How to stiffen quiet book pages – a time-saving tutorial

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 stiffen my quiet book pages quickly and easily. After much experimentation, I finally discovered the best and most fool-proof way to do this.

The best way to stiffen quiet book pages is to iron on heavyweight fusible interfacing on to the back of children’s cotton fabric. This will create a stiff, smooth quiet book page that you can then decorate. To further make your quiet book pages stand upright, you need to support them up with polyester or quilting batting.

Once you try this method, your quiet book pages will be stiff enough to stand upright with minimal support!

But if you are just starting out, the idea of cutting up all the different pieces of fabric, fusible interfacing and polyester batting 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 stiffen your quiet book pages. You can easily find everything online or in craft shops. 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, its cost per unit goes down.

Fusible interfacing up close. You can see the matte side of this material. The other side is shiny.

Start with buying at least 1-2 meters of thick, heavy-weight interfacing. It will arrive folded up in a large envelope in your mail. Keep your fusible interfacing 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 a quick and easy quiet book page template. This will shave off plenty of precious time in preparing your pages. Alternatively, you can invest in a quilting square of the exact intended size of your quiet book pages.

An old cardboard box can help you create a perfectly good quiet book template

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 fabric

I have written about why it is important to spend a few extra pennies or cents to buy pure cotton fabric for your quiet book pages. You could use poly-cotton too, which is a blend of cotton and polyester fibers. But do read this post before spending your money because it will help you make a more informed decision.

I love buying fabric on Ebay, purely because it is quick, easy and fairly cheap to do so. If my fabric stash has nothing inspiring enough in it, I buy coordinating fat quarter fabric bundles. They are already color coordinated by the seller so I have less work to do choosing my page themes.

I love the rich feel and vibrant colors of pure cotton fabric. And if I have the time, I do pre-shrink my fabric in a sink full of water before working with it.

Craft knife or retractable cutter

Using a retractable cutter or a craft knife is perfect if you want to stiffen your quiet book pages quickly. 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.

Besides, cutting with a craft knife is more fun and less tedious than using scissors so it is always a good idea to keep a cheap craft knife in your tool stash.

Ruler

You will need a ruler for two jobs here. Firstly you will use it to mark out straight lines on your cardboard. Secondly the 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.

You will need a ruler and a protractor or quilting tool to mark your angles.

Metal copes much better with craft knives and 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. Or alternatively, you could use my free Quiet Book Page Templates below.

Free Quiet Book Page Templates!

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of measuring and making your own square template by hand, simply download and print my free Quiet Book Page Templates. It has all the templates you need to create quiet books in three different sizes: 5 inches, 6 inches and 7 inches.

Download and print the free Quiet Book Templates file to skip the hassle of making your own squares. Pin this to your Quiet Book Ideas Board to return to later!

Simply print out the sheet on your home printer, cut out the square of your desired size and mark it out on your cardboard. You could also print the templates directly on to cardstock and use them. Easy breezy!

Pencil

Make sure your pencil has a pointy end to make precise marks on your cardboard

This one is obvious. You will be making some key markings on your cardboard so keep a reliable sharp-pointed pencil at hand.

Ball pen

A ball pen is the only tool that makes precise marks on fusible interfacing

I know it sounds weird that I have listed a ball pen separately among the list of tools you need to stiffen your quiet book pages. But the fact is that I have tried using a number of different marking tools for the job. And a ball pen is the only thing that makes perfect markings on the back of fusible interfacing!

So trust me on this one … keep a cheap ball pen nearby when you do this.

Rotary cutter

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.

A rotary cutter is a handy tool to have in your craft supplies. But you can do just fine without it too.

But since we want to stiffen our quiet book pages quickly and easily, a rotary cutter is the ideal tool to help us do this. If you are unsure of using a rotary cutter, check out this fab tutorial by Crafty Gemini. It will help you over the hump.

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 five years straight, 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.

Self-healing mat

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 surface while you are cutting. Also, the markings on these mats help you make accurate cuts.

A self-healing mat has markings to help you measure and make precise marks and cuts

I bought my A3 sized self-healing mat on Amazon five 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 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.

Mark out a square on your piece of cardboard.

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.

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

You could print and cut the Quiet Book Templates to speed this process up considerably.

Cutting your quiet book templates efficiently

Now that your quiet book page template is drawn down, 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.

Cut out your cardboard square using a straight-edged ruler and a knife

Use your desired tool to cut out the cardboard square that you had just drawn. If you are using a knife, make sure to protect your work surface with a self-healing mat or an old chopping board.

Cardboard quiet book page template all cut out

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.

Always label your quiet book page template

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.

1. Place your fusible interfacing shiny side down

Remember to place the fusible interfacing shiny side down. Now place your cardboard template on top of the matte side and grab a ball pen. Trace all around the template with your pen.

2. Trace around the cardboard template on the matte side using a ball pen
3. Your fusible interfacing is ready to be cut

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.

Trace the template multiple times in one go, so that you can cut out all the squares at once!

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.

My favorite tools to make quiet book pages stiff

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.

Line up the ruler along the ball pen outline and start rolling with a rotary cutter
It’s quick and easy
Fusible interfacing squares ready to be used

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. If you have the time, you should ideall pre-shrink your fabric by soaking it for 30 minutes in a sink full of warm water. Then wring out the fabric and hang it up to air dry.

Once it is dry, you need to do away with any wrinkles or creases. So take a hot steam iron and press out 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 fabric 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

Neatly pressed fabric, ready to be stiffened for your quiet book pages

Fusing the interfacing to stiffen the fabric

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 give it a shot of heat form your iron. Usually, this should take 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:

  1. Use dry heat to fuse the interfacing. Switch off the steam function on your iron.
  2. Press — rather than glide — the iron over the interfacing and move on as soon as it has fused to the fabric.
  3. 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.

Voila! Perfectly stiff quiet book pages are ready

Once you have finished, stand back and admire your handy work. Your quiet book pages are stiff, smooth and ready to be decorated!

Conclusion

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 later stage, you will be making quiet book page ‘sandwiches’ with polyester batting or wadding in between. This, combined with what you have just learned above, will yield the perfect results that you are seeking.

You will create a quiet book like this by making page ‘sandwiches’. You will sandwich polyester batting between two stiffened quiet book pages.

I will be doing a detailed post on how to make the quiet book page sandwiches. Watch this space for the link.

Related questions

How to make a quiet book step by step

If you are still unsure of what steps you need to take to create a quiet book yourself, I have an easy 12-step tutorial. Follow these steps and you will have a beautiful quiet book at the end of it. Check out the tutorial here.

Happy crafting!

Useful resources

Quiet Book Page Template – Download and print this free resource to create your quiet book pages quickly and easily. No more need for geometry tools or quilting rulers!

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