My niece just turned one (in April) so I decided to make her a present – I like making presents for the babies and children in my life. I’m not sure I’ve made a toy kind of present for such a young baby before, so I racked my brains and searched pinterest and the interwebs for inspiration. In the end I decided on a Quiet Book.
A Quiet Book is a book, usually made from fabric, with little activities in to keep a child occupied when you would like them to be quiet – at home, on a long car journey or in church for example. Alice is really a bit too small for all of the pages I made, but she’ll grow into them. 🙂 A lot of people, who use a different binding than I did (which is detailed below), add new pages and take out the ones the kid has outgrown. If you search Quiet Book on Pinterest you’ll get loooooaaaads of results. You can see the images I pinned for my book on my Homemade Gift Ideas board. There’s also a great website which has loads of different books and downloadable templates so you can put together the perfect book for your kid. I decided to draw out the designs myself on paper, then I made pattern pieces from that – I thought it was easier than using pages and templates that may have had different dimensions.
This is one of the simpler pages – it’s just 4 zips (not invisible). They are 8″ long – I had some in my stash but most of what I had was invisible zips but normal zips seemed better, so I popped to my local sewing shop and bought 3 of these (I did have the white one). You don’t have to worry about sewing close to the teeth – it’s actually better not to so the zip moves easily in little fingers.
The page dimensions I used was 10″ x 8″ + 1″ on the left side for the binding – I made sure to mark this off when drawing my designs out so I knew they wouldn’t get swallowed up in the spine. When I made a template for the pages, I then added 1.5cm seam allowance to each side to sew the backing onto each page – I only used the right-hand pages of my book, though some people put things on all the pages. I sewed a blank page onto the back of each page, leaving a gap to turn it the right way around. I then top-stitched around the whole thing – you can just about make out the top-stitching on the zips page.
This is one of my favourite pages, because it was fairly simple to make but hopefully fun to play with. All you have to do is cut some strips to felt, then sew velcro on the ends (making sure they are on opposite sides so they do up in rings – I learnt this the hard way!). With all the pages where you have bits that come off, it’s useful to have somewhere to store the pieces, so I sewed the blue square on on 3 sides – missing out the top – so you can put the strips in there when you’re not playing with them. Btw I sewed pretty much everything on my sewing machine – I have quite a large (but now sadly diminishing) stash of different coloured thread, so I tried to match the colours as best I could. I was planning to do all the stitching in white and I think that would work just as well – and would be quicker as you wouldn’t be changing threads every 5 minutes!
I slightly miscalculated the weaving strips – I should have left slight gaps between the strips I think, and I measured right to the edge of the finished page which I wouldn’t do if I made it again, I’d leave a centimetre or two at each edge. You could make this with multiple colours and not just 2. This is probably the page where you can most easily see the space for the binding on the right hand side.
I like the rainbow page, I’m not gonna lie! The idea with this one is to match the button to the correct colour on the rainbow. I had fun in the sewing shop picking out all the buttons – I didn’t realise I’d picked 2 hearts, though. I thought I’d got 6 different ones – I reduced the rainbow to 6 colours, bunching together indigo and violet into purple. Apparently this is the one Alice most wants to play with – obviously be careful of choking hazzards if you are making this for a small kiddie. I hand stitched the velcro onto the buttons … and that was the only hand sewing I did. With all the velcro things I sewed the harder side onto the page and the softer side onto the bits and pieces – to make sure I didn’t have a clash where they wouldn’t stick.
The ladybird is my absolutely favourite page. I do with I’d sewn the velcro onto the wings with white thread and not red, but it’s a minor point! each spot is actually 2 spots – it’s a nice way to hide the stitching from attaching the velcro, if you’re so inclined. I sewed all the spots in one long line and then separated them like sausages. It would have been too fiddley to sew them one at a time!
I would have sewn the velcro in black thread if I was going to leave them like this.
I sewed another spot on the top – this hides the stitching and also makes it a bit more sturdy.
I bought a 6″ black zip for the middle of the ladybird – this makes a pouch to keep the spots in when they’re not stuck onto the velcro. It’s my favourite thing!
The apple tree is the same principle as the ladybird really. In the example one I found, they apples were stuck on with poppers, but I sewed the hard side of velcro to the apples (which are teeny btw!), thinking they would stick to the felt without the other side of the velcro. They sort of do, but I would recommend poppers or using both sides of the velcro if you make this page. I like the little basket though!
The petals for this flower are made in the same way as the spots on the ladybird. I then (obvs) drew the numbers on, with a sharpie.
The plant pot isn’t sewn down on the top so the petals can go in there when they’re not stuck to the velcro.
These flowers are a little different than all the velcro things in that they are attached by buttons – that’s kind of the activity for this page! You can arrange them with the colours matching or not – there’s a large and small flower of each colour. I sewed the buttons on with my machine, which I thought was marvelous! I set it to a zig-zag stitch the same width as the 2 holes and went back and forth a few times – it didn’t move forwards off the button as it was too thick, so it just stayed on the spot. This was definitely a revelation! I always hate sewing on buttons by hand because I want things to be finished yesterday so any hand sewing always bores me a little – unless I’m deliberately taking my time on something.
