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Vitamini is 5!

Monday, January 28, 2013

mini cooper heart tote bag handmade by vitamini
It's hard to believe that 5 years ago this week, I made my very first sale on Etsy. All of this time and hundreds of sales later, I'm still going strong and still loving MINIs. I've had so much fun coming up with designs and products and making lots of MINI friends from all over the world.  I'm hoping to take my business to new places this year and have a bunch of goals lined up. In the meantime, I'm appreciating how far I've come and how much I've learned in the past 5 years.

mini cooper love heart tote bag handmade by vitamini
Since my first design was a Valentine's Day heart motif, I decided to do it up again with this brand new tote bag design. I printed these totes bright and early yesterday morning (before I even had my coffee, that's how excited I was about the design)! I hope you like it, too. Available here in the shop.

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Across the pond.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I'm going to London! I've finally managed to plan a trip to the UK this spring to visit a dear friend and I'm so excited. I've been meaning to get out there for a visit for years and I'm thrilled to finally be able to do it! (Can you tell by all of my exclamation points?)

I have a few items on my must-see list (more about those later) but wanted to ask my readers; what are your favorite things to do/see/eat in London? Anything that I should skip? I'd love it if you'd leave a comment and let me know. :)

*great vintage TWA advertising graphic via this pin

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Making a boomerang quilt.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

retro modern boomerang quilt by vitaminihandmade

I've been wanting to start a quilt for years. So this year in between Christmas and New Years, I quit thinking about it and just got started!

I spotted this great quilt pattern on Pinterest many months ago. I loved its modern-retro design and thought "THAT is the quilt I need to make!" I ventured back to the photo to try to figure out how I could ever reproduce it, I discovered that Megan, the quilt creator had generously outlined the construction, step-by-step, in a series of tutorial posts. I totally lucked out! I used the same dimensions as the tutorial, but made mine a bit longer at 48"x 60" instead of 48" square. Here are a few of my instagram process shots:

retro modern boomerang quilt process by vitaminihandmade
 
1. I started the actual work after Christmas, but had been accumulating fabrics for a few months already. I used primarily solids, since I wanted the pieced pattern standout, but I threw in a few subtle patterns (a green and black tiny polkadot, a yellow tonal dot pattern, a deep teal with little bird footprints, and the tonal white pattern for one of the background colors). I purchased 1/2 yard of each accent color and 1 1/2 yards of each background color.
 
2. Cutting, cutting, cutting, strips and squares. I also measured, cut, and marked many phone book pages for the paper piecing.
 
3. My first block! I made one all the way through to make sure I was doing everything correctly. Looks pretty good to me!
 
4. The assembly line begins. Stacks and stacks of partially finished blocks sewn to phone book pages.
 
5. As the blocks were finished, I started playing with the layout. 
 
6. When I had all the blocks sewn and ironed, I layed the entire thing out on my bed - the biggest flat surface in my apartment! I snapped photos with my phone when I found a layout I liked so I could recreate it when I was sewing everything together.
 
7. Two blocks of 16 next to eachother. It's coming along!
 
8. I finally got the last two strips done and pieced the rest of the blocks last Friday night. I'm so happy with the way it came together.
 
retro modern boomerang quilt by vitaminihandmade
The top is complete. Not bad for my first quilt in 18 years! All I have left to do is the backing, and the binding, and the actual quilting... So I've got a ways to go. I'm not sure what kind of fabric I want to use for the backing. At first I was thinking of a lively pattern with lots of colors, but now I'm thinking maybe a more monochrome pattern in teal. I'll have to go shopping and see what I find!

Does anyone know of a good binding tutorial online? If so, can you send it my way? I'll be going into that part blind and can use all the help I can get! I'm also planning on doing all of the quilting (just straight lines) on my machine, so I'm hoping it will cooperate with me.

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Houseplants for Your Retro Pad

Monday, January 14, 2013

I just created a new mid-century style plant stand for my living room with a refurbished stand from my grandmother's house and a great ceramic pot. I've been thinking about what kind of plant to put in it and decided to do a round-up of houseplants that look great in mid-century and retro settings. Here are a few of my favorites:

Mid-Century Modern House Plants

Snake Plants are very versatile indoor plants since they do well in bright and low light conditions. Their graphic leaf blades come in many different shades of green and different variegated varieties. They don't like much watering, and propagate themselves very easily. You can ignore them and they will love you for it! They are my favorite plant for the areas in my apartment that don't get any afternoon light. They were a favorite for those snazzy built-in planters in mid-century homes.

