Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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My little vintage caravan – Making the bed

Remember when I got my caravan on the road again last year? I’d imagined that my caravan would never move again (which was okay with me, as I was using it as my sewing and writing workshop) so you can can imagine how excited I was to see those wheels turning again. It was towed with ease to our new home and I thought that we might be in for a summer of adventures in the caravan last year. However, the year ran away with me and we never did get round to doing all the little jobs needed to turn my ‘office’ back into a functioning holiday home. This year is going to be different. I’m definitely going to be on the road with my caravan, and do you know why? Because I’m starting the planning for my summer holidays now! That means I’ve got 6 whole months to fit out my caravan with the necessary bits ‘n’ pieces to turn it back into a fully fitted camper. What’s on the list? Well, aside from the camping kitchen and bathroom facilities that I mentioned in my last post, it really needs a new bed and I’ll tell you why.

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The 12th Night & a 1967 Sprite caravan decorated for Christmas

Ahh it’s nearly time to take down those festive decorations and get your home back to ‘normal’ – whatever that is! Apparently decorations should be taken down by the “12th night”, although there seems to be some confusion over when that is – it’s either the 5th or the 6th January. Either way, the time for sparkly decorations is up – although I say why not leave it til the weekend when you’ve got more time to do it anyway? Or leave up those fairy lights all year, haha!1967-sprite-caravan-renovation-makeover-project-christmas-holidays-festive-decorations-61967-sprite-caravan-renovation-makeover-project-christmas-holidays-festive-decorations-31967-sprite-caravan-renovation-makeover-project-christmas-holidays-festive-decorations-7So before everyone packs away their Christmas decs, I wanted to share some photos that my friend Sophia sent me of her caravan decorated for the holidays. Is there anything more lovely than a caravan covered in fairy lights?? To be honest I keep my Christmas lights in my caravan all year round; they’re solar powered so are an excellent cost-free light source! Please admire these pics of Sophia’s 1967 Sprite caravan renovation project all dressed-up for Christmas:1967-sprite-caravan-renovation-makeover-project-christmas-holidays-festive-decorations-1 We first started chatting when Sophia got in touch to ask where I got the window seals for my own Alpine Sprite caravan. She had just started work on her old 1967 Sprite in the USA and was planning a big revamp of the old camping vehicle. She’d seen my own carvan renovation project on my blog and knew that I’d have some tips to share about the fixtures and fittings for an old Sprite.1967-sprite-caravan-renovation-makeover-project-christmas-holidays-festive-decorations-4 Continue reading “The 12th Night & a 1967 Sprite caravan decorated for Christmas” »


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DIY project – How to sew a campervan playhouse

I’m taking glamping to the next level. Yes, I’m talking about camping indoors. Okay, maybe this playden for the little ones isn’t quite waterproof, so it’s not really festival-friendly. And it’s more a playhouse than a stayhouse. Even so, it’s something that my nephew really wanted – his very own campervan, just like daddy. One sunny afternoon I set about making a mini-version of a VW camper especially for him, and actually stitched it up in my own caravan workshop. How many caravans went into making this playhouse? At least two! Read on to find out how to make a mini camper den for your children, your friend’s little ones or your nephews and nieces.

The campervan den is actually a table cover. Its frame is created by the dining table so the first step is to take the measurements of the table you’re planning to use. It could be a fold out picnic table, a 8 person dining table, whatever kind of table you have at home is fine, as long as the kids can sit underneath it. The table will determine the side of the playhouse you’ll be able to make so measure the top and each side so that you have the measurements you’ll need to cut out a cover from fabric.caravan campervan playhouse playroom den wendyhouse sewing project diy step by step tutorial_-3 I used the measurements to make a paper template of all four sides and the top. I then divided the sides into thirds, cutting the top section out of strong white fabric, and the bottom two-thirds from green canvas. The top was the same white fabric and I simply cut one of the longer sizes in half to create a door entrance. If you want to create a VW campervan effect on the front of the cover, cut a ‘V’ shape at the bottom of the white fabric to extend into the green area. I drew the symbol on the fabric using a permanent pen, but you could sew on the shape at this stage if you prefer.caravan campervan playhouse playroom den wendyhouse sewing project diy step by step tutorial_Use a cereal box to make a template for rounded window holes. When you’re happy with the size of the windows, trace two holes onto the front white piece of fabric, two on the side piece, one on each ‘door’ and one window on the back piece. Cut out the holes and then – the fun part – I used some sparkly silver tulle to cover the windows.caravan campervan playhouse playroom den wendyhouse sewing project diy step by step tutorial_-4

Continue reading “DIY project – How to sew a campervan playhouse” »


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My little vintage caravan – On the road again!

