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Custom Awnings & Cushions for my Vintage Camper

Apollo

My 1971 vintage camper has seen a lot of upgrades in the past year. I painted the exterior, gutted the interior, and outfitted the space with new appliances (such as this compact fridge and this solar generator – get 20% with this link). But I think the “cutest” improvement is the addition of my awnings over the door and windows.

Once we decided to add awnings to our camper, I searched the internet for ideas. I wanted a pattern that looked vintage, with colors that matched the new paint job & our old pop-top canvas. So, I looked to Etsy for help, as I often do when there is a crafting emergency. I found this wonderful little shop that actually specializes in vintage camper awnings! Who knew there was a need for such a niche market! With the Etsy shop’s help, we chose on a color scheme, fabric, and measurements that completed my vision.

Vintage Camper Awnings

I love the blue element that the awnings added to the color scheme. I found an outdoor rug that matched, and it is my dog’s new favorite place to lay and sunbathe. She thinks we did this all for her, of course. A few times her leash has become tangled around the awning poles, and the entire thing collapses when she decides to dart after a squirrel. Sigh… what can you do?

The total cost for my four awnings, flags, a propane tank cover, and two matching pillows was $382 with shipping. This total doesn’t include the awning rail (which needed to be epoxied and screwed in to the fiberglass shell of the camper), the flag pole holders & arms for the window awnings, and the expanding rods for the front awning. I estimate the actual cost to be somewhere around $500. Totally worth it.

Vintage Camper Awnings

My camper’s custom awnings are constantly complimented at festivals!

Vintage Camper Awnings

The flag poles holders collapse while the awnings & arms are removed for travel.

Vintage Camper Awnings
The front awning over the door is held up by two expanding poles that come to a point, as well as the tension of the rope that is strung out and secured in the ground with a spike.

Vintage Camper Awnings

Setting up the awnings is a 15-minute task, which is longer than anything else.

We didn’t want to put any more holes into the side of our camper, so we simply epoxied the flag pole holders onto the side of the camper. Unfortunately, this has proved to not be enough. We’ve had three of them pop off already. We’re going to need to find another solution for attaching the flag pole holders that doesn’t involve putting more holes in the camper. Any suggestions? Please comment!

After the addition of the awnings, I went after the cushions that make up the bench and bed of the camper. The ones we inherited are certainly not original, but we were unhappy with them. First of all, they don’t match. The three middle cushions are different colors, and even though they are stored most of the time, that annoyed me.

Our old cushions in the bed formation. The three middle cushions are stored in the car when not in use.

Secondly, these extra cushions needed to be stored somewhere when not being used for the bed. There is no place to store them inside the camper, so that means these three cushions have to go in the car!! Every night someone has to go to the car and grab them to make the bed. Every morning they go back into the car, and they take up the entire trunk! If it’s raining when you need to grab the cushions, they get wet. And, because they are so bulky, it often takes two trips. It’s not an efficient system.

Apollo Interior
The camper’s old cushions (pictured here) needed to be replaced

We decided to rethink the cushion system so that all of the cushions could be stored inside the camper. Our idea was to have two long cushion backrests that would fill the middle gap between the benches for bedtime. Genius, right? Well, custom cushions are expensive to purchase. I would have made my own, but I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t know how to sew. Not the mention, upholstery work is difficult! So I reached back out to Sew Country Awnings on Etsy. She was able to create my four custom cushions (so they all match) with high-density foam for $700 including shipping.

Vintage Camper cushions

The backrests become the middle part of the bed at night.

vintage camper custom cushionsExpensive? Yes. I almost didn’t go for it, but the nightmare of carrying around the current cumbersome cushions was too much for me to bare. I bit the bullet, and I don’t regret it one bit! I was able to sell the old cushions for $50 (a steal for someone else). So that helped ease the pain a tiny bit.

Our new cushions are made with grey faux leather, so they are easy to clean. If they get wet, it’s no big deal! We decided to put buttons and trim on the cushions for aesthetic purposes. Otherwise, they might look like long grey sausages! They can also be removed for cleaning. The foam is super high density, so it shouldn’t settle any time soon. Making the bed is so much easier now, and that is worth a lot.

Is a project like a vintage camper ever complete?


My Vintage Camper is completely off-grid thanks to my solar generator!

Purchase your own solar generator using this link to get 20% off!

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5 Comments

  1. Diane
    July 5, 2019 / 1:19 pm

    Would really strong magnets work to attach the flag poles?

  2. Linda
    July 3, 2019 / 11:19 am

    I’m always amazed at how well 3M Command Strips hold things in place. I wonder if they would work for your flag holders? You probably want the ones designed to be used in bathrooms, though, as the outdoors can be humid.

    • July 16, 2019 / 12:06 pm

      Unfortunately, I don’t think those are strong enough for this situation if epoxy isn’t strong enough.

  3. July 3, 2019 / 6:17 am

    You will have to consider taking the Door Awning down prior to any Storms. The weight of a heavy Rain could damage it.
    Be Safe and Enjoy the Lifestyle.

    It’s about time.

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