I finally finished one of my last big projects for 2013: a quiet book (also called a busy book) for Owen. I plan to make him several of these, but started with a Christmas theme because that’s what I had the most initial ideas for. I found lots of ideas online, some of which I used, others I came up with on my own. It will be great for keeping him entertained on cold housebound days, on upcoming holiday road trips, at dinners out, in church, etc.
A lot of my construction ideas came from Serving Pink Lemonade, including the book size. I used Pellon for the page backgrounds, adding colored felt (the thin, stiff kind) to some of them to break up the white. I simply sewed the colored felt and Pellon together, then added the page elements. I found a bulk amount of Pellon and then just used a rotary cutter to trim pieces to page size. I used regular felt, and a few other embellishments, for the page pieces.
I also followed her binding tutorial, using red felt instead of the flannel, and adding loose-leaf three-ring binder clips instead of ribbon. I felt like the clips gave the pages more freedom to turn (but without looking sloppy), and will make it easy if I ever need to swap out or repair a page. Not that I anticipate that happening or anything J. I constructed each page individually, then sewed pages back-to-back as the final step before binding them with the cover.
For all the templates, I used the same method of cutting felt I describe HERE when making Owen’s Halloween cape. It’s so much easier, faster and neater than freehanding or tracing. Unless I mention otherwise, I found templates doing a Google image search for free clipart. I also highly recommend using a fusible webbing (like Heat n’ Bond) to secure the page elements to the page before sewing. It keeps them in place without using pins and makes it a breeze to sew on.
I tried to make the book appropriate for a wide age range, from infant to elementary-age. The first page is a Christmas tree texture page, inspired by the Lion page on Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows. I used scraps of green fabric for the tree, and strips of ribbon for the skirt. The tree pieces are all sewn on, but the ribbons are only sewed underneath the tree, so you can touch, pull and ruffle them. I added some liquid fray-check to the ends of both so it (hopefully) won’t fray over time. Last, I hot-glued some sparkly pipe cleaners on as tinsel and added a glitter star on top.
The next two pages continue the holiday theme. On the left, there’s a Christmas gift you can tie a bow on. I cut out a red felt square and sewed a vertical piece of ribbon to the front. Then, I used double-sided fabric tape to attach a loose strip of ribbon horizontally across the back of the square, making sure it was long enough to tie into a bow on the front. Then, I sewed the whole square to the page. I added fray check to the ends of this ribbon, too.
On the right is a stocking guessing game. I used printable iron-on paper (left over from Halloween!) to print colored clipart images of basic toys – a book, a drum, a ball, blocks, and crayons, then ironed them to the page. Next, I crafted five stockings out of red and green felt, and sewed just the top trim of each stocking to the page, centered over the toy images, so you can flip them up and see what’s inside.
This two-page spread was inspired by Imagine Our Life. (My pieces aren’t as finished, though!) You can build a snowman and dress him two ways: for day (scarf/hat) or night (nightgown/cap). I used stiff white felt to make the hills and added another layer to the right page as a pocket for holding the parts. The snowflakes are pieces of white craft felt that I glittered and covered in clear varnish for longevity, then hot-glued to the page.
Next we have two of my favorite pages – a counting game and a color-matching game. The hot chocolate mugs each have a number card that corresponds to the number of marshmallows in the mug that slides in and out of the back of the mug. I attached it to the page with a ribbon so no card gets lost. The mugs are felt, and the marshmallows are mini white pom-poms that I glued on. I used THIS candy-cane font to print numbers on white cardstock, then laminated them for durability and hot-glued them to the ribbon. The cookies are felt with neon-colored puffy paint “sprinkles.” The reader can match the sprinkle color to the same-colored plate (a circle of felt sewn to the page). I added sticky Velcro circles to both pieces, just to make sure they stay in the book during transport.
The next two pages were probably the hardest. On one, I envisioned “Santa’s boot” for a lacing and tying page. I found a black leather-like material scrap in the clearance fabric bin, and cutting it out wasn’t a problem, but finding appropriate-sized eyelets – and then successfully adding them to the boot without ripping it – was quite the task. I used THIS boot template from Real Purdy, and cut a piece of black stiff felt as the base. I used regular black shoelaces, and given the size of the boot, just made this another tying page instead of lacing. There wasn’t enough room to do both without tearing up the boot fabric, which actually included a puffy batting layer underneath. The shoelaces were way long, but I cut a chunk from the middle of one lace, then sewed those two pieces together to make it a better length. Then, I sewed the whole thing on top of the black felt piece.
I had the hardest time finding a coat template – I ended up finding a picture of another quiet book’s coat page, and using that image as a template. I cut out a slightly smaller version in peach-colored felt as a body, and sewed a small red heart to the chest, then sewed that piece to the page. I made a fantastic discovery in this process that my sewing machine has a special foot for doing automatic buttonholes – BRILLIANT. So, I made three buttonholes on one side of the coat, and then sewed three buttons on the other side – something my machine, as it turns out, also does automatically. Shut. Up. (It’s the Singer Futura CE-250 Embroidery Sewing Machine, and I highly recommend it. It gets a little happy with the error messages, but since I’m such a beginner, most of the time I am, in fact, doing something wrong.) I sewed the arms and sides of the coat to the page (leaving the collar/bottom open for buttoning ease).
The last spread is my second-favorite, inspired by THIS pie page at Bubbles and Bobbins. On one side is a weaving game with a pumpkin pie: a circle of orange gingham fabric, sewn to the page, topped with a tan felt “crust” that’s also sewed on. For the top pieces, I used a scalloped rotary cutter to make six same-sized tan felt strips, then laid them on top of the pie and trimmed at an angle accordingly so they would fit into the circle nicely. I sewed a straight line across the top three strips and along the side three strips, so you can flip them up and weave the crust together.
On the other side is a simple oven mitt – just a piece of green felt in a mitten shape, with some red rickrack I added at the bottom. I sewed the whole thing to the page except for the bottom edge, so Owen can practice putting his hand in and out. I really wanted to use a fancy zig-zag stitch around the mitten, but my machine and I had a parting of the ways and I finally gave up and straight-stitched it. Maybe next time.
The final page was inspired by THIS quiet book. I printed a reindeer clipart image on white cardstock, laminated him for durability, then used an Xacto knife to cut two small slits for threading a ribbon through. I hotglued a length of ¼” white satin ribbon at a diagonal to the back of the page, and added a white felt circle moon in the top right corner. I cut out three small houses from gray felt, and sewed each on to the bottom of the page. It’s a lot of fun to slide the reindeer up and down across the night sky.
This project wasn’t hard, just tedious. There are lots of moving parts and domino effects. I’m thinking a farm theme is next…any suggestions?