I’d like to share with you the process of creating my second busy/quiet/sensory book. I hope you will find it at least a bit inspiring :-)
In contrast to my first book, this one was done mostly using a sewing machine. Of course, there were some more complicated or tiny elements that needed to be sewn by hands. Anyway – don’t worry if you don’t have a sewing machine. It would only speed up the whole process. My first book (see my previous projects) was entirely hand-made.
OK, let’s do this!
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Step 1: Gather Your Gear
tools I used:
- measuring tape
- cutting mat with measure (it’s not necessary, but useful)
- seam ripper (just in case you weren’t satisfied with your sewing effect or for other purposes)
- colorful Velcro strips
- bubble wrap, cellophane sheet scraps, etc. – to fill the pages
- old or second-hand clothes - I used polar fleece blouse for the cover and white polo shirt for the pages
- wool felt colorful sheets (some scraps will also come in handy)
- small plastic mirror (like in a sponge bag)
- some ready applications from old clothing for kids or other
- riveter & rivets (for the shoe page)
- one bright shoe lace
Step 2: Prepare the Fabric for the Pages, Choose Colors, Size, Etc.
You can use whatever fabric you like. Just make sure it’s clean, safe for children and friendly for sewing. I used one white polo shirt, so all my pages are white, but you can do many colors if you like. Just stick to the pages size if you want to assemble a book from it later on. My pages in their final form are 20 cm long x 17 cm wide. Of course I left some additional centimeters for sewing the edges and connecting them with the cover.
Remember that you’ll need to stuff the pages with some swishing material like cellophane or bubble wrap. This will make your pages thicker (about 1-2 cm). My book has an overall of 10 pages. I guess more would be too much. It’s better to make another book with 10 pages if you have many ideas.
Step 3: Plan the Pages
If I was to make any suggestions about the pages, I’d recommend you to include:
- parents, grandparents, aunts or whoever is dear to you and will be for the baby
- shapes and colours - that's always a good start for the baby
- healthy lifestyle (food, nature)
- baby’s name and a mirror (plastic one!) - I was told that little kids like them
- some educational challenge - like how to tie a shoe lace, although it's more for an older kid
That’s what I included this time. You can also something about the weather, seasons, celebrations (Christmas, Easter, etc.), household, animals, clothing - whatever you like and feel comfortable with.
Step 4: If You Like – Follow My Pages!
Here you can see my pages. Follow next steps if you’d like to use my methods. I need to admit that sometimes I took a shortcut and used some ready items that I found at home or that grabbed my attention at second hand shops.
Step 5: Page One - Parents
Everything is cut from wool felt. Little parts were sewn together with a needle and bigger ones with a sewing machine. After I finished assembling both parents from parts, I sewed them to the page. After that I made both descriptions apart using a machine stitch type for applications. Finally, I sewed descriptions under each parent with a sewing machine’s basic stitch type.
Step 6: Page Two - Baby’s Reflection
I was lucky to have an unused sponge bag that had this plastic mirror sewed in. The material was not so bad, so I used it together with the mirror. What I added was the name of my baby made of felt letters and two felt hearts. I was told that babies like to look at their own reflection. If you don’t have any sponge bag or any other item with a plastic mirror on hand, you can always buy one or ask your friends if they have a spare one.
Step 7: Page Three - Flowers
That was one of the easiest page for me, because I used a white material with a ready flower pattern. I just added some green touch to it, since the flowers did not have any leaves and their stems were red initially. Additionally, I had some butterfly applications, so I did not need to create them from scratch.
Step 8: Page Four - How to Tie a Shoelace?
I’m not particularly proud of that shoe, but let it serve you as an idea to explore. My shoe was made from felt. I started from the shoe’s padding and then tried to make the rest, including a hole for the imaginary foot. I also used a riveter and rivets to make the holes for the lace. It’s not necessary, though. You can simply cut the holes and secure them from tearing up with a thread and a needle. I did not have a proper shoelace at first, so I used some random string. Eventually I decided to buy a lovely short shoelace in a shoe shop. As for the cute kitty cat – that’s a ready application I had at home.
Step 9: Page Five - Let’s Make a Rainbow!
For this one you’ll need wool felt sheets and velcro strips. Start your rainbow puzzle from cutting the purple part, which is going to be the smallest and then use it to cut the blue part. Use the blue one to cut the green one and so on. After you have it all, cut your rainbow into puzzles, so that you had five pieces, as you can see in the pictures.
