How to make a quiet book pattern – a helpful tutorial

A free quiet book pattern I created on my computer following the steps below.

If you have been thinking about making a quiet book, you must have come across the importance of quiet book patterns for your crafting needs. However most of us don’t want to spend money buying patterns. And so let me share with you how I make my quiet book patterns at home.

To create your own free quiet book pattern, follow these simple steps:
1- Hand-draw an image on paper.
2- Scan it into your computer.
3- Use a vector software e.g. Inkscape to trace and tweak it.
4- Save and print your work.
All this can seem daunting. So let me show you how to do this quickly and easily below.

Step 1 ─ Getting inspiration for quiet book patterns

You will almost always start with a reference image, most likely on your computer. Even for simple shapes like an apple, it always helps to see finished real quiet book pages first. This will help you figure out whether it is worth creating a pattern for it or not.

You can find plenty of quiet book ideas on Pinterest

Now a lot of times, you will see very rich, complicated quiet book page ideas online. These are fine to recreate if this is your second or third quiet book. But if you are making a quiet book for the first time, I would highly recommend that you stick to the basics.

For example consider these two quiet book apple pages I made earlier. One is very complicated with multiple moving parts and a rich variety of materials. It took me two whole days to work this quiet book apple page out!

The second one is still a quiet book apple page. But I created it in under 90 minutes because it was simpler.

So if you are a beginner, look at all sorts of quiet book ideas on Pinterest. But think about how you can simplify them to create a quiet book pattern for yourself.

Step 2 ─ Hand-drawing the pattern

For this stage I will assume that you already know the size of your quiet book pages. If you don’t know this, remember that the quiet book size is largely dependent upon the age of the child. Check out this table below to see where you fit in. You can further read my post about what size are quiet book pages to help you further in this area.

What size are quiet book pages? Just refer to this table.

So now that you know the size of your quiet book page, you will start to hand-draw roughly the shapes you need on your page. I would suggest keeping a ready supply of cheap A4 paper at hand for this stage.

Now, there is every likelihood that your first attempt at drawing the quiet book pattern will not be successful. You will make mistakes or your hand might shake because you are unsure of your drawing skills or your shape might not come out the way you had it planned in your head.

Don’t worry about perfection in your hand-drawn patterns

Don’t worry about any of that right now; we can fix it all. Just think of the simplest outlines your quiet book shapes will have and draw those out roughly. Here you can use a couple of nifty hacks to help you out.

Tracing quiet book pattern shapes

If you find an image that you really like … and provided that you’re not going to use it for commercial purposes … you can simply go ahead and use that image as the basis of your quiet book pattern.

Even if that image is on the internet, you don’t need a printer to get that shape on paper.  Simply increase the brightness of your computer screen and lightly place your paper on top of your screen. Now gently trace out the image using a pencil. Make sure to keep a very light touch while doing this.

You could also use a tracing paper to make this easier. It will yield far more accurate results than by purely hand-drawing it.

Hand-drawing symmetrical quiet book patterns accurately

Fold a paper in half and draw against the fold line

Shapes like that of an apple or a heart are usually drawn symmetrically for purposes of making quiet books. You can easily hand-draw these patterns by folding your piece of paper in half. Now draw half of the shape against the fold of the paper. Cut around it and unfold the paper to reveal a perfectly symmetrical shape.

Hand-drawing geometrically accurate quiet book pattern shapes

For geometrically accurate shapes like squares, circles, equilateral triangles etc you could use simple geometry tools like a ruler, protractor and compass. In fact for drawing shapes like circles, you will almost always have to use some kind of tool for example a compass or a bottle cap to trace around.

Use a compass and ruler to draw perfect circles and triangles quickly and easily

For drawing equilateral triangles which have 3 equal sides, you simply need a ruler and a compass. Draw a straight line and place the tip of your compass on one end of the line. Open the compass as wide as the line’s length. Now make an arc above the line.

Place the still-open compass on the other end of the line and criss-cross the first arc. The point of intersection of these two arcs will become the third point of your triangle. Simply connect this point to the two ends of your line to get a perfect triangle.

Explaining this in words sounds a lot more complicated than it really is so don’t be afraid of trying to make geometrically accurate shapes yourself. You don’t always need a computer to do these things!

Drawing quiet book patterns for alphabet letters and numbers

It is possible to draw patterns for letters and numbers by hand. However you do need to do this fairly accurately because wonky letters and numbers just don’t appear very appealing. One of the best way to create a quiet book pattern for letters or numbers is to trace directly off your computer.

Simply open up a word processing software like MS Word. Type in the letter or the number and blow it up to fairly large proportions, perhaps a font size of 100 or higher. Alternatively, you could also increase the magnification of your screen to blow up the figure to a size you need for your quiet book.

