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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: 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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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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What’s a Mon-stor? Plus Six Places to Use Them!

I’ve been making Mon-stors for 7 years now. I’ve made THOUSANDS of Mon-stors, and as vain as this sounds, they are probably my most favorite thing ever. I actually use them EVERY DAY in EVERY ROOM in my home! I’m definitely not someone who pushes a product I wouldn’t use – as a mom, not the maker, dude, these storage solutions are such space savers and so easy to get my son & the kids I baby sit to use! That is WHY I started making them all those years ago, when we lived in a tiny basement apartment. That’s why I’ve loved making them for so long & why I know other moms will enjoy them too – fun toy storage kids like using? Heck yeah!

As my audience has grown, I thought it would be fun to do a refresher for everyone who is new to Mon-stors! So I put together this post with some examples of their uses & lots of fun fan photos (to prove I’m not the only mom who loves these guys!).

Mon-stors are made entirely from textile discards (fabric that would otherwise end up in a landfill), so they’re sustainable storage solutions that are mega cute & fun for kids to use! I’m pretty sure you could find a purpose for one in any room of your home, whether you have kids or not! But here is six quick examples of Mon-stors in action, ready to gobble up messes and keep your home clutter free!

kid’s room

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Laundry, toys, books, stuffed animals, dolls, costumes & blocks can be gobbled up by Mon-stors! They can hang from the door handle or bed frame, so even toddlers can have easy access to them, or they can be hung in the closet! Kids will love to “feed” their Mon-stor each night before – and parents will love that their children are actually enjoying picking up each night!

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bathroom

No more wet towels or dirty clothes on the floor! Kids can “feed” their Mon-stor their laundry and then it’s easy  to haul the Mon-stor to the laundry room to empty! Small Mon-stors can also be filled with fresh shampoo, soap, towels and toiletries for house guests and hung in the bathroom as well to make entertaining overnight guests even easier!

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hallway/mudroom/entryway

Use a Mon-stor to hold mittens, hats, scarves, umbrellas, jackets, bathing suits, outside toys or even shoes right on the back of the door – no more tripping on clutter on your way out in the mornings, plus all your outside gear is right by the door!

kitchen

I would say to hold plastic bags but I know you are going to go green & use this cutie to store your reusable bags instead, right? 😉

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living room

No more losing the remote! You can also use them to store video games, controllers & charging cords, as well as coloring books and craft supplies so that they are easily accessible – and quick to put away! They are also great for storing diapers and wipes in the living room cause moms, let’s face it, we rarely venture all the way back into the nursery to the changing table to change every diaper, right?

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car

They are great to contain small toy, books, DVDs, a change of clothes for the kids or diapers & wipes in Mon-stors to keep car clutter under control! They can also be used to keep bottled water and snacks hand during road trips, or bathing suits, sunscreen, bug spray and hats handy in the summer!

Where would you use a Mon-stor?

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500 Monsters in 2016 – Update!

So I totally failed at the weekly updates, oops! So here is my 3.5 week update, haha! Between custom ordered Mon-stors (get yours here!) and working on lots and lots of stuffies for a huge promo launching next week, I am up to 24/500 Monsters. Not where I want to be but I do have 20 stuffies and some Mon-stors on my table in various stages of production – waiting on tags so I can complete the majority of them! I’m at just about 5% of my goal which is no where near where I want to be right now, so here’s to the hustle! I’m hoping to get to 15% of my goal by the end of February. Wish me luck!

And for a visual update – a goody-goody gallery of monsters!

There is ONE surprise mini monster missing from this count because I didn’t photograph it before I sent it off to it’s new home. Oops! But other than that, there’s the cuties from this month!

I’ll post another update soon! (hopefully, in one week, lol!)