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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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. .

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

 

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

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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…

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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!

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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!

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May Monster Mash Giveaway! // Winner’s Announced!

ETA: WINNERS HAVE BEEN DRAWN! View each image for winner’s names. All makers will be contacting their winners individually, so be on the look out!

ETA 5:01 pm 5/22: I have two late add ins – a ceramic monster from Gingerly Twisted, and a monster sculpture from Lola Made – technical difficulties caused a delay in getting their items/entries in, but they are all added in now + you can earn entries by following their social channels & visiting their shops!

Hey guys! I know, I haven’t actually used this blog space for more than giveaways in a bit, but I promise I have some fresh content & blog posts coming soon! But first, let’s celebrate the end of school, beginning of summer, and all things FUN with my May Monster Mash Giveaway!

Yup, me & some monster making buddies are teaming up to bring you one amazing monster of a giveaway – 9 monster toys up for grabs, and 9 WINNERS. One item per winner, yay! So lots of cute monsters, lots of ways to enter, lots of chances to win, lots of winners! Hooray!

Like last month’s giveaway, you will earn entries by following these awesome monster makers on social media, visiting/following their shops, and you can even earn entries by sharing products from the stores to social media – you can do one blog post a day with products from each shop, share an item on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or even pin some items to Pinterest! Then just post the URL of your share into the giveaway widget for the entry to count!

Here is all the official rules: Contest is open from 12AM EST 5/22 to 11:59PM EST 5/28. Giveaway is open world wide, where allowed, to entrants over the age of 18. Non-domestic winners must pay shipping prior to their item being shipped. Winners are selected at random by Rafflecopter!

Excited yet? Wait until you see this prize line up!

Rainbow Micro Monster from Lu & Ed / Winner: Mandy Capraun

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A Monster Plush from Love & A Sandwich / Winner: April Howard

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Sock Monster from Stuf’d / Winner: Jennifer Galay

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Sock Critter from Too Much Caffeine Critters / Winner: Megan Czach

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Fuzzy Monster from Pink Sprinkles Plush / Winner: Bridget Moore

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Purple Essential Oil Diffuser Monster from Smelly Faces / Winner: Jill Keller
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Fuzzy Monster from Fuzzling Monsters / Winner: Rebekah Lu

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Mama Monster Sculpture from Lola Made / Winner: Lisa Shankly

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Monster Plush from The Magical Monsters / Winner: Richelle G

Ceramic Monster from Gingerly Twisted / Winner: Carmen Mobberly

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How monstrously awesome are these prizes?! I sort of want to win them all myself. *heart eyes*

Now, let’s get down to winning some stuff! The more entries you earn, the better your chance of winning! Don’t forget to come back every day this week to earn extra entries!
>CLICK HERE TO ENTER<

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Teaching our kids to embrace their inner geek

IMG_8661 copy.JPGI have always been a weirdo.

From an early age, I have loved horror & sci-fi movies, monsters, magic, and make believe. I loved super heroes and villains, and fell in love with characters from books & TV shows.

And that is why I love any brand that encourages children to embrace their inner geek & explore their interests, and Deboop Shop is a favorite of mine! My son was playing with his masks earlier this week & I decided I needed to write up a post showcasing this brand’s radness! Ran by Kelly & Nell, a mother daughter team, they make play masks and more to encourage young children to pretend play as their favorite characters – from Doctor Who to Wonder Woman, from Minions to Hello Kitty inspired masks, they have something for every young (and young at heart!) geek to wear to their next Comic Con they attend.

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They also take custom requests and can design masks specific to your kiddo’s tastes – like my Mon-stor masks they designed, shown above! You can follow them on Facebook & Instagram to see more, or browse their shop, too. My son is a huge Doctor Who nerd, and I ordered him the Cyberman & 10th Doctor masks for Christmas when he was younger. Still a huge favorite toy & he and his bestie wore them to the KC Comic Con a few years ago! Having a collection of masks of characters he loves helped my son feel confident in his interests & share them with his friends – these masks inspired many hours of pretend play, dress up & role playing when my son was younger!

I think allowing dress up & pretend play at all ages teaches kids to embrace their interests, and to be confident in sharing their passions with others. ♥

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My son has quite a few in addition to his Doctor Who set & at 11 years old, actually still enjoys them! He & his friends still dress up in his Deboop Shop masks & capes from Halloween costumes of the past before Nerf wars & hide and seek championships. So whether you have toddlers or pre-teens, Kelly & Nell have masks for every age & stage of pretend play. I can’t wait until Zoey is a little older and I can order her all kinds of masks for dress up! ♥ I think I am definitely going to add this one to her dress up box:

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This post is in no way sponsored – just sharing some products I love from one parent to another! Pop over to their shop and check it out, and tell me your favorite mask in the comments!

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Where do Mon-stors come from? Tacky jammies!

For today’s magical transformation, I’m sharing this funky leopard print nightgown turned radical and adorable Mon-stor! Yup, I converted this discarded nightie…

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Into this mega adorable Mon-stor toy storage bag! How cute is she?

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This month, I have been hard at work turning other textile discards into cute monsters, and I am stoked to be turning my textile recycling efforts into a fun keepsake monster project launching soon, called Memory Monsters!

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I still need to make a few more prototypes from various materials (Tee shirts! Receiving blankets! Sweaters!) before I am ready to launch, plus figure out what sizes of clothing I can feasibly turn into monsters (just in, newborn sized sleepers are too small to cut monsters from!). But be sure to follow along on Facebook or Instagram to check out the prototypes as I post them, and sign up for my newsletter to get an email when they launch, so you can send me your child’s special article of clothing or lovey blanket to be converted into a monster!

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Monster Mash! Easy Peasy Monster Halloween Costumes & Accessories

This year, I had the honor of collaborating with Opposite of Far for a monster themed Halloween photo shoot done by the lovely Qiana K! Opposite of Far launched her Monster Masks, which are fun, colorful, and when paired with basics from Primary.com & monster trick or treat totes or stuffies from my shop – make the cutest simplistic monster costumes ever!

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Aren’t these little monsters the cutest you ever did see?! Hurry to place your monstrously awesome Halloween orders – it’s spooky how soon it will be here!