My cousin ,who is really more like a sister, recently had her first baby and she wanted someone to make a quiet book for him. So, my 8-year-old daughter and I decided to take on the challenge. After months of working on it little by little (because, let’s face it, that’s how projects go when you’re a mom), we finally finished it! I’m so excited to share the tutorial with you and I hope it will inspire you to start your own. But be forewarned: it is ADDICTIVE and you won’t want to do anything else once you start. If you’re like me, you might even lay awake at night planning new pages and losing precious sleep, but it will be worth it. I know some of you will want to make one similar to this, so I’m including instructions for each page I made, but if you have other ideas to try out, go for it! Half the fun is in designing your own. There are no templates because I freehanded everything, but if I can do it, believe me, you can too.
Here are some things to consider BEFORE you get started:
- What age child will be using the book? This will help you determine what activities (buttoning, lacing, zipping, snapping, moving things back and forth, matching, learning numbers, letters, etc.) will be age-appropriate. Also, make sure not to include small parts that could pose a choking risk if the child is still very young. This book will probably be ideal for a toddler who is between 2 and 3 (my almost-3-year-old has tested every page out and can do all the activities without help).
- What size should the book be? I cut my fabric pieces 9″x 9″ so the pages are slightly smaller than that once they’re sewn together, but you might want to make it smaller if it will mostly be used on the go or larger if you are planning to fit lots of things on each page (like the entire alphabet or a road for felt cars to drive on, for example).
- How much time do you want to invest? A quiet book can literally take months, or it can be a much shorter project if you don’t make it too detailed. Either way, it can provide hours of fun for a child, so decide how much time you honestly want to spend on it and you’ll be more likely to finish.
Once you’ve thought about these things, it’s time to get started.
Step 1: Plan your pages. It’s really helpful to make a list of what pages you want to include and what activities you will put on each page. I didn’t want to have to use interfacing to make the pages sturdier, so I made sure to end up with one felt background and one regular fabric background sewn together (see photo).
This makes the pages sturdy enough without having to mess with an extra layer, but you have to plan a little to make it work. Or you could make all your backgrounds felt to simplify things.
Step 2: Gather your supplies. Make a list of what supplies you need for each page. Don’t forget things like thread, velcro, specific colors of felt, background fabrics, grommets, etc. There were so many times I had to stop in the middle of something because I hadn’t thought it through enough to get everything I needed. Don’t do this to yourself! *Felt is much easier to work with than most other fabrics because it doesn’t fray and you won’t have to stitch around the edges like you otherwise would, so plan to use lots of it if you want to save time.
Step 3: Get to work! Here are instructions for the first three pages in my book. (The rest will follow soon!)
For the Dress Me page you will need:
- 2 9×9 background pages (felt or other fabric)
- 4 1/2 x 3 in. piece of pillow fabric
- 5×6 in. rectangle of blanket fabric
- Contrasting brown felt for the dresser (2 shades)
- Various felt colors for clothing
- Felt for the boy, his hair, and his undies
- Small amount of fiberfill for the pillow
Start by hemming one 6-inch edge of the blanket fabric. Pin the other three edges under and onto your felt about one inch from the bottom of the felt and sew (leaving the top edge open for the boy to fit under). Fold the pillow piece in half right sides together and sew around the edges, leaving a small space open. Turn right side out, fill with fiberfill, and sew closed. Sew the two short sides onto the felt background just above the blanket. Cut out a dresser shape, drawers, and knobs. Sew the pieces together and then stitch the sides and bottom to your other background page, leaving the top open.
Cut out the shape of a boy (I only made him one layer but I would strongly recommend cutting two layers and sewing them together before you make the rest of him so he will be sturdier.) Now cut out hair for the back and front of his head. I did this by laying him over dark brown felt and cutting around his head, just slightly larger, and then cutting a front piece to fit over just his forehead. Use the same technique for cutting out his underwear. Now pin the hairpieces and the two underwear pieces on and sew with whatever color thread you want to use. (I hand-stitched the hair and used my machine for the underwear.) You can either take the easy route and draw on a face with a permanent marker, or you could stitch on his features. As you can see, I went for the lazy way. Finally, you can lay him on different colors of felt and cut out various types of clothing for him: PJs, sports jerseys, jeans and t-shirts, etc.
Be as creative as you want! I wanted to add a mirror above the dresser but couldn’t find anything that would work for that. If you do it, post a picture so we can all admire your handiwork!
For the Laundry Time page you will need:
- 2 9×9 in. background pieces
- Felt for the poles, washing machine, and clothes
- Fabric (or felt) for the laundry basket
- String or ribbon (approx 10 in.) and mini clothespins OR a strip of velcro about 8 in. long (go with the velcro option if this will be used by a very small child as the clothespins could pose a choking risk)
Cut out laundry poles about 5 1/2 in. tall and snip a tiny hole near the top of each one. Sew them on at a slight angle, leaving the hole at the top. Thread your string through each hole and pull until it hangs down slightly, then tie each side really well. Hook on your clothespins. (Alternatively, sew a strip of velcro (the sticky side) between the tops of the two poles and the felt clothing will stick without clothespins.)
The grass on my page was added because I had to fix something on the page behind it after they were sewn together, but if you want to add some, I would suggest placing it closer to the bottom of the page. Now, cut a 4×4 square of felt for the washer and fold in half to cut out a large circle from the middle. Cut your vinyl to be a circle slightly larger than the hole in your square and then cut a coordinating color of felt to fit around the edges of your vinyl circle. (Confusing, I know. See the photo below.)
Now sew the felt circle onto the vinyl. Sew the outer edges of the washing machine square onto the background and then sew the left side of the vinyl door onto the washer. Add velcro to keep it closed. Now cut out a laundry basket and hem the top edge. Zig-zag stitch the sides and bottom of the basket so it sits on the washer. Cut out some fun clothes and you’re done!
For the Winter Wonderland page you will need:
- 2 9×9 in. pieces of snowy-looking fabric
- White felt or fleece for the snow and the snowman
- Felt for the hat rack, hats, arms, nose, and sled
- String or ribbon (I would suggest ribbon) approx. 10 inches
- Snaps for the hats
Start by laying out the white fleece over the snowy background and cutting a blanket of snow for both pages (be sure to make one side slope for the sled to “slide” down). Zig-zag stitch the top edge of each snowy piece onto the background. The other sides will be sewn down when you attach all the pages later. Cut out three circles for the snowman and zig-zag stitch them on one at a time, starting with the biggest and working your way up. Remember to leave a seam allowance!
Cut out and sew on arms, a nose, and eyes. Cut out a felt hat rack about 7-8 inches tall and stitch on. Sew the back half of a snap on the snowman’s head and also on each end of the hat rack. Make various hats to fit on the snowman and add the front part of a snap to the back of each, first making sure the placement will work. (You don’t want the snowman’s eyes to be covered when he’s wearing any of his hats!)
Cut out two identical pieces of red felt in the shape of a sled and stitch them together with two parallel lines down the middle with a small space in between. Thread your ribbon (or string) into the space so it can move up and down and sew the ends of the ribbon to the edges of the page, going over them a few times to get a strong seam.
And that’s it!
There are instructions for 4 more pages, plus a cover, coming soon. I hope you’ll be inspired and get to work on your own quiet book!