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Unique gifts for kids: A Quiet Book tutorial

Sewing  |  September 16th 2011  |  0 Comment

How To Make A Quiet Book

I made this quiet book last year.  I took new pictures and re-wrote the tutorial, so it’s a bit more user friendly.  Anyone can make a quiet book.  Here, I’m just giving you ideas on what to put on your pages.

A Quiet Book is a fabric book with activities designed to keep your little one quiet during Mass, a meeting, on a road trip, or any other time little hands and minds need a distraction.  We try to keep ours away from the regular toys so it is a special treat when they get to play with it.
When I made my book, I used big cloth rectangles, folded them in half, and then punched holes into them.  I think it would be much better to cut squares for the pages and use rings, so the quiet book is like a 3-ring binder.  This makes it much easier to add pages later on.  That way you also don’t have to make the entire book (which can take a while) in one sitting.  I wrote these instructions with a 3-ring binder quiet book in mind.
Disclaimer:  This isn’t one of those fancy tutorials where I have a bunch of templates for you to download, cut out, and trace.  As you can see from my shapes, I’m not an artist.  If I can draw a simple shoe, or a kitty, so can you.  I want to encourage you to make your own pictures and get creative.  It’ll just be that much more rewarding in the end.

How To Make A Quiet Book

Level:  Easy ~ Basic sewing knowledge is good to know, but this is also a great beginner’s project.

        Costs:  Free – If you start collecting things now or ask family and friends to give you things to reuse.
You’ll Need
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric scissors
  • Canvas-type fabric for the cover and pages.  3 yards is plenty for 20 pages.  20 pages is a big book, so I suggest starting with a 10 page book.  You can always add more because it’s a 3-ring quiet book.  I like using something heavy, like denim, for the cover and a fun fabric for the inside of the cover.
  • Fabric scraps
  • Buckles, Belts, Strings, Ribbons, Yarn
  • Thread – I bought a few extra spools so that I could match most of my fabric to “outline” the pictures, but you can outline in any color, it doesn’t have to match!  Embroidery thread is nice to have for adding instructions to the pages and embellishing the pictures.
  • Buttons
  • 55 beads
  • 8 little magnets
  • 5 snaps: I use a snap setter but you could also just buy the kid you sew on.
  • 2 shoestrings
  • 1 eyelet tool (your local craft shop probably has these)
  • 16 eyelets + 3 per page
  • 1 spiral-y shoestring (for the telephone)
  • 1 short stick (for the fishing pole)
  • 1 black 6 inch zipper
  • Velcro
  • Carboard from empty cereal boxes to make your patterns for the pictures. You can save these for the next time you make a quiet book.
Good Stuff To Know
because I’m not a professional seamstress and I just make these things up as I go.
  • Leave about 1 inch around the borders of the pages, to leave room for finishing the edges later.
  • As much as possible, pin things down before you sew, so you can make sure the pages are functional and you haven’t left anything out.
  • I recommend doing all the work for one or two (front and back) pages at a time.  This makes the project a little less overwhelming.  Your kids can even begin playing with the pages you’ve made while you’re still working on the others.
  • Whenever I say “outline” in this tutorial, I’m referring to zig zag.  I use the zig zag stitch to sew my pictures down so that they stay put, while still looking pretty.  I call it “outlining” because it looks like you’re taking a thick marker and outlining your elements.
For the pages: Cut 20″ x 10″ rectangles for your pages.  (You can just cut out one at a time, or if you’re sure you want to make a big fat quiet book like mine, cut out 10.)
For the cover:
Now don’t get all scissor happy and cut these in half.  DO NOT cut these in half.  Haha.  I have been known to cut things that aren’t supposed to be cut!
Cut one 22″ x 12″ rectangle out of your heavy (denim) fabric for the outside of the cover.
Cut one 22″ x 12″ rectangle out of the pretty fabric for the liner.
Pictures and Activities:
This is where you get creative!  I LOVE this part.
Lay out your cover, liner and pages just as you would if you were looking at a finished book.
Work on each page and place it back in the book so that you don’t get them mixed up, especially if you make a train that will take up two pages.
Page 1: Match My Balloons. For 5 balloons, each a different color, take a glass or some other round object you can use and trace 3 circles for each color.  Or make yourself a cardboard circle and use it as a pattern.
Take one circle of each color and attach the bottom part of the snap.  Arrange the balloons how you want them and pin them down.  Always leave at least 1 inch around the borders of the page.  Use yarn as balloon strings.
Take the 2nd balloon of the same color and sew on the snap, or use your snap setter.
Take the 3rd balloon of the same color and place it on top of the one with the snap and sew them together with a zig zag stich.  Keep it narrow and match the thread to “outline”.

Page 2: Tie My Football.  Here is a picture of the football.  Add a shoestring and they can practice tying.  This one is very simple.  I cut 2 rectangles out of fake leather fabric and put eyelets in with the eyelet pliers.

Page 3: All Sports.  I cut out shapes for a soccer field, baseball home plate, baseball mitt, field goal and basketball hoop (happened to have some fabric with a hoop pictured on it).  Buy ball and bat buttons.  Leave pockets where the buttons can go and attach the buttons with a string and sew over the string when you outline the fabric piece.  Reinforce your knots with a bit of adhesive (super glue, regular glue, nail polish…).

