Re-making Vintage Prams & Strollers Part I: a Hedstrom Bassinet/Carrycot

This is something I haven’t really found anyone else writing about: re-making/re-covering/re-upholstering old prams.  Although in researching them I’ve found some bloggers using older prams for their kids I haven’t seen anyone take one apart to revamp it with new fabrics.  That kind of surprises me!  Today I’ll talk about the first pram that I re-made, and then I’ll be posting about an ongoing project that I’m excited about.  The new project is unfortunately going to be subjected to delays thanks to lack of materials on hand and the impending arrival of Mini.  (She was due this past Saturday and is being evicted one way or another before this weekend.  While I’m very excited I’m also worried about ever finishing the newest pram!)

Prams and strollers/pushchairs, vintage or not, weren’t on my radar until I spotted an old Hedstrom in one of my favourite thrift stores a few years ago.  I didn’t need it.  I hadn’t known I wanted it, but once I found it; I did.  😀  Sure, I hesitated while the more sane part of my brain tried to win, but I kept pushing around the store as I browsed, it was only something like $10, and soon it was going home with me in hopes that we’d be making use of it some day.  I just liked how it looked, all metal and old fashioned, and I thought it seemed practical with the detachable bassinet and gentle rocking motion.  The fabric wasn’t so lovely and a bit crumbly, but I knew I could either clean or fix it up.  Once home the frame polished up nicely, and I began Googling old prams.  Right away I decided on using linen to re-make the bassinet, because I just didn’t like the knit navy fabric very well or expect it to last much longer.

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It was very difficult to select a fabric.  A somewhat lime green was my favourite option with a fairly muted red next in line.  Dusty shades of pink, green, and blue were runners up.  On the one hand I wanted to use a fun colour, but on the other I was afraid to have it clash with my outfit too often and also deferred to L’s preference and used the dull khaki green.  I still have the lime yardage and wish I’d used it instead, because it would have been a much more dramatic change and look, and this has influenced my choices for the new pram project.

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Anyway, I have very few photos on hand from re-vamping the Hedstrom.  I tore it apart completely and jumped in with creating a pattern from the old pieces and re-builidng as best I could.  I had to replace the rivets with bolts and cap screw things, and sadly I didn’t make a matching cover to snap on, although I did include the snaps on the body to attach one.  I’m not sure what happened to the remaining fabric to make the cover.  😦  Everything was replaced except the frames and supports.  I used a fancy vinyl inside and to cover the mattress board.  The mattress support has a portion that snaps up into a seated position, which is nifty, and I made a mattress cover and pillow to match with the same green ticking striped cotton as the hood lining.  I was fairly pleased with how it all turned out.

Here are some recent shots:

Since then I’ve seen other similar prams, and I realised that I was missing more than the weather cover.  Technically the Hedstrom was complete aside from the weather cover, but plenty of other similar prams had seat attachments to turn them into strollers.  Shoot.  That’s far more useful!  Some brands and models are prettier, like the curvaceous and velvety Herlag brand I’ve only spotted rarely, some are boxy and less appealing to me, and some have a bit of a following like Emmaljunga’s “Viking” model.  As with most things like this I became a little obsessed, collected a few strollers, and still ended up crossing the river and a state line to pick up an early ’90s Viking frame, bassinet, and stroller seat set after seeing a particular listing on Craigslist forever at a steal of a price.  (I just couldn’t ignore it and let it go.)

Not the best Herlag example, but I saw a shiny one just like it but in better condition that really looked amazing with the curves:

Oh wait, here is another swiped photo but of the shiny one:

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I took these photos from an eBay listing.  If only I had unlimited funds and space I’d probably get a Herlag too… polished up it would be soooooo gorgeous!  *sigh*  This brand is by far the most elegant in my opinion, and I wish I could trade the Hedstrom for one.  The corduroy inspired me to use velvet for the Emmaljunga to get a similarly rich look if not the elegance.

Emmaljunga’s Viking is the only somewhat popular old stroller people are using out there, as far as I can tell, aside from hard-bodied varieties like Silver Cross.  They came in navy blue most frequently and sometimes forest green or bright red all with white vinyl accents.  Other models had some funky fabric and vinyl options especially in the ’80s.  While you can still buy new hard-bodied prams that look old the soft upholstered kind turned into a modern take before 2000, and it seems that Scandinavians were the last to do upholstered prams that would pass as more vintage to most eyes.  (Emmaljunga is Swedish, and more common to find, but Simo is a similar Norwegian brand with a few American strollers out there from the ’90s too.)

Here is sneak peek preview of the Viking project…  I made a lot of progress today and should complete the stroller half tomorrow.  The bassinet portion will be on hold indefinitely, which sucks, but I don’t have the time or fabric for it now.  Also, I’d banked on using a $15 “donor” seat and bassinet set in order to save and use the red whenever it suited my fancy, but that fell through.  😦  The carrycot is in better condition, so I can’t bear to take it apart aside from the time and materials dilemma.  Either I’ll never end up making the matching bassinet that I envision or it’ll be with a suitable one in poor condition later.  *Sigh*  It was going to be gorgeous.  So, hopefully I’ll get to write after I’m done tomorrow but for now here is the original red stroller and the fabric I’ve used to re-make it:

I do feel terrible about ruining the original red set.  Gah!  All I can tell myself, and you, is that the stroller seat/hood part of the set was somewhat ratty up close… even with a spot or two worn right through.  It was still super cute though, and original!  And I had a red and pink Haba stroller toy thing that matched it so well, and a quilted seat pad too…  Gah!!!  I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for a replacement if I can ever happen upon one.  (The hood portion is all that I really need if anyone out there has one for some reason.  Well, the bassinet too if I want to re-cover one some day.  Anyway…)