Down the Vintage Rabbit Hole and into the Summertime

There’s a dress that I’ve seen float around Instagram a few times. Not even the dress so much as the fabric, that’s what’s special about this one. It’s known by many things: French provincial, Rococo, French baroque, spring time. J Crew broke every true vintage girls’ heart and made it a reproduction sundress, calling it the Versailles Dress. Me, I called it the “fairy tale dress” because it reminded me of illustrations in classic fairy tale books.

Sooo, when my IG friend, Lea, posted a picture of her in the dress, I swooned a little and told her how much I loved it, and that it was almost one of my ISOs. If I had ISOs, I told her, haha!

(Hey, mom? ISO stands for “in search of”.)

I know a lot of my vintage-loving friends have their top ISOs lists. I try not to do that. Because:

A) it makes me spend more money than I otherwise would on a dress.

B) When I get my hands on an ISO, it’s never quite as good as I thought it would be. The thrill of the chase is more alluring, apparently. Like my Kindergartener who, this week, after longing and longing to play on the “big kid” playground at school, finally played there, only to find it “wasn’t as much fun as he though it was going to be.”

C) I prefer to leave it to the vintage-powers-that-be to send things my way. I may be the creator of my own destiny, but when it comes to vintage, I leave it to fate and chance. And maybe a little luck. Ha!

So when I told Lea that it was almost an ISO of mine, I guess it was my lucky day! The dress didn’t quite fit the way she wanted, and she was willing to send it my way!

I bought it, and then I had a little bit of sad doubt (see point B) while I waited for the mail to come.

But friends. The dress came. And I L-O-V-E-ed it. More than I thought I would. The cotton is soft, the fit is perfect in a I-can-still-breath sort of way (which is more than I can say for many of my vintage dresses, haha!!). The print may be slightly faded, but in a comfortable, loved sort of way.

Summertime HM Kolbe Lily Lynn Young Size Vintage Novelty Print Dress French Rococo

Thank you, Lea.

Summertime HM Kolbe Lily Lynn Young Size Vintage Novelty Print Dress French Rococo

I struggled with capturing the print on the white background, but the print features rococo frames, kids swinging, and little blue birds.

Summertime HM Kolbe Lily Lynn Young Size Vintage Novelty Print Dress French Rococo

I did a little research on said dress, and found out a few things . . .

The Label

I really hadn’t seen this dress attributed to any label before, but this one did have one label that said “Young Size”. I could find other references to this label (in the same colors and design), reading “Lily Lynn Young Size”.

I found two ads bearing the name “Lily Lynn”, one of which is actually for Lane Bryant. Which brought me down a Lane Bryant rabbit hole to see if Lily Lynn was actually a label under Lane Bryant. I found no evidence of such, other than this ad, but I did read some of the history of Lane Bryant, which I do recommend. It was super interesting, from a marketing and fashion history perspective (maternitywear, plus size clothes, and a Chub Club— read all about it in this article by Hidden Fashion History).


The Fabric

The fabric itself is called “Summertime” and it was copyrighted by H.M. Kolbe in the first half of 1962. Which brings us another example of a dress being overly-attributed to the fifties even though it was made in the sixties. Hashtag: pet peeve.

Summertime HM Kolbe Lily Lynn Young Size Vintage Novelty Print Dress French Rococo

H.M. Kolbe was owned by William Kolbe and was known for “high fashion fabrics”. But why the company name actually lives on in fashion history, is that they were a key employer to Jackie Peters, a black woman who made a name for herself in the world of textile design in a time when it was dominated by white men (such as William Kolbe, a “wild white man” who thought it would be great PR to employ Jackie during the civil rights movement). Cue second rabbit hole, while I read about Jackie Peters, who had nothing to do with the Summertime print, but is just an awesome person in general.


I’ve seen two main vintage dresses with this print: the shirtdress (what I have), and then a sundress that is sleeveless, has a fitted bodice and an circular open back, that ties at the top and bottom. The latter is what J Crew made basically an exact replica of for their 2007 spring line, calling it the Versailles Dress. I’m not sure if making repros was something J Crew regularly did ( I don’t think it was), or how this one ended up on the docket, but I really do mean exact replica here. The J Crew version was and remains a popular dress, being cited as “rare”, “coveted”, and “highly sought out” on sites like Poshmark and EBay. And all those terms could be applied to the vintage dress too: rare, coveted, and highly sought out.

Pictures of the J Crew Dress, courtesy of Sweet Bee Finds, who recently sold this one, as well as a true vintage version (and they’re also just a fun vintage shop to follow!).


And then we have a similar version here, also found and sold by Sweet Bee Finds! At first glance, I thought it was the same as mine: same rococo style scrolled frames and bluebirds and same shirt dress design, but it’s actually a different print. This one features hunters with their horses and dogs. I find how similar they are super interesting. I’m totally unverified here, but I’d be willing to bet that this was also an H.M. Kolbe print and a Young Size label.


Excuse another washed out photo as I struggle to express how lovely this dress actually is.

