Learning how to make a fabric baby book can be enormous fun and can also be a really personal gift to a baby. Try to make your diy soft baby book as colourful as possible, using different shapes, textures and techniques on the fabric pages – it gives variety for baby to see and feel.
Cutting requirements for the fabric baby book
I began with four rectangles of fabric about 10″ by 8″, two blue and two white. For the rest of the cloth baby book I used scraps of fabric.
First and last pages of the fabric baby book
Mark the centre of the rectangles with a pin as there are two pages to each rectangle of fabric.
The first rectangle will be page 8 on the left hand side and page 1 on the right. Sew a length of ribbon across the diagonals of page 8 to subdivide the page area.
Choose four different ribbons/cords/braids and sew a 12″ length in the middle of each section. Sew them on firmly and then tie a bow in each.
Place a rectangle of fabric on page 1 just to check what size to use. I was going to put the baby’s name on this page but there wasn’t really room so I settled for just the baby’s initial. Iron some fusible interfacing to the back of the fabric rectangle, draw the letter that you want to use on the back and cut round it. This way you don’t have to worry about turning under a hem or fabric fraying. Position, pin and sew the letter to the page.
Leaf and join the dots fabric pages
The second fabric rectangle (blue) will be page 2 on the left and page 7 on the right. Place a green and a red rectangle on the page, again just checking for size. Back them both with interfacing.
Draw a leaf on the green rectangle and cut round the shape. Sew it to the page round the outside and then add stitching to mark out the veins of the leaf. Cut the red rectangle to a shape for a boat and sew it to the right hand side of the page. Add a black strip of felt for the mast of the boat.
To make the sail, take a 4.1/2″ square of fabric and fold in half along the diagonal with right sides together. Sew around two edges and turn right side out. Turn under a small hem on the third side and topstitch round all three sides. Attach it only at the top of the mast. Following the outline of the sail, draw in dots and numbers. You could perhaps unfurl the sail as the child follows the dots – either with a finger or wich a piece of chalk or fabric marker. Something temporary, anyway.
Flower and lift the flap fabric pages
The third fabric rectangle (blue) will be page 6 on the left hand side and page 3 on the right. Choose a fabric for a flower and two fabrics for something to go under a flap. I happened to have a teddy in fleece and a horse. Back the fabric with fusible interfacing, cut the shapes and sew to the background fabric.
Cut two squares or rectangles to make the flaps. Fold in half with right sides together, turn in the edges and top stitch all round (as for the sail). Sew in place. I sewed down one side for the teddy and across the top for the horse. That gives baby a chance to open things in two different directions. Add a stem and two leaves to the flower using green felt.
Maze and train fabric pages
The fourth fabric rectangle will be page 4 on the left hand side and page 5 on the right.
For page 5 I made a simple maze using fusible tape. I put tape all round in a rectangular shape and then added bits randomly in the middle. I had intended to use a button for the middle of the maze, but decided not to as it would be a choke hazard. I settled for a red felt diamond instead.
For page 4 I decided on a train shape using red fabric for the train and black felt for the wheels and smoke. You might prefer to put something else that you can talk to baby about, like an animal perhaps. I’m the world’s worst when it comes to drawing, so I googled ‘colouring pictures for kids’. There are all sorts of printable pictures on the internet that you can use for ideas. Even with all that help, I know my drawing still leaves a lot to be desired!
Putting the fabric book together
Several people have suggested using wadding between the sheets of fabric to provide extra thickness. If you intend to do this (I don’t usually), I would suggest using two pieces of wadding with a small gap in the middle so that the spine of the cloth book is not too bulky and difficult to sew.
Take the fabric sheets for pages 1, 8 and for pages 2,7. With right sides together (check that they are both the right way up), sew around three sides, creating a pocket. Tuck in all the bows on page 8 so that they don’t get caught in the seam. Turn right side out and turn under a small seam in the open end. Stitch that seam and continue top stitching all round the rectangle. This helps the pages to keep their shape.
Do the same with the other two sheets of fabric. Place the two sheets of fabric on top of each other with pages 1,8 facing down at the bottom and pages 4,5 facing up at the top. Mark a dot in the centre of pages 4,5 and then two more dots above and two more below about 1.1/4″ apart.
Binding the fabric book for baby
In order to bind the soft baby book I am going to show you the way to sew the spine of a book that I was shown when my children were at primary school and I used to go in to school to help out. This was before computers became so mainstream, when all the children’s projects were made into books.
For the sake of clarity, I am going to refer to the dots as 1,184.108.40.206 with 1 being the topmost dot, then 2 with 3 being the middle dot. Thread your needle with strong thread and use it double thickness – both ends together so that each stitch has two threads. Bring your needle up from behind the fabric book through dot 3, leaving about 6″ of thread hanging below the cloth book.
Push your needle down through dot 2 and then up again through dot 1. Push down through dot 2 and up through dot 1 twice more. Take your needle right down to dot 4. Push down through dot 4 and up through dot 5 three times. Take your needle from dot 5 right up to dot 3 in the centre and push down. You should now have both double threads hanging free on the outside of the soft book between page 1 and 8.
We were taught to tie a neat bow at this stage to secure the ends, but I found a knot with the ends trimmed close to the knot looked neater.
I hope you enjoy making and binding this diy soft baby book and that it has given you many ideas for further bloth baby books.