It's Christmas in July! Today we are pleased to introduce Kimberly Gleason of @blueberrypatterns. Kimberly is the creator of multiple quiet book patterns and is sharing some of her tips and tricks to achieving a beautiful finished product! She will be demonstrating on her newest quiet book, Silent Night, which you can find, along with the coordinating felt and floss palettes, in our shop.
Quiet books are the most amazing blend of traditional children’s books and playsets. They combine the fun of interactive dolls and figurines with the convenience of flat, easy-to-tote-around books. And while the finished spreads are wonderful, there’s just something special about quiet book making - it’s fun, relaxing, and so very satisfying when making for little ones you love. With a few tips and tricks, you’ll set yourself up for success with quiet book making!
Skill Level: Intermediate
Time: 15+ hours
Silent Night Quiet Book Pattern
Silent Night Felt Palette
Silent Night Floss Palette
DMC Diamont Light Gold Floss
Scissors for fabric
Scissors for detail cuts
Get Crisp, Clean Cuts
Though true with any felt project, getting those crisp, exact cuts for quiet books is especially important! When making a quiet book spread, we are using an applique technique rather than sewing seams (which hide the cut edges.) There is nowhere to hide rough or crooked edges. The cleaner the cut, the cleaner the spread. To achieve the best cuts, use high quality wool or wool blend felt and a sharp pair of scissors.
In addition to having the right materials, how you transfer templates will also impact your final product. I have found freezer paper to be my solution. Simply print your templates on the matte side of the freezer paper (or trace the template with a pencil), place on the felt with the shiny wax side down, and iron on a low heat. The wax sticks to the felt so the template won’t budge, and the paper adds stability so you can cut each of the pieces with ease. Once you’ve made your cuts, peel off the paper and you’re good to go!
Carve Out Small Pieces
You may have heard of this saying: when carving stone, the sculptor removes everything that is not the statue. When it comes to teeny tiny pieces, sometimes it’s best to think of “carving out” the felt. Just like a sculptor slowly removes pieces of marble from a block, you cut away bits of felt to reveal the end shape. Let’s illustrate this on the wise men’s gifts. First, remove larger chunks using smooth, continuous cuts. Then “chip” away using the tip of small scissors, getting more and more detailed as you go.
I should warn you, the result is a desk full of itty bitty felt scraps—but that perfectly cut shape is worth it!
Organize Felt Pieces
Making a quiet book spread usually takes a weekend or more and that means you’ll need to store your in-progress project between your blocks of sewing time. And if you have small kids or pets around, you’ll need to make sure it’s safe! Storage doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive though. I’ve found that zip-top gallon-sized bags are perfect for holding 8 x 8" spreads. Use two gallon-sized bags, labeled Page 1 and Page 2, and place the corresponding base page and pieces for each inside. You can also take it a step further and organize your cut pieces by section (in this case Hill pieces, Angel pieces, and so on), place in a labeled sandwich-sized bag, and store each sandwich-sized bag in the corresponding gallon bag.
Bonus Tip: If you want to work on a spread during your kids’ soccer practice or swim lesson, just throw your floss, scissors, and needlebook in another sandwich bag and clip it with the gallon sized bags to a clipboard. All you need to sew-on-the-go is that clipboard and you’re set!
Reinforce Delicate Pieces
Even when using the highest quality felt, sharp corners or narrow pieces of felt can rip or tear when little hands are enjoying the quiet book. These wispy clouds are a prime example.
We can remedy this easily with the help of a little fabric glue. To reinforce these pieces, apply a dab of fabric glue on your delicate felt piece, place on the base page, and sew as normal. The glue will settle into the fibers and strengthen the bond between the two pieces. Now your quiet book looks beautiful, and it can take on all that wear-and-tear that comes from hands-on play!
Layer For Depth
Because quiet books are flat, it can be hard to add dimension and depth. One way to avoid a flat look is to vary colors and shades of felt. But one technique that’s often overlooked is to add layers of the same object. Take this little sheep for example.
You could easily sew the silhouette of the sheep and call it good. By adding layers, however, he looks much more dimensional. For this case, first layer the sheep base, pin it in place, and sew the feet. You can sew all around the perimeter if you’d like, but since the body and head will cover the rest of the sheep base, there’s no need. And you can save yourself a few minutes! Next, layer on the body and sew it in place. Finish by adding the head and sewing around its perimeter. It’s a few extra steps, but the depth it adds is so lovely!
Now you’ve got five tips and tricks in your toolbox. Whether you’re a veteran quiet book maker or just starting your first spread, you’ll be ready to tackle quiet book making with more confidence. There’s nothing as satisfying as making a quality toy for a little one to enjoy for years to come.
Thanks to Kimberly for designing and writing this tutorial! You can follow her on Instagram @blueberrypatterns or visit her website. Stay tuned for more Christmas in July tutorials every day this week!