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.

An Alternative to Plastic-Save the Planet and Stay Healthy

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Sigg Water BlanketsConcern about the environment has made me look at ways to improve our family’s carbon foot print. One of the easiest changes is to stop buying bottled water.

We have a filter to improve the taste of our water and I bought a couple Sigg bottles for me, Jay and Georgia. They are made from aluminum and don’t leach into your beverage, which makes them a great alternative to plastic. I picked our bottles up at http://www.reusablebags.com/

They also carry Klean Kanteen. The Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Sippy Cup includes a 12 oz stainless steel bottle, a sippy adapter and two Avent sippy spouts. which means you don’t need to worry about your toddler and bisphenol-a, BPA.

Angelina Jolie Pregnant with Twins? The Celebrity Baby Boom

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celebrity-blog.jpgLately, it seems, every time you turn on the television, open a newspaper or magazine, you hear about another pregnant celebrity.

Julia Roberts began the the trend when she became pregnant with twins in 2004. Since then, stars like Jennifer Garner, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Minnie Driver, and Jessica Alba, have all started their families. The celebrities who have taken family life to the extreme are Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Their ever expanding family includes 2 boys and 2 girls, and if you believe current celebrity gossip, twins are on the way.

I have wondered if this current celebrity boom has caused a baby boom in society as a whole. We are constantly bombarded with stories about the the lives of celebrities. We emulate their lives by following their trends—clothes, cars, and lifestyles—I think that may include children.

Have you been influenced to have a baby because of the celebrity baby boom?

Teaching Your Baby Sign Language

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Baby Einstein - My First Signs

Once again I have to tell you how glad I am that we decided to teach Georgia sign language. She is beginning to use more and more verbal words but I am not always sure what she is saying. Since she does know some signs, she uses them while she is talking—making it much easier to understand what she wants.

I had originally thought that the signing would be primarily for when she was younger and couldn’t talk, but I find that she is using a lot more signs now and using them a lot more consistently than before.

We recently bought Baby Einstein – My First Signs as a supplement to our other Baby Signs DVD. it is a really good starter DVD with lots of basic signs that are easy to follow and remember. She enjoys watching it and the signs are repetitive which is great since it helps me remember them. That is one of the big challenges when you are teaching your baby signs, you are trying to learn them at the same time and remember what they mean.

My favourite sign is for “cereal.”

Read my previous experiences with signing:

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New Mothersucker Colours–Hip Baby Wear for the Breastfeeding Baby

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Cafe press is now offering the Mothersucker Baby Wear in colours other than white.

The onsies are now available in pink and blue and the infant/toddler t-shirts are in blue, pink, and yellow.

The t-shirts are sized from 6 months to 4 years, and the onsies are 6-24 months.

They are a fun shower gift for the Mom who plans to breastfeed.

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The Cutest Sweaters on the Martha Stewart Show

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Friday’s Martha Stewart show featured a crafter who made the cutest sweaters for children.

They are made from adult sweaters that are shrunken and then turned into children’s sized sweaters. The instructions and the templates can be found on the Martha Stewart site. The woman who was doing the felting (the applying of the appliqué) also sells her sweaters on Etsy. They are very cute and you should check out her shop, Sweetest Thing Design.

I might try and make a cardigan for Georgia but the felting looked like a lot of work and may take a lot of patience to complete.

Georgia’s First Sign Revisted

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Georgia was almost 1 year old when we started to teach her sign language to communicate early. She was quick to pick up the sign for “more”.

Since that time, she has learned a number of new signs including “milk”, “eat”, “change” and “dog”. She seems to go through spells where she uses her signs frequently then other times she rarely uses signs. I have found the real key to her signing is Jay and I—the more consistently we use the signs the more she uses them. Georgia is now beginning to verbally communicate—her favourite two words are “hi” and “cookie”—but is still using some of her signs.

SIGN with your BABY Complete Learning Kit: US DVD Version, Book, Training Video (DVD), Quick Reference Guide

Most studies of children who learn sign language show that they are quicker to communicate verbally and get less frustrated. I would definitely agree that Georgia doesn’t get easily frustrated and we have not had the complete meltdowns that I have seen with other babies her age. Can I say without a doubt that it is because of the early signing? No, but I am glad that we started using the sign language with her.

Read my previous post on our start with sign language, Georgia’s First Sign: How I Gave My Baby a Communication Headstart.

The two resources we used to get started with signing are:

Photo Books: My New Obsession

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This year for Christmas I was looking for a gift idea for my parents and Jay’s parents when I stumbled upon photo books. They are like scrapbooks—only they are done on your computer.

I have a macbook which comes with iPhoto. In iPhoto I can make a photo book right in the program. When you are finished creating your book—which includes style selections, image resizing and more—you upload your book to Apple and they send you out a finished book. The books come in a variety of sizes, colours and types, (soft and hard cover) and, in a wide range of prices.

I have played with different photo book software before from Picaboo and Shutterfly but I had never actually finished a book and ordered a printed copy. I was very happy I did at Christmas. The Photo Books were the favourite gift. The book was a collection of pictures from Georgia’s first year. Jay’s Dad takes it everywhere with him to show.

Since the success of the books I gave as gifts, I made a smaller softcover book of Christmas 2006. It is a nice way to showcase your photos—and in many ways is nicer than uploading your images to be printed—rather than putting them in a photo album.

I must admit almost all of my photos I have had printed in the last 10 years are sitting in photo boxes and are never looked at. I plan on scanning all of our wedding photos and making a wedding photo book as well as taking pictures of my grandparents and making a memory photo book for Birthday or Christmas presents next year.

The nice thing about the photo books is that if you are not that creatively inclined they have different themes to help you lay out your pictures. The other reason I really prefer it to scrapbooking is that it is digital. I have found that with digital scrapbooking you can easily change something you are not happy with.


While I liked the ease of using iPhoto to create the photo books, it is limited in the number of themes. Picaboo is a free program that you download to your computer and you can easily use your images to quickly make a book and you don’t need to be hooked up to the internet to create your book. The downside of Picaboo is that they don’t have a mac download.

Shutterfly also has a large number of themes and styles to choose from but you need to upload your images to their site which can be time consuming if you want to play around with more images than you plan to put in your photo book. However, since it is a web based system it doesn’t matter what OS you are using. They also carry a range of other photo gifts, prints, and free online photo sharing and photo storage.

I think the next photo book I make will be from Picaboo. They have a wider variety of page layouts and backgrounds. Unfortunately because they don’t have a Mac download I will have use my PC.

What has been your experience with making a photo books, and how did it turn out?

Picaboo – Create a Photo Book. Special Offer: buy 1 get 1 free!