Have you ever wanted to create an amazing quiet book for the special little ones in your life? Have you felt that a quiet book is impossibly difficult or ridiculously time-consuming to make? Do you also think that the quiet books for sale out there are way too expensive to purchase as gifts? Well you have come to the right place! Come with me as I take you one-step-at-a-time through an amazing creative journey on how to make a quiet book, and you too can walk away with your best baby book ever … created all by yourself, completely from scratch, at home!
Quiet book: what is it?
Quiet books ─ also often called busy books ─ are soft, interactive, touch and feel books made out of fabric, felt and other haberdashery supplies. Quiet books are designed to help little ones practise and learn new skills in a safe, engaging and nurturing way. A high quality quiet book for toddlers is one that is properly stitched using safe and sturdy materials. It has no little parts tearing up or breaking down or popping off under the play of curious little fingers. It is fun, stimulating and tailored to the child’s age and likes/dislikes. Above all – and I cannot stress this enough — a children’s quiet book is safe for the age of the child.
When to use a quiet book
Quiet books, as the name implies, were originally designed to keep children quietly occupied for a length of time. In today’s day and age when everyone is aware of — and yet impassive towards — the harmful effects of mobile phones, quiet books offer young children a welcome respite from the cons of technology. For parents, this means peace of mind that their child is having a healthy and fun learning experience while they go about their urgent tasks.
For this reason, quiet books are best used in situations when the parents are near their child but occupied with other pressing things such as at the dentist’s office or the GP clinic, at airports and on airplanes, in public waiting areas and in private gatherings/parties when young children get bored and need a quiet distraction. Quiet books also offer a healthy alternative to watching television at home. Busy books are also an excellent source of comfort for children during times of distress for example after a sudden death in the family or during recovery after an accident.
For all the above and more reasons, it is best to hand the child his/her quiet book when the situation actually calls for it. Speaking from personal experience, it is also a good idea to not leave the quiet book tossing around the toy box with all the other toys. Think of it as a special treat for your child, one that comes out when mum and dad are extra busy. This approach also teaches children how to cherish their things, making your labour of love last for years to come.
Is a quiet book for toddlers only, or can children from a variety of age ranges also use it?
I’ll tell you a little story. Around the time when my Little Miss Z had just turned two, a friend of mine came across the phenomenon of quiet books on Pinterest and challenged me to make one for Miss Z. I accepted the challenge. The only thing I had ever sewn before this was a simple sewing machine cover from re-purposed jeans. I had little idea of how all the different settings on my sewing machine worked, much less how to make a quiet book!
Anyway, after ordering some materials on Ebay and salvaging some stuff from around the house, I set to work. It was a completely new experience, I had very little idea of what I was doing, but eventually, after many days of laborious work, I finally finished my quiet book – my very first quiet book! Now, five years later when I look back at what I had created, I can see that it wasn’t a properly finished busy book at all. There were all sorts of cutting flaws and the sewing wasn’t anything to write home about either. But you know what? Little Miss Z who is now seven, still plays with it every few days! Best of all, Little Miss S who is now five, also has a whale of a time going in and out of the soft fuzzy pages. Here’s the clincher though: my quiet book is most popular among my girls when they are doing a shared activity in it together.
So if you are having any doubts, read this again: the same quiet book that I had created for my two-year-old baby is providing hours of fun every month to two kids of school-going age! These kids are a whole five years older y’all … and my quiet book is still going strong. If you’re thinking that all your hard work into making a quiet book for a little person in your life is only going to pay dividends for a few months, think again. A quiet book is not just for toddlers …. And it does not have to be restricted to a certain small window of time in a child’s life.
If you just take some time to plan ahead and think carefully about what you are going to put inside your quiet book, your labour of love will be played with for years. I think that’s well worth the effort, don’t you?
Why you should make a quiet book and what makes it special
If you’re toying with the idea of investing your time, energy and resources into making a quiet book but are unsure about taking the plunge, here are a few reasons why this is an awesome idea:
- A quiet book is a gift that you can customize to no end, from the content matter and colours to the fabrics and sensory experiences that the child prefers.
- A quiet book helps you get good at the basics of sewing. No fancy frills or pleats or embroidery hoops – you will just be using a few basic skills over and over again. By the time you complete your project, your skills will be honed to awesome levels.
- A busy book gives the child a truly unique engaging and sensory learning experience unlike any other medium.
- Quiet books are a true labour of love, a handmade memory literally forever preserved in fabric and stitch.
- A quiet book is a true legacy that can be passed down through generations.
- Your quiet book is a true testament to your commitment to the craft. Nothing that you purchase from a shop or online store – not even Etsy – can match up to something that you have created yourself from scratch.
- A finished quiet book is truly flawless ─ no matter how it is stitched or what technical blemishes it might have, it will still be absolutely, beautifully perfect because you saw it through to the end. Your journey itself from the rough sketch to the final stitch has perfected your creation. Nothing else matters.
- And here’s my favourite reason why you should make a quiet book: there will be no other busy book like yours in the entire world. No matter how many times you recreate the same pattern using the same fabrics and same threads, every single quiet book will be different from the next, just like every single child is different. Which is what makes your quiet book the only one of its kind in the entire universe.
Enough about the whys; here are some reasons why making a quiet book might not be for you
You have to make time (and love enough)
Making a quiet book is a time-consuming venture. The simpler ones can be finished from scratch within a week, investing a few hours every day. But the more complex quiet books can take weeks. You need to think about whether you are willing to make time for this project. (It helps to think about the child and how much you love him/her. If you love the child enough, your schedule will magically open up to make room for the quiet book’s preparation.)
You have to think creatively
A busy book requires some level of creative thinking. Nobody loves a monotonous or boring quiet book. To make it truly work, you need to plan ahead and think creatively about your colours, content, materials and the child who will be receiving it.
You must be willing to sew
I repeat: you must be willing to sew. Not already-know-how-to-sew or learn-how-to-sew-first. You just need be willing to sew on a basic sewing machine. You don’t have to already know everything, but you should be willing to sit at a sewing machine, thread it properly and sew on it. Most of the times, you will only be using a simple straight stitch. Sometimes you might use a zigzag stitch. And that’s about it. It’s not difficult, but if you have never sewn before, you need to be willing to step beyond your comfort zone and go ahead and actually use a sewing machine.
If you can say yes to the above three points, then there is every reason why you should go ahead and start planning a quiet book for the special child in your life. Finally, think about making a quiet book this way: if you never start, you’ll never finish. What have you got to lose?