If you have been thinking about making a quiet book for a little one, you must have come across a number of different ideas on the internet by now. But all of the highest quality quiet book pages that you see online contain a set of basic materials that give them a perfect finish.
In short, high quality quiet book pages are made of a base layer of cotton fabric, reinforced with heavyweight fusible interfacing ironed onto its back. This cotton fabric is then decorated with stiffened felt, along with other haberdashery materials like ribbons, buttons, beads etc. A layer of polyester batting is then sandwiched between two quiet book pages. Finally, the whole thing is tidied up using cotton strips or bias tape. You can get a quick overview of these materials in this table.
Now if you know just a few basics of sewing, you can easily create high quality quiet books. However it is important to first know a little bit more about the key materials you will be using to make your quiet book pages.
Cotton fabric for making quiet book pages
You need child-friendly cotton fabric as a base to create your quiet book pages. You could also use poly-cotton fabric, which is a mixture of cotton and polyester fibers.
However in my five years of making quiet books, I have realized that poly-cotton just simply does not yield the same finish that pure cotton does. This is because poly-cotton feels a bit scratchy and flimsy compared to cotton. It also tends to bobble and the fabric colors are just not as vibrant as you get on pure cotton.
You can get pure cotton fabric in coordinating bundles, which is ideal for making a harmonious quiet book. You don’t want your quiet book color scheme to be too random or disjointed!
EBay is a great place to buy cotton fabric bundles. The sellers often offer these bundles as fat quarters. A fat quarter is simply a piece of fabric measuring 50cm by 50cm. This is more than enough fabric to create several quiet book pages!
It is always a good idea to pre-shrink your cotton fabric before making a quiet book. This is because when in future the quiet book needs a wash, its pages will not shrink or warp because of the water.
Fusible interfacing for stiffening quiet book pages
When you browse the internet for quiet book ideas, you will realize that the best busy books that you see are the ones that appear to have a great amount of structure and definition. These quiet book pages are well-formed, their edges are crisp, and they can even stand upright on end like a regular hardback book. This is because they all use fusible interfacing to fill out and stiffen the quiet book pages.
Fusible interfacing is a kind of textile which contains a very fine layer of heat activated glue on one side. You can cut fusible interfacing to any shape or size that you want.
In the case of quiet books, you first have to cut the fusible interfacing to the exact size of the page that you want to create. You then place it on the back of your cotton fabric and use a hot dry iron to fuse it in place. The fusible interfacing bonds permanently to the back of the cotton fabric within seconds.
Now you trim away the extra cotton fabric from around the edges to leave a perfectly smooth and stiff quiet book page, ready to be decorated.
Fusible interfacing comes in a wide variety of weights. Lightweight fusible interfacing will not give you enough structure and strength for purposes of making a quiet book page. Therefore go for medium to heavy weight, or even extra heavy weight fusible interfacing to create high-definition, robust quiet book pages.
Such a quiet book can take a heavy bashing from little hands over and over again, and still remain as good as the day you created it.
Polyester batting also goes by the name of quilt batting or wadding. It is a kind of stuffing which has been rolled out into sheets.
You can get batting made out of pure cotton as well. But in my five years of experience, I have seen that polyester batting gives the best results for making quiet books pages.
Polyester batting comes off the roll in large sheets and is available by the yard or meter. Sellers categorize it further by weight, usually starting from 2oz for the lightest and going all the way up to 14 or 16 oz for the heavy weight polyester batting.
It is best to buy polyester batting with a weight of around 4-8oz in order to create high-definition quiet book pages. Very thin, lightweight batting will not give your quiet book pages enough body and definition.
On the other hand, a very heavy weight polyester batting will create pages that are too thick, resulting in a quiet book which is difficult to bind and close.
Stiffened felt to decorate quiet book pages
We have talked about the basic anatomy of a quiet book page. Now let’s take a look at the main materials you need to decorate your quiet book pages.
The most important material you need for this is felt. You cannot use just any kind of craft felt that you find in craft stores or online. Rather, you need a high quality wool-mix felt with at least 5% wool fibers and a thickness of at least 0.5 mm.
You also need to pre-treat the felt by stiffening it first before using it in your quiet book pages. I have done a detailed post about how to stiffen felt here, which will guide you step-by-step through this process. It is very quick and easy to do so do check out the process to save your time and money.
For now, let me quickly sum it up for you. To stiffen your felt fabric sheets, you will have to dip them in a PVA glue solution and then air dry them completely. Then you will have to iron out the felt and trim away any uneven edges. This will give you perfectly stiff, smooth craft felt, ready to be used to decorate your quiet book pages.
Additional materials that make up quiet book pages
Once you have these basic materials at hand, you can use pretty much anything else you like to decorate your quiet book pages. A quick search on Pinterest will show you that crafters like to use a wide variety of haberdashery supplies for this part. These materials can include ribbons, strings, grommets, eyelets, buttons, beads, jingle bells, googly eyes, heat transfer vinyl, clasps, hooks, Velcro, vinyl sheets and many more.
