Monthly Archives: June 2012

For my happy canine camper

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It’s a good thing we have supportive families. If my mother hadn’t come and cleaned my kitchen (thank you, Mom!) and my in-laws didn’t have my daughter for a sleepover, I would never have been able to ignore the rest of my life quite so thoroughly these couple of days while I sew for my trailer. It’s fun to get wrapped up in a project.

This morning I tackled the issue of Belle’s sleeping space. I made her a little doggie bedroll. It’s a quilted cover with sturdy upholstery fabric on the bottom over a core of 1 inch foam. The cover is removable for washing. She seems to like it.

It can be easily rolled up for storage when not in use.

Now if I can figure out how to build a mudroom on the front of this 14-foot trailer so I can wipe down her muddy paws before she comes inside…

Working on the interior

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No time for a real post, but I have to share some photos of the progress I’m making on sewing for the interior. Some of you saw the teaser to this post on Facebook–the photo I paid my daughter $1 to pose for, under a wool blanket in the heat!

Camper madness takes over

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Disclaimer: This post is coming from the slightly OCD Renata that once brought you trailer textiles and a camper fridgie. What can I say? I get focused on one thing and beat it to death. I’ll clean the bathrooms some other week; right now my energy is consumed with Camper. It’s not a bad life, really.

First, I got stuck under a grumpy 2-year-old at my computer and needed something to do while I sat there and held him. So I created a camper graphic to put on a new yard sign for our campground. Here it is.

Then today I found these totally awesome mid-century Samsonite suitcases at an antiques/junk store and bought them because I’m traveling by air on a trip next month and clearly I needed these old blue cases to avoid confusing my luggage with everyone else’s on the conveyor belt. The wheels and handle still work perfectly, the lining is intact, the keys were included, and the metal is shiny and perfect. I get the feeling they were mostly stored instead of used. The original “Ladies’ and Men’s Packing Guide” was still tucked into the big one, advising me to “use shoemitts of fabric” to pack my shoes. I swooned, because I’m into that kind of thing, you know? The original Samsonite tag was also still on the big case, never inscribed, but I think I’ll tuck it away with my packing guide for posterity and decided to make my own instead.

I went to print out the card to tuck into my new homemade luggage tag (the fabric is a laminated cotton) but couldn’t find a design that seemed right on the Avery website, although I often find really great printables there. Then it struck me that this was an excellent opportunity to use my own new graphic, so I designed a card with it and stitched it in. I think it looks perfect, and now I’ll have a little piece of my camper with me as comfort when I’m trying not to vomit at 32000 feet. (Campers=good; flying=bad.) Then I decided that my children need t-shirts with the same graphic (don’t they though?) and maybe even me too. So I headed over to Cafe Press, where I discovered that it is cheaper for me to offer my own graphic as an item for sale and subsequently buy it myself than it is for me to just privately design and purchase my own product. Sort of annoying. But why not? Most of my search engine traffic here is from people who google campers, so maybe they need Renata-designed camper merchandise too, right?

So in case you happen to fall into that category here is the link to my brand-new Cafe Press store, where you too can join the vintage-camper-graphic-wearing crowd. Or something. Who knows what’s next? Maybe I can convince Cafe Press to start offering fridgies.

Camper elves!

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So the timing of my new camper acquisition didn’t seem too great. I pulled it home on a Tuesday, got sick with a summer cold next day and spent the remainder of the week dragging around the house feeling lazy and yuck, finally got up enough energy to paint part of the exterior (see last post) over the weekend, then left for Philadelphia with the kids. After all the excitement of getting my little Yellowstone I was let down at not being able to work much on it.  But then something magical happened! On the day before my trip to Philly my maternal grandparents came by to see the new camper. It turned out that they had also owned a late-60s Yellowstone of about the same size and layout. How fun! Granddad remembered every detail; Mamaw’s fingers couldn’t stop themselves from doing a little cleaning around the kitchenette while they were there looking around. I got the grand idea to leave the camper over at their house during my trip. I could tell Mamaw wanted to scrub it a little and I figured they’d have fun just having it there on site for a few days. So I pulled it over to their house and left it, all dirty and full of miscellaneous supplies, in their driveway and waved goodbye. The kids and I spent a jolly five days visiting friends and family and driving 1400 miles.

When I left the camper at Mamaw’s the entryway looked like this (above).

And when I came back it looked like this!

And when I left the back wall (with water damage under the window) looked like this.

And when I came back it looked like this!

It turns out that a little more than cleaning went on while the Yellowstone was parked at my grandparents’ house. My mother and her parents (all pictured here with my kids) caught vintage camper fever in my absence. They might have started just cleaning, but they ended up completely refurbishing the interior. Granddad replaced the damaged and missing veneer on the back wall and in other spots, Mamaw cleaned every nook and cranny, together they stained and sealed every surface, stained and rehung all the cabinets with the new hardware I’d left behind, painted the metal parts that needed repainting, and then on the day I drove back across the Pennsylvania Turnpike Mom laid the new floor while Granddad (did I mention that he is 85 years old?) went behind her with the base shoe. Wow! It looks fantastic! It was really fun to see what they’d done, and to savor the idea that my beloved family had such fun on this project while I was gone. It felt like camper Christmas going through it today with all the surprises! I think they all had a great time doing it too and we all enjoyed the big unveiling today. Now I get to pull it back home and finish the exterior paint, and then I’ll be straight onto my very favorite tasks of sewing the new cushions and curtains and outfitting it with all our supplies. I hope I can talk my grandparents into making a little excursion with us once it’s done, even if it’s just a daytime camp-out at a nearby park. Now this is a family business!

