Tag Archives: Homemade gift for kiddies

Make It: Monkey Pyjama Case

So it turns out pyjama cases might not be a thing most people have heard of, but in my family they were (and are) a thing! My brother had one in the shape of Mr Chatterbox from the Mr Men. For my niece’s second birthday I made her one in the shape of a monkey, her favourite animal. I was going to make this as a downloadable thing but it didn’t work well enough!

Here is the finished case (with thanks to my sister for taking the photo!):

I did a search on pinterest for pictures of monkeys for inspiration and I came across this one! The first thing I did was to try to draw this photo in a way that I would be able to recreate in fabric, and I came up with this:

I then drew it a bit bigger on tracing paper (i.e. greaseproof paper), then traced all the smaller bits of the face onto other pieces so I could cut them all out, I also traced the face shape with the mouth cut out. I added a 1cm seam allowance to all the pieces except the eyes and nose (which don’t have seams).

I bought half a metre of brown cotton fabric from my local shop, which was more than enough for the size I made. I also used some cream jersey (which I used to underline my Sallie Maxi Dress) and some black jersey which I already had in my stash. I was going to use felt but I didn’t have enough cream/white felt for the mouth pieces.

Cut 2 each of the back of the head, and the front of the head (face) with the mouth hole cut out in brown cotton.
Cut 4 ears in brown cotton.
Cut 2 of each of the top lip and bottom lip from the cream jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 outer eyes from cream jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 ear inners from cream jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 pupils from black jersey (or felt).
Cut 2 nostrils from black jersey (or felt).
You will also need a zip for the mouth and some stuffing.
Cut wadding for the back of the head, the front of the head (face), and the ears. I cut 2 pieces for each part that needed stiffening as my wadding was quite thin.

The first thing I made was the mouth. The advantage of using jersey is that it is forgiving if it’s not quite perfect. Also it stretched to accommodate the stuffing.

I was using an invisible zip, but I sewed it with a normal zip foot so I think this would work with a normal zip too. I sewed a top lip piece and a bottom lip piece to the zip, with right sides together so the seams (and stitching) are hidden.

I then lined up the other 2 lip pieces, mostly so I would remember which one was the top lip and which one was the bottom lip.

I then repeated the first step with the other 2 lip pieces, with them right sides together with the other side of the zip. It will mean the zip is sandwiched between the 2 top lips and the 2 bottom lips, with the zipper tape hidden between the 2 layers.

This is what it looks like with just the top lip pieces sewn on both sides. It’s like it would look if you sew a lining to a zip on the inside of a dress, but you’re doing it with a machine.

This is what it looks like with both lips sewn on both sides, though you can obvs only see one side!

And yet another picture with the zip zipped up. I could have moved the top lip slightly to the left in the below photo – the monkey’s jaw is a little wonky!

I then sewed (with a zig zag stitch if you’re using jersey) the 2 top lips together, and the 2 bottom lips together, leaving a gap at one edge for stuffing. You can sew these wrong sides together, because the stitching will later be hidden when you sew the mouth into the mouth hole. The stuff both sides, and stitch up the gaps. And you’ll have something that looks like this:

Now you’ll want to attach the inner ear parts to 2 ears pieces, like below. You will also want to sew on the eyes at this point – I left it to a later step and had to fiddle to get them on without going through both face layers. You’ll want to sew the eyes onto only one face piece so you don’t see the stitching on the inside.

Next was to assemble the ears. You put the 2 brown pieces right sides together,

The the 2 pieces of wadding on the top (it doesn’t matter which brown piece you have on the top, it just matters that the wadding is on the outside of the brown pieces and not in between them). Stitch around the long curved edge, leaving a gap on the inside of the ear so you can turn it the right way around – and this part will be hidden when they’re attached to the head. You’ll need to trim the wadding of the seam allowance to reduce bulk.

Now you need to sandwich the 2 head backs with the wadding, and the 2 faces with the wadding. For these you can sandwich them – brown cotton, wadding, brown cotton – and just stitch around the edge because these edges will be sewing into the seams attaching the back of the head and the face. You’ll not want to stitch around the mouth hole, because the inner piece will be used like a facing to hide the stitching attaching the mouth to the face.

