Making a quiet book is exciting – but it can also be nerve-wracking and overwhelming.
With all the try-and-errors, you can give up, and your quiet book will stay an unfinished project. You’ll be left with a lot of frustration, along with all the time, money, and nerves you’ve invested getting it done.
In this chapter, you’ll learn how to make a quiet book with an easy to follow step-by-step process. In the end, you will have a beautifully finished quiet book in your hands.
So, are you ready to start creating?
In general, making a quiet book consists of three primary and one optional phase:
- preparing quiet book pages,
- creating activities,
- binding the quiet book pages,
- creating a quiet book closure (optional).
Let’s look at the first phase of how to make a quiet book.
How to Make a Quiet Book – Preparing Quiet Book Pages
The first step in creating a quiet book is preparing the fabric or felt page base for the activities.
You should always strengthen the cotton fabric with fusible interfacing to make quiet book pages more durable and resistant. I also recommend this for felt pages, although if you’re using stiff felt and you will make a quiet book with gluing, this is unnecessary.
Here’s a tutorial on how to make a quiet book page with cotton fabric.
It’s also worth mentioning the felt page base takes much less time to create. All you have to do is cut the felt sheet and put some interfacing on one side.
For the fabric page base, on the other hand, you will need to cut fabric, put interfacing on it, and usually hem all four edges of each fabric page.
There is a lot of information on page sizes. It really depends on what you want to achieve with your quiet book.
But hopefully, I can give you some guidance in this next sub-section.
How big should quiet book pages be?
There are different information online about quiet book page sizes. I concluded that the best sizes for me are between 19×19 and 23×23 cm (7½ x 7½ to 9 x 9 in).
Size is important so that there is some breathing room or blank space on the activity page. It’s more pleasant to the eye, and the design looks more beautiful.
I noticed that on smaller pages than 19×19 cm (7½ x 7½ in), everything is too crushed together, and it doesn’t look that good. Also, the working space available on the activity page can sometimes be too tight for children.
An exception are sensory pages for babies, but even those are best if they are no less than 17 x 17 cm (6¾ x 6¾ in). At least my baby didn’t like them smaller:
I tried 15×15 cm (6 x 6 in) sensory pages for my boy when he was one year old. The pages were too small, he had problems engaging with the pages – whenever he tried to pull something, he lifted the whole book or accidentally turned a page.
I needed to hold quiet book pages for him. With larger pages, he was able to enjoy all the sensory activities on them.
There is an exception for creating smaller pages, though.
I use 15×15 cm (6 x 6 in) for simple texture sensory books or visible contrast black and white baby cards.
Note that I’m talking about the final size, not the size you cut out of the fabric sheet. Hemming the edges take some fabric, so you have to add up a bit when cutting.
If you decorate the edge with cotton stripe, then you don’t need to hem page bases at the beginning, so you can cut the exact size as you want your final page to be.
Help yourself with this table when deciding on quiet book page sizes:
How many pages are in a quiet book?
The next step in how to make a quiet book is deciding the number of pages you want to make.
Usually, 6 – 10 activity pages are great. I would say that for standard page sizes, eight activity pages are optimal because the book has three internal sheets.
Children can flick and turn them inside the book, which makes them feel like they have a book with the beginning, middle, and end. With less than six activities, it won’t feel like a proper book anymore.
Have in mind quiet books always have an even number of pages, for example, 6, 8, 10, and so on.
I found out a correlation between the page sizes and the number of activity pages.
The smaller the pages, the fewer activities can have. Otherwise, the feeling just won’t be right. Try to imagine small pages (15 x 15 cm, 6 x 6 in) with 16 activity pages.
I’m not saying it’s impossible, but handling that kind of book won’t be as lovely as if the book would have fewer pages. The bigger the pages, the more activities it can have inside.
I probably wouldn’t go for more than ten activity pages. Don’t forget you need two more extra pages for the front and back cover page.
If I would like to do more activities, I would reconsider having just activity cards, making two quiet books, or create one quiet book with adjustable binding, so you can put the pages in and out (You can find more about bindings in Chapter 9).
Let’s move on to the second phase of how to make a quiet book.
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How to Make a Quiet Book – Creating Quiet Book Activity Pages
There are many step-by-step instructions and patterns for single pages I designed available for free in my quiet book patterns library. Check it out to see the detailed process for each activity.
When you choose activities you want to have in your quiet book, I suggest you start with the most uncomplicated activity and moving on to the more complex ones.
This way, you will quickly see your progress at the beginning, which will give you additional motivation.
If you want to make a no-sew quiet book, you should always check which activity pages suit the no-sew method.
You can filter search for only no-sew patterns in my Quiet book patterns library, to see right away what activities you can create with this technique.
Creating less complicated activities first will help you learn what are the most common and repeatable steps when sewing or gluing an activity page.
I recommend you always cut out all the pieces you need to make one page first and put it on the prepared fabric or felt page.
This will give you an idea of how the final activity page will look like, and if you’re happy with what you see.
You can check the color combinations, and if the felt pieces are large enough for the page. When you placed everything just like you wanted, you can now quickly see in what order you should sew or glue.
No matter if you’re sewing or gluing your quiet book, make sure you fasten all the parts tightly so that kids can’t tear them apart. You know how “gentle” their touch can be.
Don’t be a perfectionist. There will be mistakes, but don’t worry about them. I made lots of mistakes and tried to fix them.
In the end, a quiet book will be perfect for your child, no matter what.
They won’t tell anyone that a little glue is peeking out of the glued felt, trust me. And they also won’t tell anyone that the seam is not straight or that it’s a different color than felt, either.
And it’s a waste of time (and nerves) to fix every mistake. I figured that out the hard way.
As long the quiet book is safe for your child, the guidelines should be that we create the book with love and, above all, better done than perfect!
I will write more about how to choose the right activities in the next chapter, because there is a lot I want to tell you about this topic, and the subject deserves it’s own chapter.
Ahead is the last phase, and then I hope you’ll never have to ask yourself how to make a quiet book.
How to Make a Quiet Book – Quiet Book Binding
To put quiet book activities in an actual book, you have to create quiet book sheets first and then bind them together.
Once you have all the activity pages ready, it’s time to put two and two together. Yes, that means that the number of activities in a quiet book should be even.
Remember to put one activity page along with the front cover page, and one with the back cover page.
I like to put the fusible fleece in the middle of two activity pages. It makes the quiet book sheet soft and gives it volume.
Once you have all the activities done, it’s time to put them together in the book. There are several binding methods, from simpler to more complex. In general, we can divide them into two groups:
- adjustable bindings,
- and firm bindings.
Bindings, where we can switch and replace activity pages, are adjustable bindings, and on the contrary, when we use firm bindings, activity pages are sewn together and can’t be replaced.
I wrote more about different quiet book bindings in Chapter 8.
It’s essential to decide about the type of binding beforehand. It may depend on how you prepare quiet book pages before you start sewing activities on the page.
There are three main phases in the process of making a quiet book:
Preparing quiet book pages, creating activity pages, and making a quiet book binding.
There are some things to consider in each of the phases, so make sure you know exactly what you want to create before you start sewing or gluing.
In the next chapter, you will get an idea of how to choose activity pages that best suit your child.