Transformation Tuesday

Transformation Tuesday: Pajama Top into Toy Storage!

I always think it is fun to showcase what Mon-stors Toy Storage Bags & my monster toys are made from! This week, I’m throwing back to a Mon-stor I made in January from this fun blue on blue zebra stripe pajama top I rescued from the salvage center.

IMG_7758

It was discarded for some fraying hems, I think, but was in great condition! I cut the sleeves and hems off, and cut it open at all the seams, to turn that discarded top into this fun Small Mon-stor Toy Storage Bag!

IMG_8075.JPG

All those board books in the floor? They fit neatly inside to tame the never ending slippery sea of baby books around the house – plus, toddlers love to “feed” their Mon-stor their books and take them back out, making reading time even more fun!

IMG_8086

This Mon-stor is currently available for adoption in my shop, along with several other Small Mon-stor Toy Storage Bags!

Tell me: what would your kids feed to their Mon-stors? Books, blocks, toys, dress up clothes?

 

makers, Uncategorized

Meet the Maker: Mindy of Milkweed Baby – Creator of the cutest high fashion baby shoes & teething accessories!

As a mother to a preteen AND a baby, I can honestly say it is super exciting to see how much the children’s fashion industry has evolved since my son was a baby/toddler! There is still a huge fast fashion market, but you can also build a lasting wardrobe for your child that is fun, fashionable & ethical through independent designers, makers & creatives! Today, I am so excited to introduce Mindy of Milkweed Baby & share her shop (plus a sweet discount code!) with you! She makes the most adorable, high quality and durable baby shoes I have encountered – Milkweed Baby are the only baby shoes we have ever bought for Zoey Rose, and the only ones Zoey will actually keep on her tootsies! Mindy is mama maker driven by quality & great design, and below, you can get to know her & see a sampling of her work!
 23659584_554639964870483_7148381015578959711_n
Tell us about yourself:
Born & raised KC… and still here. But I think it’s great here! The only thing that would get me to move is a beach on the west coast! I had planned to be a golfer, I played in high school until an injury stopped all that. So instead of a golf scholarship I went to art school. I majored in painting at KU and dropped out with 3 semesters left because I was afraid of a “do you want fries with that?” degree. I worked a variety of jobs after that. The last was 9 years as a marketing coordinator for a seminar company. While working there I started my first business, by Mindy. I was laid off while on maternity leave 2 years ago and it was during that time that Milkweed Baby was born.
 
When did you first find your love of creating?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love creating.
 
IMG_5598
Have you always been a textile sewist?
NOPE! I learned to sew when I was 27. I wanted to make a gift for each of my bridesmaids, so my mom helped me sew them each a bag. And that was that! I was hooked!!!
IMG_5622
When did you begin to create baby products/How did this become your central
focus?
I started making baby shoes in 2010. I’d been making a variety of things, coffee cup sleeves, totes, bow ties, knit ties, clutches, aprons and so on. Nothing felt right.
I was at a pop up and saw how people couldn’t control themselves with baby items. They are just so cute! So I decided it was the market I wanted to get into.
I did a bunch of research and found the soft soled shoes that I thought looked cool were really hard to find. So that’s what I was going to make. And through a bunch of trial and error, I worked it out.
20841119_516048112063002_3203621215280403574_n
 
What sets your baby shoes apart from the rest?
1. My style (I don’t do ugly). 2. My quality (read attention to detail & perfectionist nature).
 
The baby & children’s market is heavily saturated and highly competitive –
what is your advice for makers in this industry to help them stand out &
grow their client base? Find your style identity and stay true to it. It’s really easy to pander to the audience, but it’s not satisfying. “YOU DO YOU”. Get your product in front of as many people as you can. If you are passionate and make a good quality product, people will buy.
 