Summertime HM Kolbe Lily Lynn Young Size Vintage Novelty Print Dress French Rococo

Sooo, thoughts? Anyone know anything else about this design? What are your ISOs that you’ve found or are still on the quest for?

Update coming with close-ups of the fabric and the label!


Miss Motorhead 2019

I had a burst of make-it-happen, build-it-they-will-come energy back in January. I wanted a local pin-up contest. Or at least a contest I didn’t have to drive over three and a half hours to get to. And so I did some research on the local car shows, picked two and emailed them, giving them this whole spiel about pin-up contests, what they are, what they’re like, and why their show would benefit from one. Pin-up contests haven’t really made it into the car show culture up here in the Northland yet. Friends of mine further into the mid-midwest seem to have a bounty of pin-up activities.

Personally, I blame our snow.

One of the car shows got back to me, and basically said, "great, do it.” They gave me the go ahead on January 31st, just seven weeks out from the car show.

I had an oh-crap-what-did-I-do, now-I-have-to-plan-this-thing moment.


Motorhead Madness is an indoor car show up here in Duluth. This was their 51st year! I was able to check out the event on Friday during set up, and then again Saturday morning, both times wearing dresses I made from patterns by Gertie Hirsch.


Okay, I had to do a plug for those freshly-sewn dresses. Now back to the story!

I did some preliminary planning, and chatted with a gal I met on Facebook, Beth, who organizes contests in the Wausau, WI area. She was super supportive, and assured me that I had this, despite the ticking clock.

Beth was just the first in a series of amazingly supportive women who kept saying yes to me. They were excited about the contest, about what I was doing, and about being a part of it all. I’m unbelievably thankful for every single woman who showed me the love over the past month. Beth, the twenty-one girls who signed-up, Lela of Lela Wright Make Up and Hair Artistry, Christi of Grinkie Girls Photography, the friends who came to cheer everyone on, and the friends who cheered me on from a far.

Now that it’s over, it’s easy for me to focus on all of these wonderful people that made it a success. But it is worth mentioning that it didn’t come together like magic. I heard a lot of “no” along the way too. From photographers, from sponsors, from the newspaper, from the tv station. I’m going to be honest and tell you that even the Motorhead Madness coordinator was surprised at our success (she told me during set-up that she had thought I’d only get 3-5 people to sign up). So it’s not to say that it was smooth sailing. Direct quote from a local shall-not-be-named body positive photographer, that I asked to help get the word out: “I just don’t get pin-up”. (I would have been less offended had she just told me “no”, haha).

But, that probably makes me even more thankful for the people that did give the show all their support from the get-go.

And truthfully, I’m still a little floored that this event happened at all. A pin-up contest isn’t a pin-up contest unless you have contestants. And though I was hopeful about it all,. I was amazed every time a new person signed up. Somehow, I managed to get 18 contestants (my goal was 15, my maximum was 20) and at one point, I even had 21, though those other three had to drop for personal reasons. Eighteen the first year, when this isn’t even a “thing” in our area is pretty darn awesome.

Duluth Pin-up contest, Miss Motorhead Madness

Personally, I took to the stage as the emcee for the event.

Shirley Shasta pin-up contest

Round one, the contests do pin-up poses while their song plays and I read a short bio on each of them (where they’re from, celebrity crush, pin-up inspiration, life motto, etc).

Motorhead 2019031.jpg

Shout out to my BFF sailor girl here, Daisha. <3

Round two, the gals each picked a random question and answered it.

Motorhead 2019032.jpg

Then I hurried back stage to help my SIL tally scores, and we announced the winners!

Simple, right?

Then why is it so nerve-wracking as a contestant?!


Duluth Pin-up contest, Miss Motorhead Madness

I will say this is the hardest thing about pin-up contests, to me. The fact that not everyone wins, haha. Which sounds a little cheesy, but really. Every girl put themselves out there, and I was so proud of all of of them, and just wanted them all to win. Maybe next time ;)

Here’s your 2019 winners, Miss Peachy Keen (Miss Betty Bubbles), Miss Classy Chassis (Miss Betty Van Blonde), and Miss Motorhead (Vivian Von Sweets).

Duluth Pin-up contest, Miss Motorhead Madness

You should have seen the dance Vivian here did when she won the title. She’s the blur on the left, haha.

Duluth Pin-up contest, Miss Motorhead Madness

Her mother was heard after the contest saying, “I hope we didn’t create a monster” haha!!

Thank you, Lela, for sending me this montage of the many phases of VIvian Von Sweet’s joy.

Thank you, Lela, for sending me this montage of the many phases of VIvian Von Sweet’s joy.

The crowd was FANTASTIC. I know we impressed a lot of people, and have more people on board for next year in all areas, from marketing to contestants. The show organizers were surprised at the crowd and said we need more room next time! (Yaaaasss!)


These are my local, Poplar mom’s group girls. They blew me out of the water when they signed up for my crazy idea and they absolutely gave it their all.

Motorhead 2019037.jpg

This is my favorite picture from the whole day. I love these ladies.