Remember my little vintage caravan? It tends to be more of a focus of my blog posts during the summer, because I seem to spend most of my time out there when the weather is good. When it’s chilly and windy, like it has been this week, I’ve been rather more reluctant to work outside in my little tin can. Without a lot of heating it can be rather unbearable during the winter. BUT the good news is that I have been giving my neglected caravan a little bit of unseasonal attention this month and here’s why…vintage caravan spring cleaning_-5It’s been on the road! Yes, the caravan that I thought would never move again is actually road-worthy! Okay, I probably wouldn’t want to take it all the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats but those wheels do still turn, the tow-hitch is secure and the body is solid. I actually imagined that the walls would just fall down if I ever moved it, quickly turning it into a ‘flat-packed’ caravan. But it didn’t; the walls stayed where they should be and the windows didn’t pop out (quite amazing because one window sometimes slips out when you try to open it!). After holding my breath for about 2 hours while we attempted to move the caravan up the garden, I finally breathed a sign of relief as it smoothly rolled onto the driveway.vintage caravan interior with biscuit cushions and cat-11So, now I know that I actually could go on holiday in my little vintage caravan, I’ve started thinking about the things I’d need to make a trip easy and comfortable. Quite a lot of the usual caravan ‘home comforts’ were removed when I turned it into my home office: all the cupboards were damp and rotten so they were taken out – and this included the kitchen. In fact, everything apart from the bed and table was taken out and we basically started again from scratch. Instead of building in new cupboards I simply found some small cupboards at carboot sales and secondhand shops and upcycled them with a lick of paint.little-vintage-caravan-project-diy-makeoverAside from possibly building Continue reading “My little vintage caravan – On the road again!” »


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An interview about my little vintage caravan

Today I’m proud to tell you that I’ve been interviewed about my little vintage caravan makeover project by the fabulous writer Lela from the Simple Caravan Insurance blog. I’m really pleased with how this article turned out (see the original article here) and wanted to share the interview with you to give you a bit more of an insight into my caravan project.

book review of vintage caravan style by lisa mora

What made you choose the caravan model that you did for your makeover?

I chose this particular caravan for my project partly because of the low price (it was only £100!) and also because the Sprite has a cute curved shape. It was the kind of caravan that I’d conjured up in my mind’s eye as a “vintage” caravan, and I knew that it would look considerably nicer once it had been painted.

When conducting your makeover, did you have a plan from the get-go?

The only plan I had at the start of the project was to strip everything back and start from scratch with an empty shell. The old interior was so badly damaged that only the bases of the seats could be salvaged so once the interior has been removed I could see exactly where damp was coming in and what needed to be done, and only then was I able to make a to-do list. The design of the interior wasn’t planned out at all – all of the makeover decisions were made based on cost! The paint colours were chosen because I’d managed to pick up some end-of-line pots of paint, the wallpaper patchwork wall was made from ends of rolls, off-cuts from friends’ decorating and I even reused old paper that had stripped off my mum’s walls while she was decorating. All of the furniture was bought from charity shops or rescued from a skip, while my fabric was mostly thrifted – the seat covers are my in-laws’ old bed sheets! 

cassiefairy's original caravan

What has been the most difficult part of your caravan makeover so far?

The most difficult part of the makeover was replacing the window trims. It was easy to remove the old window seals because they were crumbling off and letting in a lot of leaks! But adding the new window trims took an entire-day because I needed to move the caravan in order to get access to the rear window and stretching the trim around the frame was complicated – no sooner than I had smoothed one piece into place than another piece would pop off! To make matters worse, I discovered that the side window was held in place with silicone and once this had been removed to fit the window trim, the glass started sliding out of the window and very nearly smashed on the floor! It has now been refitted but I still can’t open the window and it would be good to get it working, so that’s next on the ever-growing list!

 If you did the makeover again, what would you do differently?

I would possibly decorate the space differently, choosing coordinating wallpaper and paints for a more professional finish rather than throwing everything I could get my hands on at the walls! I think this would make the space more desirable if I were ever to sell the caravan in the future. But then again, I’m not intending make a profit nor am I ever planning to sell it, so I’m happy that is becoming ‘my’ space and it is very personal to me. As the project is still evolving I can continue to decorate it and add bits to my patchwork wall as I find them – I doubt it will ever really be ‘finished’!

cassiefairy - my little vintage caravan

What will be the primary use of the space?