The last page in my book is matching shapes – in the example one these had velcro on, but I didn’t bother, I figured it could be done flat. Since there’s no pouch on this one, I sewed a little one onto the back inside jacket.
Now I’m going to explain how I bound my book. It’s quite common to use eyelets and then thread either ribbon or a ring through them – this would be the best way if you’re planning to add new pages (and take old ones away). I knew I wouldn’t be changing the contents, so I bound mine in a more permanent way.
First I made the cover – I laid all my pages on top of each other and they measured 3cm thick. Adding a 1.5cm seam allowance to each side, the spine was 6cm wide and 10″ + 3cm seam allowance long (the same height as the pages). I sewed the spine between the front cover (on which I appliqued Alice’s name) and the back cover – make sure they are arranged as below. I cut a second spine piece and pages for the inside front and back covers (the same size as the normal pages). Don’t attach the inside cover yet, though.
Taking the inside spine piece, I marked on the seam allowances and then drew lines evenly spaced for each page, including the seam allowance lines – I had 9 pages, so there are 9 lines in total. So it would be easy to see the lines from both sides, I sewed over the top of them.
To attach each page I basically made some bias binding – you could always use some ready made stuff if you don’t fancy making it. I used some left over pink gingham I had from the travel matching game I made a couple of years ago. Each piece was 7cm x 23cm – 23cm was based on the finished size of the pages, plus 1.5cm seam allowance on either end, so I could fold in the end of the binding neatly.
I ironed each piece in half, then each edge into the middle, like so.
The next step was a little fiddley, but basically you need to sew each binding piece onto the inside spine, along the centre fold, with the other folds facing upwards – like in the above photo. This is why it’s easier to have sewn the lines – you can see them better to be able to pin and then stitch the binding. It will look something like this once you’ve done them all.
The pink stitching was my guideline and you can just about make out a second row of white, which is what I used to attach the binding.
Then what you need to do it slot a page (making sure it’s the right way around – I found it helpful to decide on the order and have them piled ready to go) into one of the binding pieces, so the 2 folds into the middle are either side of it, enclosing the raw edge of the binding. You’ll also want to tuck in the ends at the top and bottom of the page, to make sure it’s all neat. Then just top stitch in pace. It should look something like this (this is the view from the back of the book – I started with the last page):
And this is the view from the front of the book – you can see the binding for all the other pages. I started at one end and worked to the other – I think this is better than, say starting in the middle, as all your pages with be on one side of the one you’re sewing. It did get fiddley as I had more pages attached, but I could hold them out the way enough to get my machine to be able to stitch each page into place.
Once you’ve attached all your pages, you can attach the inside front and back covers – I found it easier to sew this seam with a zip foot so I could get as close to my seam allowance line as possible with the thickness of the book getting in the way. It will then look like this:
Now all you need to do is attach the outside cover to the inside cover – simple, right? Not as simple as I had worked out in my head as it turns out!
You can quite easily attach the front cover – turn the inside cover so the book is ‘open’ at that page – the inside cover is on your left and all the other pages are on the right. Then lay your front cover on top of this, inside the book, right sides together. You can stitch all the way around the 3 sides of the cover. You’ll want to trim the corners once you’ve stitched it, so once it’s turned the right way around, you have sharp corners.
You don’t want to turn it the right way around just yet, though. You’ll notice that the pages are in the way of being able to sew the back cover in the same way you just sewed the front cover.
But you can tuck the pages out of the way! Because you only sewed the front cover on 3 sides, the 4th side forms a sort of pouch that you can tuck the pages into. Below the front cover is on the left, still inside out. You’ll be putting the pages between the 2 layers of the front cover. I hope this makes sense. You’ll now be able to sew the back cover the same way you sewed the front cover, but you’ll need to leave a gap at the bottom to be able to turn it the right way around – you won’t be able to sew the covers at the top and bottom of the spine on your machine, or I certainly couldn’t, it was just too thick to go through, so I sewed these gaps and the one I left to turn it around by hand. And voila! You have your very own Quiet Book, hopefully to keep your kid quiet long enough to make a cup of tea!
In terms of cost, this was a fairly cheap make as I had all of the felt already and the gingham. I bought a couple of zips, a couple of metres of velcro (but I hardly used any of it), the buttons and the main, white fabric, which was only £10 for 1.5m. It’s a thick cotton – I wanted something fairly sturdy, but didn’t really want to use calico.
I’m already planning another book for my nephew, who is about to turn 3, so I can make more advanced pages, like one to tie shoe laces and ones that involve counting to higher numbers than 8.
Have you made a quiet book? Would you? This one probably took me 2 weeks, working on it on and off – a couple of those days were cutting out the patterns and then cutting out the felt. I didn’t work on it 24/7 for 2 weeks, just in case you were scared! Most of the pages I made just involved fairly simple applique and some velcro.
I’m now going to spam you with every page again, because tbh I’m pretty proud of how this turned out!