DIY Results of recovering dinette cushions in a vintage travel trailer

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Greatness Of Gratitude

I wrote a blog post today before this entry. I felt very good about it. Maybe even proud of it. Without warning the article vanished in the multi-tasking of the day. Between checking facebook,  keeping my guys on task, sorting laundry,  filling the wood stove, a photo shoot between gremlin filled cameras and rain,  editing text, editing content, rewriting a 3rd final draft, the latest (or prior post) took me about 7 hours to complete. I had saved the post several times, in fact,  every time I walked away from my desk.  I went to poke the fire , chew on a phrasing issue and think, but when I came back to my desk I met a crashed safari browser and my desktop starring back at me. Not a sign of the draft anywhere. I had placed the last photo at the end of the text. All I had left to complete was a caption, adding tags and it was ready to send off for proofing. What a crestfallen moment of the day when I realized it was lost to the Great Eater of all electronic documents. It seemed so crummy to work so hard despite what was already a rocky start. Today my car is on the fritz, my back up rig is broken, and the gas can is empty I normally use to fill the empty farm truck.  I had to cancel lunch with a friend. My husband is working long hours 7 days a week and works 90 minutes away and can’t help me problem solve. Our fridge is wonky and not working properly. To compensate I have to unplug it every few hours until the part to fix it arrives. I unplugged it and the plug fell deep behind the stove. I have to move both to get the plug out. My  day seemed to be spiraling in a sinking fashion into a pool of irritation, snappiness with my sons and an over all plunge into self pity. SELF PITY. Nothing stinks more than that. I decided to go soak my head in a hot shower that I had put off in order to get the blog posted today. My initial intent was to write two blog posts today that I was very excited about. Not happening. The shower would be long and self indulgent. While I was in the shower I heard a still small voice remind me of my yesterday. Yesterday I had been given news that my father no longer had any signs of Parkinson’s disease in his body or brain. An unexplained medical  anomaly . Both his father and his younger brother had suffered with the disease before passing away. It was tragic news to my father and our family and friends when we learned from two doctors he had this disease, and it would probably escalate into Alzheimer’s before it was finished with him. My Father is 72 and very, very much a doer. He won the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP for Arm Wrestling 2 years ago. WORLD CHAMPION ARM WRESTLER AT 70! He is not a man who sits in an armchair and watches the world go by. I was was riding an emotional high when two extensive rounds of testing could find no trace of the the disease in his body. It was an, “unexplained miracle”the Dr. said. There was a clear explanation to  me. After I got over myself I frankly had to ask my director and coach a question. It sounded something like this as I sat staring at my keyboard,

“Okay that blog didn’t go well and all I had written is gone forever. I am frustrated at a few different junctions and levels. So Lord, what was the agenda I missed in writing the story? What was it that you wanted me to say? Help me find that place in my writing so I am not just a clanging gong.  Help me start over with a fresh agenda that lines up with yours.”

That is going to have to be the blog entry for today. And as much as I thought I was sharing something for my readers, I believe I have been given the opportunity to learn something for myself instead. I read a good reminder from a friend this morning. I should have taken it to heart earlier in the day.

“Be grateful in all things (not for) all things.”

A few inconsequential setbacks and I had already lost my grateful heart from the day before. What had I done? I’d given up in frustration. I won’t let my day or life be defined by mere setbacks in life. I’m bigger and better than that.  I have more strength in my spirit and a newness every morning.  So, here is a toast to the next post ahead of me. A toast to the one I lost, and the head clearing I found. I am excited to find out just what that next post will be. At the end of the day I do know that life is more about The Greatness Of Gratitude then the setbacks we might temporarily allow to define us. I am certain that a grateful attitude will carry us through life the same way self pity will bury us. I choose to be grateful.

-VintageRover.

Vintage Trailers RRAAWWK!

You just can’t beat the Pacific Northwest when it comes to disappointing weather – which makes owning a travel trailer the best thing ever.

This week is Creation West, a four day outdoor concert in Enumclaw Washington with some of the biggest, and not-so-big Christian bands. Think Woodstock without LSD.