 My initial plan for the caravan was to use it as a work space. It would be my version of a garden shed where I could keep all of my sewing equipment and an office space to run my blog Cassiefairy.com from. I use the table as a sewing and writing desk and am currently working on adding more storage space for fabrics and crafts. A second use for the caravan has emerged over the past year: it’s become a spare room. Our house doesn’t have a guest bedroom so when we have visitors either my husband and I will camp out in the caravan (and very cosy it is too!) or my visitors will ask if they can stay in the caravan. So it’s become a very useful second bedroom! It is a also a great space for family meals, because we can’t fit a group of 8/9 around our dining table indoors, but there’s plenty of room in the caravan for a long table and we’ve had many meals out there all year round!

The only thing that I don’t think it will be used for again is towing away for a holiday. This is a shame because I’d love to camp in it, but we needed to remove all the electrics when the caravan arrived (they were rather dodgy) so it would need a complete overhaul of lights for towing, as well as fitting a new electric hook-up point. Also, I’m worried that removing the interior fittings might have destabilised the structure because there is no internal bracing now that the cupboards, kitchen and wardrobe have been removed. I don’t know how much this affects the usability of the caravan but I think it’ll take a lot more work to get it back into towing-and-camping-condition!

little-vintage-caravan-project-diy-makeover

What is your favourite feature in the caravan?

My favourite feature in the caravan is the back window. This may sound like a strange favourite to choose, but it runs across the whole width of the caravan and it opens upwards on hinges to let in a lot of fresh air (a must when I’m working in there on hot summer days!) and I love listening to all the sounds of birds chirping in the garden. It lets in plenty of light so that I don’t need to plug in lamps and when you’re lying in the double bed at night you can pull back the curtains and see a wide-angle view of the stars.

What is left to do? Have you stuck to a timeframe or set a ‘due date’?

I have lots more left to do – some of which I’ve already mentioned: fix the side window so that it can be opened, build in some fitted storage for fabrics etc, paint the interior of the door (I like the idea of chalkboard paint there), add a chest of drawers for guests who stay in the caravan, lay slabs outside the caravan and plant a few flowers, find some steps to make it a little easier to hop in and out of the caravan and, if I’m being picky, I think the outside of the caravan need repainting already because it’s not looking as fresh as it did this time last year!

 Is another caravan makeover on the horizon after this one?

I certainly hope so! I’m completely hooked on caravans – I subscribe to Vintage Caravan Magazine and am always daydreaming about getting a caravan that I can actually tow and take away on holiday. I actually want a smaller caravan; just a little two-berth would be perfect for hubby and I to go away in for a weekend. I’ve found plenty of vintage caravans for sale that have already been renovated but I enjoyed the process so much that I’d like to get my hands on one that hasn’t been touched for years and give it a new lease of life.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog-6


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My little vintage caravan project ~ DIY display cabinet makeover

Storage is very important in a small space and after having to remove most of my caravan’s interior due to damp, it is in very short supply. I have precious little of the original storage left in the caravan – only the seats remain with their under-bench storage space and I have easily filled this up with fabric already! So it is time to work my magic on a pretty storage display cabinet.

My mum bought this unit for me from a charity shop because it looked exactly like one that her nan owned when she was a child – even down to the rose mirror pattern on the glass. The display cabinet was destined for the caravan and when we put it inside it fit perfectly over the top of the wheel-arch on the back wall – it was meant to be! But the dark wood looked too much like the old caravan interior and the wood was in such bad condition that it would have needed sanding and re-varnishing to get it back to it’s former beauty. I decided that I wanted to make a complete change so I bought a couple of tins of spray paint from the carboot sale and set to work on a sunny Saturday.

The first task was to give it a good clean and mask off the glass before sanding lightly all over. I then sprayed a thin coat of cream paint all over the unit (using around one whole can) and allowed it to dry before setting to work on the second coat of paint. Building up the thin layers of spray paint gave a gorgeous smooth finish and looked considerably better than I’d imagined. And much better than I ever could have achieved with my usual slap-it-on paint brush technique!

I thought about recovering the back panel but once the unit has been painted it somehow gave the impression that the existing diamond pattern fabric was cleaner and new so I decided to stick with it and reinsert the glass shelves. Minutes later the display cabinet was full of my pretty crockery and nick-nacks so I’ll share the photos of this with you soon.

See more of my caravan project posts by clicking here and please send me details of your own camper makeovers to cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk or tweet me @Cassiefairy – I’d love to see what you’ve been up to! And you really should check out Lisa Mora’s book Vintage Caravan Style for inspiration and gorgeous caravan photos! Read my review of the book on my blog here and read about my own renovation project so far here.


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My little vintage caravan project ~ I’ve found the perfect shop!

