I made this fabric "busy book" for my nephew when he was born.
This is based on a pattern that my aunt made for all of us and I wanted to carry on the tradition.
You can find many different busy-book patterns online and it is nice to have them, but you can also just create your own. Some of these pages are entirely of my own creation (the frog and the moose), and I altered all of the pages, so I will go through the process of creating a page from scratch.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- many different fabrics
- iron on backing
- sewing machine
- needle and thread
Step 2: Create a Pattern
You need to start with a solid page size leaving a solid 1/2" border to sew it onto a backing.
Mine was: 9" x 9" square with a 6" x 2" spine. This was all one piece.
Think about the design elements, you want each page to have a different interactive component. For my book I had:
- hook and eye
Design your image:
- the simpler, the better.
- Think about how you are sewing this on - I zig-zagged over the edges of all of my designs, so I tried to have large curves and few parts.
- Fabric choices should be appealing for a baby (i.e. soft, shiny, touchable)
The example here, a frog, I wanted to have a zipper mouth as the interactive part.
I designed the template in two parts: the head and the body/legs. I wondered about having front legs and played around with this idea, but in the end I decided to keep it simple.
I drew my image on paper and cut out the parts. It was that simple! A soft paper or tracing paper might have been better, but I used regular paper and it turned out fine.
Step 3: The 'pieces' and Assembly
I ironed on 'backing' the wrong-side of my fabric in order to increase stiffness, and then pinned my template to this side (because it is easier to cut). I had to remember to flip my template so that the design would be right-side up when finished - not that it mattered much with these animals.
I cut out my fabric head and body/legs. I also free cut some large eyes out of a shiny material (also with backing).
Now for the interactive component. I had never sewn a zipper into anything before... so it was quite the job. (for other pages this was more simple - the button or hook and eye, for example). I won't go through how to sew in a zipper - I found the info online.
I placed my pieces onto the right side of my background fabric and pinned them down where I wanted them.
For the frog, I didn't want the bottom sewed into the edge of the page, so I kept his toes away from my 1/2 inch border line. For other pages (hippo, bear) I did want it sewed in to the edge, so I lined the fabric to the bottom of the background in those cases.
I started with the furthest back pieces - body/legs - and pinned it down. I zigzagged over the edge of the fabric and created the feeling of separate legs by continuing the sewing up the edges of the body. Sewing over the edges made it so that I didn't have to turn under anything and reduced the likelihood of fraying. In some places I also put fray check if I thought there was the chance of it pulling up. Because this was a baby book and would likely be pulled on and chewed on, I made sure to double knot every ending by pulling through both threads to the back and tying off.
The next pieces was the head - same process; and then the eyes on top of that.
Step 4: Embellish
I added special parts to the page to make it more fun.
I hand sewed a fly (bug button and gold fabric wings) onto the corner of the page and hand sewed a tongue (ribbon) into the mouth that can be taken in or out. I also sewed button pupils into the eyes. You should embellish at this stage so that all of your sewing doesn't show through to the back of the page once you sew it together.
Step 5: Backing
Cut out the same background piece in a nice piece of fabric.
Put right sides together (frog on the inside and pattern on the inside) and sew around 1/2" leaving a hole on one side to turn it right-side-out. Make sure to tie off your ends of thread properly.
Turn right-side out and iron and then hand sew the open edge together.
I finished the page by installing two grommets into the "spine" of the book. Button holes would work as well (and were called for in the original pattern)
Step 6: Making the Book
Create as many pages as you like! One of your "backing" pieces will end up being your title page, and one your back cover.
Simply lace through the grommets to finish it off.