Seasoned crafters also use sophisticated tools like embroidery machines to decorate their quiet book pages. You do not need to have all of these materials at home. But what you do need to figure out your quiet book materials list is a plan.
Planning to figure out what materials you need to make your quiet book pages
Therefore you should begin with the child’s name, age, needs and preferences first. It is only when you begin with the child in mind that you can create a truly beautiful, useful and entertaining quiet book.
Once you know the child’s name, age, perhaps favorite colors and/or activities/foods, you can start to plan the kind of quiet book that will be best suited for the child.
I have created a very nifty tool for this key planning stage. It is called the Quiet Book Planning Tool and you can click on the link to save the PDF. Simply print it out to create a road map of what quiet book pages you need.
As you are using the Quiet Book Planning Tool, start creating a list of materials you will need to create each page. And this is how you will figure out what materials you need to make your quiet book.
What happens after I have decorated a quiet book page?
The Quiet Book Planning Tool that you downloaded and printed earlier lays out your quiet book in pairs of pages. For example the Front Cover and Page 1 sit together in a pair; pages 2 and 3 are a pair; pages 4 and 5 are a pair and so on. A pair of pages will be joined together to create a quiet book page sandwich.
So for example once you have decorated page 2 and page 3 completely, you will sandwich a piece of polyester batting between these two pages with the wrong sides facing each other. You will hand baste all around the edges of these pages and trim away the extra polyester batting from around the edges.
Now you will have a quiet book page sandwich ready for the next stage, where you will hide away the raw edges of the page.
Hiding the raw edges of quiet book pages using cotton fabric
Remember the cotton fabric bundle we talked about earlier? Now is a great time to make use of it because you can use contrasting cotton fabric as your page border.
For this too, you will need strips of cotton fabric or a bias tape. Creating a page border will hide the raw edges of the quiet book page, giving your quiet book a neat and crisp finish.
Other types of quiet book pages
Beginner crafters often think that quiet book pages are made out of felt. Part of this is true because craft felt is actually a very large part of quiet book pages.
However a lot of times, I have seen crafters making the entire quiet book page itself out of felt instead of cotton or poly-cotton fabric. In fact I too created the pages of my very first quiet book entirely out of felt.
Over the years though, I have realized the hard way that there are three big problems with using felt as a base of your quiet book page.
Felt quiet book pages bobble and warp over time
Firstly, no matter how stiff your felt is, it has an inherent tendency to get fuzzy overtime. This is because felt fibers are actually compressed and not knit or woven together. So even if you stiffen felt and then create large squares or rectangles of it to make the pages of your quiet book, over time and enough use, the felt pages will get fuzzy.
This will give your quiet book a scruffy finish and you definitely don’t want that happening! On the other hand, if you use cotton fabric to create the base of your quiet book pages, your quiet book will never get fuzzy or out of shape. Even if you wash it, you can simply air-dry and iron it with some spray starch to get it looking brand new again.
Felt quiet book pages are way too thick
The second reason why felt is a bad idea for making your quiet book pages is that even the thinnest craft felt is still way too thick for this purpose. A thin wool-mix felt fabric starts from around 0.4 mm. Once you attach fusible interfacing to it and sandwich polyester batting between two such sheets, you will get a super thick quiet book page which will become a pain to bind and finish properly.
Felt is much too expensive and precious to use in large quantities
Thirdly and very importantly: even the lowest quality of wool-mix felt (with a content of around 4% wool felt fibers) is still way more expensive than ordinary cotton fabric. You could get a whole meter’s worth of cotton fabric in the same amount as an A4-sized sheet of wool felt. You do the math.
And so, for these three main reasons, I would strongly advise you not to use felt to create the base layer of your quiet book pages. Use cotton to do this instead. And then use all kinds and shapes and colors and thickness of wool felt to decorate that cotton fabric quiet book page. I hope this makes sense!
How to make quiet book pages stiff
I have done a detailed post on this topic here. You simply need high-density fusible interfacing ironed onto the back of cotton fabric to make your quiet book pages stiff. There are some nuances that you need to keep in mind so do read the post. It will save you tons of time and effort.
Quiet book tutorial step by step
Making a quiet book requires a series of step by step actions. There is a mind-boggling array of methods and techniques that people are using to create quiet books.
But after five years of making lots of different quiet books for children, I have simmered down my favorite technique of making quiet books to 12 basic steps. Following the 12 steps one by one will create a high quality quiet book for you in just a few days.
You can read this step by step quiet book tutorial at this link. I am constantly updating and adding more to the content so watch the space.
Download and print the PDF file for the Quiet Book Planning Tool! This is an essential basic step which will help you plan out your quiet book quickly and efficiently. It will also help you chalk out all the materials you need to make your quiet book pages.