22886306_547332905601189_7342844284809482600_n
How did having your first baby impact running your small business?
This is complicated. Having my first baby almost killed my business and made my business my full time gig. I basically took a year off when I had my daughter, and during this time a local gal hard core ripped off my designs, undercut my price by a mile (she uses lesser quality materials) and moved in on all the local shows. Also during this time, I was laid off from my full time job of 9 years… so this became my full time job. I have to say, I thought it would be easy to work and take care of a kid! HA!!! Only someone without a kid would make that assumption!
15171026_382830128718135_2123430855095481061_n.jpg
 
What can makers & small business owners expecting a baby do to prepare
their business – and themselves! – for such a big change?
You know, so much depends on what kind of kid you have. Mine rolled over at 6 days old, so she could never be left alone. My best advice is to prepare your finances to have some down time. Amp up as much stock as you can before baby comes so you can still keep up with shows and online without needing to make much (prevent people from moving in on your “turf”).
Expect the unexpected.
 
20597364_510049049329575_7784185510395050090_n
What is your favorite method of self-care as a mama & a maker?  
Walks, Sleep, Wine, meal planning (it’s the only way we eat healthy), and every 3 weeks I get my eyebrows waxed
15220138_384524898548658_1752760829273274062_n.jpg
 
Do you bring your baby to events you vend at? If so, how do you balance motherhood & face-to-face business transactions with customers?
Mostly we have my mother-in-law watch my daughter while my husband & I run my booth at shows. However, we are about to do 2 big ones where childcare is not going to be an option. So we will see. I think the plan is to get a cheap tablet and load Daniel Tiger on it. And coloring books and crayons. Probably, my husband and I will take turns chasing after my daughter and making sure she doesn’t break any ceramics or topple any displays. And my husband will have to leave me for a couple hours each day to handle her naps.
14925439_368340323500449_5609249591743778199_n.jpg
Mindy’s daughter rocking some Milkweed Baby shoes!
How many pairs of your handmade baby shoes does your own sweet little baby
have? 
She has 1. I know, I know. Everyone always gasps when I tell them that. Here’s the deal…
I love all of my fabrics, so choosing is impossible. So I just pick 1 or let her pick 1. I make a pair & that’s it. I need to be making these shoes to sell because I need the income.
I recall something about the cobbler’s child has no shoes?
23131688_548474198820393_5227312348016547596_n.jpg
 
What is your favorite color?
Green (many shades of green… aqua, seaglass, olive, mint, kelly, emerald… just not hunter)
What is your drink of choice while you sew?
6am-5pm COFFEE
5pm —> WINE (shiraz or rose)
20882646_516153868719093_343626980121978582_n.jpg
 
Television or music while you work?
Music (TV is too distracting and I really need to be looking at the sewing machine)
 
Lastly – Have you ever made yourself an adult size pair of slippers?
No. Maybe next year!

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Mindy of Milkweed Baby! Be sure to visit her on Facebook & Instagram, and you can use code LUANDED to save 20% of baby shoes in her online store!

code valid 2/1 through 2/28/18

Eco, Uncategorized

CoffeeSock: it is not as weird as it sounds, and you totally need one

If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to go a little more green, use a little less paper, or drink better tasting coffee, you will LOVE this radical invention I am about to introduce you to!

IMG_3961.JPG

I ordered a set of CoffeeSock reusable coffee filters about 4 months ago, and I made the switch from paper filters to cloth. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and was worried it would make my coffee taste a little funky, but honestly, I have never had coffee brewed at home that tasted so good! Add in the fact using CoffeeSock filters reduces paper consumption & waste, and you can see why any sustainably minded mama who loves coffee needs these in their lives!

This company gets some extra bonus points for being handmade in America – you can “meet” each team member & learn about them on their maker page. You can also take a virtual tour of their maker space. The transparency and personality behind this brand/product is what sold me on testing it out – and what will keep me coming back!

Care for them is super easy – rinse with hot water after each use & hang to dry, and boil once every 6-8 weeks. They last up to a year with proper care. I can honestly say, I doubt I will ever go back to paper filters! A set of two filters is just $13, so they actually save you a bit of money if you drink coffee at home regularly. Paired with their sustainable production and reduction of paper waste, that makes them worth every penny, in my book!

I wasn’t paid for this post, and I bought my CoffeeSock filters with my own money, no discount, so this is not an ad in any way – I just really adore this eco addition to my morning routine and wanted to share with other sustainably-minded individuals!