The mosh pit at Thousand Foot Krutch

Get rid of your personal bubble and rock out!

One of our sons is really in to this event. He’s the type of kid that begins the countdown clock to next year the second he leaves the parking lot at the end of the show. For him and some of his friends it’s a bit of a pilgrimage.

Basking in the light of Rock and Roll

Basking in the light of rock and roll

The trouble is you can never be too sure about what you’ll get for weather around these parts. Sure, we’re Northwesterners and we’re used to the rain, but who really wants to tent camp in a field with a few thousand people in the rain? Owning a vintage travel trailer allows us to do things we might otherwise reconsider because of weather or other circumstances.

Vintage trailer camping at Creation 2012

A little rain can’t dampen the rock and roll fun thanks to our vintage Kit Companion travel trailer

A trailer provides freedom. A vintage trailer provides freedom and coolness horsepower of about 1000. Both new and vintage come with a cost, you just need to decide which price you want to pay. For us, the price of owning a vintage trailer – dry rot, weight, funky wiring, sticky doors and not-so-perfect siding – is a price we’re comfortable with. The thought of making monthly payments that keep us from using a trailer is a big downer for us. We want to get out there and experience life and our trailers allow us to do just that.

Creation 2012 entry gate

Let the awesome begin!

Living life is where it’s at. Taking four teen-age boys on a pilgrimage to Enumclaw to spend time at the altar of Christian RAWK! is a pure delight. Hearing them talk about the bands on the “Fringe Stage” (Christian rock bands that might find it difficult to get stage time at a church), and seeing their delight at getting signatures on their phones from favorite band members is priceless. Sitting in the comfort of out little cabin on wheels, talking about this crazy life from a teen-age boy perspective is life-giving.

Card games and conversation

A vintage trailer is the perfect place to chill out between concerts

If you’re thinking of getting a vintage trailer and you’re not afraid of imperfection, go for it. When you’re standing with your teeneage son in the mosh pit, jumping up and down to the thunderous beat of rock and roll with your fists in the air , the little corner of lifted linoleum on the floor of your vintage tin can will be the last thing on your mind. Rock on.

Flaming stage pyrotechnics

Could’ve used some of these flames to warm up after the rain finally stopped…

Life Is In The Details.

There is a time and place for everything the Good Book tells us. The more life I live, the more I am aware of seasons and not just the type that sends one shoveling snow or raking leaders. There is a season of childhood, young adult, adult, mature adult, and a contented season. The contented season should be present in each season of our life, but how often is it? I find as I age, I am often more content. I have no frame of reference for those folks that lament over aging. I am crazy about my birthday. The way I see it, it is better to have birthdays, than to wish you were alive to celebrate them. I really do celebrate the gift of life. When we celebrate at our house the birthday honoree gets the best possible day, but it isn’t about showering them with packages. The birthday honoree gets to be King or Queen for the day. They choose the meals, the events, who surrounds them, and where it takes place. It is always a meaningful and well spent day in our family when someone has a birthday. It may or may not be flashy, but it is meaningful and we are all aware of just what a gift life is, and how much we love those in our life. It is a celebration, complete with some wackiness from time to time. Yesterday, I realized my feelings about Thelma Lou are like my birthday feelings. I not only love to celebrate Thelma, I love to share her with others to celebrate.

Five men of various seasons, mostly young adult and one adult, will be sharing my trailer Thelma Lou and a tent. They will journey to Enumclaw, WA hours away then be immersed in the beautiful outdoors with endless concert music, the rewards of hours of driving in the un-airconditioned 1979 Jeep Wagoneer named Wilma, or WilmaBeast. It will be a celebration of outdoor concerts all day long over four days. My husband has volunteered to drive my 15 year old son and three of his friends to CREATION. Creation 2012

I want the details to be complete for them to have a food time. That was not a typo. I want lots of food they will love, but not have to work at. Man bonding kind of food, not mom, all healthy all the time food. Event food. Frito Pie, spaghetti, tacos, breakfast burritos, cookies, brownies, soda that is normally off limits, chips, salsa, candy. Decadent food that becomes part of the adventure. Easy food my husband or one of the guys can just heat and go. I want to take some of the girly out of the trailer and strip her down to the essentials. The pillows on the sofa Futon bed for example have gone from cottage floral, to brown ticking stripe so as not to be so feminine. I made the covers yesterday, with them in mind…ok, US in mind, as I had to like them as well.