It’s called The Caravan Trail and you can imagine how excited I was when I first stumbled upon the website after spotting a link on Twitter last week. It’s a website full of gorgeous homewares, with beautifully decorated crockery, pretty teapots and picnic items. And most importantly, there are caravan patterns everywhere! I ogled the ‘Festival’ collection for ages with its floral caravan designs and pretty bunting print before I decided on a pair of mugs. Obviously, I chose a caravan design for me – with multi-coloured campers and one just like my blue vintage caravan – and it was equally easy to chose a mug for hubby because there was a bright beach-hut design in the collection and my husband was a beach-hut builder – perfect!

His n Hers mugs from The Caravan Trail

I couldn’t wait for them to arrive and they were actually even better in ‘real life’ because the mugs are larger and even better quality than I expected. My tea break now lasts for longer due to the larger volume of liquid in my new cup hurrah! Hubby loves his mug too – not at all fazed by the floral girliness! – and it’s nice for the two of us to have a his ‘n’ hers set. I’ve been taking my mug out to the caravan while I’m working in there and it makes me smile every time I use it. Plus when I’m drinking from it indoors, I still feel connected to my caravan and it keeps me in a happy-camper mood!

I sent the link to the website to my equally caravan-mad pals and now I’m sharing it with you too, because I know you’ll love it as much as I do! Check out The Caravan Trail and let me know what your favourite collection is. I’m definitely going back for more and have got my eye on the melamine set for summer ‘al fresco’ eating, so watch this space!


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My little vintage caravan project ~ a different kind of bookcase

I’m back on the case with my vintage caravan makeover and this week I’d like to share some photos of my new storage solution – a bookcase with a difference. I have plenty of books that I want to store in the caravan – mostly the ones I’ll need to use while working out there – so I have a stack of sewing, crafting, design and art books that all need a safe home.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog - bookcase ideas-3

I was driving past a skip and I spotted that this old shop display shelving has been chucked in. The skip was actually outside one of the local shops so I nipped inside and checked whether the shelves had been thrown out and whether it would okay for me to give them a new home. It turned out that this old unit has been used for the display of greeting cards! So after a lot of rearranging of seats in the back of my small car and quite a bit of shoving, I managed to bring this shelving unit home and try it out in the caravan.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog - bookcase ideas-1

Amazingly enough the unit fits perfectly in the space between the door and seats, plus the hollow back of the sloped shelves allowed it to sit over the top of the wheel arch and didn’t need any cutting down. I intended to paint the whole thing white, but when I tried putting a few books on the shelves I realised that I would never really see the actual shelves as they would be covered up by the books. So that saved me a lot of time! I simply filled the shelves with my book collection and sat back to admire my ‘hard’ work.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog - bookcase ideas-2

Looking at all the books face-on inspires me to pick them up and flick through, much more so than when housed on a bookshelf so I think I prefer storing my books this way. I might not be able to store as many books this way and could probably fit more in the same space if I was using a traditional bookshelf but I’d rather see the books and be inspired than store them away and hardly ever look at them.

Now that I’m getting on with my caravan makeover with renewed vigour after reading Vintage Caravan Style, why not check out my round-up blog post of the work I did on the caravan last year so that you can see the starting point and where I’m up to right now.


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My little vintage caravan project – the makeover so far…

After reading Lisa Mora’s new publication Vintage Caravan Style (which I reviewed here) I’ve been thoroughly inspired to crack on with my little vintage caravan makeover project. I’d allowed the caravan to enjoy a quiet winter while I stayed indoors in the warm and didn’t really do much work on the project but now I’m feeling optimistic about the makeover and am bursting to get on with it. It definitely helps that the weather is warm and sunny, which always makes me want to hang around outside more anyway, and what better excuse to head outdoors than to be doing a little work on my caravan project. So before I get stuck into a new wave of projects (which will no doubt end up on the blog!) I wanted to share photos and links to the previous blog posts (in pink below) and projects I’ve already finished so that you can get an idea of my starting point for this year’s work.

Read about how I found my vintage caravan and my ideas for using it as an office in my first blog post of the series.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog-1

I kicked off the project with a complete clear out and found out just what was wrong with my caravan – read this post here.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog-4

The first big painting task was the exterior of my caravan and I chose a bright new colour – read my painting blog post here.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog-2

Next up was choosing a combination of ice cream colours for the interior of the caravan to freshen it up. Here’s me looking very glamorous in hubby’s boiler suit!