What do you think? Will you try out reusable CoffeeSock filters, or stick with paper?

makers

Meet the Maker – Erin of Create Custom Critters

Today, I’m interviewing Erin of Create Custom Critters. She designs & sews sustainably made bedding children using fabric that is designs and printed in America with non-toxic, biodegradable inks & organic materials, as well as a line of baby clothes! I’m so excited to show off her amazing products & help you get to know her.

Untitled.png

First, tell us about yourself!

Most of my time and energy goes to my three kiddos. I have a 2 and half year old daughter and 8 month old twin boys. I live with my family in New York State and thrive on the fast pace that is associated with the area. I love hiking, DIY projects and continually learning and exploring.

20891350_10154762300211269_143063492_n

When did you first begin to create?

I have always loved trying different crafts and projects. It is so fun to explore different colors and textures. In the past I have tried painting, knitting and other needlework crafts before falling in love with sewing.
20840503_10154762300146269_1181275813_n

Have you always worked in textiles?

Before starting CreateCustomCritters I spent 4 years working in a fabric shop. This gave me a lot of insight into different color and style trends. I also learned how quality of fabrics and manufacturing processes can greatly differ. That is why it is so important to me that I create an exceptional eco-friendly product.

il_fullxfull.1241227566_2f8y_400w
You create beautiful bedding sets for children – How did you discover that niche market?

Once I started sewing I quickly fell in love with making baby blankets. I find that they make such an adorably useful gift. It warms my heart to know my gift will provide years of comfort and warmth. It wasn’t too long before I had given a bunch blankets away as gifts to my friends and family. I soon decided to start selling baby blankets on Etsy and have grown greater than I ever first imagined! I have made a great effort to listen to my customers wants and needs. Almost every new item I have developed began with the desire to help a give a customer what they were look for. .

21078479_10154797546216269_1693113889254391568_n.jpg
What is your favorite thing to sew?

Hearts of Hope! I started Hearts of Hope Program after my own painfully emotional NICU experience. I decided I wanted to help and offer a free pair of fabric hearts to those parents enduring the NICU experience. Parents are able tuck the hearts against their skin to transfer their scent to the heart. The hearts are then placed alongside their baby leaving the familiar scent of mom or dad with their baby. My HOPE is that these hearts will bring comfort and healing to those enduring the NICU experience.

20839134_10154762300161269_655552204_n

Tell us about your tee shirt line – what inspired the venture into apparel from your traditional home decor item?

As a maker, I love to test and try new processes. Starting an apparel line has given my the opportunity to explore different design elements. I love pushing my abilities to new limits. I am now working to expand my apparel offerings to more products.

20884749_10154762300156269_1916283629_n

You have small children at home and run a booming nursery bedding & apparel business – what is your best advice for maker moms trying to balance mothering toddlers & running a business? 

It takes a whole lot of structure,flexibility and grace. A clear plan allows me to dig deep and get quality work done in small increments of time. When my kids are sleeping that is my time to hustle and get the work done.

20885094_10154762299956269_818348347_n
How many quilts that you have made that you use in your own home?

None! As a maker, there are often too many creations to keep. Many of the things I make I either sell, give as customer gifts or baby shower gifts for friends and family. Though I have made blankets, curtains, upholstered furniture for our home.

What is your favorite sewing tool you just could not create without?

My sewing machine! I would be lost without it.

erinsews.jpg
What is your favorite kind of music to listen to while you create?

I get most of my work done while my kids sleep. It sounds lame, but most of the time I just enjoy the silence since my days are filled with chaotic noisy little ones. However, if I am in a singing mood my favorite playlist is energetic alternative 90 hits.

20840149_10154762300111269_415515426_n

As a mama maker, tell us what a work day looks like for you: 

My workflow is constantly adjusting as my kids grow and change. There’s a fluidity between work and home life and the two are often blended together.

 

It is so cool to meet & learn about fellow makers & mothers, and especially sustainably minded makers like myself! If you want to follow more of Erin’s adventures balancing motherhood with twins & being a maker, be sure to follow her on Instagram & Facebook! And don’t forget to pop over to her shop & check out all of her amazing work!

Monsters

What Mon-stors are Made From: Stop! It’s Snuggie Time!

snuggie copy.PNG

Am I alone in thinking that Snuggies are absolutely fabulous, if quite impractical if you aren’t 6’5″? I think part of the reason I adore them so much is because I frequently get these in donations & find them at salvage centers and I can make sooooo many Mon-stor toy storage bags & stuffed monster toys from them! Today, I’m showing off a few from a recent upcycle of this beautiful blue Snuggie!

