Cutting quiet book materials: bringing your quiet book ideas to life

Once you have assembled your quiet book supplies, it is time to cut them out. At this stage in your quiet book construction, you will primarily be cutting three different quiet book materials:

  1. Quiet book pages
  2. Fixed shapes inside the quiet book
  3. Movable or removable shapes for your quiet book

Remember: you must stiffen all movable and removable parts of the quiet book to make it sturdy and safe enough for little fingers to use.

Let’s look at each of the above quiet book parts in turn.

Quiet book pages

Every quiet book page that you create must be reinforced with an iron-on interfacing, also called fusible interfacing. This type of interfacing is essentially a semi-stiff sheet of textile material that is heat-bonded using an iron on the wrong side of the fabric. This strengthens the quiet book’s pages to remain more rigid and retain their shape longer. A fusible or iron-on interfacing will come in particularly handy when you are attaching things like buttons, zips, hooks, beads and other tactile elements to your quiet book pages too.

The fastest way to cut fusible interfacing is to first make a quiet book page template. This is essentially a piece of cardstock cut out to the exact size of your desired quiet book pages.

Quiet book page template

Above is an image of the template I made using the back of a cereal box. Your quiet book page template does not have to be any more complicated than this. Simply use a ruler and a compass, a quilting ruler, a geometry ruler or even the square edge of a table to create an accurate square shape and just cut it out. That is all you need to do. Simple isn’t it?

Once we have this quiet book page template cut out, measuring and cutting out the interfacing becomes much quicker and easier. Place the template on to the non-shiny part of the interfacing and draw the outline of the quiet book template using a ball pen. That is one page done. Continue this process to draw as many interfacing squares as the number of pages in your quiet book, plus two more for the front and back covers.

Tracing your quiet book page template on fusible interfacing

Once you have drawn the outlines of all the pages on the iron-on interfacing, it is time to cut out the interfacing squares. There are three main ways in which you can do this.

Use scissors to cut out the interfacing

This sounds like the most logical solution; however if you have a whole lot of squares to cut, it can get time-consuming and a bit boring. If using scissors is not your thing, you could use this next method.

Use a craft knife to cut out the interfacing

This method will definitely be quicker than using scissors. You will however need a metal ruler, a cutting mat and of course a sharp craft knife to do this. If this is your thing, great! Or, you could try this next option which also happens to be my favourite.

Use a rotary cutter to cut out the interfacing

Yup, I use my fabric rotary cutter to cut interfacing and other quiet book supplies … and it gives me perfect results every single time. The trick is to use a quilting ruler and a steady hand. Roll away and you’ll be done in no time.

Once all the iron-on interfacing squares have been cut out for your quiet book pages, it is time to do some ironing. Depending upon what type of interfacing you are using and the instructions that came with it, use your iron to fuse the interfacing squares to the back of your chosen fabrics. Make sure you prepare your fabric first by ironing it to get rid of any wrinkles. You can find a tonne of videos on how to use fusible interfacing on Youtube.

Now that all the interfacing has been fused to the back of your desired fabrics, it is time to cut out the reinforced fabric squares. Once again, you can either use scissors or a rotary cutter to do this. My personal preference is again a rotary cutter as it cuts the quiet book materials precisely every time and makes quick work of a seemingly endless job.

Cutting fixed shapes for your quiet book

The fixed shapes inside your quiet book can be in the scene’s background or foreground, but they cannot be fiddled with too much.

Quiet book letter Y

An example of fixed shapes can be the big white letter ‘Y’ that you can see in the picture or the large yellow paint splatter in the middle of the page. The good thing about these shapes being fixed is that they do not need to be reinforced with interfacing, as they will be sewn on to the page completely.

Having said that, it will not save you from cutting because you have to treat these shapes rather like applique pieces that need to be fixed onto the fabric before being sewn on. Pre-fixing the pieces keeps them firmly in place as you sew and also stops them from shifting and puckering once the quiet book is in use. Once again, there are a few different ways to cut out and fix these shapes on to your quiet book page before starting to sew. Let’s take a quick look at these so you can best decide which method you want to use for your quiet book.

Use fusible web

If you have worked with fusible web before, you know you will first need to hand-draw or print out the shapes you want to cut on ordinary paper. Now you will transfer these shapes on to the non-shiny side of the fusible web paper. You can do this by placing the fusible web on to the paper drawing and holding it up against a window. Now trace out the shape on the fusible web with a pencil.

Next iron the fusible web on the reverse side of the fabric that you need to cut. Most of the times, this might be felt so you can use either side of it. Once you have ironed the fusible web on, simply cut around the traced outline and peel off the backing.