You’ll have some unneeded parts under all pieces but red. You can use those parts to make smaller rainbow or use it for other purpose. You can also cut the raibow in a more economical way, so that you did not have any wool felt parts wasted. I keep all my scrap parts anyway and they usually come in hand.
OK, now you need to do some sewing. Connect red with orange, yellow with green and blue with purple using traditional sewing skills or your sewing machine.
Use a light blue felt sheet for your sky. You can use some other material as well and other color if you like. Plan your velcro fastening. I used one horizontal strip – the length of the whole rainbow – and two smaller vertical strips – the rainbow’s hight. After that, I stitched down the opposite velcro strip parts at the back of rainbow puzzles – at both ends of the bigger puzzles and in the middle of the smallest one.
Then I added some other elements like floating island and some clouds.
Step 10: Page Six and Seven - Veggies & Fruit
I had some ready fruit applications, so this part was easy. If you don’t have such in hand, cut them from felt. I hope my fruit and veggies will give you some inspiration. You can have entirely different ones depending on which country you’re from :-)
Step 11: Page Eight and Nine - Nature!
Here you have some ideas for the pages about nature. There are lots of ideas for an owl in the Internet. I combined some of them. The images will show you more or less what parts you'd need to make an owl and a fox behind a tree. I did not bother to make the whole fox - only necessary visible parts.
As for the hills/mountains part: The background is quite easy to make - you just need several strips of felt of natural colors and sew them all together. Then make a creature that will sit inside the tent before making the tent itself. It might be a little globetrotter, some cute animal, a map, etc. Then cut the tent. Mine is a bit 3D :-) Make a cut in the tent to separate the tent's walls or make the tent from two separate parts. Cut the dark space in your tent (shaped the same as the tent) and sew to it the thing that is supposed to be inside (you can also use a velcro strip to make this part movable). Connect the tent with its inside part by sewing them together by the edges of the tent’s walls. Leave the lower edges of the tent unsewn, but the lower edges of its inside part should be sewn to the background. Anyway, come up with most comfortable technique of sewing it all together, remembering about the movable parts (tent’s walls).
As for the bonefire – I started from two brown strips, covered them with the orange fire part and then the yellow fire part. Sew it all together.
Step 12: Page Ten - Shapes and Colors
Start from cutting the black shapes and then cut two colourful versions of each shape. If you have colourful velcro straps corresponding to the colours of your shapes – great! Stitch them to your black shapes and to one part of its colourful mirror. After that, sew colourful parts together and at the same time fill them out with something – for example with some tiniest wool felt scraps you have or other spare material. This will make the shapes a bit puffy. Now you can stick the colorful shapes to their black versions.
Step 13: Finish the Pages
Place each two pages towards each other by their right sides and sew them together by three of their edges. Then pull the right sides back to the outside. Now fill out the pages with some swishing material. If you have ten pages, you’ll have to fill out 5 such parts.
Step 14: Connect the Pages With the Internal Spine
For this step I used the collar part of my white polo shirt for the internal part of the book’s spine. It’s thick enough to make the book a bit more stiff, but not too stiff. I stitched the filled pages to the middle of it, leaving a bit of space between them. Then I cut the remaining collar parts into four strips and placed them between the pages on both sides. I stitched the strips into the spine as well.
Step 15: Make the Cover
For the cover I used a soft polar material. I had to make it from smaller scraps of material, so it took some more time. It would be easier to have some whole large piece of material, ideally a long strip. Its length should be enough to cover the spine and double lengths of the back and the front of the cover. Anyway, the idea is to create a one-piece cover of which the front and the back can be filled with some swishing material just like the pages. Make sure to sew on some decoration on the front part of the cover (like your baby’s name and some other elements) before you sew the edges of the front cover together to fill it out. After filling out the front and the back – sew the remaining edges to close them.
After preparing the cover, place the spine of the pages in the middle of it and sew it all together both vertically and horizontally (the edges).
I hope it all makes sense to you! When in doubt, look at the photos or leave a comment.
Step 16: Test It!
I handed the book to my husband for testing – he crashed it into the floor, threw it into me, flipped it over and basically tried to act like a mad, mad baby. He did not put it into his mouth, though ;D
I think the book can be hand washed in some delicate washing powder and in a light temperature. Just check the Internet or ask someone experienced for some tips about how to wash wool felt if you’re not sure.