It’s been too long since I sat down at my machine with a bin of felt scraps. Enter our dear friend E’s first birthday–a great opportunity for a little book-making! Three days ago, I got busy making a busy book just for E. I gathered ideas from Google and Pinterest and came up with six fun pages for a budding toddler. Since I get nearly 100% of my inspiration from other bloggers and crafters, I hope you find some great ideas passed along in this post. I’m still new at making felt books, so I’m learning what to do and what not to do along the way. I’d love to hear your own helpful hints and experiences with quiet books!
For my felt books, I use packages of 9×12 felt sheets sold at Michaels (don’t forget to use the 40/50% off coupon!), supplemented with individual sheets of colors not included in the packaged assortment. I’ve found that 9×9 is a great size for a quiet book page, and it’s easy to measure, since the sheets are already 9 inches wide. I like to make lay-flat pages by using grommets and loose leaf rings to bind the book, like I did in My Church Book. I almost exclusively use felt for both the pages and the cover, as it is sturdy, forgiving, and can be entirely top-stitched (i.e. doesn’t fray at the edges). Oh, and it conveniently sticks to itself, which means I rarely have to pin anything. I HATE pinning!!
Here’s a peek inside E’s little felt book:
For the cover, I cut a picture frame from clear vinyl, leaving it open at the top to insert a picture. (Tip: cut and reuse those clear plastic zipper bags that bed sheets and other linens come in.) The sun’s rays are ribbons. The cover snaps together with a KAM snap, like the ones on cloth diapers. My KAM snap pliers gets a LOT of use!I love this frog page idea from Emily at One Lovely Life! Frog’s tongue has a Velcro dot sewn on that sticks to the Velcro dots on the flies’ wings. I’ve learned from experience to always sew together at least two layers of felt for loose pieces like the tongue, as a single felt sheet can be pulled and stretched apart fairly easily, especially at the hands of not-so-gentle toddlers.
The birthday girl I made this book for is from a music-loving family, so I knew I had to include a music-themed page! They already have a piano page in a church book I made for her older brother, so the guitar seemed appropriate here. I got the idea from this cute mini quiet book by Dyan at And Next Comes L. I used cord elastic for the strings–just make sure you sew it down nice and tight! I reinforced the back of the page with a strip of felt and hot glue, since the elastic makes the page buckle a little. I love this old telephone page, also from Dyan. The receiver snaps on and off for phone calls to Grandma or whomever else! I think every kid should know what a “real” telephone looks like, too :).
This page spread is my favorite! I love how all the bright colors work together. The color-matching clown page looks like it took a long time, but it was a cinch to piece together. I got the idea from this book at The Domestic Notebook. To make the clown, I cut out all the pieces individually and sewed them onto the background felt layer by layer. The balloons (again, two pieces of felt sewn together for durability) snap onto matching ovals with KAM snaps. Tip: be sure to insert the snaps through at least two layers of felt, since they get a lot of wear and tear. In this case, the colored oval on top of the background created two layers, but if I’m putting a snap directly onto the background felt, I will reinforce the back with a small scrap of felt before inserting a snap. The shape-matching food page was inspired by one of my daughter’s toys, the LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket. I considered Velcro instead of ribbons for the food, but I didn’t have enough left and it was too late to run to the craft store. Plus, the hook side of Velcro will stick to and rough up felt, so I wasn’t too keen on leaving it exposed either on the plate or on the food pieces. Ribbons keep them from getting lost, too!
I thought this fish page from The Crafting Chicks was adorable! I wasn’t sure how long it would keep a child’s attention, but it ended up being one of my son’s favorite pages (he had given the book a “test run” before we gave it to our friend). The whale and fish slide along the ribbon–don’t you love that the ribbon design looks like bubbles? Speaking of bubbles, the gum ball machine was one of my favorites to put together. I got the idea from this jelly bean machine at The Adventures of Five Hobbits. I sewed down clear vinyl for the “glass,” leaving an opening at the bottom for little fingers to pull out gum balls. There are ten gum balls in rainbow colors. I figured if one or two of these gets lost, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, unlike the specifically-shaped food from the previous pages. I threaded a brass fastener through a grommet in the knob and another grommet on the gray base on the machine to make the knob turn freely. However, I neglected to hot glue the fastener prongs to the base felt before sewing it on, which meant the knob could easily be pulled out. I won’t forget that step next time!
I thought it fitting to make the last page of the book a Bye-Bye theme. I cut a pocket from an old pair of jeans, folded the raw edges under, and top-stitched it to the base felt. To go inside the pocket, I sewed a set of keys with a personalized key chain (love the monogram feature on my sewing machine), a dollar bill, and a tube of Chapstick. I thought about making a cell phone, too, but by this point I needed to wrap up the book and I had already included a phone page. I think six pages ended up being a great number for this little busy book.
All in all, the book took me about 10 hours to make…which I did in one LONG day (lasting until around 2 a.m.). I don’t recommend starting AND finishing a quiet book in one day, as it can lead to some serious eye strain and lack of sleep! But, I had fun and it came together much more quickly than any of my other felt books or projects. Only a couple hiccups and not a single issue with my sewing machine! Hooray!!
I hope E enjoys her birthday gift as much as I enjoyed making it. It was fun to drop it off at her house and watch my son excitedly show her how all the pages work. At bedtime that night, I asked him what his favorite thing to do around the house is. His reply? “I love to help you sew, Mommy.” I confess, I never thought I’d be very interested in sewing, but the discovery of felt books and toys gave me a renewed interest in dusting off the sewing machine! Now, I need to figure out what to make for my own daughter’s birthday in just a few days…might be pulling another all-nighter!