Duluth Pin-up contest, Miss Motorhead Madness

After the contest was over and we cleared out, I called my husband the moment I had a chance, in a fit of post-performance anxiety, “Was it okay, did I do okay?” Pretty par for the course for me, if it’s not a heavily rehearsed production. The contestants did wonderful, but I was anxious about my side of things. It got very hectic for me that last hour, and the whole contest was a blur. Overall, for the first year, I’m really please with how everything went. And I’m ready to make it even better next year.

Duluth Pin-up contest, Miss Motorhead Madness

One of the best things that came out of this was meeting Becky, aka Brody Bombshell. This girl is a true pin-up (no, for real, check her out!), and she was 100% on board with helping to make this happen, and keeping the pin-up ball rolling here in the Twin Ports.

Enter the Border Town Betties, a pin-up social group for the Twin Ports. My goal is to have an event a month; organize photo shoots, contests, events like hair and make-up demos, socials like bunco, etc. Like the page to keep up on our happenings, if you’re local.

Thanks for popping on and checking out Miss Motorhead 2019 <3

Candid shot here, brought to you by Christi!

Candid shot here, brought to you by Christi!

Novelty Border Prints :: John Wolf Poodles

Eek! I went a little crazy buying border prints at the beginning of the year and it’s time to start showing them off. First up is this print poodle by John Wolfe. It’s fairly common in terms of vintage novelty prints, but that doesn’t make it any less fun.

John Wolf Poodle Border Print Skirt Vintage

I was able to pick up 2 yards, 10 inches of this fabric for a super good deal on Etsy, and sewed it up into a gathered skirt myself. Kind of a junky picture, but you can see here that the poodles ran on one side of the selvage and a coordinating stripe ran on the opposite selvage. I was able to use that upper stripe as my waistband.

John Wolf border print poodles

This gem can be found in multiple colorways— a lighter blue, a black and blue, a pink, a green, or this tan colorway that I own. I am actually a big fan of the tan, but the black and blue one has gotta be my favorite.

John Wolf Textiles was initially registered as a designer of home interior fabrics, in the early 1940s. They’re well known for their border prints, commonly featuring animals, pastoral and city scenes, and still lifes. They were probably more geared towards with curtains, to be honest. But by the late 1950s, at least, their designs were also being used for clothing.

john wolfe textiles poodle fabric.jpg

I’ve noticed that people really like to subscribe prints like this to the 1950s as much as possible . . . but lots of them are actually from the early 60s. I know for sure this one was available in the early 60s, because I’ve seen a Lana Lobell ad featuring a dress made from this fabric!

Lana Lobell 1960s John Wolf Poodle Skirt

I LOVE how they used that extra selvage stripe down the center of the bodice. You can actually find this same dress was sold at Sears and JC Penneys, in addition to Lana Lobell’s. Zoom in on that description there— they sold the black/blue, the tan, and the green colorways. But the kicker here— the commercially produced dresses actually had buttons sewn onto the eyes of the dogs!

Lana Lobell's John Wolf Poodle Skirt

Just $3.99— it’s a steal of a deal ;)

This is a great example of how common it was for fabrics and designs to not be exclusive. All three stores carried this dress, PLUS any home sewist could purchase this fabric as well. Today, it’s not quite so easy to buy the same fabrics that you see used commercially. Sometimes I see something in our local boutique that is made from the same fabric that I’ve seen at a small on-line fabric shop. Or, some fabric shops carry ends of the roll from designers, so it’s not to say that you can’t come across commercially used fabric, but I’ll tell you it’s much harder, and you can’t count on it. There was a time when you could see a dress at a department store, and then walk directly over to the fabric section and buy the exact same fabric easy-peasy.

John Wolf Poodle Border Print Skirt Vintage

I stitched the skirt using vintage methods- complete with sewing the waistband and the hem by hand. So, it may just be a gathered skirt, but I’ll tell you I definitely took my time to get it right. I’ve been reading about vintage methods, so the skirt was a good easy project to practice those handstitches on! Heidi had to get in on the photo action too . . . I would flip if I could find a vintage collie fabric . . . all that love for Lassie, there’s got to be one out there!

John Wolf Poodle Border Print Skirt Vintage

A few more novelty prints are coming your way soon, but there will probably be a pin-up related interlude first. I’m organizing my first pin-up contest this weekend, and I’m excited to show it off!

Here’s my week in review:

Reading: my first issue of Vintage Trailer Magazine!
Watching: Two episodes left to go on You! After being a huge Gossip Girl fan, watching Penn Badgley in this role is playing my mind. I’m over here like, “Dan, how could you?! Go find Serena, this is getting out of hand.”
Making/Sewing: The Jane Set from Charm Patterns— Gertie is hosting a sew along, but I’ve been creeping away on my muslin for a little bit here. The top is done!
Listening: I caught up on the America Life’s episode from last week. It was actually a replay of a 2006 episode, but it gave me all the feels. Seriously, bawling. I highly recommend you go back and listen to it. Episode 317: Unconditional Love. As a parent, and as someone who’s worked in an adolescent group home, it totally hit home. The intro was great too: early in the 20th century, a mother’s love was considered dangerous… the government even printed pamphlets about the dangers of mothers holding their babies. Seriously.



john wolf vintage poodle border print skirt.jpg

Vintage Label Spotlight: Leslie Fay

My sewing room has kind of been taken over lately. I still call it my “sewing room”, but it’s being slowly taken over by vintage apparel and accessories, haha! I spend a stupid amount of time reorganizing it. But, if we’re talking like Marie Kondo, pretty much everything in there brings me joy, so it’s worth it.

