Special Presents

EDIT:  I just found out that my Quiet Book was actually made by my mother’s sister, rather than by my mom.  Oops!   

Last night, I was down in the basement going through things, in hopes of sorting things into “throw out”, “recycle”, “give away” and “put away” piles.  I found a lot of things, including a leaking tube of that hot rub stuff for muscles (did you know that it might melt plastic?  It was in a box with a cassette tape case, and the case is now sealed shut), a lot of old candles, a half sewn skirt, a lot of Kitten’s baby clothes (I’ve got to sort them into keeping and give away piles, then into age appropriate boxes or something), some of my old baby clothes, and My Quiet Book. 

My Quiet book is a cotton & denim book that my mom made for me when I was small.  I can’t believe that I still have it.  Truthfully, I was thrilled to find it, and brought it out to play with Kitten with.  Sadly, I didn’t take care of it when I was a child, so a lot of the pages are dirty, and some of the pieces (probably half) are missing.  I know that my mom made a lot of things for us as children – clothes, dolls, doll clothes (my parents weren’t well off by any means, so in order for us to have doll clothes, I assume mom shopped the remnant aisle at the fabric store to get enough fabric for outfits.  Everything from Cabbage Patch kids to Barbies wore Mom Coutre), dress up stuff like aprons, and toys like My Quiet Book. 

So, on going through my book with Kitten, I first thought that maybe I could throw it in the wash and renew it’s life and play-ability.  Sadly, I just don’t think that will work.  Mom used marker in a lot of, instead of sewing on all the words, because that would have taken her FOREVER (with four children to chase after?  I don’t think it would have been possible), and I’m afraid that a gentle wash cycle will take the marker off and ruin the book.  Not to mention that all the little pieces might get ruined or disappear.  Truthfully, I can’t imagine this particular quiet book would be that much fun for Kitten – if a lot of the pieces are missing… well… what’s the point? 

I started thinking about it – this can’t be that hard to make.  I mean, it would be time consuiming, but not difficult.  I pretty much already have a pattern, plus if I wanted to put more pages in, I could – I can think up stuff, not to mention that there are tons of resources online of extra pages to put in.  I think I’m going to make one… although I should probably finish up her quilt first.  I’m running out of thread, but maybe I can go buy some more this afternoon.  I should be able to pick up remnant pieces at Walmart for pretty cheap.  The biggest piece of fabric I’ll need is the fabric for the pages… and I think I have some khaki coloured stuff that I can use (my book has brown fabric for the pages, and a denim cover lined in flowered fabric).  I can even use the scraps of Kitten’s quilt for things.  I have a veritable butt-load of scraps from that, and only 18 different patterns/colours to chose from 😆 

I don’t know if any of you would also like to make one, so I’ll list what I have in my book so you can have ideas too (if you have a book with different pages, or would like to share your ideas, please add them in the comments section – then we’ll all have lots of ideas!).  My pages are as follows:

  1. “Fly Balloons” – 5 circles that you velcro on to matching coloured circles on the page, that are joined together by drawn on strings (like a bunch of balloons).  Mine are mint green, yellow, grass green, red and orange.
  2. “Snap Me On My Shapes” – There’s a pocket that holds four different shapes of material with snaps sewn on.  These corrospond to fabric shapes sewn on the page.  Mine are triangle, circle square, diamond, with a little fabric pocket at the bottom.
  3. “Put Your Hand in my Mitten” – A fabric mitten is sewn on to the page, with a face on it, that you are supposed to put your hand in.  It looks like an oven mitt.
  4. “Hang the Clothes” – Two trees are sewn on to the page, with a sewn line in between them, like a clothes line.  A small pocket is sewn below the line to look like a laundry basket.  There are three coloured loops sewn on to the line, and three different coloured clothing pieces with the hooks to go with the loops (these are like bra hooks and loops – you can find them in the notions section of your craft store, but you might have a hard time finding coloured ones – in this case, you’re supposed to match the colours up, red hook goes on the red loop, etc.).  Mine has a red dress, a brown shirt, and blue pants.
  5. “Pick a Flower” – 3 flower stems and leaves have been sewn on the page, with three buttons above them.  The flower “face” has a button hole in them, so you can unbutton and rebutton the flower faces on to the stems.
  6. “Up to ten I go!  I can count numbers” – This is a two page spread, and is basically an abacus.  There are ten pieces of yarn sewn down to the page under some bias tape, and each piece of yard has a different number of beads, 1 through 10 (mine uses two types of bead, alternating on each thread, visually, it’s easier to count because they’re different).
  7. “Look Under The Eggs” – There are three egg shaped pieces of felt with only the big half sewn down to the page.  You can flip back the top half to show a sewn on little chick, a little duck, and another little chicken.  My mom drew all of these, but you could always look for fabric that has little chicks/ducks/whatever comes out of an egg, even a turtle.  If you’re really creative, you could put things that don’t come out of eggs under there and teach your kid about what hatches and what doesn’t (ie. a puppy doesn’t hatch, but a duckling would). 
  8. “Zip – What’s Inside?” – This is a lady bug with a zipper down her back.  Inside used to be tiny little lady bugs, but they’ve all been lost.  You could always do a backpack, and have pretend books, papers, lunch bag, etc. inside.  There are lots of variations on this.
  9. “Count My Wheels” / “Put Something in my Cars” – This is a two page train spread.  There is a locomotive (um?  Is that the right word?  I keep wanting to say Locomotion, but I know that’s a dance, not a train car!!), two box cars which are pockets, and a caboose.  There’s also bric-a-brack (the zig zag stuff) sewn on the pages as the tracks, and different buttons for each car sewn on as wheels.  In the two pocket cars, and finger puppets.  The buttons are the counting section, and the finger puppets are the cars part.
  10. “Lace the Football” – This is the last page, and is pretty self-explanitory.  Mom cut out the shape of a football, put button holes in two strips of bias tape, and sewed them down on the page.  She then laced through a small shoelace, that you lace up then tie in a bow.

Now, looking online, I’ve seen a few patterns for quiet books, and most of them seem to use the felt sticking to felt system… which I don’t think is as nice (but that’s just me).  However, the Martha Stewart version is a season one, where each season has it’s own page.  I think I’ll add something like that to mine, just for funsies.  I really like the idea of taking the fall leaves off the trees and putting them in the bucket, of building a snow man, and other such ideas.

Oh yeah, one last thing.  There are a lot of ways to construct the book.  You could make large rectangles as double page layouts, then sew them stacked on top of one another, down the middle.  My mom made mine by buying small binder rings the seperate rings, not the actual hard binder spine), then sewing button holes in each page, and using the rings through each hole.  I’m not sure which is better, but I suppose that if your book is pretty thick, the average sewing machine might not be able to sew through all the pages put together. 

I’m excited to start this process, although it seems like it’s going to be a lot of work.  I think I’m up to it, a little bit at a time… and if I can get it down before her 1st birthday?  Go me!