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Make Your Own Cloth Book - handmade book for children
Cloth books make great gifts
If you sew, you can make one-of-a-kind gifts for the children on your list. These are gifts that are unavailable in any store at any price, because you have put them together according to your own design. Though it is time-intensive to make, one of the best handmade gifts for a child is a cloth book. They are fun to make, as you get to search for just the right fabrics you want for your project.
For example, an ABC book is great for babies and toddlers. If you can find fabric that actually has the letters on it, you are one step ahead. However, don’t be deterred if you are not able to find alphabet fabric. You can still make your book using prints that each feature one letter of the alphabet. For instance, you may want to use an apple print for your “A” page, a baseball print for your “B” page, and so on.
You can use a patchwork design so each page has various prints or you can stick with one fabric per page. This is the easiest.
Make a paper model first
Plan your book on paper first
You will need to plan your book ahead of time as the front page will be part of the last page. And remember that each section will be two-sided, like a small quilt or blanket. Once completed, the pages will lay on top of each other and you will tie them off down the center like a quilt (unless you have a machine that can sew through very thick layers of fabric). By planning, you can make sure your pages go in the order they are supposed to. For example, in my ABC book, the front cover page is connected to the back cover page, the first page is connected along the side to the last page, and so on. I also used red fabric as a border, but you would not necessarily have to put a border on your pages. It is less work to skip the border. To make sure my book would go in the correct order, I made a model first from paper. I took sheets of paper, folded them over, and then wrote what I wanted on each page. Then unfold the paper and use it as a plan for putting your fabric together.
Start putting together your pages and sections
If you want your book to be stiffer, you will use interfacing on the inside of your pages. But some people might prefer the book to be softer and more pliable. It is up to you.
Decide how big you want your book and then allow an extra inch all the way around for your seams. For each page, if you do a patchwork, sew the right sides of your fabric together first. Then lay your piece out flat and iron the seams down. Then top stitch along the seams for extra stability. Next, you will sew that page to the later page it corresponds with according to your paper plan. Remember you might need to add an extra strip of fabric to the middle where the fold will be. Then sew together the pages that will go on back of the one you just completed. Now you should have two completed sections, each one having two pages connected together. This is the point where you will add embellishments such as buttons, pockets, or zippers if you choose to use them. There are many cute buttons out there now in shapes and colors a child will love. Note: When putting buttons in a child’s book, you must take extra-special care to attach them securely. Use strong thread and an abundance of stitching to ensure the child will not be able to get the object loose. You don’t want your book to present a choking hazard!
Next, you will put your two sections together. When you put these two pieces together, here is where you will add the interfacing if you decide to use it. Put the right sides of your pages together along with your interfacing, sew around the edges, and leave a gap to turn it right-side-out. Once you turn it right side out, iron it to flatten it and then top-stitch all around the edges. To make your project durable, use every opportunity to double-stitch your seams and top-stitch when possible. We want this book to be washable (if necessary). To survive a wash, it must be well-sewn. Even at that, I recommend hand washing the item and air drying it rather than putting it through a washer and dryer.
Once you have sewn all your individual sheets, lay them out in order and line them up. Do not despair if each is not perfectly the same size. If there is a little variation, that is just the charm of a homespun project, I say. Along the middle which would be the spine of a regular book, tie off your pages like you would tie off a quilt. Use sturdy string and put as many ties as necessary for stability. If your sewing machine can handle thick fabrics, you can sew along the spine to hold the book together. My machine simply would not go through the fabrics, so I had to resort to the tie method to hold my book together.
An ABC book is merely one idea for a cloth book. With some imagination, the possibilities are endless. There are so many wonderful fabrics out there that you could make an entire book devoted to one subject or another, for instance cars or dinosaurs or beloved cartoon characters. Your book can have a theme or just be a mish-mash of colorful prints that are fun to look at.
For older children, you can make a book filled with features that are useful such as pockets to put things in, zippered pouches that really work, pages that hold photos, or ones with secret slits and compartments to hide notes and papers. You can attach ribbons or ties that will hold the book closed when not in use. If you put your mind to it, you can think of lots of ways to embellish your project and gear it toward the child’s individual interests and tastes.