DIY Quiet/Felt/Activity/Busy Book

The book has many names, but they all has the same function: to keep your kid busy and quiet.  I saw some adorable ideas on Pinterest and decided I would give it a go myself.  Afraid it would look like a first grader made it, I am quite honestly amazed at how well it came out.  Here is how I made mine with all the tricks and tips I learned.

General materials I used for all/most pages:

  • Lots and lots of felt.  You can buy felt in a lot of different sizes and materials, but I bought the 12X9 sheets at Michael’s that were less than a dollar each.  I used an entire sheet as the back of each page and it was a lifesaver to not have to cut each page out from a larger piece.
  • Felt glue.  I have seen people make quiet books using strictly hot glue, but I like my finger tips so I decided to use a felt glue for 95% of my gluing needs.  I am not sure if a normal craft glue would work, but I am a sucker for labeling so I went for the glue that specifically said it was made for felt.  It worked well and dried quickly and clear.  TIP: A little goes a long way!!  Felt is very porous.  If you use too much it will seep through to the front and even though it dries clear, it changes the look of the felt.
  • Hot glue gun.  I used my hot glue gun for times when I needed the extra holding power.
  • Velcro dots.  I used these on a lot of my pages.  I liked the kind that were clear on one side and I always attached that side to the book so it was less noticeable.
  • Sharpie.  I used this to create my own stencils and draw on the felt.
  • Very sharp scissors.  I bought new small fabric scissors just to make sure they were sharp enough to create clean edges with the felt.  By the end of the project my new scissors are now pretty dull.
  • Lots of accessories.  Ribbon, beads, buttons, foam shapes, little plastic baggies, elastic, and more helped my book come to life!  If you never throw any craft object away like a good crafter should, you hopefully can use whatever you have on hand.
  • Sewing machine.  I have seen beautiful quiet books where every single piece of felt is stitched down, but this busy mamma ain’t got time for that!  I did, however, use my sewing machine to stitch the pages together front and back.  I figured this would be stronger than glue, would take less time, and would be a lot less messy.  If you don’t have a sewing machine you could hand stitch them together, or glue I am sure would work just fine too.

Pages of the book:

Click on the pictures below to be taken to a page where I break down how I made each page of my book including a list of materials and a step by step guide.  I unfortunately don’t have any patterns to follow, mostly because I think my ideas are easy enough to either free hand yourself or you can easily find a picture online, print it out, and then cut out the picture and use it as your own stencil.  Each page took roughly 2 hours to make, depending on how much mommy multitasking I was doing at the time!

Horse: Braiding and hair shenanigans.
Flower Pot:  Both layers of petals are removable, color matching, pot is a hidden pocket with velcro closure.
Animal Memory:  Each animal has a pair hiding under the black squares.
Seasons Tree:  Baggies are velcroed and removable, apples are hiding in the basket pocket.
Snails: Top shape is removable via velcro.  Learning shapes and primary colors.
Octopus:  Learning counting and the colors of the rainbow.
Beach Tic Tac Toe
Weather:  Grass is hidden pocket to store pieces when not in use.
Build a Butterfly: Bags of pieces are removable filled with shapes to decorate the butterfly.
Under the Sea Sliders:  Sea creatures move back and forth.
Vegetable Garden: Root vegetables are hiding in pockets while others are velcroed in place.
Alligator Puzzle: Pieces are velcroed in place and removable.

Binding my book:

I have seen many different ideas and ways to bind felt books together.  Most of them use some type of grommet and ring system, and to be honest, that idea sounded daunting so I demanded to find another way.  I read somewhere of someone using hot glue to glue the pages together, and they even updated saying the book had withstood years of abuse, so I figured if it worked for them it would work for me.  (I am sorry I can’t link to this blog, I read so many they all blurred together after a while.)  The biggest issue with this idea is you need to plan your pages ahead because you have to leave about a 1 inch border on the side it will be bound, which differs based on if the page will be on the front or on the back.  All it takes is a little bit of prep work and it was easy.  Here are the steps I took to bind and cover my book:

  1. Put pages in order.  Lay your pages on top of each other in the exact order you want your book to be.  Double check that all binding gaps are on the correct side.
  2. Sew pages together.  Remove all removable pieces from each page (this will make it easier to sew and make it less likely to accidentally sew a removable piece down).  Lay the two pages with their backs touching (as how it will look when it is finished).  Pin the pages together.  Place the more intricate page on top (to help with visibility) and sew as small of a border as you can around all four sides.  I read somewhere that sewing felt was tricky because it was so thick, but I didn’t have any problems with it.  If you are worried, take a few of your scrap pieces and practice on those first.  Continue sewing all pages together.  I used a simple white thread on all pages.  Your very first page and very last page will be sewn to the back of the covers, so put those aside and I will tell you what to do with them later.
  3. Preheat hot glue gun and get extra sticks ready.
  4. Glue together inside of book.  Lay your last sewn page (not your very last page I told you to leave alone, last SEWN page) down so the binding side is on the left (like a book).  Lay a big fat line of hot glue down the very outside of the page, over about an inch, and then back up the page, and then back over to the outside, creating a very thin long rectangle (sorry I did not get a picture of this, I am so afraid of hot glue drying on me so I had to move fast).  Inside your rectangle, zig zag more hot glue up and down.  You really just want as much hot glue as you can to be in that inch where your pages will be glued together.  Once done, pick up the second-to-last sewn page.  I tried to line up the outside of the pages first, then very carefully laid the top page on the bottom page.  Then I really smushed together the glued part to make sure it got good contact and pinched it together for a few seconds until it was cool and dry.  Continue laying down your inch of glue and adding the next page on top until all pages (except the very top and bottom I told you to set aside) are glued together.  We will call this the “inside of book.”
  5. Cut your cover piece.  I wanted my cover to be one continuous piece, so I bought a larger piece of felt at Michaels.  In order to cut it perfectly to size, I laid down my very bottom page, the “inside of book”, and very top page onto the felt, folded the felt cover over, and then drew a line with sharpie around my book.  I then removed all the pages and cut out the large cover piece.
  6. Glue on any buttons, elastic, or fasteners.  I highly recommend having some way to close and contain this book simply because there are a lot of parts that could fall off if it was flopping around.  I sewed a large button to the front of my cover, and then hot glued a piece of elastic to the back.  I was scared the button would eventually fall off, so I reinforced it with some hot glue on the back and a little under the front of the button.  WP_20160520_019
  7. Sew the very front and very back onto the cover.  Use the same strategy as outlined in step 2.  There should be a gap in the middle for the middle of book.  These seams will be very obvious (unless you pick a color that matches your cover) so take your time and sew straight lines!     WP_20160520_020
  8. Glue your “middle of book” into the cover.  First, do the same one inch rectangle of glue onto the very back page.  Carefully lay down your “middle of book” so the outside lines up.  I then did the same glue technique to both the very front cover and the spine (the empty space between very front and very back page on cover).  I then carefully lifted the front page, pulling it as tight as I could so the spine would get good contact, and then laid it down and smushed it together.  I held it all together for a few seconds to wait for the hot glue to dry.
  9. Reattach all the pieces you removed from the beginning.
  10. Optional:  Glue on a title.  If you would like to glue on a title, you can either do that now or possibly during step 6 or 7.
  11. All done!!  Hope your little enjoys your book and you enjoy the peace and quiet!!

Update: I figured she wouldn’t really use this book for possibly another few months to years (I mean, what 10 month old can play tic tac toe?).  I had the book sitting on the craft table, my daughter reached up, threw it on the floor, and started playing with it for a solid half an hour (which was a massive accomplishment since at the time she was cutting a tooth and wouldn’t stop crying for days without me and her pacifier).  She loved finding new things she could remove and then looked at me with excitement like, “Did you see what I just did?!”  She also loved shaking the beads on the octopus.  I spent a while putting the pieces back on once she was done, but it was worth it.  We will definitely be bringing this along if we need to keep her busy in a small space for a long period of time!

Update again:  It has taken me about a week to write this entire blog.  During that time my daughter has taken the book off the shelf herself and played with it almost every day!  She has abused this book more than any toddler-preschooler will, which is great to find any weak spots now.  I am very happy to say that so far the only thing she has been able to “break” is she pried one of the googly eyes off of the crab on the Sliders page, which was easy to glue back on.  In my defense, that came glued on so that one isn’t even my fault!  I am very happy with this book and I hope it brings years of enjoyment to our family.


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