Back in 2014 when I made my very first quiet book, its pages were flimsy and soft. So I started to wonder how I could make my quiet book pages stiff. After much experimentation, I finally discovered the best way to easily make quiet book pages stiff.
The best way to make quiet book pages stiff is to use heavy weight fusible interfacing, heat pressed on to the back of cotton fabric. This will create a stiff smooth quiet book page that you can then decorate. To further stiffen your quiet book pages, you need to bolster them polyester batting after decorating them.
But if you are just starting out, the idea of cutting up all the different pieces of fabric, fusible interfacing and polyester wadding can seem daunting and time consuming. So I have discovered a quick and easy method of making my quiet book pages stiff in the shortest amount of time. Let me show you how I do it.
Things you need to make your quiet book pages stiff
Let’s first take a look at the different supplies you will need to make your quiet book pages stiff. There is nothing here that is hard to get your hands on. So let’s dive in!
A large sheet of heavy-weight fusible interfacing
I love to buy fusible interfacing in bulk online, usually on Ebay. In this way, the cost per unit of interfacing goes down. Start with buying at least 1-2 meters of thick, heavy-weight interfacing.
It will arrive folded up in a large envelope in the post. Keep your fusible in a cool dry place and make sure that it is not in contact with any heat sources like radiators. Otherwise the glue will start melting and your interfacing will be left useless!
An old cereal box or cardboard box or a piece of card
You will need a piece of cardboard to create your quick and easy template, which will shave off precious time in preparing your quiet book pages. Alternatively, you can invest in a quilting square of the exact intended size of your quiet book pages.
But quilting squares, even the cheap ones, can be pricey. And if you want to make quiet books of different sizes, the costs can quickly add up. So I would highly recommend trying the old-cereal-box method first!
Pieces of cotton or poly cotton
Once again, I love buying fabric on Ebay, purely because it is quick and easy. If you really want to save money when buying your fabric, you could try buying polycotton fabric. However I do not like the texture and feel of poly cotton; it just feels scratchy.
So if you are putting in the time and effort to make a quiet book for a child that you love, I would highly recommend spending the extra few cents and buying pure cotton fabric. The colors will be more vibrant, the feel of the fabric will be richer, and overall you will really like the finish of the quiet book page once you are done making it.
Craft knife or retractable cutter
Using a retractable cutter or a craft knife is perfect if you want to save time when preparing the materials for your quiet book page. You will also find that the cuts that you make with these tools are much more accurate than when you use a pair of scissors. Using a knife over scissors is also much more faster and far more fun than using scissors.
Besides, craft knives are cheaper than a good pair of scissors so it is always a good idea to keep these in your tool stash.
You will need a ruler for two jobs here. Firstly you will use a ruler to mark out straight lines on your cardboard. Secondly the straight edge of the ruler will help you cut perfectly straight lines when making the template for your quiet book pages.
For this reason, I would highly recommend investing in at least one straight edged metal ruler because metal copes much better with craft knives or even rotary cutters. Metal rulers also last longer, saving you money over the years. So it is always a good idea to invest in at least one 12 inch long metal ruler.
Protractor or quilting ruler or set square to mark right angles
One of the key things that you will be doing before you even start cutting out your quiet book page template is that you will draw or mark out a perfect square on the cardboard.
Now there are a few different ways in which you can draw a perfect square. It might seem simple enough to do, and it really is if you know how to do it. But you really need to make sure that the four angles of your square are a perfect 90 degrees, or nearly as close to 90 degrees as possible.
If you have studied geometry in school, you would know how to use a simple protractor. Using this, you can mark out four perfect right angles to create a square template.
But if you don’t have a protractor or perhaps you are unsure of using it, you could use a quilting ruler or a quilting square instead. Both these tools have markings for perfect 90 degree angles, and you can use these to draw out a square template onto the cardboard.
This one is obvious. You will be making some key markings on your cardboard so keep a reliable sharp-pointed pencil at hand.
I know it sounds weird that I have listed a ball pen separately amongst the list of tools you need to prepare your quiet book page templates. But the fact is that I have tried using a number of different marking tools like pencils or felt tip pens or Sharpies along with ball pens.
And a ball pen is the only tool that makes perfect markings on the back of fusible interfacing! So trust me on this one … keep a cheap ball pen near by when you do this.
Ok so this is probably the only tool so far that you might not have in your crafting stash. And if you don’t have a rotary cutter, don’t worry. You can do just fine by using a simple pair of sharp scissors.
But since we want to make our quiet book pages stiff in the shortest amount of time using the least amount of effort, a rotary cutter is perfect to help us do this. If you are unsure of using a rotary cutter just simply go on YouTube and look up some videos on how to use it to cut fabric.
In fact Crafty Gemini has a fab tutorial on using a rotary cutter and you could check it out at this link.
As for myself, I just simply bought the cheapest rotary cutter I could find from Amazon and I have been using it for the past 5 years straight out, no jokes. It is still going strong.
So yeah, if you want to spend some money in building up a craft tools stash, I would highly recommend that you invest in a rotary cutter. It will pay dividends by saving you time and effort, and giving you superior accuracy in your cuts.
If you don’t know this already, a self-healing mat is kind of like a thick, flexible, very dense plastic mat with markings on it. These markings might be in centimeters or inches. Self-healing mats are typically used as a base for using rotary cutters or other cutting tools for example retractable knives or craft knives. They protect your work surfaces while you are cutting. Also, the markings on these mats help you make accurate cuts.