In which I use aqua paint twice

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Two unrelated projects, two different kinds of paint, but one color scheme. Here we go:

Folding chairs, rescued from my basement. They came with the house. First I spray painted them…

…then made fabric covers for the back and a nice padded foam one for the seat. I’m keeping these in my garage to pull out when I need comfy seating for child-watching in my back yard and swing-set area. Love making something cute out of old forgotten items left in my basement!

And the new camper. Unfortunately I haven’t finished this job because of threat of rain, but I have one coat on most of three sides. It looks sweet. Here’s the door side before (can you find me in this photo?)…

…and after. Check out my rims! It’s hard to tell exactly what the original blue shade was on here, but I think I probably went just one notch brighter. I love it so much that the first night I had to keep peeking at it our my bedroom window, just to take one more little look at the awesome aqua stripe. My husband has started teasing me about it, which I totally deserve. I can’t wait to finish up the exterior paint job and really make some progress on the inside. It’s going to be so cute! I’ve been watching (and winning) some online auctions for vintage Pyrex dinnerware, with turquoise and flamingo (reddish pink) bands. It’s going to look perfect in this little camper. You know me and dishes, right? I can’t pass up the opportunity.

She’s here!

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So almost two years go I bought my first camper, all ten feet of it. Rob and I were enthusiastic but anxious–would we use it? Could we tow it? Would it smell odd? I did not believe the nice woman at Fine Design Camper Sales who told me she was selling me my “starter camper.” I thought we’d be lucky to get our money’s worth out of it. Well, I guess the joke was on me. Not only did we enjoy camping in it, I also sort of fell in love with the whole vintage trailer scene. Fast forward to today…when the very same Sherry sold me my second one! Can you tell Worth loves it as much as I do? It’s a 1967 Yellowstone. It needs work, which you can be sure you will be reading more about.

It contained the paperwork from when it was new, including this awesome old sales brochure. I can’t wait to repaint the faded turquoise stripe on mine! (This one looks too classic to do anything too creative with the paint.) The interior of this little 14-footer looks just like the photo on top, but, you know, with forty-five years of wear to the birchwood and fixtures. Again, I can’t paint over the inside but I am looking forward to restoring the wood and having fun with new fabrics. This one has the original aqua appliances. Sweet!

And am I wrong, or is that actually me in the bottom corner picture with the baby in the stroller? I think it might be. We’ve just now been reunited. Fun times ahead! As the brochure says, “From the compact fourteen foot to the spacious twenty-seven foot, there’s a model to suit almost every wish plus a travel trailering promise of happy, carefree times.” Indeed!

Mothers’ Day and matching spring skirts

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Well, the red camper is gone. It rolled on off behind a young couple who is going to take it to Bonnaroo. I think they’ll all have a great time. It did feel a little strange to see my favorite project headed away from me, but I’m very excited about finding the right next camper for my family. Selling it felt a a tad sudden, but on our last camping trip the sleeping arrangements just felt too crowded. I’d always pictured the kids tent camping next to us as they got too big to share our red camper, but I don’t think I realized how much time would pass between outgrowing our sleeping capacity and the threshold for being able to sleep alone in a tent. Since our last trip I’ve found myself strangely drawn to the Craig’s List classifieds, and it seemed like a smart idea to go ahead and list mine so I could actually move on the right thing for us when I found it. I truly didn’t think I’d sell it so fast–right before we have camping reservations with friends this weekend! We decided to go on and tent camp and have a nice laugh over my haste, but this morning found Dorothy with a stomach bug so we’re staying home anyway. I do have a day trip planned to look at a potential camper one day this coming week so wish me luck! The lady who sold me my Fleetwing told me it would be my “starter camper” and I didn’t believe her. I guess the joke was on me! Maybe vintage trailers are like potato chips…

We gave the gift of spring t-shirts to our mothers for Mother’s Day a couple weeks ago. Dorothy drew and colored a charming flower, I scanned it and used Photoshop to remove the background, then I uploaded the image to Cafe Press and ordered the shirts. It would have been so much faster and cheaper to use printer transfer paper, but the shirts from Cafe Press make much nicer gifts. Unlike the transfer paper shirts they have no special washing instructions, they hold up over time very well, and you never accidentally sandwich pet hair between the shirt and the transfer when you’re ironing it on (past experience speaks). Both grandmothers have been wearing their shirts proudly.

I’ve also been at my sewing machine a lot lately. I’ve made three more versions of my favorite skirt pattern, including the one pictured. Dorothy loved the print of this skirt so much that I let her talk me into making a matching one for her. I didn’t use a pattern for hers but I wish I’d kept a paper version of what I cut out for it because it turned out so well. We’ve enjoyed running around town together being matchy. I know her enthusiasm for this won’t last forever, so I really do savor the strangers’ smiles and her enjoyment of our matching outfits.