Use MS Word to create easy letter and number patterns

Now just like we discussed earlier, simply trace this off on a piece of cheap printer paper or tracing paper. Your hand might shake a bit as you’re doing this but don’t worry. Once you’re done tracing, you can place your paper firmly on top of a table and neaten up the edges properly.

Up until now, I have just been talking about working with paper and pencil to create a quiet book pattern. You could continue like this and before long, you will be done.

But if you do have a printer at home and if you are willing to take your quiet book pattern making one step further, let me show you how you can do this using your home computer.

 Step 3 (optional) ─ How to make a quiet book pattern using your home computer

You can use your home computer in a number of different ways to make your quiet book patterns. Let’s start with the simplest method, which is also one of my favorite.

Using MS Paint to make a quiet book pattern

Most of us run Windows on our home computers and so will be familiar with MS Paint. This software is unique because it is so simple and minimal.

My favorite functionality within MS Paint is the basic shapes for example circles, triangles, hearts, arrows etc. You could use any of these for a number of different parts of your quiet book. For geometrically uniform shapes, remember to press the Shift key while dragging the mouse.

MS Paint can help you create simple shapes easily

You could also use the curve line tool to create basic shapes for example the cloud and the crescent that you see above. However I feel you might be better off just tracing these off the internet or attempting to hand-draw these yourself for faster and more accurate results.

In a nutshell, MS Paint is great for simple quiet book pattern shapes which are built into the program.

Using Inkscape to make a quiet book pattern

 If you want to take your pattern-making one step further, you could follow this step which also happens to be my favourite way of creating most of my own quiet book patterns. And that is by using the free software Inkscape.

Inkscape is a vector graphics software. Vector graphics are images which can be blown up or shrunk down to any size without compromising the picture quality.

Images can rupture in MS Paint because they are not vectors

So for example if you draw a circle in MS Paint and select it. Now if you drag it out to a larger size, you will see that the outline of the circle will start to split up and get jagged.

However in Inkscape, anything you draw will be a vector image. So you can select it and drag it out or shrink it down to any size you want and the quality of the lines will remain unchanged.

Now let me show you how you can use Inkscape to create your quiet book patterns.

Step 1 – You will start with either a hand-drawn shape or finding an image on the internet. Once again, we are talking about making quiet books which are not for commercial use. However if you are making a quiet book to sell, please do not copy images off the internet because that’s copyright infringement.

Step 2 – Next you need to get that image into your computer somehow. Now if you found the image on the internet, it is already there on your computer. You will simply right click the image and save it as a JPEG file.

However if you have hand-drawn the image yourself, there are two ways of importing it into your computer. You could scan it into your computer using a scanner. Or you could simply use your smartphone to take a picture of your image and then email it directly to yourself to access it on your computer.

Step 3 – Now you will open up Inkscape. If you don’t already have Inkscape, you can download and install it for free online. Just Google it.

Click File –> Import

Step 4 – Under the Files tab, click the option of Import. Now find the image file you chose earlier on your computer and import it into Inkscape. There will be a pop-up here.

Click OK and you’re good to go

Simply click OK and you’re good to go. This will be the reference image that you will work from.

Step 5 – Press the Ctrl key and drag out the image to a large-enough size.

Step 6 – Now zoom into your image and use the Bezier Curve tool in the left tools bar to trace it out. As you do this, use the Edit paths by nodes tool to fine tune your curves and lines.

Now there might be some nuances to this step like making the image slightly lighter to help you see your lines better. The best way to properly learn how to do this is to follow the short tutorial at this link. It really sums it up quite neatly.

As you work on Inkscape, you will realize that you can tweak your traced vector image any way you want. You can change curves, add details, remove details, blow it up or shrink it down to any size you want. You can also specify the height and width of your pattern.

Once you are happy with your trace, you can delete the original imported image from your  Inkscape worksheet.

Save your work as a PDF file

Now go to File –> Save as. And in the drop-down menu, select the PDF option. Save your work and now, you will have a PDF quiet book pattern ready to be used!

Now you can print out your PDF file and you will be ready to roll. You will also have a copy of your quiet book pattern saved in your computer for future use.

Deciding what kind of patterns to use in your quiet book

I have been making quiet books for over five years now. And I want to share a few thoughts about how you can make sure that your quiet book pattern will be successful.

A lot of times, what we see on the computer might not actually be best for making a quiet book patern. For example if you go onto MS Word to create a pattern for the letter G, it might seem really cool and fascinating to use fancy fonts with lots of curls and twirls.

However remember that the more curly and twisty a font is, the harder it will be for you to work with. Therefore whether you are a beginner or an expert, it is always a good idea to keep things as simple as possible while making them engaging enough for children.