I bought my A3 sized self-healing mat on Amazon 5 years ago and it is still going strong. But if you don’t want to buy a self-healing mat, just simply use a clean old chopping board from your kitchen. As long as it is clean, it will do just fine. Sure it might not have the fancy markings on it… but who cares? And after you’re done, you can just simply wash it and use it to chop up some salad.
Finally, if you don’t have a rotary cutter and self-healing mat, don’t worry. You can do just fine with a pair of scissors instead.
Creating a template for your quiet book pages
The best way to speed up the process of making your quiet book pages stiff is to make a template for your fusible interfacing. I love to do this by cutting up any old cardboard box (usually cereal boxes are best because of their large flat side).
Cut open the cereal box and take a large flat piece, larger than the actual size of your desired quiet book page. On this cardboard, you will draw an outline for your actual quiet book pages. Usually, this will be a perfect square. Unless of course you want to create a rectangular quiet book, in which case you will draw a rectangular template.
Let’s work with square quiet book pages here, but the process will be similar with rectangular quiet books too. Simply refer to the table below and make a square of your relevant size on the cardboard. You will be using this to cut out all of your quiet book page fabric and fusible interfacing.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of measuring and drawing a square by yourself, simply download and print my free Quiet Book Page Templates. You can save time and effort by using the pre-made templates for quiet books!
Cutting your quiet book templates efficiently
Now that your square template is drawn out, it is time to cut it out. While you might think that using a pair of scissors is the best way to go, you will find that actually using a craft knife or retractable cutter, along with a straight edged ruler yields much better results.
Use your desired tool to cut out the cardboard square that you had just drawn. If you are using a single blade tool, make sure to protect your work surface with a self-healing mat or an old chopping board.
Once you cut it out, take a pen and write down the size of the square on your template. In this way, your quiet book template will always be ready for any future busy books that you might want to make.
For example here is the quiet book template that I created for my 7 inch quiet book.
Preparing fusible interfacing to make quiet book pages stiff
Now it is time to prepare the fusible interfacing to stiffen your quiet book pages. Fusible interfacing comes off the roll in large sheets. One side of this sheet is matte and the other is shiny.
Remember to place the fusible interfacing shiny side down. Now place your cardboard quiet book page template on top of the matte side and grab a ball pen. Trace all around the template with your pen.
Draw as many squares as there are pages, plus two more for the front and back covers. For example if your quiet book has eight different activity pages, you will draw 10 squares.
Cutting fusible interfacing to stiffen quiet book pages
After drawing the outline of the quiet book page template, it is time to cut out the fusible interfacing.
While it is tempting to pick up the first pair of scissors you can find and start cutting, think about how you can do this quickly and efficiently. A rotary cutter is the best way to cut fusible interfacing. You will also need a cutting mat or clean chopping board, and a straight edged ruler.
Simply place the edge of the ruler along one edge of the ball pen squares. Now roll the rotary cutter’s blade away from you along the ruler’s edge to get a quick and clean cut. Repeat on the remaining three sides and move on to the next square. Continue until all the fusible interfacing squares have been cut out.
Preparing fabric before stiffening it for your quiet book
Next it is time to prepare the fabric for your quiet book pages. Essentially you want to do away with any wrinkles or creases before you stiffen the fabric. So take a hot steam iron and press all the fabric nice and flat.
If your iron does not have a steam function, use a thin piece of damp muslin over the cotton or poly cotton to get flawless results. You could also use spray-on starch for a lovely crisp finish.
You should now have a set of quiet book fabric pieces, slightly larger than your cereal box square, all neatly pressed and ready to be stiffened
Fusing fabric and interfacing together to make quiet book pages stiff
Now it is time to stiffen the fabric for your quiet book pages. For this, simply take the pre-cut squares of fusible interfacing and place them, shiny side down, on to the back of your desired fabric. Now follow the instructions on the packaging to give this a shot of heat form your iron. Usually, this is only a couple of seconds.
As you press the fusible interfacing, follow these three tips to make this process as efficient and effective as possible:
- Use dry heat to fuse the interfacing. Switch off the steam function on your iron.
- Press — rather than glide — the iron over the interfacing and move on as soon as it has fused to the fabric.
- Line up the edge of the fusible interfacing to any repeating fabric prints to give you an even finish on your quiet book page.
Repeat the process until you have fused all the fusible interfacing squares to the back of the fabric.
If you want to watch a video of how to use fusible interfacing, you can find a short and sweet one at this link.
Trimming down the fabric to reveal perfectly stiff quiet book pages
As soon as your fabric has been fused to the interfacing, it will immediately feel stiff. Now is the time to trim off any excess fabric from around the fusible interfacing to reveal your perfectly stiff quiet book pages.
Again, a rotary cutter, a ruler and a self-healing mat are your best friends here. In other words, you will get flawless results quickly and easily using these. So go ahead and get rolling.
Once you have finished, stand back and admire your handy work. Your quiet book pages are stiff, smooth and ready to be decorated!
The best quiet book images that you find on Pinterest will have pages that seem to stand stiff and upright, void of any sagging. They also have an amount of volume and body. You will create pages like these by taking one extra step. But that comes much later in the making of your quiet book, after you have decorated your pages.
In this second stage, you will be making page ‘sandwiches’ with polyester batting or wadding in between. This, combined with what you have just learned above, will yield the perfect results you are seeking.
I will be doing a detailed post on how to make the quiet book page sandwiches. Watch this space for the link.
If you are still unsure of what steps you need to take to create a quiet book yourself, check out my post on How to Make a Quiet Book which will walk you through each stage.