Page 4: Tie My Bow. Draw a kitty cat on your cardboard to make a pattern.  Once you’re happy with the kitty cat, cut out the cat on a fluffy fabric.  Take pink fabric triangles and sew them on the ears with a straight stitch.  Sew on green or blue sequins for eyes. You can also use buttons or yarn.  Embroider the mouth and if you have fishing line you can add whiskers.  Get some ribbon for around the neck and sew it down when you outline the cat.  Embroider “Tie My Bow” on the page if you want.

Page 5: Put Your Hand In My Glove. Draw an oven mitten on cardboard for the pattern.  Sew on eyes, and mouth if you want.  I left them off.  Sew it down onto the page and leave a space for the kids to put their hand in.  Make sure the opening is big enough for a hand – mine came out a little tight.

Page 6: Overalls. I had some baby overalls that didn’t fit my son, so I cut the top part off and sewed them on so the kids can practice with the buckles.

Page 7: Tie My Shoe.  I drew a shoe on cardboard and traced three different shapes.  One for the inside sole of the shoe, one for the outside part of the shoe with the eyelets, and one for the tongue.  Make sure you make your tongue a bit wide so the outer shoe part can overlap.  The best way to make the shoe is to assemble these three parts before you actually sew the shoe down onto the page.

Page 8: Fishing.  Make a pond with a blue piece of fabric and create a pocket.  You can make a simple one like I did, or make an envelope type pocket, or add a zipper if you’re really ambitious.  Sew around the little magnets for the fishing pole.  I used a zipper foot to get close to the magnet.  I’m going to do this by hand next time.  Wrap a stick in fabric to make a fishing pole.  Make a rectangle pocket/holder for the pole.  The sea creatures are just randomly made.  I first cut out 7 rectangles and sewed the magnets into them.  After the magnets were secure, I took my scissors and made fish, an octopus, crab, starfish…whatever sea creature you like.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t look like an actual fish, the kids don’t care what they fish, the magnets are the fun part.

PS: The fishing rod and magnets are loud, especially when your kids bang them against the pews, so if you’re making this quiet book for church, you might want to leave this page at home.  {Just sayin’. =)}

Page 9: Hang The Clothes.  This one is one of my favorites, probably because I love to hang clothes!  Create your own tree shapes and basket.  Sew a string down and make a basket or pocket for the clothes.  I bought velcro stickers, however, it was no good.  It didn’t stick enough to stay on the fabric, so I had to sew it down.  This made my needle all sticky and icky to where it wouldn’t go through the fabric.  I recommend buying non-sticky velcro and just sewing it on the clothes and beneath the clothes line.  Clothes shapes:  Use your imagination!  Dresses, jeans, shirts, diapers, dish towels…

Page 10 & 11: Button My Wheels.  Cut out the train shapes.  I just made them up.  I didn’t sew the top line of the blue and yellow train car so that the wheels can be stored in there.  I hand sewed the buttons underneath the train and then made buttonholes into wheel shapes.  Takes a bit of time with the buttonholes, but it’s worth it.  Kids can always use more practice buttoning buttons!

Page 12: Answer The Telephone.  I just sketched a phone and stuffed the handle.  I added numbers because my sewing machine does numbers.  I used velcro to keep the handle down when not in use, but my kids don’t usually bother “hanging up the phone”.

Page 13: Carabiners & Buckles.  I just sewed on a carabiner and some left over bucklets from key chains.  Use up old things you have laying around that can keep little hands busy.

Page 14 & 15: Count My Beads.  The abacus is one of my favorite pages.  Cut out long rectangles from any scrap fabric.  Pin them down and sew the string underneath.  I did the top first, and then one by one, added the beads and sewed the string under.

Page 16: Button My Shirt.  I used this old kids shirt that I just never put on my children.  When you unbutton the shirt, there are car patches to look at (I just had them laying around).  This is not a popular page with the kids.  Must be too boring.

Page 17-19:  Buckles and Trains.  I had this Thomas the Train fabric and had to do something with it.  I added random buckles and a zipper I had.  I meant to put buttons or beads underneath each train, corresponding with the number on the train.  I guess I forgot to do that!

Page 20:  Ladybug.  Fun zipper page with four baby ladybugs.  I just cut ovals and circles and overlapped them to make the baby bugs.  The main thing is getting the zipper on there.  The picture could be just about anything.  Most zippers give good instructions.
1.  Lay your pages down in the order you want them.  For each page, put right sides together, and sew up 3 edges.  Turn right side out, tuck the raw edge under, iron, and sew a straight stitch to close the pages.

2.  Punch 3 eyelets into your pages.  Make sure they are in the same spot in each page so that they line up for the rings.

3.  Make your cover.  Add any decorations, belts, buckles, zippers, thick ribbon down the side, to the outside of your cover first.

4.  Make your liner.  Add any pockets and/or decorations, to the inside liner fabric first.

5.  Before you go on, you have to make holes for the rings.  One way to do this, is to sew a ribbon down the inside spine of the liner.  When sewing, leave a gap – stop sewing for 1/2 inch or so.  Now you have a nice little pocket where you can put the rings in for your 3 ring binder quiet book.

6.  Place right sides of the cover and liner together and sew 3 sides and then turn right side out and straight stitch to close.

7.  Add the rings and pages and you’re done!