I thought it would be fun to start sharing some of what I have. I love researching the labels and styles of the garments I find. You can learn a lot from the construction of the garments, and I think it’s fun to look more into the history of clothes.

I figured I might as well pick one of my favorite dresses to start out, so here is this gorgeous floral Leslie Fay from the 1950s!

vintage 1950s dress Leslie Fay

The pleating at the top of the skirt is gorgeous, and the bodice is rather unique. It’s subtle and hard to see with the floral print, but there’s this pleating and bow on the bodice.

leslie fay dress vintage 1950s.JPG

Leslie Fay was founded by Fred Pomerantz. During World War II, he had produced uniforms for the Women’s Army Corp. In the 1940s, the Works Progress Administration gave a grant to conduct a study on women’s sizing. Over 15,000 women were measured to try to create a standard for women’s garment sizes. These measurements were given to producers like Pomerantz to ensure they would create uniforms that fit.

Vintage Leslie Fay 1950s dress label

Vintage Leslie Fay 1950s dress label

After the war, Pomerantz decided to use these measurements and create his own line of women’s clothing. Thus, Leslie Fay, named after Pomerantz’s daughter, was founded in 1947.

As a side note, all those measurements from the WPA? And the sizing standard they produced? It was kind of a mess. Because—surprise!— the female form is pretty darn complex, and there’s not much to be said for “standard” sizing. They identified at least five body shapes (instead of just the hour-glass shape that manufacturers were previously working off of) and created a three-part system, involving height, upper body, and girth. It was not at all practical for manufacturing clothes.

Leslie Fay Ad from 1949

Leslie Fay Ad from 1949

Anyway, back to Leslie Fay! They went public in 1952 and Fred’s son, John, took over in 1972. It seems like those were all pretty good years for Leslie Fay. They were popular and well-represented in the department stores.

Then the tumultuous 80s and 90s hit, and Leslie Fay had a lot of ups and downs. As other large manufactures started to use computers in the 80s, Leslie Fay didn’t keep up with technology. Similarly, they didn’t keep up with trends, and found that consumers were now thinking of them as “matronly” and out of style. I found this Leslie Fay at Goodwill, and understood that concept, ha!

1980s Vintage Leslie Fay Dress

But, Leslie Fay responded with gusto, hired new designers, installed over 500 boutiques within department stores, and tripled their profits in 10 years. Which was then followed by more ups and downs with the economy, dress sales, and again with the “old-fashioned” image. Annnnd then, it was reveled that the CFO had been doctoring the books from 1990-1992, unbeknownst to Pomerantz. Leslie Fay entered bankruptcy as a result. However, they did manage to remain open, emerge from chapter 11, reorganize, and turn themselves around. In 1999, the company obtained the license to the Liz Claiborne Dresses and Elisabeth Dresses labels. There were a lot more business/stock related ups and downs, but that’s the gist of it, ha!

So that’s that! I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about the Leslie Fay! I’m going to keep on with a little mini-series here on different labels from my vintage closet, so watch for more in the future!



vintage 1950s dress leslie fay.jpg

There's a new Travel Trailer in Town

Mike and I picked up an early Christmas present last month: a canned ham travel trailer! I saw it advertised as an “unknown 1959 camper” on Facebook Marketplace on a Friday afternoon. I knew instantly by the pictures that it was a really good potential buy, regardless of what brand it turned out to be. There was so much originality! Before I even told MIke about it, I reached out to the seller, trying to mask my desperation and and urgency. I was basically all, “We’ll come over and see it RIGHT NOW.” Haha. Super smooth.

Mike went down on Saturday morning, after some cryptic messaging with the seller. It was about 50/50 whether he was going check out a really cool camper or possibly meet up with a mobster/drug dealer/serial killer. You just never know.

Lucky for us, the camper was real.


Happy surprise!

It turned into the entire weekend- driving back and forth twice, picking up new tires, changing the tires, so Mike could drive it home. My role in all of this was kid control and research. We bought the thing still not knowing what it was.

I did have a super cool clue though! Across the back of the trailer, you could make out the words “Traveltown Rent-a-Trailer Madison, WIS AL 7-1137”


I found some Traveltown ads from 1959 and 1960 in the Wisconsin State Journal. Traveltown also had Avis Rent-a-Car and for moving, Rent-a-Truck.


Hey! That’s looks just like our camper!

That big ole “W” on the front made me think it was a Winnebago. Check out these comparisons.


