October 6, 2010

A Quiet Book for Busy Fingers

My latest late night sewing project- a cloth activity book for my toddler.

I wanted something soft, portable, interesting, silent, durable, and inexpensive for her to play with while we were out and about and waiting. Places like office waiting rooms, church, club meetings, car rides, older sibling lessons, etc.  Something that would be engaging, age appropriate, and educational. I saw several for sale in specialty stores or etsy shops and really wasn't impressed. I thought most of them were over-priced, too small, or too simple and didn't include the activities that I wanted. So I decided to make my own. I looked at all the links on this site, took a few notes on the pages I liked, and made a plan. I had about 25 pages worth of really great ideas, and about 15 pages worth of supplies and attention span for the project. So I narrowed it down with a few requirements: it had to be simple, made with materials I already had in my stash, and adaptable for several skill levels (I know big brother is going to swipe it, and I want it to be just as fun next year when she can do more).

I am not a perfectionist or one who obsesses over details. I just made things up as I went. I sketched things freehand, so have no patterns for you to print out. I like to cheat, so if I could glue it with liquid stitch, I did. If I could stick it together with fusible web instead of sewing and turning, I did. If I could use the print on the fabric or draw it in with a sharpie instead of sewing on details, I did. I used fabric scraps from my stockpile and looked specifically for pieces with interesting and varied colors, textures, and patterns. So that is my little disclaimer.

Now, some pictures for you:

 The front cover- I used an old pair of jeans for the cover so it would be durable and thicker than the inside pages. I fused on my hand print, which I had traced onto corduroy, and hand lettered the title. A big colorful button and an elastic loop provide a simple closure.

 Snap on cupcakes and ice cream scoops. The cone and cupcake wrapper are fused on, I hand-sewed on the snaps, and used fusible web to make the scoops thicker and double-sided. I just picked out prints with interesting color combinations. My daughter is really into yellow, so I tucked some in wherever I could.

 Apple tree with birds and apples. The apples and tree are made from felt, so I only had to put velcro on the apples and they stick to the tree anywhere. The birds are just cut out and glued on. The basket has a pocket to keep the apples in.

Button on flowers. I took this pic before my glue dried- oops. More little birdies glued in place, along with the stems and grass. I sewed on the buttons, fused some fabric together and cut out flower shapes, then cut a button hole in the center of each flower. Easy but cute.

 Write a letter. or scribble for a few minutes, whatever! The pocket holds a small notebook and a pencil or crayons. The mailbox flap opens so you can stick a note inside to mail it.

 Fishing pond. My daughter's current favorite. I cut out some fish from an ocean print and fused it to a solid color backing. I put a paperclip in between the layers first, so each fish will stick magically to the magnet on the end of the pole. A piece of old shower curtain sewed on top of the pond makes a fun pocket. The pole is just a kitchen skewer, a length of yarn, and two sticky-backed magnets sandwiched around the yarn end. Right now, she just likes to pull all the fish out by hand.

 A bead abacus. Beads on yarn, sewn behind two fabric scrap poles. Simple but surprisingly engaging.

 Alphabet page. The pocket at the bottom holds velcro backed letters that stick to the velcro lines at the top. I found a package of sticky-backed felt letters, stuck them to the flat side of a strip of velcro, and sewed two lines down the center of the strip, catching as much of the letters as I could. I figured between the glue and the stitching they would stay on ok. I started by making sure I had all the letters required to spell her name, then added her sibling's, and threw in a few extras just in case. I figure I have a few years before she can actually start spelling words.

 Old McDonald's farm. Another favorite. Simple barn shape cut from red felt, with some white details.

 Open the barn door to reveal a felt pocket holding some animal finger puppets. I tried to keep them simple with just enough detail to tell what animal it was. Glue and sharpies and one zigzag seam to reinforce the glue on the edges.

 A big felt piggy bank with a slot cut in the top. I didn't sew around the head so the coins can be pulled back out by reaching through the neck opening. A stack of plastic coins (too big to swallow!) from the party favor store are great for counting.

 A dolly with yarn hair for braiding, tying, putting clips in, or just running tiny fingers through. The dress is a pocket to hold hair clips and ribbon scraps.

 A shoe to tie. I traced my daughter's foot on the green fabric, sewed it down, then added the white felt details. I added a yard shoelace.

The last page. A vinyl pocket (that shower curtain again) under some felt mittens I made by tracing my hand with fingers together. the mittens pull back to reveal a family picture. Babies and toddlers love peek-a-boo and looking at pictures of people they know!

 The last page just tells other families who to return the book to when my kids leave it under the bench at church. After all the late nights I gave up tv to sew, I figured it was worth trying to get it back.

Back cover. The pocket of the jeans and a fused on tiny hand print. A snack baggie full of snacks fits just right in the pocket, as well as cast off hair clips, hot wheels cars, or stray crayons.

So there you have it. I had to scrap a few pages because I knew if my ambitions were too high, I would just give up. But If I ever decide to add to it, I love the dinosaur eggs with little plastic dinos in them, the Noah's ark with jungle animals in a zipper pocket, the cupcake oven, and so many more! This is one project that will go on forever if I let it.

One quiet book, made by a very beginning sewer, for free! If I can do it, you can do it!

Linking to Made by You on Skip to my Lou


TheKunks said...

Super sweet! Definitely making this too. Thanks cousin!!!

Lenetta @ Nettacow said...

Popped over from Skip to my Lou - very well done! I know just how much time these take - but they're so worth it. Thanks for sharing!

LivingSoAbundantly said...

That's amazing! You are really talented. :)