Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


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My little vintage caravan ~ My pink & red birthday party

A couple of weeks ago I started planning my birthday party. I usually completely overlook  my birthday because I get too excited about Christmas. But this year I have my little vintage caravan, which seems to be the perfect venue to celebrate my getting a year older! I have already shared my initial ideas for food, drinks and decor via  my Pinterest moodboards and have had a fun week of crafting DIY pom-pom decorations and paper cones. I’ve also made a lovely red velvet layered birthday cake (check out my pieday friday post!). So today I wanted to share with you photos of my little pink and red birthday party so that you can see how all my ideas turned out:

pink party afternoon tea and cherry milkshake cupcakes

I wanted to create an afternoon tea atmosphere, so I stacked up sandwiches on my old floral stand and presented my red velvet cupcakes on mini cake stands from Wholeport. I layered up my favourite poppy petal crockery with red napkins and used pink spotty doilies as placemats.

pink and red party theme afternoon tea milkshake and popcorn

 

My favourite drink ever  is strawberry milkshake so I used 1/3 pint bottles and striped straws from the DotComGiftShop to serve my drinks and I after lunch watched girly films with a bucket of popcorn – what a great way to round off the afternoon. I baked a red velvet cake (here’s my recipe) smothered in buttercream, pink sprinkles and whipped cream, mmm yum! I topped it off with a little cake candelabra that I bought specially for the occasion (again from the DotComGiftShop) and felt like a proper disney princess as I blew out my candles and made my birthday wish!

pink birthday cake disney princess candelabra

Red velvet birthday cake recipe

I had a lovely day on my birthday, full of surprise treats and lots more presents than I could have hoped for! I now have a couple of good books to read over the coming weeks including my the books of my favourite films, Julie & Julia and the new Bridget Jones’ novel. I also received a couple of hats, so this may be the start of a new look for me – plus it’ll keep my roots covered until I can get to a hairdresser! Lots more accessories, beauty treats and choccies meant that I felt totally spoilt and couldn’t keep the smile off my face all day :)

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My vintage caravan ~ somewhere to iron my sewing projects

So on this wet Wednesday morning, what better to chat to you about than my new ironing board. Honestly, it’s a much more interesting topic than you’d think! I needed to replace my previous ironing board this week because I discovered that it has gone mouldy and rusty where it had been leaning up against a damp exterior wall. Do you remember that I talked about my damp bedroom and problem with condensation? Well, it turns out that it wasn’t only my bedroom that had the problem! So when I came to get out my ironing board to iron the darts into the dress that I challenged myself to sew this week, I found that my ironing board had been ruined.

brabantia ironing board outside my vintage caravan sewing room

You can probably tell from the above that I’m not what you’d call a regular ironer, which is why I hadn’t noticed the rust appearing on the ironing board frame. Even so, I need an ironing board for all of my sewing projects and I felt a bit stumped without one. I’m not going back to my student days of laying a towel on the floor and using that as an ironing surface! So I visited the John Lewis website and picked out this Brabantia ironing board - mainly for the cute tea-party pattern on the cover! When it arrived, I realised that it did so much more than I’d expected and could be used at many different heights so it will be ergonomically the right height for even small ladies like me! Plus I can even iron whilst sitting down, that’s how low it goes! It’s really chunky and sturdy, as you’d expect from a brand whose tag line is “solid company”, plus I love the little teapot hot plate for resting your iron on. All in all I thought it was a good choice and I’ll be keeping it in my sewing-workshop caravan now, to make sure that it isn’t met with the same fate as the previous ironing board.

brabantia airing rack outside my vintage caravan sewing room

While on the subject, I also got this Brabantia airing rack, which was equally sturdy and has more hanging surface area than I ever thought possible – enough for a whole washing load. It’s handy for this time of year, because I don’t have a tumble-dryer to dry my clothes (not that I’d want to pay for the electricity to run it, I’m too stingy!) and I reply on good weather and my washing line. Looking out of the window at this time of year, I can tell I’m not going to be getting any washing dry on the line, so I needed an alternative. This airer will sit in my bathroom and the warm air will dry the clothes – plus I don’t mind having the window open to air the bathroom and take out the dampness from the wet clothes.