The next couple of steps were quite hard to photograph! Pin the top lip, with right sides together, to the top of the mouth hole. I found it quite hard to stitch all the way to the edges of the zip, so you may find you have to sew it in smaller sections. This is where jersey is your friend by the way! You may need to turn the face inside out, via the mouth hole, to be able to get access to the right bits. You will be able to turn it the right way around using the zip opening, so you can completely seal the mouth into the hole. I found this out the hard way, with some unnecessary unpicking!

This is what it should look like on the right side with the top lip sewn. (You can see I hadn’t sewn the pupils into the eyes – I thought I could do it without having to change the thread loads of times, but I should have just sucked it up!

This is kind of what it looked like with the bottom lip pinned. I’m not going to lie, it was fiddley and took a few goes to get it right!

Once you’ve wrestled the mouth into the mouth hole, it’s time to assemble the thing! First I handstitched the nose into place – I don’t think you’ll be able to sew it on before everything is assembled on the face.

Then pin the ears on top of the face, with the inner parts face down. You may also want to baste them in place, which I didn’t do, then I turned it the right way around and one of the ears fell off because it wasn’t attached properly. 😦

If you’re putting hair on your monkey (which I made with pieces of wool which I undid, to make smaller strands) you’ll want to place it a this stage too. The part of the hair that will show is the part on the monkey’s forehead, not the part sticking out the top. I basted these in place. Then you lay the back of the head on top of the face and stitch all the way around. You can, again, turn it the right way around via the zip. Hopefully the ears and hair will all be in place and not falling off! I was going to do french seams, but that felt too fiddley in the end, so I overlocked the seam allowance on the inside to try to neaten it a bit. The last thing to do (which I did really late the night before I was travelling to deliver it so failed to take any photos!) is to hand sew the inside face layer around the edge of the mouth, folding back the seam allowance, just like a facing around a waist seam. I hope this makes sense!

And here is the finished monkey!

I made the mouth with the zip so that it could eat the pyjamas!

And here are the pyjamas inside the monkey’s….head…..

Have you every made a pyjama case? Have you every heard of a pyjama case!? I’m going to make another one for my nephew, who was just 4 (so I’m a terrible aunt and it will be late!), in the shape of a penguin. If anyone has any ideas how I can make it similar in having the pyjamas get in via the beak, do let me know. I’m struggling to think of how to get it to work!





Make It: Another Quiet Book

After the success of my first Quiet Book for my niece, I made another one for my nephew, Teddy. He’s now 3 so the pages I made for him were a bit more advanced than for my niece who only turned 1. The book ended up being a month late for his birthday in May – it just all took so much longer than I thought it would! There are so many fiddley bits and pieces to first of all cut out, then to sew and assemble. Luckily my sister had already started a book for Teddy so she sent me what she had already done, so a couple of pages were basically finished, which was great!


I used the same dimensions as with the first book – partly because I already had the template cut out and partly because all of the images for inspiration I found on Pinterest would fit nicely into this format.

My nephew LOVES trains. Like really loves them! So I had to include a page with trains on. I tried to think of a way to make it more educational, but I went for just making carriages in different colours which can be taken off and rearranged – not every page has to be educational, it’s also to keep the kid quiet when you need to get on with something else! 🙂


I cut out 2 of each colour of train and a million little white rectangles for the windows. I sewed the windows on one of each colour and the velcro on the other of each colour, then I sewed the 2 matching ones together, thus hiding the back of the stitching in between the 2 layers. This was very much like the spots I did for the ladybird on the other book, except I then sewed 2 black wheels onto each train, just sewing them on the top – I did it this way around so the wheels wouldn’t have the coloured stitching attached the 2 trains to each other going across the top. The black engine doesn’t come off and I sewed some strips of grey felt on as tracks.


This shapes page is one my sister had already started – her shapes are better than the ones I made because they’re stuffed and therefore 3D, which is pretty cool. Also she sewed the shapes on the background to match the coloured shapes to, whereas I drew them on with a biro – in the interests of speed!


My sister had made a pouch to keep the shapes in, then I sewed it onto a white background piece to match the sizes I was using. This is on the back of the shapes page.


Phoebe had also made the weaving page, so all I had to do was to sew it onto the background piece of fabric – WIN!


Teddy can already count to 20, but I only had enough beads for this page to go up to 15 unfortunately. There are various ideas for counting pages – like cupcakes with a different number of sprinkles on or cookies with a different number of chocolate chips on. But I went for the beads/ abacus version, and I think it works okay – this isn’t my favourite page, but it is hopefully functional and useful for him to practice his counting.


