I mentioned on Tuesday that we celebrated Small Fry’s birthday recently. I, of course, made him a gift instead of buying him one, and I wanted to share here all about it. I’d seen around the web recently the idea of fabric books for little ones, and some of them are specifically designed for toddlers to work on their fine motor skills. I wanted to make one of those. (This one is much better than the one I made, but I’m pretty pleased with mine nonetheless.)
First, the fabric choice. I just used cotton quilting fabric. I chose a light colored one with dogs because Small Fry loves dogs, and we don’t have one (nor will we ever get one). Also from the fabric store, I bought a zipper, some buttons, a piece of piping, and a few inches of snap tape.
When I got home and was ready to start building the book, I first got a few sheets of paper and planned out the book. Books aren’t as straightforward as they first appear, so this was an important step. It did two things. First, it helped me plan the placement of each item. Second, it helped me to decide how to cut the cloth. To make a 8.5″x8.5″ book, I cut the fabric into 9″x18″ rectangles. Taking into account the number of items I had for the pages, and the fact that there would need to be a cover, I cut six of these rectangles. Using my paper as a guide, I sewed the different pieces, one per “page” onto the fabric. I always put the items on the right side of the of the fabric.
When I was making this, I hadn’t intended to do a tutorial, so you’ll have to accept my apologies for the lack of pictures. Hopefully the words are enough.
How to Attach the Items
This really isn’t rocket science, and it’s much easier to attach these items to a book like this than it is if you need to use the items on a “real” garment.
For the zipper, I just sewed it right onto the fabric. I didn’t make a pocket or anything. It zips and unzips just fine, and that is the point of this book. It’s not a hiding place for small things – it’s a way for children to develop their fine motor skills.
On the buttons page, I took a piece of canvas from another project and sewed two buttonholes into it. Because the canvas was cream colored, I made the buttonholes black so they would show up better. Of course, in a regular garment, you would thread match rather than contrast, but for this project, contrasting was better. I zigzag stitched that piece of fabric all the way around to prevent fraying (in matching thread this time), and then sewed it onto the main fabric. Once that was in place, I sewed the buttons onto the main fabric, under the canvas.
Attaching the snap tape is just as easy as the zipper – maybe easier. I simply sewed them to the page on only the tops. This allows the snaps to lift from the page and attach to each other, but not to get lost.
Finally, the tie page. This one is the trickiest of all. First, I took another scrap of fabric and cut a “shoe” shape out of it. Into that, I sewed four buttonholes. With the buttonholes in place, I took my piping cord and threaded it through, just like you would lace a shoe. I tied the cord, mostly to keep it out of the way while I did the next step, which was to satin stitch (which is just fancy talk for tight zigzag stitching) it all the way around. This accomplishes two things: it keeps in in place and prevents fraying. With the “shoe” attached, I sewed over the top of the piping a few times to keep it from coming out.
Building the Book
Once you have all the “goodies” attached to their pages, it’s time to go back to your paper version of the book. It’s very important to get all the pieces sewed together properly or your book is not going to be exactly what you’d hoped for, and it’s likely that the pages you think should go together, won’t. When you’re sure you have the pages paired up correctly, sew them together, one pair at a time, right sides together. Remember to leave a hole big enough to turn the pages right side out! Before you turn it right side out, though, clip the corners. This will allow them to lay flatter. With the pages turned right side out, carefully iron each pair. Make sure while you’re ironing to get everything lined up as good as you can. During the ironing process, tuck the raw edge of that hole you left inward and iron (and pin if you need to) in place. When you’re done ironing, go back to the sewing machine and top stitch all the way around each page. This will get that hole closed up and give your book a more finished appearance.
The cover is done the same way, except there (probably) won’t be an attachment there. For mine, I did two pieces of fabric with absolutely nothing on them for the cover. At the end, I wrote Small Fry’s name on the front and a happy birthday message on the back using fabric markers. You could also embroider something for your special child on the cover if you have lots of time.
With all the pages done, go once more to your paper book. Stack the pages up according to the template you built and sew down the middle to create the binding.
That’s it! Wrap it up and give it to your favorite baby or toddler!
Have you ever made a book like this? Let me know in the comments!