Using the correct medium for drawing your quiet book patterns

So far we have mostly talked about using cheap printer paper or tracing paper for making quiet book patterns. However sometimes, this may not be the best medium to use. This is particularly true when you have lots of repetitions of the same kind of shape.

You can include fun and creative learning activities for toddlers inside a quiet book

For example take a look at this quiet book page which has an alligator and a handful of cute little fish. The fish are all of the same shape and size.

When I created this page, I printed the fish out on cheap white paper. But then I cut that fish out and traced it onto a piece of card stock. This card stock became my final medium for the quiet book pattern that I actually worked with.

A sturdy cardboard quiet book page template all cut out

The reason for this is simple: if you are using the same pattern over and over again to create repeated shapes, that pattern will come under a lot of stress. And if you’re using flimsy printer paper for the job, you will just end up destroying it after your first or second use. Which means you will have to restart the whole pattern making process again.

A better option …

Instead, if you first plan out the contents of your quiet book, you will have a basic idea of which patterns are repetitive. Now you can be wise about choosing the correct medium to make your quiet book patterns with.

Download and print this Quiet Book Planning Tool to help you stay on top of your game!

You can read all about how to plan your quiet book in my post here. And you can download my free Quiet Book Planning Tool to visually chalk out the contents of your quiet book before making your patterns.

In a nutshell, if you are making a quiet book pattern for repeated shapes, use a sturdy medium like card stock or cardboard from an old cereal box. Trace the pattern directly on to it, cut it out and then use it for cutting your materials.

For all other purposes, just simple plain white cheap A4 paper will do just fine.

Essential tools for cutting quiet book patterns

Now that your quiet book patterns have been printed out or hand-drawn, let’s quickly take a look at the best way to prepare them for use. You will need some essential tools first.

Scissors

You will need a sharp pair of scissors to cut your quiet book patterns. Ideally you should have two pairs of scissors for this job: a larger, more ergonomic pair that will not put pressure on your thumb. And a smaller one for more precise cuts.

Fiskar’s (top) and Korbond’s (bottom)

For example my Fiskar’s student scissors do a brilliant job of slicing through tough cardstock and all kinds of materials. I have used these to cut all the quiet book patterns you see on this website. On the other hand, my small Korbond scissors are perfect for tight corners and fine detail.

Craft knife

Craft knives are excellent for tricky cuts

Craft knives will help you make precise cuts in tricky places. For example to cut out the holes in letters A, B or D, you could first make a slit within the hole using your craft knife. Then you could use your smaller scissors to finish the cut.

Tips for cutting quiet book patterns

It is time to get cutting! Here are some cutting tips that I have picked up on my journey into quiet book making.

Move the paper, not the scissors

Remember to move the paper rather than the scissors when cutting through tight curves. Keep your hand holding the scissors fairly still. Only move the fingers to open the blade wide for the next slice-through.

Store quiet book patterns for easy access

Find a way of organizing and storing your quiet book patterns in a way that is quick and easy. My favorite method is to use cheap CD envelopes. The clear window helps me see the contents easily and I can label them on the other side.

Store your quiet book patterns in cheap labelled envelopes for easy access

The envelopes can be filed away inside a small folder or an old shoebox.

The next steps ─ making a list of quiet book materials

The best thing about making quiet book patterns is that it gives you a real feel of what materials you would need for your quiet book.

For example when I first made this quiet book pattern, I thought I would make the egg carton out of felt. But when I cut the pattern out, I realized that burlap would be a better option. So as you cut the quiet book patterns out, make a list of what materials you will need to create each page.

By the time you are done cutting out all the pieces of your quiet book, you should have a fairly exhaustive list of all the supplies you will need for you project. Go over this list once more and edit/tweak where necessary.

Salvaging your quiet book materials

Once your quiet book materials list is ready, go scavenging around your home to see if there are any supplies that you might already have at hand. You are bound to find at least one item that you might be able to use. For example a large button or a piece of fabric. Or even a pair of old (but clean!) jeans that can be cut for parts.

Now tick off the things you have found already at home, and buy everything else. If you are unsure of the exact quantities you need, err on the side of a little extra. If you have any leftovers, you can always use them in your next craft project or donate them.

It is a huge pain when you realize that you are falling short of one bead to complete a quiet book page. But to order it online means you have to wait at least 48 hours for it to arrive through the post!

Parting thoughts

Hopefully this has inspired you to try making some simple quiet book patterns at home. Remember, having a computer or a printer does not affect your creativity at all. You can create awesome quiet book patterns with just a few basic stationery supplies.

You can get started by making the easiest patterns first, and then move on to trickier shapes.

If you are still unsure about how to go about making a quiet book, check out my post here.

Don’t forget to download and print my Quiet Book Planning Tool.

Happy crafting!

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