Vintage caravan makeover interior painting project on Cassiefairy blog

I decided to decorate a ‘feature wall’ with a patchwork of pastel prints and here’s how I did it.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog-7

I kept some of the existing woodwork but wanted a fresh new look so got out the paint and spent some time sprucing up the woodwork. The floor was next on the agenda and I made the difficult decision between carpet and lino – here’s the post.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog-14

I soon found out that some of the windows were a little leaky so I enlisted hubby’s help to replace the window trims.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog - new window trims

One of the most exciting parts of the project so far was sewing the seat pad covers to give them a new lease of life.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog-12

With only a small table in the caravan I needed to cover a piece of wood with oilcloth to create a work surface and the base for the bed.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog-15

With a new table ready to work on I was able to sew my first project inside my new caravan workshop.

cassiefairys applique tulip project for amanda addison creative crafting

I carried on sewing and ran up a pair of curtains and some roman blinds for the caravan – read the sewing post here.

little vintage caravan project diy makeover

At this point the project stalled a little as the nights became longer and the temperatures dropped, so all I managed to do in the caravan during the winter was make pom-pom decorations and party cones for my birthday. I hosted my little birthday party in my vintage caravan and here’s how it turned out.

Red velvet birthday cake recipe

The snow stopped play and I never really got started on the project again – until now!!

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog-6

It was Lisa’s Vintage Caravan Style book that inspired me to get on with my little vintage caravan project and here’s my review of the book and interview with Lisa herself.

Vintage Caravan Style book by Lisa Mora - review on this blog

Wow I can’t actually believe how much I’ve already done on my caravan! It seems like a lot but actually there’s still plenty more tasks to go and I’ve got a lot to do before I can call the caravan ‘finished’. So I’ll be sharing some more photos and projects from inside the caravan over the coming weeks and I’ll let you know how I get on. Let me know what you think about my vintage caravan project and would you do it yourself? Perhaps you’ve already started a campervan or garden office project? If so, please get in touch – I’d love to share your photos and projects too! My email address is cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk so drop me a message 🙂


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Vintage Caravan Style – the book review!

Wow. I have it in my hands right now. Vintage Caravan Style. And blimey, what a book it is!

You may remember that I interviewed the lovely author of the book and editor of Vintage Caravan Magazine Lisa Mora on my blog last month – here’s the article – and had the chance to share sneaky peek at the gorgeous photos that make up this fabulous design book. Well, it’s finally being published here in the UK and you can order it right now through the Stitch, Craft, Create website – and that’s how I got my hands on a copy as soon as it hit the shelves!

Vintage Caravan Style book by Lisa Mora - review on this blog

Now it’s one thing to preview a book through a PDF e-book (as I did before launching into my interview with its author!) but it’s quite another thing to hold it in your hands, feel the texture of the paper and the weight of the book – and that’s what has impressed me SO much about Vintage Caravan Style – it’s a chunky, meaty book. I never realised just how many pages there would be, just how many projects are featured, just how much excellent content there is packed into this book and it has surprised me.

Firstly, the paper stock is excellent – soft and matt, it’s a pleasure to thumb through. Secondly, the soft cover is rather luxuriously smooth and perfectly bendy – easy to open, hold and read. Holding comfort is something that I find very important in a book nowadays and I don’t want it to be a physical struggle to read it! Thirdly, the print quality is great – the images (and there are 100s in the book!) are sharp and bright. Not a dodgy photo in sight. I know this should be the case with all books, but more and more often I find that the reference books I buy are less-than picture perfect, poorly edited, badly designed and can be a struggle to handle and look at. This book, I’m pleased to report, is practically perfect in every way. And that’s before even mentioning the content!

vintage caravan style book review

 

A combination of advice, practical tips and real-life projects, the chapters within the book are instantly engaging, encouraging in tone and packed full of helpful advice on caravan loving and renovating. You can tell just how much Lisa Mora loves the subject matter and she takes pleasure in sharing her experiences and expertise in a totally uncondescending way. It’s like have a friend chat to you about vintage caravans – and that’s my idea of a perfect afternoon. As you can see from my snaps of the book, I’ve been enjoying having a read while sitting in my own vintage caravan. Halfway through my own caravan makeover I’m feeling a little guilty that I abandoned my caravan project during the cold winter months but even more so I’m feeling enthused and rejuvenated after reading this book. I want to get a move on with my caravan makeover and I want to get started right now. I’m excited about it again (rather than seeing it as a never-ending chore!) and I can’t wait to give it a clean and slap some paint around! That’s the only warning that comes with this book: after looking at all the design ideas and beautiful images of owners enjoying their new mobile homes, you will want to own your very own vintage caravan by the end of it!

Now please excuse me while I research a new pop-up vent for my caravan roof…

book review of vintage caravan style by lisa mora

 

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