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I remade a curtain for the bathroom door that now reflects a plaid and ticking stripe theme, instead of a ruffle. I don’t want the guys to feel like they are visiting a grandma or moms camper. I want them to feel like it is perfectly adequate as a cabin or a ‘man den’ as much as possible simply by changing up a few details, without a full separate makeover. My desire is to host and serve them with love by way of making them comfortable the best way I know how; FOOD, shelter, a space to be themselves and be content. I want to create an environment that creates a memory these young men will take to their old age. I want to make them feel like my guests of honor, and honor the choice they have made to celebrate LIFE with the gorge camping, with music and great friends. I want to honor their choice of celebrating being alive. At the very core of my love of vintage travel trailers, the real heart of what I want to express is my love of people and wanting them to feel loved.

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As I prepare a home away from home for these guys, I am aware that LIFE Is In The Details. You miss the details, you miss a big part of life in my opinion, and when you miss life, you miss the main idea. I don’t want to miss it, I want to be content, right where I am…today.  Happy bonding men. Make a memory for me, will ya?

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Dreams In Color

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

Dreaming in living color is something that comes natural to me. I am by way of profession a color consulant with decades of mixing paint in a paint department, studying color under my mothers wisdom as an artist, and generally being fully soaked in color. God has blessed me with being able to see color and know it the way some people taste food or smell perfume. I dream in color, I don’t care what experts say. I have awakened and gone into work and created a color I saw in my dream. I cannot put a brush to a canvas and create anything but abstract looking art when I am trying to make a portrait, I cannot shade a circle correctly, I cannot make a frame-worthy work of art to save my life, but I can mix you the color to use with relative ease in any situation. It is a gift I have crafted but that I do not work at, a natural extension of who my creator made me to be. I have honed the craft since Kindergarten. I could mix colors before I could write my own name.

When I found Thelma Lou she had been updated with a color slap-dash applied in all the wrong ways. It was a wrong color, a wrong application, a wrong look, a wrong feeling. I saw the mission to set the poor girl free with a make-over the moment I stepped through her doors. She birthed a dream since childhood in me, and I felt I could bring her cosmetically to the full potential she had and was worthy of. My husband downloaded an itunes song yesterday that has a lyric “I can move a mountain when a mountain moves in me.” When I met Thelma, a mouuntain stirred in me. She has been a process, a project, a vision, a comfort and a lot of elbow grease.

Thelma Lou Before Boot Camp and Make-Up.

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THELMA LOU BEFORE MAKE-UP.

Thelma Lou has been a work in progress for 13 months. She was pretty much cleaned up and ready to roll in about a week, but I have continued to adjust and tweak things that just seem more suited to what she needs. As we spend time together I have gone from putting all the fun ‘PRIVATE-GIRLS ONLY!’ necessities inside that make her comfy, to taking her to a more public use and less of my whims. I recently redid her bathroom. I am still awaiting changing her old “leaks like a sieve” blackwater tank to a new holding tank, so we can use the toilet fully functioning. Currently the toilet bowl is fitted with a chamber pot arrangement for night time, that gets emptied each morning. This last week I took her to a more prominent part of the inside. She got a custom paint job that in a small space photos don’t do her justice, but in life made all the difference. Her bathroom feels like that small second 1/2 bath off the kitchen now instead of the ugly closet. When you have a 15′ trailer, ALL the spaces need to look uniform in order for it to feel comfortable instead of like a musty crackerbox. Now, I remind you, that I am making these trailers road ready, not rebuilt. She had good bones. Bootcamp axle building 101, cleaning like there was no tomorrow from afternoon to daylight, sweating like a football team with daily doubles in August, and using more sandpaper than hardware store can hold, is the bootcamp of our past. Now we are just taking the good bones and applying paint, curtains, a bit of removable carpet, and some accents. The wobbles in the paneling damaged from storage and a few minor leaks are still there, the ancient vinyl contact like paper on the ceiling with wrinkles in the corners is still in place, just freshly painted. Somehow fresh paint and newly sewn and starched curtains takes the edge off her age and blems. She is 47 and I am 50 years old. We both have need for a little make up when company is coming. My make up looks a little different. It has foundation, mascara, blush, eye liner, lipstick. Her kit has paint, trim, carpet, curtains, and recovered cushions.

