Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How to Design & Make a Felt Quiet Book, part 1

      Felt quiet books are exploding all over the internet.  Many blogs are giving tutorials on how to do certain pages, people are posting pictures of their creations, and Pinterest is practically bursting with ideas and examples.  I first learned about quiet books after searching for felt figures for a flannel board for my children.  I thought the whole idea of a washable, soft, and entertaining book was brilliant, especially for my busy toddler boys.  I made two books using a design pattern I purchased off of Etsy and I was hooked. 

     The books turned out beautifully, my children LOVED them, and I felt I had created an heirloom quality piece of art that would last for a long time.  I really wanted to try some girl themed pages, but since I only had boys, it didn't seem very practical until a friend of mine adopted a five year old girl from China.  I made a quiet book for her using different ideas I found on blogs around the internet.

     Now before you get the idea that I am some crafty genius, I will tell you right off that up to this point I was ONLY using other people's patterns and ideas.  I could follow directions, but I didn't feel like I was adding anything special to my books.  There was just something missing.  Then one day I realized what it was: MY ideas.  See, the way I figure it, each person has unique ideas all locked up inside their head.  You may share similar ideas with somebody else, but there is something special that only you can create or add or accomplish.

     Using other people's patterns is wonderful, don't get me wrong.  But that should just be practice.  A starting point to spur on your creativity to making your own personalized, unique books tailored to the child you are sewing for.

     So, with great fear and trembling, I designed my own pattern page based off a song my boys liked to sing.  It wasn't as difficult as I thought.  In fact, it was exhilarating.  I had made something no one else had thought of.  And I am NOT an artistic person.  I can't draw much more than stick figures and forget about “graphic design”.  That is just not me.  I have basic sewing skills and a love of all things crafty.  That's it.  

     Now, why should you care?  Because my goal with this blog series is to give you basic instruction on quiet books and inspire you to design your own.  If you know the basics, you CAN design your own felt pages and books and you CAN turn out amazing felt quiet books with a little time and minimal cost.  And people will be amazed at the things you make  :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

DIY Rattle for a Baby Toy

I was making baby toys this week and wanted to include a rattle inside one of them.  I looked at ordering some but of course it was too last minute.  You probably NEVER do stuff so last minute like I do, but in case you wanted to save some money I thought I'd post this simple tutorial for how to make your own baby rattle using ping pong balls and seed beads.

First I cut a V shaped slit in the ping pong ball with a small sharp pair of scissors.

Then I added a teaspoon or so of seed beads.

Then I hot glued the ball closed.  Once it was dry I tested it out - it shakes GREAT!

And that's all there is to it.  I put these inside small sewn bags for extra security against little mouths and tucked them into my baby toys.  They make great little rattles and were super simple to make!
If you wanted to make a REALLY easy toy, just add a rattle or two to a stuffed or bean bag animal.  I haven't tried it yet, but I bet they would work in the washer/dryer too.  Hmm, I should try that this week.  I will post an update after I test it out :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

DIY Baby Toys

I had a baby shower this past week for two little boys and a girl.  I was in the mood to make toys, so these are what I found via Pinterest.  The above jellyfish were from Kid Dependent and the robots were from Prudent Baby.  I used scraps from my fabric and ribbon stash and put them together on a Saturday afternoon.

This is the robot for the little girl - isn't the hair awesome?  I tried to pick girly colors for it, cause who says a girl can't like robots?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wheels on the Bus Quiet Book Page

One of my favorite pages that I designed was this Wheels on the Bus Quiet Book Page.  The wheels really turn, the doors open, and the children are finger puppets so they can move "up and down".  It seems like every little kid knows this song, so it only made sense to include it in a car themed quiet book.

For this page I used the pattern, felt in blue, dark gray, black, yellow, red, white, light gray, cream, brown, mustard, & three patterned felts for the kids' clothes.  I also used two short lengths of blue ribbon, two grommets, and two 1" black buttons.

I started out by making the kids so my children could play with them while I finished the rest of the page.  They are super simple to make - no sewing required!  (Of course, they could be sewn if you want, but hot glue is MUCH faster, makes them stiffer, and is completely machine wash/dryable).

To assemble the kids, glue any embellishments onto the body front (for the overalls, glue the ends of two short lengths of blue ribbon beneath the overall front) and then glue the body front and back together on the curved U shape only so the bottom will be open for a finger.  (The ribbons get wrapped over the shoulders of the kid, crossed in back, and glued under the overall back).  For the heads, the body gets slightly sandwiched between the head front and back and glued together.  Then I add the hair front and eyes.  Honestly, it's longer to explain than to actually do.  All three kids took me maybe fifteen minutes to put together and you know hot glue dries within minutes so it's very easy to make a whole class worth of kids.

To make the bus I first stitched down the two black stripes.  Then, I stitched down the gray road and figured out the placement of the bus onto the page.  After that I stitched around the outside of the bus to attach it to the page.  I added the bumpers and lights and stitched around the driver's window.  I matched up the inside door pieces to the doors on the bus, tucking the excess under the bus body.  I machine stitched where the doors meet the body of the bus so they open easily and then hand stitched around the other three edges of each door to attach the door front and back together and make them more sturdy.  Finally, I stitched around the upper three edges of the big window, leaving the bottom edge open to make the pocket for the kids.

I cut out the black wheels with pinking shears to give them a cool looking edge and added grommets to the middle.  I stitched the buttons on through the grommets so the wheels can turn.  And that's it.  The whole page comes together fairly quickly and I think it is super cute.

If you make this page, please comment or email me and send me pictures!  I would love to see how yours turns out!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mail Truck Quiet Book Page

Almost every quiet book I've seen includes a mailbox page.  I love the mailbox page that Stephanie did, but thought it should be a two page spread for my nephew's book.  So I created a mail truck to go along with the mailbox page and deliver the mail and packages.

For the mail truck page I used: the pattern, felt in light blue, dark gray, black, red, blue, and white, two buttons, two grommets, and iron on transfer paper.
I started by sewing down the red and blue stripe.  Since the door is cut in the truck shape, the stripes are two separate pieces for each color.  This actually makes it much easier to make sure they are the correct length for the truck. 
After that, I ironed on the logo and web address to the truck body.  This really makes it look like a mail truck with not a lot of effort.  Don't iron over the red and blue stripe though!  I did and they bled a little bit :(  Yours will look much better cause I already made that mistake for you.  You're welcome :)
Then I placed the truck on the page and stitched around the outside edge to attach it to the page.  I also stitched around the windshield area.  I added the gray road and stitched on the turn signal and bumpers.  Then I put the grommets in the wheels and attached them to the page with buttons through the grommets so the wheels can turn.

I hand stitched the blue window to the front of the door and added the white door back piece for stability.
 Then it was on to the packages!  I basically stitched together a box like shape with a cut opening so you could see what was in the package.  I stitched a shaped button in each package and they were complete.

This is a VERY fun page to play with, especially when you combine it with a mailbox page.  It didn't take me very long to put together (one nap time), but it is a very interactive and cool page.  Please comment or send me pictures if you make it!  Enjoy!