I don’t do a ton of sewing for my son. I love the end results, but most projects take so much more time than I can realistically give them. But this crunchy-page soft book? This can be made in four nap-times or less. (Isn’t that how all new moms measure time?)
I also love that this project is a great way to use scrap fabric, up-cycles old plastic you already have in your house, and can be made as long, or short as you like. And since we’re using patches as book graphics, you can take your book’s theme in almost any direction you like. It’s completely customizable.
Solid color fabric in 12 x 6 inches (or 6.5 x 6.5 inch squares for muti-colored pages)
Iron-on applique patches
Fabric adhesive sheets
Sewing machine and thread
Plastic baby wipe pouch (empty), emergency blanket, or plastic grocery bags
Needle and embroidery floss
Large Rick Rack
Glass head pins
Begin by spritzing with water, then ironing all of the fabric you intend on using. To simplify this project, make all of your pages the same color. Measure and cut rectangles that are 12 inches by 6 inches.
I wanted each page to be a different color, so with my ruler and chalk I measured 6.5 x 6.5 inch squares and carefully cut them out with scissors. Note that you could use a rotary blade, but with regular scissors, you *can* get kids (ages 11+) involved in making this book for their younger siblings or cousins, whereas rotary blades and kids make me a little uneasy.
Gather the iron-on applique patches you want to use in your book, as well as a few pieces of copy paper and a pencil. Fold your papers in half, length-wise and cut or gently rip them along the fold. Then, fold those long paper pieces in half to make a paper book. Use this paper book as your guide. Mark the pages with the names of the patches you want to use, and number each page. This will help you tremendously when you sew your fabric “pages” together.
When your paper pages are established, place your iron-on patches, and fabric pages in the same order as your paper book.
Set the patches aside. Put the fabric squares (if using different colored squares like my example) together with right-sides facing each other. Use your sewing machine with a straight stitch to sew a 1/4 inch seam allowance on one side of the squares. You should end up with one rectangular piece of fabric made of two different colored squares.
Continue sewing your fabric squares together until you have all of your fabric rectangles complete.
Place your iron-on patches in the center of your fabric squares, and follow the instructions provided on the packaging.
Once the patches have cooled down from being ironed, use your sewing machine and a straight stitch around the edge of the patches to really secure them.
After all of the patches have been stitched, sandwich a piece of batting between your fabric pages. Use the paper book as a guide to ensure you are matching the correct fabric fronts and backs together (This is where the numbered paper pages come in handy!) Note that if you are making a book with four rectangular pages (front and back) plus a cover for your book, you will only need three pieces of batting.
On the wrong-side (back side) of two of the fabric pages, apply a sheet of fabric adhesive and gently press the batting in place. Cut your batting down to just smaller than your fabric page if you haven’t already.
With the batting secured, put the pages from your fabric sandwich together with right-sides facing each other. Pin the fabric pages together. If you used two different colored squares to make your rectangle, you can align your seams by inserting pins directly into the stitched seam of both layers.
If your fabric pages are not perfectly matched up, trim away the little excess fabric with scissors. Use your sewing machine with a straight stitch and 1/4 inch seam allowance, and sew around the entire border of your page- MINUS a few inches on one side of your rectangle.
Use the un-sewn hole to turn your fabric page right-side out.
Use your scissors to push the corners all the way out on all sides of your sewn fabric page.
Use the spray bottle and iron to press the pages. Then pin the remaining hole closed with the seams tucked inside of the fabric pages.
With a straight stitch, sew around the entire border of your fabric pages. Take care to make sure your open fabric hole is sewn closed.
When both fabric pages have been completed, place them on top of each other in the order that matches up with your paper book, and sew them together on your machine. Pin along the middle seams to align everything evenly.
Your inner pages are done! Now select a heavier weight fabric for your cover, spray it with water, and iron it well.
Cut your fabric down to a 12 x 6 panel and cut a piece of batting to the same size. Gather your scissors, adhesive strips, a plastic grocery bag for a subtle crunch, a plastic baby wipes pouch for a medium crunch, or one of those metallic looking emergency blankets for a very crunchy crunch!
Use the crunchy plastic material of your choice, and press it into the adhesive. Then place another piece of permanent fabric adhesive on top of the plastic layer, followed by batting.
Pin the right-sides of the cover pages together, and sew a 1/4 inch seam around the perimeter, leaving a 2-3 inch gap on one side of the rectangle un-sewn.
Turn your book cover right-side out, and sew the gap closed as you did with the inner fabric pages.
Sandwich the cover and inner pages together, then use the straight stitch on your machine, to sew along the middle seam of your fabric book.
I wanted to add a little something extra to my son’s soft book, but since I used a decorative fabric for the cover, I decided that a trim of large Rick Rack would be a nice addition without being too busy or distracting. I pinned the Rick Rack around the front and back perimeter of the book cover, then sewed it down, leaving the 3/4 inch space that spans the book’s spine, un-stitched.
I used embroidery floss to sew an oversized button to the front cover of the book, and knotted a loop into the back cover of the book to act as a clasp.
There are certainly little stitching imperfections within the crunchy-page soft book (mostly occurring while I was sewing and listening for my boy to wake from his nap.)
But regardless, he seems to love the book’s bright colors, crunch and yet cozy cover…
All photos by: Megan Andersen