And . . .


Finally Mike gets the thing home, and I see that ours is a “V” on the front instead of a “W”. So no go on the Winnebago. Which was a shame. Because I was already looking forward to calling her “Winnie”.


I bring out the dreaded paint stripper, and set to work on the trailer hitch. The first two letters of the serial number were “TB”.


We have a winner!

Trailblazers were made here in Wisconsin, in Spencer, from 1959 to 1972. Spencer Sports Products also manufactured Pathfinders. Due to two fires at the plant, there’s not a whole lot of official information on either of the brands. Adding mystery to it all, ours doesn’t look anything like any Trailblazer I’ve seen. But we do have a few theories on that: since ours is a 1959, which is also the year they first started producing the trailers, it could be likely that they made this one as a copy of the popular models, like Winnebagos, before starting to produce their own style. Or, since this one was owned by Traveltown, maybe it was a special order, made to their specifications? I also kind of wondered if there was a more direct link between Traveltown and the Spencer plant, in terms of partnership. I found it interesting that I found just one other Traveltown, in San Antonio, Texas, and the other main plant for Trailblazers was also in Texas (in Forth Worth). Also, they did make very few Trailblazers in the year 1959. From my understanding, there was a fire the previous year, and they got a late start producing, so there really wasn’t all that much action that first year of production (later on as the popularity caught on, they would make up to 8 trailers in a day!). There is no known rhyme or reason to the serial numbers on the Trailblazers, other than “TB” was for Trailblazers in Wisconsin, and “TT” was for those made in the Texas plant. But, regardless, this camper is a perfect example of the canned hams of the late 1950s.

Original paint job . . . original, working windows and that great jalousie door. The awesome original Formica . . . the list goes on and on.

I think it’s funny, someone commented on the seller’s ad, basically saying that the camper wasn’t even worth $100. That man is not my kind of people. To a lot of people, I’m sure it doesn’t look like much. But there is so much that’s original in this trailer, it makes my heart happy.

We won’t be doing as much work to this one as we did the Shasta. The front inner panel needs some help due to water damage. We’ll clean up the outside and repaint. A new door over the closet. Maybe add an outlet or two. And I’ll re-do curtains and cushions. Check out the vintage fabric I already picked up!


That plaid is such a great match for the Formica!

The Shasta isn’t going anywhere. As Mike said, “I’ve put more work into the Shasta that I have my own kids”. She’ll be for Mike and I to take to vintage car and camper shows. The Trailblazer is going to be our family camper. We won’t be putting anywhere near as much work into it as we did the Shasta, so it’ll be a little more kid-friendly. Not to mention, bigger for our family of five! I mean, “bigger” is relative . . . she’s still only 15 feet long!

I can’t wait to get her out in the spring and update you all on our progress! She’s going to be a GREAT camper for our family, and she’s such a cool piece of travel trailer history. If you know anything else about Trailblazers, Traveltown, or the Spencer plant, I’d love to hear it so comment below or shoot me an email!



1959 Canned Ham Trailblazer Travel Trailer Vintage Camper Renovation.jpg

1959 Trailblazer Travel Trailer Canned Ham.jpg

1972 Shasta Compact Renovation: Part Two

Today marks the two year anniversary of bringing our Shasta home! Most of that time has been spent alternatively storing it through the cold, long Wisconsin winter, and having it in shambles across my yard, garage, and driveway. After finishing it August, we have gotten to take it camping four times now (check out my post on Symco to see the highlight of our summer!) and we’re bona fide Shasta enthusiasts now (or, as my husband remarked to his brother this weekend: “vintage camper people are more our people than you guys are.” ha!).

If you missed my Part One post, that one showed off the interior renovation. Now I’m going to talk about what we did to spruce up the outside.

Here’s that original, bringing home baby picture:


And here’s the finale:


You might notice that the colors are awfully similar, haha! I have to say, we were SO indecisive on what color to paint the beast. It was ALMOST painted burgundy. Also, ALMOST like a navy blue. There was some semi-serious talk about both yellow and hunter green. And don’t even get me started on the stripe— to follow the original set-up or paint a Z stripe was a heated debate for a long time.

In the end, we decided to keep with the original lines. And we settled on the turquoise. It really is a great pop color. The original, official Shasta turquoise was a lighter color than this, and I wish our paint had ended up a little closer to that but oh well.

As far as original colors go, our particular Shasta was actually cream colored on top and bottom, with the stripe painted gold— pretty low key, nothing flashy about it (it seems like most of the early 70s Shastas were pretty drab in this regard).

Everything was repainted on the outside, top to bottom, including the hitch, hubcaps, and propane.

But, honestly, that was the last step. A whole lot of other exterior projects happened first. Most notably, this happening:


Here’s a break down:

  • We took the windows, door, and all the j-channel off

  • Pealed the skin off

  • Rebuilt areas of the frame that needed to be reconstructed

  • Patched the siding on the inside of the pieces of skins using JB Weld and aluminum squares

  • Added flashing to the walls, so that they would underlap the roof skin (previously, the wall/roof seam allowed leaks in)

  • Reinforced the front wall where the kicker plate would be, and fabricated a new piece of aluminum. Previous owners had patched and replaced sections of this front wall (next to the hitch) and our local shop wasn’t able to recreate it for us, so Mike fabricated it, and scored a 4 inch break pattern on it.

