Campervan Conversion – Squabs

Two years ago we bought a Ford transit van, it had been a painters van, but we planned to turn it into a campervan! We had been inspired but shows like ‘George Clarkes Amazing Spaces’ and also the fact that I was getting over sleeping on the ground in a tent!

This has been a long slow project, with both of us working full time and hubby also studying. It could have been done faster but well I have no skills when it comes to woodworking or metalworking so I had to wait for hubby to get it to a stage when I could help with the sewing bits!

Firstly I should introduce you, this this is Rainbow Dash:


Rainbow Dash at Mangahuia campsite in National Park

She was named by our my little pony loving girls as the stereo flashes rainbow colours!

So once the seats were made and we knew the size the squabs were to be and we had agreed on the colours, I set out to make covers in vinyl. Never having done anything remotely upholstery like before, I sought help from my mother in law (Alison), who thankfully had experience from helping her mother who was an upholster!

Getting our courage up to cut into the fabrics

All the pieces cut and ready to sew!

Using an industrial and kinda semi-industrial sewing machines at my work over the summer break, we set to work.

Firstly 42m of piping had to be made! Alison pumped this out one morning while I was packing orders for dispatch at work!

Piping sewn on Singer 4411

Next up was the stripes to make to top pieces of all the squabs. This all went pretty smoothly and was starting to look quite awesome!

Stripes sewn and top stitched

Having fun while we work… Alison thinks it should be a skirt instead

Then onto piping top and bottom pieces, this was a little fiddly and the feed dogs were chewing the piping as we were going round the corners but I got over this.

Piping on the top of the bench seat

All of the above was done over about a week of working on it for a few hours after I had finished work etc.

Next up Alison and I spent the weekend finishing them off. We thought we might get it all done on the Saturday… but things started not gong our way!

Quilt binding clips became our best friend!

All of Saturday was spent on one, yes ONE squab! And I wasn’t even one that is needed all the time (Just makes the bed long enough for my tall hubby) We broke a lot of needles on that first squab but we learnt a lot from this one. When we came in fresh on Sunday all the rest went pretty smoothly (excluding the needle breakages)… UNTIL halfway round the last seam the needle broke AND so did the tension spring! Thankfully we got it finished on the semi-industrial! By early evening, after a interesting experience of stuffing the foam into the covers, we had a full set of squabs for rainbow dash! With just the first one that we need to redo but it’s usable!

Almost finished!


Fabric: Vyinide Upholstery vinyl $13.80p/m from Fab-Ric on Trade Me – White Bison 2m and Moose Blue 10m (only used about 5m of the blue, someone over calculated!)

Thread: Coats Nylbond 40 $29.00 per cone, unbleached/white and navy.

Needles: Industrial DPx5 size 110/18 10pk $7.00 we broke about 15! Domestic HAx1 size 110/18 10pk $8.00 we didn’t brake any of these!

Other Haberdashery: Continuous Zippers (haven’t worked this price out yet) , Piping Cord 41m @$2.00p/m, Quilting Binding Clips $0.30 each, Stick on Velcro (to hold the squabs to the seats) 2m @ $4.50p/m

Machines Used: Singer 20U industrial zigzag machine and Singer Heavy Duty 4411

The girls seats

Bench Seat

The bed set up

Testing out our bed

We have recently got back from a week camping in our van and I can say the bed is super comfy!

These Two like our bed too….

We also got a chance to show off the van to Granny (who was the upholster) and she was pretty impressed, and well that is all that matters!

William and his Granny cheek out the van! (and closely inspect the sewing job..)

This post has gotten pretty huge so next time I will post about the hammock that I made for our girls to sleep in and the other bits I’ve sewn as well!

Laura x

P.s. I’m NEVER sewing upholstery again!


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