So although not always the most interesting subject area to talk about, my new clothes-drying-and-ironing system is one of the more exciting things that has happened to me this week and I’m pleased to be getting everything in order so that I can really enjoy Christmas in comfort! Not to mention all those sewing projects I’ll be able to get on with now..!


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My little vintage caravan project ~ Pull yourself together

Patient: “Doctor, doctor, I feel like a pair of curtains”, Doctor: “Pull yourself together”.

So today I’m sharing my latest sewing achievement in my little vintage caravan project – I’ve made some curtains. And roman blinds too. The roman blinds came about by accident because I thought I’d ordered enough fabric to make curtains for all the windows but when I got to work, I realised that I would need to use most of the fabric for just the main window. Apparently the width of the caravan is bigger than I’d realised. So that left me with two smaller pieces of fabric, which would either make a pair of curtains for one of the remaining windows, or it would make two roman blinds with a bit more effort. So not wanting to pay for more fabric (yes I am that stingy) I opted for the roman blinds.

little vintage caravan project diy makeover

What do you think of my fabric? It’s a blue cotton with TINY stars all over it from Abakhan Fabrics. It was a toss-up between blue and mint green, but in the end I opted for blue, because it would look nicer from the outside against the blue of the caravan. Plus, it’s the colour of the sky and kind of blends into the windows and looks right. I simply stitched a hem around all the edges of the curtains and added some curtain header tape to the top. Job done! Here are the photos of making the roman blinds:

cassiefairy vintage caravan project making roman blinds diy

I hemmed around all edges and then attached a strip of sew-on loop velcro to the top of the blind, saving the corresponding sticky hook piece of velcro for later. Next I stitched a ‘pocket’ for the dowling along the bottom of the blind by turning up the hem by 1.5 inches. I then divided the remaining fabric into 3 and stitched another 2 pockets – 1/3rd of the way up, and 2/3rds up. I inserted the dowels and stitches the ends closed. I hand-stitched 3 rings on each of the dowel pockets on the back of the blind – left, middle and right – and then threaded cord through them, attaching it to the bottom ring with a knot. I then had a little help from hubby to affix a piece of wood above the window of the caravan and stuck the hook piece of velcro to the baton. I screwed 3 eyelet hooks into the baton and threaded the cord from the blinds through and along to bring together as the pull-cord and attached the blind to the baon using the velcro strip.

cassiefairy vintage caravan DIY sewing project making roman blinds

Actually, I’m kind of pleased that I was ‘forced’ to make roman blinds for the side windows, even though they took a lot more time and effort, because I can pull them right up and out of the way. Plus they don’t block out any of the light from coming into the caravan, whereas the curtain-ed window has less light coming in at the sides where the curtains are hanging. After being so used to having no curtains (and therefore lots of light) I was a little bit miffed that I was losing some of precious light just because I wanted to put up curtains. But it’s more important to have the option of privacy for anyone who sleeps in the caravan, and if I’m working in there in the evenings, it’s much more snuggly with the curtains drawn.

little vintage caravan project diy makeover sewing curtains


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My little vintage caravan project ~ the first thing I’ve made in my new sewing room

This is a big moment for me – I’m sharing the first sewing project I’ve done in my little vintage caravan after starting the project to makeover the old retro van into my new sewing studio. I’m still quite far off finishing my ‘office’ but I’ve got a table and somewhere to sit now, so there’s no reason why I can’t start sewing out there as planned!

I’ve borrowed hubby’s loooong outdoor extension lead so now I’ve got electricity and I can at least plug in my sewing machine and have the radio on while I work. I will need to sort out a better and more weather-proof electrics for the caravan if I want to use it over the winter (which I’m sure will result in another dull-but-necessary blog post!) but for now, the roll-out extension cable does the job. So this is the first sewing project I worked on last week – an appliqué tulip design.

cassiefairys applique tulip project for amanda addison creative crafting

After setting so many inspiration challenges of my own, I wanted to join in with Amanda Addison’s craft challenge, which I learnt about during the Creative Crafting blog tour over the summer. She set the challenge to use her tulip design and appliqué it onto anything we like. I started with a piece of gingham and a tiny scrap of red fabric and soon decided that I wanted to create an appliquéd picture that I could frame and hang in the caravan in the future. I used zig-zag stitch over the edges and chose a contrasting pink thread to outline the petals.

