Making a quiet book can seem daunting before you begin. But once you take a systematic approach to your project, you will find that it is actually much easier than you think.
The best way to make a quiet book is to follow this simple and effective 12-step method. I created this method after five years of making quiet books. By the end of it, you will have the perfect busy book ready for your favorite little person.All you need is some patience and basic sewing supplies. Let’s get started!
Step 1 – Consider the child’s age, gender and interests before making a quiet book
I wish someone had told me this before I started making my very first quiet book. (Not that it was a complete disaster.) But you must remember that when making a quiet book, you must keep your audience first. In this case, the young child you are crafting for. There is no point making a super fancy, very complicated quiet book if the toddler does not like the activities within or is averse to your color scheme.
Besides, a very important reason why you must know the child’s age is because it affects the size of your quiet book pages. I have done a detailed post about this here. But for now, simply refer to the table above to determine the size of quiet book pages you will be creating.
The simplest way to get through Step 1 is to take a piece of paper and quickly scribble down the child’s name, age, gender along with favorite colors, foods, toys and activities. If you are unsure, you can make a quick phone call to the child’s parents and ask them about this stuff. It also helps to know the child’s favorite storybook, sports, people etc.
The more information you have at this stage, the better. The best thing is, this step does not have to be complicated at all.
Step 2 – Short-list your favorite quiet book ideas on Pinterest
This is the fun research part before you start making your quiet book. If you don’t already have a Pinterest account, I would strongly suggest that you make one because that is really where all the greatest quiet book ideas are floating around.
Now make a board titled Quiet Book Ideas and start searching for quiet book ideas best suited for the child. For example, if it is a young toddler, 2-3 years old, and likes to eat fruit, you could search for quiet book fruit page or quiet book apple page etc.
As you come across ideas that really pop, keep pinning them to your Quiet Book Ideas board. Before long, you should have a collection of at least 20 good ideas if not more. This is plenty to work with.
Step 3 – Hand-scribble thumbnails of your quiet book pages on paper
This is the part in making a quiet book where you get to brainstorm your ideal quiet book on paper. Simply grab a piece of paper and scribble out a set of small squares on it. Imagine each square is a quiet book page. Now scribble roughly what you imagine should be on that page. If you are unsure of how to do this, simply download and print my free printable Quiet Book Planning Tool PDF which lays out exactly how to structure your quiet book.
You don’t need any artistic skills for this step. This is just a visual map of the contents of your quiet book. For example you can see my thumbnail sketch for the letter A page, which is part of a quiet book that I am making for a friend’s little boy. I’m sure I won’t be winning any awards for my artistic efforts here haha. But it works!
Now go ahead and start scribbling.
Just remember one thing: you should have an even number of pages i.e. in multiples of 2. You cannot have a quiet book with 5 or 7 or 9 pages! Just trust me on this one and scribble out an even number of thumbnails.
Also, try to aim for at least 6 pages. Ideally 6 to 14 pages make for a healthy interactive quiet book.
Step 4 – Hand-scribble thumbnails of the front and back covers
You wouldn’t want to make a quiet book without a cover now would you? Just like you did above, scribble out two more squares and make rough thumbnails of how you want the front and back cover to look. Remember you can include an activity on the back cover as well. The Quiet Book Planning Tool already has plenty of room for you to do this.
If you are making a quiet book for a particular child, it is always good to have his/her name on the front cover because it makes people really happy to see that.
Once you have finished this step, I would strongly suggest that you take a step back and take a break. Because now onwards, you will be really stepping up your game of designing the quiet book. So it is good to approach the next step with a fresh outlook.
Step 5 – Draw, print or purchase quiet book patterns for each thumbnail you have drawn
Now this is where you go all in with immersing yourself into the exact kind of contents you want on each quiet book page. Don’t get overwhelmed at this stage. Simply start with the first quiet book page. Refer to the ideas you have saved on your Pinterest board and scribbled on your Quiet Book Planning Tool sheet. Now try to find the best way of acquiring a pattern for that page.
Here, you have a few options and I will briefly talk about them here. I have also done a whole separate post about how to make quiet book patterns. It will really help you work your way through this step so do check it out as well.
Now let’s quickly talk about how you can get your hands on quiet book patterns for each page.
Hand-draw quiet book patterns yourself
If you are moderately confident about your drawing skills or if you don’t have a printer, this is the best way to go on the cheap. You could simply look at images online and try drawing out the pattern using a pencil on paper.
The trouble with this method is that you might be unsure of your drawing skills. Or something that is supposed to be perfectly even all around could turn out wonky or asymmetrical.
You could overcome this problem by using some nifty hacks. For example you could simply place your paper on your computer’s screen and lightly trace what you like.
Or for symmetrical shapes, you could fold the paper in half and only draw half the pattern before cutting it out to reveal a perfectly balanced pattern.
So if you work around these few glitches, there is every reason why you should be able to create really awesome quiet book patterns by hand. Remember to keep the quiet book page size in mind and draw your patterns accordingly.
Use your computer to draw the quiet book patterns
This is now my favorite way of creating my own quiet book patterns. I find it to be quicker, easier and less messy than using hand-drawn patterns. Most of the time, I am actually scanning in my hand-drawn patterns and cleaning and tweaking them on my computer. I use a free software called Inkscape to do this.
I have talked in detail about Inkscape here. But for now, if you want to do this, follow this Youtube link that shows you how to trace and tweak pretty much any image that you like using Inkscape. You can scan in your hand-drawn patterns and tweak and improve them too.