Image from Design Sponge

Mid-century Modern House Plants

The Spider Plant is a classic indoor hanging plant. The off-shoots are easily propagated - trim them off and place them in some soil and they will start a new plant. They prefer bright light but will grow in many different conditions. They like regular water and misting. These are especially retro looking in groovy macrame hangers.

Image from Miss Moss

Mid-century Modern House Plants

I've had a Ponytail Palm for about 7 years and it's one of my favorites in my plant collection! The exposed root ball stores water and expands after watering and contracts when it's thirsty. Pretty cool! I water mine once every 2 weeks or so. They are very slow-growing and like bright light. Their finely bladed leaves get long and curly and compliment the sleek lines of mid-century style furnishings.

Image from HGTV Remodels

Mid-Century Modern House Plants

The Umbrella Tree (or Umbrella Plant) is a fairly common house plant. I'm sure you've seen these everywhere. They like evenly moist soil and bright, indirect light but can be tolerant of many different conditions.  

Image from Plan 59

Mid-century Modern House Plants There are many species of Ficus that are appropriate as houseplants. Did you know the Rubber Tree is a species of Ficus, too? The most trendy of the Ficus (right now) is the fiddle leaf fig. They have beautiful, large lobed leaves and have a great structure. They like bright light and can be trained into a shrub or tree shape. One of these would look great in my large planter, but I fear that room doesn't get enough light. Clearly, they can get very large when placed in the right location. 

Image from Mid-Century Modern Freak

Mid-century Modern House Plants

If you're looking for some color, the Flamingo Flower is a great choice! They will bloom nearly year-round in a spot in your home with filtered light. They like mild temperatures, evenly moist soil, and humidity.

Image from Plan 59 

Mid-Century Modern House Plants

The Split-Leaf Philodendron is a broad leafed tropical plant. Their large glossy green leaves bring texture to indoor settings. Good for rooms with some extra space, these can grow up to 10' tall! They like bright, indirect light and occasional waterings. The photo above is of Charles and Ray Eames' Case Study House. They clearly loved their houseplants.

Image from Arch Daily

Of course, if you have a total black thumb, you can continue with the Eames theme and hang your favorite tumbleweeds on the wall!

Mid-Century Modern House Plants

Image from Design Milk

P.S. Learn how to hang and take care of a Staghorn Fern!

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Alexander Girard desktop wallpapers

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Alexander Girard Desktop wallpaper from Herman Miller
Fifty years ago, Alexander Girard released this peppy textile design and called it "January." If you're looking to update your desktop wallpaper, head on over to the Herman Miller website and download it in 6 different colorways. They also offer it in mobile and iPad sizes so all of your devices can be stylishly coordinated.

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Furniture you can build.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Furniture you can build. Sunset 1962
My mom found this 1962 Sunset Book and gave it to me for Christmas. Just a quick glance at the cover and I knew it was going to be good. It's full of useful furniture designs complete with construction-type details listing materials and dimensions. Everything you'd need to make these sleek, mid century pieces yourself!
Furniture you can build. Sunset 1962
Furniture you can build. Sunset 1962
Here's an excerpt from the introduction:

If you think you can save money by getting your furniture raw at the lumber yard, you are probably right. Most of the projects in this book, in fact, are aimed at helping you build handsome, sturdy pieces for considerably less money than you would have to pay at the store.... Furniture building can be a creative hobby and a relaxing pastime - and it is also a way to avoid the stamp of mass production affixed to so many of our household items. 

Furniture you can build. Sunset 1962
Furniture you can build. Sunset 1962
Furniture you can build. Sunset 1962

I can honestly say I want to make and own almost all of the pieces in this book. I wonder if a table saw will fit in my apartment living room...

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Ringing it in.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

handmade pompoms

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed time with friends and family over the holiday. I'm trying to recover from a cold, so I've been taking this year slowly, but I am very excited for a new year and a fresh start. Do you make resolutions? I'm not big on resolutions. Instead, I like to set goals. Sometimes they are the same every year (work on paying off debt, take a trip, etc). But this year, I'm mulling over some goals that are a little bit more open-ended. Things like do more sewing projects, finish a quilt (I just started one after Christmas!), improve the blog, diversify my handmade businesses, take lots of photos of things that inspire me. These are all things that I'm looking forward to doing. I think that's important when setting goals for yourself: choose something that's a bit of a challenge, that moves you in a good direction, but that you overall WANT to do. I have no interest in purposely setting myself up for failure, so I'm not going to try to cut coffee out of my diet, or pretend that I'm going to wake up an hour earlier to get stuff done. Let's face it, those things just aren't going to happen...

I started making a ton of these super-soft pompoms a while back. I'm not sure what I'll use them for, yet, but they look nice all piled up in my vintage pink teacups.
 

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