To make Mon-stors, I also use things like curtains, sheets, pajama pants, dresses or skirts for the lining. Here, I used this curtain that had a some stains from bleach splashing it.

IMG_1296 copy

I combined those two, to make this huge Mon-stor toy storage bag! (He’s still available in my shop, too!) My big toy storage bags fit a LOT of toys – 9 Build-a-Bear sized stuffed toys, almost an entire load of laundry, 11 pairs of jeans, or a butt load of MegaBlocks, haha! They are ideal toy storage for play rooms or kid’s rooms, or make great hampers for pre-teens! Smaller children especially love “feeding” their Mon-stor toys – it makes cleaning up fun!

IMG_1303 copy

Now, like I mentioned above, I can usually make a LOT from an adult sized Snuggie – here are two other Mon-stors I made! This one is lined with vintage fabric that was donated to me – it was going to get thrown into a box on the curb for the garbage man, and a friend scooped that box up & brought it to me instead!

IMG_1639 copy

This one is also lined with some vintage material – a table cloth another person’s grandmother was going to throw out, but they rescued and put in my hands! This small Mon-stor toy bag is also available in my shop!

IMG_1646 copy

I also made a few stuffed monster toys from this awesome, vibrant blue, but unfortunately it was right before The Big Crafty event I did in July in Asheville, so I sold a  lot of them before I snapped photos because of the pre-show chaos! I did snap this photo on the 4th of July, which has two of the four or five I made in it! I can’t remember exactly how many I was able to squish out of that Snuggie.

IMG_1435 copy.JPG

If I were pressed to say, I may say that Snuggies are my favorite textile discard to work with. Unfortunately, they were a “trend” item and a TON of people bought them during the hype… to later throw them into donation bins or worse, just into the trash bin. But due their popularity, I do receive them in donations or find them at salvage centers frequently, often in mostly usable condition. If they are stained or worn out in places, I just cut around the stains and use those bits for dicing into stuffing.

Saving the world – one monster at a time!

 

makers

Meet the Maker: Anne of Lolli and Grace

Happy Monday, friends! Today in my Meet the Maker series, I am SO excited to introduce you to Anne Oliver of Lolli and Grace. She is a fine embroidery artist that got her start in doll making, fell in love with the art of needle work, and decided to create unique, easy to follow patterns for creatives of all skill sets so they can create their own beautiful embroidered dolls, hoop art & more.
AnneOliver_LolliandGrace_Final
Hi Anne! Before we dive into the crafty questions, tell everyone a bit about yourself!
Hello! My name is Anne Oliver, and I’m the artist/designer/pattern-maker/dreamer behind Lolli and Grace. I live in Texas, where it’s HOT in the summer, but we make up for it with LOTS of air conditioning, lol. I just celebrated my 30th anniversary with my wonderful husband, and we have an amazing, smart, funny and beautiful 14 year-old daughter. I’ve been drawing, painting, stitching, sewing and creating since I was a kid. I’ve always enjoyed teaching myself new creative skills, even before the internet existed, when the only way to teach yourself anything was to go to the library/bookstore or find a class or a teacher. THANK GOODNESS for the internet – the wealth and breadth of available knowledge now is the best thing ever for an endlessly-curious, creative person! Before I picked up embroidery again, I was a photographer. I’m so grateful for everything I learned in that medium, because I use those skills every day as a maker. 
LolliandGrace_Flowerhoops_wm
Embroidery is such a beautiful artform – when did you first find your love for it? 
I did needlepoint in Junior High and cross-stitch in college, but I was in my 30’s before I made the switch to embroidery. I love how embroidery can either be very rigid (following the lines exactly) or it can be very free-flowing (you can literally stitch outside the lines if you want to). 
LolliandGrace_Pretty Girls_ALL_wm
How long have you been selling embroidery patterns? 
Well, I’ve been selling embroidery patterns for about a year and half. But my “gateway craft” to embroidery was dolls. Almost out of the blue one day a thought struck me – “Hmmm, I’d like to do something with wool felt and embroidery.” Little did I know what a life-changing thought that would be! So I began creating doll patterns (some out of wool and some not, but usually incorporating some sort of embroidery) and LOVED it. I gradually transitioned to more straight-up embroidery patterns because dolls/doll patterns take a long time to go from idea to reality. I truly love designing dolls. But the shorter amount of time for embroidery designs and patterns is really appealing to me. 
 