This is one of my favourite pages – it’s a piggy bank!!


I made a bunch of coins with 5, 10 or 15 on then the piggy has a slit in the top to put the coins into. I thought this could also be a help in practicing adding up.


In the version I saw online they had attached a pencil case on the back, with a hole also cut into it on the side that is closest to the piggy, so the coins go straight into the pencil case. I did buy a pencil case for this purpose, but it was a bit too thick and stiff so I changed my mind and made a pouch, like the one the shapes are kept in (but with the zip near the bottom instead of down the middle). You have to make sure you cut the slit into both backing pieces – each page has 2 white rectangles, so the raw edges are all enclosed and it’s all neat and stronger.


I really like this page too, and it was quite easy to make – not as many different pieces as some of the other pages. The hardest part was making something for the middle of the clock that would allow the hands to rotate to the right time. I used a pin in the end and folded it back on the back of the white fabric. I sewed a piece of felt into the top of the pin at the back to make sure it didn’t poke through the fabric and poke Teddy in the fingers. Obviously you’ll have to sew the clock face on first, then put the middle part through the 2 hands, then through the page.


Under the petals around the edge are the minutes, so this page should help a child to learn to tell the time. I feel that the numbers are not my neatest work – I was already taking ages to finish the book so I drew them on with a sharpy, but I think they would look better embroidered on, if you have more time and aren’t in such a hurry as I was.


I also make a Noughts and Crosses page. Teddy doesn’t totally understand how to play yet – even after he had won, he kept on sticking shapes down until the board was full 🙂

I made the noughts and the crosses in the same way as the ladybird spots in the other book – cut 2 shapes for each finished shape (and one extra for the pouches), sew velcro on one, then attach the 2 shapes together. I then sewed down the board pieces.


This weather page is another of my favourites, though the holding pouches for each weather could have been a little bigger to fit the weathers in more comfortably.

I like the temperature gauge – the orange arrow slides up and down a piece of string, so Teddy can decide how warm the day is, then add the weather icon that best fits the day.


I saw a few different versions of this on Pinterest – some had an umbrella, a sun hat and other props, but I just went for the weather – lightening, snow, cloudy, sunny, partly sunny, rainbow, windy (which is really hard to depict pictorially!), and rainy. Again each one is made of 2 layers, with the velcro sewn on one and then the 2 sewn together – for the ones like snow, lightening and rain, I sewed the lightenings (and raindrops and snowflakes) between the 2 layers. The rainbow was pretty fiddly – I sewed each colour onto a white background.


This is my 3rd favourite page and after all the clothes were cut out, it wasn’t too fiddly to assemble! This is another one my sister was going to make, but she hadn’t really started it – but she had bought the mini pegs, so I didn’t have to get those and she had made templates for the clothes and washing basket. I’m quite pleased with the washing machine – the door is 2 pieces of felt, with a circle of plastic wallet sandwiched in the middle, to make it look like a proper washing machine door. The rest of it is fairly self-explanatory.


I like the fact that you can take washing out of the washing basket, put it in the washing machine, then hang it out to dry on the line. Funny how a boring adult chore can be made into a fun game for a kid!


The last page in the book is one to help a kid learn to tie shoelaces. I can’t really take any credit for this as Phoebe has cut it all out, bought the shoe laces, and bought the eyelets. I did not like attaching these – it took forever, I think because the tools I had were for a slightly different size of eyelet, so I did mash a few. It also seemed to take more force than needed in the many youtube videos I watched to learn how to do it!


They do look cute though, so I guess it was worth the effort in the end.


I bound the book in the same way I explained in my post on my first Quiet Book but I think my measurements were a little off as the cover ended up a tiny bit too small to cover all of the pages, but I’m sure Teddy doesn’t mind – I hope he wouldn’t refuse to play with it because it’s not perfect!

So are you tempted to make a Quiet Book for any kiddies in your life? They are a lot of work, but it’s really quite satisfying when it all comes together. And Phoebe sent me a cute little video of Teddy playing with the book so it was definitely worth it when I saw how much he was enjoying playing with it 🙂



Make It: Quiet Book (including how to bind it)

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.


Quiet-Book---Paper-Chain-2This 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!




Quiet-Book---Apple-Tree-2   Quiet-Book---Rainbow

Quiet-Book---Single-Flower-3  Quiet-Book---5-Flowers-2


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