ImageMAKE-UP KIT CONTENTS OF JALET AND THELMA LOU.

All the same, we have both weathered the years and come out of them with a few wrinkles and lots of character, a bit more charm for the miles, and become welcoming to those we love. Make up applied correctly gives both of us the illusion of having it more together than we really do, and you know, at the grandma stage of my life, I am perfectly fine with that.

*Song on iTunes by Danny Schmidt -Houses Sing

Progress Is Messy. Change Can Be Drippy. Smell Of Success.

New car smell, old funk trailer smell, choose one. Okay, neither smell appeals to me, but the faint aroma of freshly painted walls, newly sewn curtains crisply starched, and reupholstered cushions, and I am transcended into bliss.

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I bought Thelma Lou a year ago Fathers Day. Last June when we towed her home from Prineville she had been stored in a lot for awhile. She had been a weekend camper to the coast and housed a teen son and his friends for a time. She had all the ear marks of being a good horse, but had been ridden hard and put away wet – for example….

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She was full of funk, but not in the hipster kind of way.

I cleaned her up, spent an all-nighter giving her a paint job, and revived the gem that she is with a new facelift. Paint is a magic bullet. I was delighted in taking her from neglected, to a cozy cottage made just for a girl like me. I thought about her even when I wasn’t with her, like a first crush. Her blemishes were nearly invisible to me, even though touching every surface she had with a toothbrush or paintbrush revealed her issues as I progressed. Last summer I worked on her plumbing, redid all the pipes only to find out her tank (black water only) was more leaky than a sieve so there was no reason to get her toilet up and ‘running’. So we hauled water, slipped a little bucket into her toilet bowl for nighttime potty and dry camped with her over the last year. It has been fantastic and a game-changer for the adventure we can have as a couple and as a family. I adore Staycations like never before, and by Staycation, I mean the driveway sleepover – a home away from home, with a full kitchen and shower only 30 yards from her front door. Living in the country is a real plus for a Staycation driveway adventure. Grand kid sleepovers are a breeze, and you can always put someone out there in a pinch. Thelma Lou has lots for us to be in love with.

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Having waxed on to the point of sappy, I want to be real. She has issues. She has leaked, she has wrinkles in her paneling, ( don’t we all at almost 50?), some lifting vinyl on her ceiling in places, she needs a new tank, the toilet working, and she has a small tear in her siding from a meet up with a mailbox at our address. Having said that, she is real. Real history, real character, real bumps and bruises, real life under her belt and frankly, it is the charm of who this 2 wheeled grandma Thelma Lou is.

This week I have been painting again. Her adventures over the past year have left some scuffing on her hasty paint job. She needs a good deep clean again and we have been bonding this week. I think she senses I am getting her ready to house others who need some good R&R and could benefit from her cozy enveloping atmosphere. The fresh paint is covering the same old drips and runs that were already in place, but she seems refreshed. She seems ready for the road. She seems to be beckoning as if to say, “I am not perfect, but I am comfortable and hospitable. Come just relax, I’m real, I’m safe, and I can’t wait to meet you right where I am.”. So I am taking a clue from this alter ego of mine and getting her ready for company. She, no we, are about to embark on a new adventure, imperfect in body, and perfect in spirit. A half gallon of paint later, we are nearly ready to embrace a dream right where we are instead of waiting for perfection and the perfect moment. We don’t want to miss the life hiding under the barrage of details that would hold us back. We have planned this out, but left room for detours along the way. Even though I am a consummate planner, I don’t want to miss life while planning for it. At 50 years of age, I am finally starting to learn a bit about balance.