  • Used an air stapler to staple skin to frame

  • Really cleaned up the j-channel and window, getting all the old putty, paint, and silicone using rubbing compound

  • Put the j-channel back on, using butyl putty and new stainless steel hew screws

  • Polyurethane sealant used to seal any area where rain could seep in (don’t use silicone, it shrinks over time. Vintage camper people hate silicone, ha!)

  • New carriage bolts

  • Repacked the bearings

At some point in the middle of all that, we rewired all the exterior lights. It was a giant pain. Honestly, one of Mike’s least favorite parts of the whole project, I think. We weren’t able to locate repro starburst lights (the manufacturer that Vintage Trailer Supply uses recently stopped making them, and the VTS crew was looking for a new manufacturer), so we ended up with cheaper lights from Menards.

As far as painting goes, first we wet sanded the whole thing— sanded it down using 220 sandpaper and a spray bottle, followed by a dish detergent scrub down, and a final rinse with the hose.


For paint, we used Rustoleum Protective Enamel (here’s the metallic silver color we used for the center stripe and the wings— it looks great painted on). I think it’s an extremely good option for the DIY crowd; those who aren’t springing for a professional paint job. We didn’t prime it, and only did one coat, along with a little bit of touch ups (but we were also painting similar colors on top of similar colors). We used a combination of rolling and brushing.

Okay, here’s a mistake we made and then switched back again, haha. So, the center stripe (the one we painted silver): Why isn’t that stripe in the middle a straight, continuous line across all four sides? Why are the center stripe panels on the front and back higher up and wider than the stripes on the sides?! This drives me absolutely nuts! And I noticed some people ignore the paneling and paint whatever they want. Z stripes, triangles, etc. And some people paint it so there is one straight, continuous line across all four sides. I talked Mike into us doing it that way.

Taped to paint the silver straight across.

Taped to paint the silver straight across.

As soon as it was done, I said, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. We need to change it.” I hated it. It looked so dumb.

He said absolutely not, he just got done, no way. And he walked away. Only to come back five minutes later and say, “Want me to change it?”

So, yeah. We switched it back to painting it following the lines of the paneling. Much happier.

We picked up the awning from Vintage Trailer Supply (really happy with the quality of the product), and the black and white checked mat from Amazon.

If you didn’t see Part One, pop over and check out the interior!

What a project! If you’re looking at re-doing a vintage camper but haven’t taken the plunge yet, here’s Mike’s final words on it: “Way more work than flipping a house. We could have flipped a house made 30 thousand, bought a perfect 20 grand Shasta Airflyte and put 10k in the bank.”

But that said, we’re still always looking at buying another camper project . . . so . . . yeah. It’s addictive. Be careful out there.

Leave a comment and let me know where you’re at with your project camper, I’d love to hear about it! After all, you’re my kind of people ;)


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1972 Shasta Compact Renovation: Part One

I've been so excited to share more about our 1972 Shasta Compact with you!  And this has been a long time coming.  We bought the Shasta back in fall of 2016, fresh faced and wide-eyed.  We finished her in summer of 2018, hard and jaded. 

Ha! Just kidding.  We love her.  But damn, we learned a lot.  

The day we brought her home!

The day we brought her home!

I'm just going to get one thing out of the way right away.  Whenever I talk about the Shasta renovation, I'm going to say, "we" a lot.  But it's more like, "we" as in, Mike . . .while I corralled two toddlers, and later (since the project took so long), a preschooler, a toddler and a baby.  It's safe to look at it like Chip and Joanna Gaines . . . We talked about all the aspects together, he did the heavy lifting , and then I came in at the end and made sure everything looked cute.   Fixer Upper: Travel Trailer Edition, anyone? 

Anyway, now that I have that off my chest. . . 

This is part one of all the details of the renovation: the interior. I'll have another post next week about the exterior projects.  

When we bought the sweet little thing, we knew there was some water damage on the roof (around the roof vent-- a common spot) as well as one of the back corners.  The previous owners fixed the water damage by putting up some nice sheets to cover it up. Ha!

Before the renovation, 1972 Shasta Compact

They had repainted everything white (covering the original dark fake wood paneling) and teal.  They had also been part way through covering up the original flooring with black and white laminate tiles when we bought it.  

1972 Shasta Compact Renovation, before picture
Shasta Compact Camper 1972 Renovation

There was no table, and instead, they left the benches pulled out all the time, with a mattress on top.  So, the cushions on top were extra ugly, since they were always covered up with a mattress.

All in all, she had a lot going for her.  After 45 plus years, a lot of things can get broken or lost, but a lot of the original materials were still there, which Mike and I appreciated-- the screen door, hub caps, door handle, stove, light fixtures, furnace, the wings.  