LolliandGrace_LolliGirls_1_wm
You sell beautiful doll patterns in addition to your hoop art patterns – was there ever a point where you sold the finished dolls? Is it an option you offer for people who are unable to create at such a skill level? 
Well, first of all, thank you! I have sold some finished dolls. It’s a bit tricky to do so, because you have to weigh the increased amount of time it takes to make one vs. what you can charge for it. (I’m a strong believer in charging what you’re worth..admittedly, that’s hard to do sometimes, but it’s really important.) But even though I’m mostly creating embroidery designs now, I still have the urge to design dolls. In fact, there are at least 3 ideas for dolls itching to come to life as I type this, lol. 
il_570xN.1008061123_e6vs
How does offering patterns instead of finished works of art set you apart in the maker community?
I enjoy being able to provide items for two related but perhaps different markets when it comes to patterns vs. finished art. Some people have the skills to make something but just don’t have the time or the inclination to make it – so finished pieces are great for them. Some people don’t have the skills, so finished pieces are ideal for them, too. But I love providing patterns for all the creative makers out there, too. I’ve been on the other side – having the urge to make something fun and colorful and challenging and searching for a pattern that makes my little creative heart say, “Yes! That one! That’s what I want to create!
As far as it setting me apart – perhaps. Creating patterns is a whole separate skill set from simply drawing/stitching a design. Hopefully it’s the quality of my patterns that sets me apart. It’s really important to me to provide patterns that are clearly written, easily understood, and simple to follow, with great photos and all the information someone needs so the experience of making my design is rewarding, not frustrating. 
 