I was happy with the finished image and sent a photo of it to Amanda. There were lots of other crafters joining in with the challenge with a variety of results – adding the tulip design to jeans, cushions and even a tray! She has shared some of the projects on her website, so please check out her blog post  and you can even get the tulip design pattern for yourself and add it to your own craft items in the future. And don’t forget that this month’s inspiration challenge theme for my own blog is ‘apples’ so check out the challenge blog post and join in by making something crafty!

Inspiration Challenge for October 2013 theme - apples

I’m pleased to make my first item in my caravan ‘studio’ and I can’t wait to carry on crafting after I build my work surface. Now that I’ve started working in the caravan, I’ve realised that I desperately need some storage solutions – somewhere to put my fabric, equipment and craft supplies, so I’m going to keep an eye out for a desk, some free-standing shelves and storage boxes. I’m sure there will be another caravan update soon, so come back when you get the chance!  :)

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My little vintage caravan project ~ Oilcloth table

This week I have made great inroads into using the caravan for its intended purpose as a workshop space – I have made a table. This is my version of a desk until I sort something else out at the ‘other’ end of the caravan, so if I want to start working in my new ‘office’ I needed to fabricate a table, and fast!

There was already a small 2-person table in the caravan when I bought it, and this clips nicely onto the wall fittings at either end of the caravan. However, the table is so small that I can barely use it to write on, let alone start any sewing projects on. It’s more of a cuppa-tea table than a desk. But it is the starting point for my new table, because my table top will have to rest on-top of this mini-table in order to be supported in the middle of the caravan.

cassiefairys little vintage caravan project - covering a table with oilcloth

The table also traditionally doubles up as the base for the bed, so I needed a piece of wood that was exactly the right width to span the gap and sit on the lip-edges of the seat-bases. So a lot of measuring and help from hubby with cutting it, we had a piece that would fit the gap. But it looked terrible; it was just a bit of old plywood from the back of the shed with paint stains on! So I decided to funk it up with a length of spotty aqua oilcloth. My reckoning was that it would be wipe-clean (good for crafts, and my regular tea spillages) and would brighten the place up in an instant.

In reality it involved 2 people trying to use spray adhesive to fold the edges over and glue them down while stretching the fabric in the opposite direction to try to remove the creases. In hindsight, I think I could have done with using a thicker oil-cloth (this was a softer tablecloth oilcloth fabric) which may have minimised the creasing – as you can see from the photos, there’s a few creases along the edges of the table top. But as I’ve used the table this week, these seem to have relaxed a bit and don’t look as bad as they do in these first photos of the table!

cassiefairys little vintage caravan project - covering a table with spotty oilcloth

I asked hubby to screw a baton to the back wall of the caravan for the tabletop to brace against when it is sitting on top of the small table in a kind of counter-levered way. It holds the table up nicely, although I might keep an eye out for a folding leg to make it even more stable in the future. When it’s not in use, the table tucks away on top of one of the seat bases with the seat pad on top.

Importantly, the table spans the gap between the seats and I now have a bed in the caravan! Whoop! I know the weather is getting a but worse, but it’s not been freezing cold yet, so maybe I’ll get a night ‘away’ sleeping in the caravan this month?!

cassiefairys little vintage caravan project - covering a table with oilcloth to make into a double bed

Please check out my other caravan project blog posts below and let me know what you think of my project :) The next plan is to create a bit of privacy with curtains and blinds so watch this space for another blog post later this week! Here’s a reminder of what the inside looked like before I started painting and stitching. It makes me feel good about my progress when I look back on it, even thought it’s taken me 6 weeks to get to this stage, because at least I can sit, work and sleep in my caravan now!

cassiefairys vintage caravan project interior clearing out