Of course, like basically every Shasta project camper that I have ever heard of, there was more water damage than what we realized.  Quite a lot in the back corner, actually, which effected both the back wall and the wall with the door.  Then, also below the window on the wall with the electric plug and the water intake.  Soooo, we ended up completely rebuilding the majority of the walls.  We like to call this picture "ground zero".  


It's amazing how little actually held these little campers together.  Hopes, prayers, and a questionable frame of 1x2s. 

Soooo, here's what we did to complete the inside, in no particular order: 

  • Rebuild the walls, obviously, ha! Which included re-insulating and Shellac-ing them.

  • New floor-- vinyl planking

  • Build table (only half the original table bracket was still there, so we ended up ordering a set from Vintage Trailer Supply)

  • We removed the half cabinet that was attached to the closet, so we would have the full length of bench seating on each side

  • Paint stripped the stove, clean it and put in new lines to the propane tank.

  • Painted the cabinets.

  • New cabinet and drawer pulls

  • Recover the cushions

  • New shelf in the back wall (with the original light fixture installed in it)

  • Rewire everything--this included adding two new outlets and a new kitchen light

  • Installed new water pump

  • Took apart the furnace and cleaned it . . . replaced thermocouple wire . . . unreplaced thermocouple wire and rereplaced with the old one, haha

  • Sewed up new curtains

  • Added backsplash

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After the walls were rebuilt and re-insulated, we finished them with 3/16 inch birch paneling (which we got at Menards).  As a 70's model, our walls would have originally been the dark fake wood paneling.  We decided to go with the warmer look of the earlier models, with the birch and finishing it with Shellac.  We did 3 coats of amber and then one coat of clear.  

1972 Shasta Compact Interior

I love the birch/Shellac walls.  It really brightens it up and makes it feel more open compared to the original paneling. 


There are two faucets- one is if there is a hose hooked up directly, and the other is a pump faucet for the water tank.  

1972 Shasta Compact Travel Trailer

I looooove having the original stove color! It has some nicks and dings, some spots where the enamel is worn, but it's all part of the charm, in my opinion.  The previous owners had painted it teal, and I was so happy with how efficiently the paint stripper took it off.

1972 Shasta Compact Travel Trailer Camper

With all the work we put in making this thing look cute, I just couldn't keep that ugly black fridge, so I ordered this orange one from Amazon (they also have a bunch of other fun colors if you want one for your camper!).  I think a fun colored fridge is an absolute must.  The original here would have been golden yellow, and propane.  

Shasta Compact Camper 1972 Travel Trailer

When it's bedtime, the table comes off, and the benches slide out, to have two beds.  The camper originally had a bunk as well.  There was a lot of talk about whether or not we should make a bunk, given the fact that we have three kids, but we decided to skip it . . . we were too nervous about it with our rowdy bunch.  

Shasta Compact 1972

So, there we have it, folks! An awful lot of work jam-packed into a 65 square foot space, ha!   

But, not too bad for our first camper renovation, in my opinion!   We aren't purists by any means, but we do aim to keep the vintage charm, while also making things practical and keeping in mind that we are DIYers, doing 100% of the work ourselves.  Vintage Trailer Supply was definitely a great help for so many of the projects!

Thanks so much for checking it out, and check out part two on all the exterior work! And do let me know if you have questions!  I'd love to hear about your vintage camper, so keep in touch and let me know what you think <3 


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Keep Calm and Smile: My First Pin-Up Contest

When Mike and I signed up to bring our vintage camper to Symco Weekender (you can read more about the event in my last post), there was just one thing that got me even more excited than the prospect of showing off our sweet little Shasta Compact . . . just two words . . . 

Pin-up Contest.  

Now, I've never in my life actually seen a pin-up contest.  I wasn't even 100% sure what a pin-up contest entailed, to be honest.  But boy, was I enthralled at the prospect of participating.   

Mike caught me starring at the sign-up form multiple times.  "Just do it," he said, "You'll regret it if you don't."  

So, with Mike behind me, I took the leap and signed up! 

I'm pretty sure he regretted encouraging me . . . between the endless conversations of me obsessing over what I should wear,  the sweating in the blazing hot sun for an hour watching the show, and the number of times strangers stopped me to ask for a photo with me . . . the man put up with a lot for me to do the show, ha! 

Since I had never seen a show, I did a fair bit of research about pin-up contests prior to the event.  Here in the Northland, the car show culture doesn't prevail quite the same way as it does elsewhere, but down in the southern part of Wisconsin, and our neighboring states, it seems like every decent car show comes with a pin-up contest.  It's a crowd-draw and gets people to the event.  They're also not quite as scandalous as some people seem to think-- I mean, this isn't a burlesque show or anything!  Do things get a little saucy with innuendos? Well, sure.  But generally, these shows are considered family events.  

I had to pick a pin-up name, and after much brainstorming, I settled on Sweet Lucy LaBelle (a combination of some family names of Mike's and mine).  I wanted to keep Molly, but there were so many pin-ups that I already had Molly as their fake name, that I didn't feel like I could keep mine, ha! 

