My Etsy shop has gone the way of the glampers ever since I read Glamping with Mary Jane Butters. Oilcloth seems to be the perfect glamping fabric because it is water proof and washable. And so many perfect accessories can be made from oilcloth!

I did my research by visiting some of the popular glamping websites. Elle Magazine did a photo story last summer, which assures me that glamour + camping = cool. The Glamping.com website allows travelers to make reservations at ready-made luxury retreats all over the world. Much closer to home, the Inspired Camping website gave me some ideas after reading about their Back Garden Camping suggestions for frugal families. Staking out a back yard campsite requires some colorful oilcloth pennants hung between trees.

I sewed these double sided triangles with a machine cross stitch that almost looks hand sewn.

So what else does the backyard retreat need? Assuming there will be eating and drinking – how about some Glamping placemats? This laminated cotton fabric was designed by the queen of glampers, Mary Jane Butters.

Colorful tents, little airstreams and tear drop trailers glamped out with campfires, claw foot tubs and pink bloomers a-flying are shown with phrases like “camp like a girl” and “cowgirls go to heaven – glampers go everywhere else” in vintage typewriter font label the images. For your beverages – how about drinks in little mason jars kept cool with a flowered oilcloth cozie!

I made up this little pattern using scraps of leftover oilcloth with a layer of Insul-brite insulation sandwiched in between. They have a little strap at the bottom to keep the glass jar stable inside the sleeve.

Once the sun sets, light up the night with a string of little oilcloth lantern lights. I started with a 10 bulb string of clear glass globe bulbs from World Market and made little flower shades from bright
oilcloth scraps.

Each shade has five petals that are perforated along the edge for additional light. I love the way they add a festive touch during the day -

As well as at night -

If more sophisticated accessories are needed, check out The Glamour Camping Company where many treasures await.

I first heard the name Mary Jane Butters when I came across her line of glamping inspired fabric for Moda. I purchased some of the laminated red fabric to use for a placemat set for my Etsy shop. When I first listed these placemats, I sold a set within a few hours – which means the glampers are out there!

To fuel my recent interest in glamping, I went in search of my favorite source of information – books! After a cursory search for books on the Internet, I happened upon a book that looked like the perfect resource. I was in luck when I found the local library could get me Glamping with Mary Jane Butters. This book is THE manual for glampers and a feast for the eyes. It is full of gorgeous modern photographs, sepia-toned archival photos, vintage snapshots of Mary Jane’s own childhood family camping adventures from the 50s, and kitschy illustrations of fifties era glamour women captioned with clipped vintage typewriter-font advice. In the introduction to this primer, she acknowledges generations of adventuresome women by “Viewing Women’s History in 3-G – Grit, Grace and Glam”.

Butters is, herself, a brash and ballsy outdoors woman. A little reading up on her life made me feel disgustingly sedentary and docile. After many camping experiences around Utah as a child with her family of seven, she took a job after high school as a fire look-out atop a mountain in northern Idaho. I KNOW! Then she became a wilderness ranger. Then she built fences, herded cows and raised an organic market garden. Then she founded PCEI.org, a regional environmental group in 1986. Readers of her magazine and website can learn about her philosophy of simple organic living – and see her retail product line. And, then there this great book of hers.

Every bit a how-to guidebook, the table of contents includes section titles such as Trailers, Gear and Safety, and contain information as basic as it is necessary. The section titled “Gettin’ Hitched” is literally about how to hitch a trailer and includes a glossary of towing talk defining trailer tongue, hitch ball and coupler lock. In the Housekeeping section, Butters tackles everything from laundry and bathing to building a tote-able toilet seat and lid from materials available through Amazon.com. Later she gets to the fun stuff – glamping eats and entertainment – and she includes recipes and DIY patterns for setting up the perfect Glamping retreat.

Butters instituted an annual International Glamping Weekend set for June 1 and 2, 2013. Maybe I’ll round up a few of my gal pals, get out my Glamping accessories, whip up a pitcher of Happy Glampers punch and a batch of Smoked Bacon and Mustard Salad from her recipes, and host a backyard Glamping event!

What’s Glamping? According to the Urban Dictionary it is glamorous camping or luxury camping – and it is quite the rage. According to the Glamping Hub website, where you can select a destination and book a trip, “Glamping is a growing global phenomenon that combines camping with the luxury and amenities of a home or hotel. Also called boutique camping, luxury camping, posh camping or comfy camping, glamping allows travelers to experience nature without the hassle of finding camp space, carrying their tents, and erecting and taking down their own tents.” At Glamping Hub travelers can search by type of accommodation – yurt, safari tent, camper, treehouse – or even igloo.

Not ready to book a trip but interested in browsing? Loads of Pinterest boards are labeled Glamping and are filled with images of colorful, hip new ways to get outdoors. So I decided to add the word “Glamping” to my search item tags on Etsy and it has given my picnic basket totes some extra views.

Last year, on spring break in Charlotte, NC. I bought the first two vintage picnic baskets at an antique store. That was the beginning of it all. Since writing about upcycling vintage picnic baskets for wedding gifts last summer, I have made and gifted four lovely oilcloth picnic basket liner totes individually made and measured to fit old wooden picnic baskets. Filled with colorful plates and napkins, plastic cutlery, wine, crackers, snacks – even bug spray and wet wipes, these baskets make a perfect gift.

Aqua Oranges Oilcloth picnic basket tote

Every picnic basket is a little big different, so I have altered sizes and pocket placements a bit. Every basket liner has silverware slots, and ample side pockets for picnic supplies. There is also a coordinating elastic loop on one end to keep that sleeve of red solo cups together!

Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote

This one is made from bright aqua and oranges print oilcloth and lined with orange gingham. It looks like a summer day!

Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote

I’ve added a layer of stabilizer in the bottom of the basket construction so that it will support a full picnic worth of fixings.

Another classy combination of oilcloth is black and white damask toile print and black and white gingham.

Black and White Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote

This one was made to fit a slightly larger vintage basket. Since I have been sewing liners on my new sewing machine – which does not have a free arm – I have changed the way I sew the basket and liner together but I am very pleased with the clean line and strap attachment.

Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote


I was glad for a chilly, but sunny day this week so that we could take the baskets to the park for pictures. I had previously photographed this blue cherries and checks print basket liner at home, but I need to get it out in the sun for a photo shoot to really show it off.

Blue Cherries and Checks Oilcloth picnic basket liner tote

All three of these liners are for sale at my Etsy store. I have an idea or two for future Glamping products for my shop. Stay tuned as summer approaches and the glampers hit the road!