Friday, February 27, 2015

Sewing Tutorial: Preparing to make your first Quiet Book

For my first Quiet Book was to make my daughter a special toy that would keep her occupied on the long flights from Brisbane, Australia to Frankfurt, Germany. In the end we didn't end up taking it with us, as it contained too many pages, too many small pieces and was a little overwhelming for her when she was little Miss 19 months old.

It was beautifully made with lots of love and we play with a lot now, but my biggest advice would be to keep it simple. I couldn't narrow down the pages I wanted to include, so I just kept adding page after page to the plan until it became 14 pages of activities. Stick to 6 or 8 activity pages all up. It will be enough.

Since that time, I've made dozens of them to sell and I've perfected and simplified my method. I plan to share this method with you step by step here, starting in this blog post with the first stage - the planning and preparations.


I make all of my quiet books from calico cotton, cotton print and felt. I find that the calico is heavy enough to last, and felt is easy to work with because it doesn't require edging. I use a cotton print fabric for the covers.

I like to join my pages together with binder rings. It means sewing just two buttonholes in each page, looks neat, and allows you to add and exchange pages when you want to.


My most popular quiet book is an unthemed one, but I have also designed and made counting quiet books, alphabet ones, colour books, and shape quiet books.

I like to vary the activities on each page and have included: size matching, colour matching, counting, tying shoes or bows, buckles, zips, magnet fishing, velcro, studs, buttons, finger puppets and more.

My suggestion is to get on Pinterest and explore ideas until you have picked your top 10, then narrow it down some more.


The costs can add up quickly. Check out dollar stores for things like zippers, buttons, felt packs and other supplies. EBay is one of my favourite places to shop for buckles, buttons, velcro, magnets, snaps, ribbons and beads. Buying bulk packs of calico can also help you save.


First, decide on size. I used to make my books quite large, but slowly they've become smaller. My ideal size is 18cm by 20cm.

You will need to allow for seams. I like to allow 1cm on each side, so for a finished size of 18cm by 20cm, I would need to cut out a piece 20cm by 22cm. If I am making six activity pages, I would cut out eight of these to allow for two extra, one for inside the front cover and one for inside the back cover.

Then you will cut out another two pieces of the same size for the outside of the front and back covers. Choose a vibrant cotton print fabric for these.

I sometimes choose to line each piece of fabric with a light iron on interfacing. This will depend on the weight of the fabrics that you are working with. If they are quite light, the interfacing will make it easier to sew on the felt pieces later. If the fabrics are heavier, you may be able to skip this step. If you decide to use interfacing, cut it out the same size as your ideal finished book size (in my case this would be 18cm by 20cm) and iron it on close to the centre of each fabric piece before going any further.


I've tried a few different ways to do this, but I always come back to using Heat n Bond Lite Iron on applique paper, or a similar product.

You can draw your design directly onto the paper, iron it onto the felt, cut it out, peel off the paper to leave the adhesive backing and then iron the felt piece onto your calico fabric. Once you have ironed the felt pieces onto your main fabric it is a good idea to sew around each piece to ensure it stays attached to the fabric. The adhesive applique paper can lose some of its effectiveness after a while.

In my next blog post, I'll be sharing a pattern for a colour matching page featuring a monkey holding four balloons. I'll also explain the full process for putting together the page.

Stay tuned!



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