Guys.  I stressed so, so much about what to wear.  So much.  I sewed up an outfit or two.  I hated them.  I bought some outfits.  I returned them.  I did a fashion show for my husband on our deck.  He said everything looked nice (he had to say that).  

Finally, I was down to a red and white polka dotted dress, decked out with jewelry, gloves, and ah-mazing vintage shoes and then a red swim top with high-waisted shorts and t-strap shoes.  

I erred on the side of standing out, and went with the latter. 

Symco Weekender Pin-Up Contest Sweet Lucy LaBelle

I loved this outfit from the get-go, but just worried that it wasn't sweet enough.  Or dressy enough.  Or that everyone else would be full glam.  But I did a little chatting with people about the feel for this show-- I was told it's a little more rockabilly and fun in terms of dress.  Some shows are stricter about wanting you wearing true vintage dress.  Most say no lingerie, no burlesque, and no swim suits.  For this show, however, Annie (the organizer) was actually encouraging us to wear swim-- she said it was a great, supportive crowd and to go for it.  

Wisconsin Pin-Up Contest Sweet Lucy LaBelle

I picked up my outfit from Unique Vintage.  If I could just have one of everything on their site, I would have a happy closet.  These shorts are the absolute best; they fit like a dream and are majorly flattering.  The swim top came in a few colors, but I was sticking to a red, black, and white color palette for all my Symco outfits.  I even picked up some awesome nylons from Unique Vintage

Unique Vintage Pin-up Contest Outfit Sweet Lucy LaBelle

So, finally, after all the obsessing, all the reading, all the stressing, the day was finally here.  I got my hair done with the fabulous ladies with Bonnie Holly.  I got dressed in the camper.  I did the lashes, the make-up, the parasol.  I got these sweet t-strap heels from Amazon. 

1972 Shasta Compact Lucy LaBelle pin-up

If you've never been to a pin-up show either, here's how this one is set up:  There are 20 girls.  We each have a pre-written bio (who we are, where we're from, favorite classic car, three vices, favorite classic icon).  For round one, the emcee reads our bio while we do poses and play the crowd.  From there, it's narrowed down to the top 10.  The top ten each get asked a random question.  After the Q&A round, the winners are chosen.  Not bad, right? Pretty low-key.  

Miss Symco Pin-Up Contest Wisconsin 2018

I was contest 15.  I was dying backstage waiting for my turn for round one.  

I finally make it out there, and I'm shaking so bad, I'm so nervous.  Guys, I have done a TON of theatre over the course of my life.   I don't get stage-fright.  But I was dying, I was so nervous.  I was shaking so badly that I couldn't even hold my poses.   

Miss Symco Pin-Up Contest 2018 Wisconsin Pin-up Sweet Lucy LaBelle

But, I kept smiling.  And I didn't freeze.  I giggled when I fell over.  And I kept on smiling.  

Miss Symco 2018 Wisconsin Pin-Up Contest Sweet Lucy LaBelle

I thought for sure there was no stinking way that I made it in the the top ten.  But, miracle of miracles, I did!!! 

Miss Symco Pin-Up Contest 2018 Top Ten

Round 2, I wasn't nervous about at all.  The random question I got was, "If you could do anything with out consequence what would it be?" 

Remember how hot I said it was?  I felt so bad for the audience, they were baking.  So my answer was to go skinny dipping in the Little Wolf River, and I invited the crowd, ha!  

After that the winners were chosen.  I didn't win, but I was totally okay with that.  I'm thankful that I made it to the top ten, and got to have some stage time where I wasn't so nervous.  

After the show, I got to meet the Shannon Brooke, pin-up photographer extraordinaire (seriously, look at her work, she is amazing).  She was one of the judges for the contest and was so stinkin' sweet.

Sweet Lucy LaBelle and Shannon Brooke

Patti Pierogi was the emcee for the show.  It was fun getting to chat with her and get some advice (she's won only about a billion contests!).  

Sweet Lucy LaBelle and Patti Pierogi

And my dear friend, Shelby Cole was there to cheer me on!  She's a friend from the on-line sewing world, and she used to do pin-up contests too.  It was amazing getting to meet her in real life. 

Symco Pin-Up Contest with Shelby

Over all, I had a blast and I'm so glad I gave it a whirl.  I definitely want to do another one now that I know what the heck I'm doing.  Walking around afterwards, everyone was so nice and supportive.  I seriously can't wait to do another one! 

Pin-up contest wisconsin Lucy LaBelle

The next day, Symco was over.  Yesterday's make-up, falling victory rolls, packing up the camper in my new Miss Symco tank.  I can officially say I'm a pin-up! <3 

Miss Symco Pin-up Contest

Sweet Lucy LaBelle

P.S. Here are all those links one more time: 
Event: Symco Weekender
Outfit: Unique Vintage
Shoes: Amazon
Earrings: Birch in Lake Nebagamon, WI
Hair: Nichole from the Cutting Edge in Racine, WI

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