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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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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Sewing tips to make a vintage dress fit

I am forever spotting gorgeous vintages dresses when I go for my weekly rummage in the charity shops but I am often put off from investing in an outfit because it is far too big for me. Last week, I tried on this vintage shirt dress from Oxfam, which was around 3 sizes too big for me, but I loved the (so on-trend!) tropical pattern of the fabric that I decided to give it a new home and see what I could do to make it fit me.

The dress didn’t have any labels in it, so it may well have been handmade in the first place so I didn’t feel too bad making adjustments to it, although that first cut is always difficult, because I don’t want to ruin something that has survived so many years! At least it will be worn if I can make it fit me, whereas it would be relegated to the back of my wardrobe if wasn’t brave enough to make any changes, so I got my scissors out and set to work.

before and after vintage dress

  1. First of all I put the dress on to see where the adjustments needed to be made. The shoulders were too wide, the side seams could be taken in about 6 inches and I wanted to make it into a knee length dress, otherwise it would be too long for me. So I pinned down the sides to make it fit, pinned up the shoulders and measured how much fabric would need to be removed in order to make it knee length.

  2. I began by stitching up the side seams by following the line of the pins to create a more figure-hugging shape, trimmed off the excess fabric and zig-zag stitched over the seam to prevent it from fraying.

Cassiefairy - sewing tips for shortening a vintage dress

  1. Instead of taking up the hem of the dress, which already had a perfect blind hem stitched in place, I decided to shorten the dress at the waist. So I cut the dress straight across at my waist point (a very scary moment – I needed to be brave!) which left me with a ‘top’ and a ‘skirt’.

  2. I used the measurement for the right length that I noted down whilst trying on the dress, which was 4 inches shorter, so I cut a strip 4 inches deep from the top of the skirt – cutting straight across again.

  3. I then reattached it by pinning the skirt around the bottom of the top, with the right sides of the fabric together. I zig-zag stitched around the middle to join the dress back together.

Now my vintage shirt dress is 4 inches shorter and about 6 inches smaller and fits me perfectly. After I tried on my new dress, I realised that the sleeves would look better if they were a little slimmer too, so I took in the sleeve seams by about an inch too. So next time you find a dress that you love which is too big for you, don’t dismiss it straight away. Think about what you can do to make it fit, and give the dress a new lease of life!

 

 

 


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My little vintage caravan ~ Pillows & cushions

Before the summer holidays were out, I fully intended to sleep in my caravan and camp out for a couple of nights while the weather is good. In fact, it’s sometimes a little too hot to sleep indoors so I thought that a night in the caravan would be ideal to cool off. I started looking for bedding and I was lucky enough to snap up this vintage Paddington Bear pillowcase at a table-top sale in a village hall.

vintage Paddington Bear pillow slip cushion cover vintage Paddington Bear pillow slip cushion cover-2

I really like the retro design and the fact that Paddington is beside the seaside – it makes me feel like my caravan could be anywhere. Plus the design reflects the lighthouse in the appliqué cushion that I’d previously made. Yesterday was the ideal night to camp out and we decided to stay in the caravan, watch the stars in the clear night-sky and fall asleep under the glow of the my pretty purple solar-powered fairy lights.

Retro Paddington Bear pillow slip cushion cover

It was very comfortable to sleep on the cushion pads that I’d re-covered and now all I need is a vintage-inspired duvet cover for the cooler months and my caravan will be a great place to sleep out all year round!

Also today is the last day to vote for Cassiefairy.com for the Best Lifestyle Blog award in the Cosmopolitan blog awards EEK! So please hop onto the Cosmo website and cast your vote TODAY – thank you SO much!


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My ‘new’ vintage dress ~ the repairs

It’s taken a little longer than I’d hoped, but my vintage dress is finally fixed!

My retro tortoiseshell cat’s eye sunglasses are from Sunglass Junkie and shoes from New Look

It was mostly down to my laziness over the summer holidays that delayed the repairs but I spent an evening at my sewing machine this week and cracked on with it. My second excuse for the delay is that there was actually more to do to the dress than I’d initially thought. I knew that the sides needed to be repaired – both were split under the arms – but the length and the front of the dress were an altogether more difficult project that I’d imagined. Here are my photos of the ‘easy’ repair, when I ran a simple straight stitch up the sides of the dress and along the arms to rejoin the split seams:

The front of the dress was slightly harder to manage: I didn’t like how the fabric rolled over at the front and no amount of pressing would make it lie flat, so I thought that a little bit of understitching would solve the problem. Unfortunately, the fabric continued to roll outwards even after I’d understitched it, so I tried to re-hem the edge altogether. Again, the fabric rolled out and looked untidy, so I decided that there was only one thing for it: stitch the wrap front to the internal vest so that it became one piece. Thankfully, this worked and now the wrap front lies flat and looks tidy!

Changing the length of the dress was really rather straightforward, once I’d got my head around it! I liked the pattern along the existing hem and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to made a nice job of taking it up and re-hemming the skirt. So I decided to take it up at the waistband instead. I bravely (or stupidly?!) chopped the skirt off the dress at the waistband and shortened the top of the skirt by 3 inches all round. I then pinned the skirt inside the top section, with right sides together, and stitched all the way around the skirt to reattach it.

Thankfully the elasticated waistband helped to ease the skirt into the top and it is now a knee-length dress on me and looks much nicer! Here’s a photo of before the chop and the length afterwards:

So my bargain buy at the Americana Day might have taken me a bit of time and a lot of head-scratching to repair, but now that it’s finished I m delighted! I’m sure I will get a lot of use out of this dress, and because of the dark colour, I think it will be a year-round outfit so I look forward to wearing it with tights and boots this winter too!

 I still can’t believe that Cassiefairy.com has made it onto the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 shortlist for Best Lifestyle Blog! It would mean the world to me if you would vote for my blog before voting closes on 29th August – thank you SO much!


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Americana day

I went to an Americana day at Horham airfield recently and had a wonderful time. You may have heard me mention the event last week in my vintage dress blog post: I picked up a lovely dress from one of the vintage stalls and although it needs a lot of sewing repairs, I thought I would take a chance on it and try to fix it. But that wasn’t the only thing that caught my eye during the day and I wanted to share some photos of the event with you.

The airfield was the home to the 95th Bomb Group during WW2 and the Horham base has been restored by the heritage association and is now open as a museum throughout the summer. I’d discovered the museum thanks to a visit earlier in the year to Parham, to attend the opening of a new extension to the airfield museum there. I picked up a leaflet for Horham’s museum and, luckily, I visited the website only days before their Americana event.

I was very pleased that I went along to the event because it was packed full of all my favourite things; classic vehicles, vintage fashion stalls, American food, gramophone music, retro homewares and, of course, militaria. The museum comprises of a series of hangars and the layout of an old bunker, plus it even has a ‘prison’ building and ‘beer shed’. My husband and I spent a full day at the event; shopping in the old hangar, studying the museum exhibition, munching on hotdogs, looking at all the classic vehicles and chilling out with a beer. I thought that we might be able to show off our new swing dance-moves (read about my new hobby here) but even though 1940s music was playing all around the site, no-one else was up and dancing and I certainly didn’t want to be the only one, seeing as I’m such a novice! Maybe I’ll feel more confident about dancing next time, after a few more lessons!

The museum is open on the last Sunday of every month from April to October and runs a series of special events throughout the year so check their website for details.