One of my favorite toys when I was a toddler was a soft book sewn in fabric, which had a different ‘mission’ in each page. I remember one page that had a tree with red apples attached by snaps, and I would “pick” them off and place them in a small pocket that looked like a basket. Another page had an outfit with a real belt that I was supposed to buckle and unbuckle. I don’t remember all its pages but I do know they were all focused on different wardrobe challenges (there were also zipper page, buttoning page and so on).
My mother didn’t remember anything about this book, so I started looking for evidence on the internet that I haven’t imagined this. When searching locally – I found nothing. At first I didn’t find anything even when I expanded my search for international results. This was just about when I’ve decided to use my magic sewing skills to make my kid and my nephew their own books. Then I researched some more and found out that these books are usually called ‘Quiet Books’, and this opened up a shiny new world of inspiration for me. Unfortunately for me, I have this thing where I think copying someone else’s work kinda misses the whole point in being creative, and therefore the more variety I see online, the harder I need to wrack my brain later in inventing new ways to go about it, making sure I can full-heartedly call the final product mine. I think the only page I left completely standard is the shoe-lacing page, as I vividly remember myself learning to tie my own shoes with it as a child.
During my research phase on this toy, I found some extraordinarily complicated and detailed creations that really got my creative juices going, but after some more thought on the subject I decided it was best to keep the book as simple as possible. For older kids complication is good, but I figured that for toddlers, it is best to keep the pages clean and avoid distractions, to help them focus on the assignment of each page.
Even so, I find the final pages I made varies widely in their levels. Tom is seventeen months old and his favorite page is the shape-matching page. He also loves the baby koala but cannot yet open the pocket’s zipper himself to get to it, not to mention much more advanced pages like the shoe laces or the horse’s braid that I haven’t even started showing him yet (he does like to pet the horse’s mane).
The materials I’ve used for the books are miscellaneous fabrics for the pages themselves, and jeans for the cover. I layered the covers with acrylic filling for a softer, puffier, pillow-like fill. most of the details inside the books are sewn from colorful felt, in order to simplify the sewing process (no fraying). I also used parts of old clothes which were headed outside, and therefore saved some fidgeting with buttons, button holes, snaps and pockets. Overall it took me about six months to design, pattern, cut and sew the two books, all in between other projects, of course, when Tom is asleep.
On the left: braiding page. The horse’s tail can be braided and unbraided, and decorated with hair clips from the basket.
On the right: snaps page. Underneath are family pictures.
On the left: zipper page. Mommy koala has a cub in her pouch.
On the right: clock page. Move the clock’s hands around.
On the left: buttoning page. Take the tooth-brush bunny out of the pocket, bring it to the mirror and brush it’s teeth.
On the right: Velcro page. Match the shapes to their proper place.
On the left: shoe lacing page. Tie and untie the shoelace.
On the right: hatching page. Help the chick out of it’s egg.
Front and back cover.