Handmade Gifts: Personalized Ragdoll

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Last Christmas I decided to make my nieces and nephews dress up clothes for their gifts. For the girls I made Cinderella dresses and a Pirate and Woody (from Toy Story) for the boys. The gifts went over well, thank goodness since I was sewing day and night for two weeks to get them in the mail in time for Christmas. My sisters both live in another province and we don’t get to see them much. Because of the distance I am not up on what toys they have or want. By making the gifts I was certain to give them something that they wouldn’t have and hopeful they would remember past January.

My youngest niece’s birthday is coming up in a couple weeks so I decided that I would make her a rag doll for her birthday. A couple years ago Martha Stewart had a segment on making ragdolls from by Black Apple on the show, I used that design as a jumping off spot for making my niece’s doll. You can find the original pattern and instructions on Martha Stewart’s website.

I increased the size of the doll to 155% and here are PDF of the pattern at the increased size, Black Apple Doll enlarged Head and Black Apple Doll enlarged Body and Legs. This pattern is not mine and is for personal use only not for commercial use.

My niece is fond of monkeys so I decided to use some of my sock monkey fabric scraps for the dress. I made the hair brown and added an embroidered applique of her name on the dress.

The Black Apple tutorial has you draw the face on the doll, you could hand embroider the face, or do as I did embroider the face on with an embroidery machine. I recently purchased an embroidery/sewing machine and have looked for any chance to embroider something. I do have the embroidery file available at my Etsy store.

I adjusted the pattern to fit the face, the hair was made slightly larger to fit the face. I also needed to adjust the pattern for the dress to attach to the face and hair properly.

Once I had cut out the head, hair, dress, arms and legs I laid out the pieces to see how they fit together and to check to see if I needed to make any adjustments.

 

I then began to put the doll together starting with top stitching the hair to the face. You then attach the front head to the front body and repeat with the back pieces and sew the arms and legs together leaving the top open to stuff. With right sides together pin stuffed arms and legs between the front and back. Make sure a little bit of the ends of the legs and arms are sticking out so you are sure to enclose the ends with the stitches, and leave a space unstitched so you can flip the doll right side out. Stuff the head and body of the doll and stitch up the opening.

The dolls are easy to make and personalize and make a great gift that will hopefully be cherished for years. Check the Martha Stewart’s website out for more complete instructions with pictures.


Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies a Homemade Alternative to Mallomars

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My daughter loves chocolate and marshmallow so I checked out Martha Stewart’s website looking for a recipe that she would enjoy. I found this recipe for Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Cookies. It comes from the September 2010 Everyday Food magazine.

I love Everyday Food, I have liked every recipe that I have tried and it is nice to get a whole new set of recipe ideas every month, (10 times a year). It is also available as an app for the iPad, I am currently a subscriber to Everyday Food and Living, and have tried the iPad app free versions of the magazine but I am disappointed they don’t offer a discount for people who are subscribers. I don’t want to pay for an e-copy of the magazine that I already have paid for. I don’t know if there is much difference between the printed copy and the e-copy so I don’t know if it worth paying for both, (I am guessing it isn’t). Back to the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for working
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 9 large marshmallows, halved
  • 9 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on high, scraping down bowl as needed, until light, 4 minutes. Add egg and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls, 3 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. With the bottom of a measuring cup dipped in flour, flatten cookies to 2 inches in diameter.

This is where I differed with the recipe. The first time I made the recipe I found it difficult to judge the size of my cookie base, so this time I decided to roll the dough and cut with a 2 inch cookie cutter. It made the cookies more consistant in size, but I think next time I would flatten the cookies a little more. Also when using the cookie cutter I ended up with 23 cookies and needed 12 marshmallows.

Bake until dry and set, about 7 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.

Remove from oven and top each cookie with a marshmallow half. I put sticky side down, I don’t know if this matters, but I think it makes it melt more evenly. I also think if you want more marshmallow you could skip cutting the marshmallow and use a whole one per cookie. Bake until marshmallows are soft, 2 minutes.

You can see in this picture that the marshmallows are puffed slightly and are rounder looking then before they were put in the oven. Remove from oven and, with a metal spatula, gently flatten each marshmallow.

Let cookies cool completely on sheets on wire racks.

Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until melted, 2 minutes. Remove bowl from pan.

The recipe calls for you to set cookies on a metal rack after covering in chocolate. Last time I made them I found that the chocolate around the metal rack making it difficult to remove from the rack so this time I set wax paper on the rack and then the chocolate-covered cookie.

Place one cookie at a time on tines of a fork (below), submerge in chocolate, then tap fork on edge of bowl to remove excess.

Place on wire rack set over a baking sheet. Let cookies set in refrigerator, about 10 minutes.

I am not normally a fan of chocolate and marshmallow cookies, but I really liked these. You could also go another step further and make your own marshmallows for an all out home-made cookie. They are similar to Mallomars only much better tasting. An interesting fact that I found when checking the spelling of Mallomars is that they are only available from October to March and are made here in Canada. If you are craving Mallomars in the off season this is an excellent replacement.


Upcycling: Make a Girl’s Dress from a Men’s Dress Shirt

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I have the Martha Stewart Sewing Crafts book and one of the first projects I wanted to try was making a dress for girls from a man’s dress shirt. You can also find the instructions for this project on the Martha Stewart website. That is one thing I like about Martha Stewart projects is that you can buy the book collection of crafts and recipes, but you can find the same projects on the site.

I used the Martha pattern on a first try at this dress.

I didn’t like the way the sleeves and body were all one piece. I also found that the pattern was sized small, the dress according to the description is for size 4-8. When you download the pattern it is a one size pattern. When I finished the dress it was more like a size 3 not great for my 5 nearly 6 year old. I finished the neck and collar with a contrasting bias tape and embroidered a G on the dress (a la Laverne and Shirley), to hide a small hole made when removing the pocket. I think it was cute, just to small.

So I decided to give the dress another try changing some of the problems from the first attempt. First I made the pattern larger. I had traced the pattern on to Swedish tracing paper and added an inch to the body. I also wanted to sew the sleeves on seperately so I marked a cutting line along the sleeves. I cut the shirt apart along the seams removing the arms and separating front from back.

I then made a a pattern for the sleeve and cut them out of the sleeves.

I began putting the dress together starting by placing right sides of the body together and stitching along the shoulders and sides. Don’t forget to iron the seams.

I wanted to gather the sleeves that I wanted to attach. So I adjusted the serger and did the gathering on the machine. I adjusted the tension on the needles and changed the settings on the differential feed. You can also do quick gathering on a regular sewing machine by increasing the thread tension to the highest number. It is so much easier than sewing to rows of stitches and pulling the threads to get the gather.

Match the seams on the side and the bottom of the sleeve and match the top of the sleeve with the seam at the shoulders with sleeve inside armhole, right sides together. I serged the raw edges of the sleeve and neck, and then I then folded, ironed and sewed the stitch under to finish the neck and sleeve.

To finish the hem I could have done the same as at the neck and sleeve, but I wanted to make the dress a little longer and add a little extra style. I thought about adding a piece of gathered white fabric a couple of inches long. I remembered I had some ribbon that went well with the pink of the dress so I added it. I gathered it in a tighter gather than the sleeves by increasing the tension the thread tension more than I had on the sleeve.

I attached the ribbon to the bottom of the dress with right sides together and then I turned it right side out and top stitched close to the ribbon to keep the hem in place.

Here is the finished dress.

The shirt cost $3.35 at the local second hand shop. I already had the ribbon and it took about 2 hours to make a new spring dress. My daughter was happy with the dress as you can tell from the modelling of the dress.