Home Love Dreams_LolliandGrace_1
I see in a lot of craft groups that buyers purchase patterns thinking they are finished items a lot, and want a refund. What advice do you have to makers to prevent this from happening, or to rectify the situation if it should arise? 
I’ve been very fortunate because that scenario has only happened to me twice. Both times I just quickly and politely messaged the buyer to tell them it was a pattern as opposed to a finished piece and I was refunding their money, and they were very gracious about it. I try to state very clearly, “This listing is for the PDF pattern only. It does NOT include the finished hoop/doll/whatever.” Also having “PATTERN” primary in your title is very important.
LolliandGrace_EmbroideryWall_1
What do you do with finished pieces you create to photograph for pattern listings? 
Well, currently they are cluttering up my house! But recently I finally made my own embroidery wall, which makes me happy every time I look at it. It includes my own embroidery, but the most precious things to me up there are the simple embroidery my daughter completed when she was 5 years old (of her favorite stuffed animal), and the set of dolls she made for us as a surprise one Christmas using patterns I had just recently designed at the time. They are of me, my husband and our two dogs. Best. Present. Ever. 
LolliandGrace_FawnandFlowers_02
Do you ever teach in-person embroidery lessons to groups like Girl Scouts or home school co-ops? 
I haven’t yet. But I LOVE chatting with people about handwork, stitching, sewing, etc. That’s just one reason I love Instagram so much – discovering and “meeting” so many talented people and striking up a friendship with them while talking about all matters creative is such a source of pleasure for me.
Ranunculus-on-Teal-_2-4x4
What is your favorite thing to embroidery? Flowers, lettering, etc
I never, ever tire of flowers – colorful flowers, bunches of flowers, single flowers, big flowers or small flowers. But because I do so many flowers, it’s always refreshing to do something different. It’s good to force myself to go against my first instincts sometimes. 
Embroidery is a mobile skill – where do you usually get your stitch on? 
Usually I stitch at my work desk with a very bright light. The older I get, the brighter the light needs to be. (Let’s don’t even talk about the plethora of reading glasses that are scattered all over my house, OK?) But if I’m ever traveling when I know I will have some uninterrupted time in a hotel room, I love to take my stitching with me. Hotel light is usually FABULOUS, especially if you’re on an upper floor with a big window. 
LolliandGrace_Flowerhoops_wm
Your instagram feed is so colorful! Is you home equally as colorful? 
Oh, it’s colorful, as long as you also call it cluttered. Gah! I hold very firmly to the adage that the messier your house is, the more creative you are, LOL. However, having said that, I love cleaning off my work desk at the end of a project and starting with a nice, clean space to start the next project. 
LolliandGrace_Strawberry_11_wm
Tell me about a day in the life of a pattern maker – what does the “average work day” look like for you? 
One of the best things about being a pattern maker is that you get to do so many different things, all related to your craft but requiring a variety of skills. I start out by sketching my design, then scanning it and taking it into Illustrator. There, I turn it into a clear, precise drawing. I use that to transfer the design onto fabric, then I stitch it, photographing each step as I go. (This is a time-consuming process, since I like my patterns to include photos for pretty much every step of the project.) Once I’m finished stitching, then I photograph the finished piece in a variety of ways. Some photos are for Etsy and some are for Instagram. I edit/crop all the photos and write the instructions. Then I can turn it into a PDF. 
If I’m making a supply kit for a pattern, there’s even more work to do to get the pattern printed, then gather/cut/package all of the supplies. 
Of course, all of this is wedged in between being a wife (kudos to the aforementioned patient husband), mom to an active teenager, and daughter to my own wonderful mother that was diagnosed with Alzheimers last year. 
What drink do you order at Starbucks? 
Well, since I’m not a coffee drinker, I don’t often go to Starbucks. Hard to believe, I know! But give me a glass of good, strong iced tea (lots of ice!) and I’m a happy camper.
il_570xN.1145102012_5fjm
Last but not least – pick a colorway: Rainbow, candy colors, or citrus shades?
Color…happy, happy color. Colors are what drive me, regardless of what medium I’m using. I tend to use similar…OK, the same…colors most of the time. But when I get a chance to design something in totally different colors, it’s a breath of fresh air for my brain. But candy colors….yeah, gotta love candy, right?
It was so cool getting to know Anne and explore her creative mind. You can follow her on Instagram & Like her page on Facebook to keep up with all her beautiful new designs (plus her feed is just so insanely colorful and pretty, you’ll want to follow it anyway!) and be sure to visit her shop to snag a beautiful pattern to stitch on this fall!
Monsters

What Mon-stors are Made From: From Pajamas into Mon-stor Toy Storage Bags

IMG_0762 copy

A lot of people ask me what I mean when I say I use textile discards, so I wanted to bring back my “What are Mon-stors made from” series! I’ve made a LOT of monsters lately and don’t always remember to snap a before photo, but I do have a few from when I received a lot of donated pajamas – some may have had missing buttons, a small stain, a tear or some every day wear, and would otherwise have gotten tossed & ended up in a landfill. Instead, I gave them new life & turned these funky pajama pants…

IMG_1172 copy

Into these two cute, fiery Mon-stor toy storage bags! Small Mon-stors are perfect for taming car clutter in the minivan, toy storage in the playroom, holding pajamas & a book for bedtime routines or as an overnight bag for sleepovers with grandparents! Both of these cuties are available for adoption in my shop, along with several other Mon-stor toy storage bags, stuffed monster toys, sensory blankets and more – all made from upcycled materials!

IMG_4200 copy.JPG

After I make the monsters, I turn the smaller scraps into stuffed monsters, sensory blankets, tooth pillows, etc. Once I’ve used as much of the materials as I can to create product, I use the smaller scraps for facial features like mouths, tongues or irises in the monster eyes, or cute little monster horns/ears! Once I deplete all the bits big enough for that, I take those super mega itty bitty scraps, go at them with the rotary blade, and dice them super fine to blend with polyfil for stuffing – so there is absolutely no landfill waste from their production!

I hope to bring back these posts at least once a week to demonstrate the sustainability and process behind making these toy bags, plush toys & such. That, of course, involves remembering to take “before” pictures and snapping photos of the process – I usually get so excited as I root through donations & salvage center scores after I wash them that I forget to snap a photo & dive right into making monsters! Ha! But I do have a few “before” photos stored up on my computer & will work to pair them with their finished monsters for weekly posts for you guys!