Cottages. Wilma the 1979 Jeep Wagoneer delivering Thelma Lou the Kit Companion, and Ruby towing the 10′ demure Auntie Mil, the 10′- 1970 Shasta with wings.


Contact me today about bringing one of these welcoming girls as extra guest space ( Mobile Cottage), or let me help you plan your own refreshing rest with a Vintage Roving Travel Adventure.


Mobile Cottage Rentals or Road Trip Vintage Trailer Adventure Packages