Buy quiet book patterns online
Finally, if you just don’t want to get into the whole pattern creation part of the process, you can simply purchase PDF patterns online. Etsy is a great place to do this because it is full of crafters specializing in making quiet book patterns.
Their prices do vary quite a bit so make sure that you compare prices before spending your money.
Step 6 – Purchase the materials
This is my favorite step in preparing to make the quiet book. I love shopping for quiet book crafting materials on Ebay because there is so much variety and you can literally get everything you need for your project here.
Once again, beware of price differences. Also, if you are time bound, set your location filters to restrict purchases from within your own country. Otherwise you might end up with a seemingly very cheap set of buttons or zips that might take weeks to arrive from China!
Step 7 – Cut out the paper patterns
While your quiet book materials are arriving in the post, you can get to work cutting out the quiet book patterns. Now this seems like a simple enough task to do, but it helps to keep certain things in mind so that you can cut your patterns quickly and efficiently.
No matter what shape you’re cutting, the slower you cut, the better your results will be. So pace yourself and don’t rush while cutting your busy book patterns.
Use a separate pair of sharp scissors which are NOT for cutting fabric
Once upon a time, there was a little old woman who used her fabric cutting scissors to cut paper. She came to a horrible end. Moral of the story: keep your pattern cutting scissors separate from your fabric scissors. Moreover, keep them sharp.
Use two different sizes of scissors to switch between simpler and more intricate cuts
A pair of big bulky scissors just do not do well in tight corners or around tricky curves. Buy a smaller pair of cheap sharp scissors and you will be happily cutting away quickly and easily.
Once all your patterns have been cut out, store them in cheap white labeled envelopes so that they are ready to use as soon as your quiet book materials are with you.
Step 8 – Cut out the fabric and interfacing
This step deserves a whole separate post because it is so easy to do this wrong. For now, just know that now you need to start cutting out all the materials you need to make the quiet book pages. This also includes the actual quiet book page which will have have to be stiffened and will have its own template. I have written a detailed post about how to make quiet book pages stiff here and it will really help you if you read that as well.
The one thing I can tell you is this: it is worth cutting out the small pattern pieces of only one page first, rather than cutting out the pieces of the entire quiet book altogether. It can just get tedious and boring if you do all the cutting at once, and you definitely don’t want your craft to feel boring.
So for now, just begin with cutting out the fabric and materials for one quiet book page and get to work on it. Once again, I will walk you through each of these processes and link them here so you know exactly what to do.
Step 9 – Assemble and sew each individual page
Fun step! It’s time to sew! I personally love this part of making a quiet book because this is where you actually see the most progress for all your efforts.
In my Quiet Book Ideas section, you will see the sewing techniques and finishes that I use when making my quiet books. I have picked up these techniques over the past five years. I will go into them separately too, but for now, remember these.
Honestly, the slower you sew, the better your results will be. Quiet books involve sewing really close to the edge of pattern pieces. If you try to rush through, you will overshoot the edges and end up feeling grumpy. So take your time, breathe, and sew slowly. It’s not a race.
Use a small stitch length for tight bends and intricate shapes
I use a regular stitch length of around 8 for non-finicky bits. But for tight bends and small shapes, it helps to turn the stitch length dial all the way down and stitch slowly.
Knot and hide your thread ends
Some people simply back-stitch at the beginning and end of their stitch lines. And then they just snip off the thread ends on the good side of the page. Please please don’t do this if you want your project to look neat!
Instead, use a large-eyed needle or a self-threading needle to pass the thread ends to the wrong side of your page. Now knot the ends, bury them if possible, and then snip off the excess. I know it takes extra time but please try to habituate this process. It will pay dividends at the end of your quiet book making.
Keep taking breaks
It is very important to keep taking breaks while sewing a quiet book, not just for your physical well-being but also to stop getting frustrated or bogged down during tricky bits. I like to get up and stretch my leg, touch my toes and just twist side to side every 15 minutes. It really helps!
Step 10 – Measure and cut out the binding fabric
Many moons ago when I was making a quiet book for a friend’s baby, I realized that I was spending a lot of time calculating and measuring the fabric and interfacing for binding my quiet books. Every time that I had to bind the book, I would pull out my folder. I would sift through my jottings, and finally find my notes that would help me in the process.
This was rather frustrating because really, all I wanted to do was just get on with ripping and cutting through the materials!
And so over time, I have developed my own nifty quiet book binding calculator that automatically tells me how much fabric and interfacing I need! I have tested this on a number of different shapes and sizes of quiet books and it does the job beautifully.
But don’t worry if you don’t have this tool. You can figure out all the materials you need as well. It just needs a little patience and some simple calculations that anyone can do. I will walk you through this process in upcoming posts.
Step 11- Sew and finish all the quiet book page “sandwiches”
You will notice in the quiet book images that two pages sit together back-to-back. In reality, there is a sheet of wadding sandwiched between these two pages to give the quiet book body and form.
These are the quiet book ‘sandwiches’. Before moving to the next step, you need to make all of these sandwiches. First you will assemble them by hand-basting. Then you will finish their edges all around. More on this coming soon.
Step 12 – Bind the quiet book
Finally, we come to the last step which is the actual binding of your quiet book. This is a two-step process where you will first connect all the pages together using an inner binding. Then you will finish the outer spine of the quiet book using an external binding.
Don’t worry, you will have already calculated and cut out the fabric needed for this process in Step 10. I will tell you all about how to do this in upcoming posts.
And there you have it! A complete step-by-step on how to make your very own quiet book! Feeling inspired already? Go check out Pinterest and get browsing. And don’t forget to check back here for more quiet book tutorials and free PDF patterns.