Use clear sticky tape/ cello tape

Start off with a print out or drawing of the shape you need to cut out. Now carefully cut the paper along the outline of the shape. You now have the paper cut out in the exact shape you want your fabric/felt pieces. Use sticky tape to temporarily fix these paper shapes to the felt. Make sure you tape across all the edges of the paper. The width of the tape must straddle both the paper and the felt underneath. Now cut around the shapes and peel off the paper template(s). Your felt cut-outs are ready. You can affix these to the quiet book page using tiny blobs of fabric glue. Or you can use sewing pins to hold them down. I prefer the glue method as it dries clear and there is no puckering of the quiet book materials that can arise from sewing pins.

Use freezer paper

This last method is used a lot by American crafters. I personally don’t like to use this technique as freezer paper is not easy to find here in the UK and the price of my quiet book supplies can quickly creep up if I start buying this. The idea of using freezer paper is that it can temporarily be heat-pressed on to a fabric using a hot iron. It can also be peeled off and reused over and over again as a pre-cut template.

To use freezer paper to cut out your shapes, first trace the design you need on the rough side of the freezer paper. Next fuse it using a hot dry iron on to the fabric. Now cut along the traced outline and peel off the paper for your perfect shape. You can save and reuse the freezer paper as a template in future craft projects.

With this technique as well, remember that the freezer paper is just helping you cut accurate shapes. It is not fixing the shapes you cut onto the quiet book pages at all. Once again, you can either use glue or sewing pins to keep the quiet book materials from shifting. You could also pre-treat the felt with fusible web first before using freezer paper, but this can get a bit fiddly as both the items are heat-activated.

 Use a manual die cutter

If the shapes that you need to cut are simple and you have a manual die cutter at home, you can always cut the shapes out using craft dies. This is one of my favourite ways to cut large quantities of identical or complicated shapes as it is quick, easy and fool proof. The resulting cut-outs are always perfectly shaped. The downside of this method is that you already must have a die cutter available along with the relevant dies that you need to make your quiet book. If you don’t have a die cutter, don’t be tempted to go out and buy a new one as it can be a costly endeavour. Instead, look to one of the techniques I have talked about earlier. Your fabric will still need to be treated with either fusible web, or blobs of glue or sewing pins to hold it in place while you sew.

Use an electric die cutter

This is one of my least favourite ways to cut fabric. I personally own a Brother Scan n Cut die cutting machine. But the results for cutting felt and fabric with it are so variable that it is best to do it by hand. However if you own an electric die cutter and would like to experiment with the idea of cutting fabric with it, do give it a go. You will learn a lot of new stuff along the way.

Now that we have covered the basics of cutting fixed shapes inside your quiet book, it is worth looking at what it takes to cut movable quiet book parts.

Movable or removable shapes inside the quiet book

Your quiet book will be played with by very curious little fingers. Your favourite little person will test the strength and robustness of your quiet book to its very limits. For this reason, it is very important to make sure that any and all movable parts of your quiet book are reinforced as much as possible with all reasonable means available. For most parts, this would mean either first stiffening the quiet book materials before attempting to cut; or reinforcing the felt with heavy interfacing, or both. Since we want to create a beautifully finished product, I prefer the last method of using both types of reinforcement.

Quiet book cover jigsaw pieces

For example in the image you see with the alphabet jigsaw pieces, I first stiffened all the quiet book materials – in this case, it was wool-mix felt. Then I layered the felt and sandwiched double-sided fusible interfacing inside to make for a super-sturdy felt ‘sandwich’ that was used to make the jigsaw pieces. The results speak for themselves and you can see how crisp and clean the edges of the cut-out pieces turned out.

To cut out the reinforced pieces, you can use any of the methods listed above. My favourite technique is to use a manual die cutter or very sharp and strong scissors for the most precise results. Take a look at what resources you have available and then decide which method suits you best.

The most important thing to remember when working with movable quiet book parts is to first cut out only the top layer of the felt. Then you must place this on the bottom layer of the felt and sew it down all around. Finally, cut out the bottom layer for a perfect shape every time.

Conclusion

Hopefully you can see now that with a little bit of forethought and planning, it actually becomes rather logical and straightforward to cut out all the different materials and shapes you need for your quiet book. The best way to save time when making a quiet book is to get most of the cutting out of the way first. So take your time and spend a few hours or days preparing and cutting your quiet book materials. Making your quiet book will become a lot more fun as you move on to the sewing part next. You can read all about how to make a quiet book after all that cutting at this link. Happy crafting!

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